Volunteer In France

Australian Volunteers in France 

Australia Could have been French

an article written by Nanette Holliday whilst volunteering at La Giraudiere

Almost a French Australia!
 Believe it or not if it wasn’t for the French Revolution Australia could have been partly French now, just like Canada, with two languages and cultures. It is only the hundreds of French names along the Australian coast that provide the links to this little know piece of Australian-French history.
More than 20 French expeditions were sent to the Indian and Pacific Oceans between the 16th and 19th centuries. Each made enormous contributions to scientific knowledge in the fields of anthropology, botany, zoology, astronomy, geography and geology in this region. However, numerous captains, officers, scientists and crew members died of a variety of diseases during the voyage and never returned to France; or they suffered extreme health for the rest of their lives. The French explorers originally called Australia, ‘La France Australe’. But most Australians know little about this part of our early history, as the British wrote their own version of history after ‘snatching it from under the noses of the French’.
Europeans were aware of the Spice Islands (now Indonesia) since the 1600s and the Portuguese, Dutch and English were early rivals for the rich spice trade, with France a late participant. Britain at first only claimed the eastern side of Australia, to the 135’h degree of eastern longitude.
French explorer, Gonneville’s reported voyage to the southern oceans in 1503 ended in shipwreck and the loss of all his charts. But the mystery of ‘Gonneville’s Land’ inspired many future French explorers. In 1738 Bouvet de Lozier explored the commercial potential of the southern oceans; he discovered Bouvet Island, but reported that it was too cold for a trading or respite port. Between 1766-69, Bougainville circumnavigated the world; he was almost ship-wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef. Bougainville Reef, Island & Channel, and the colourful bougainvillea vine, remind us of his voyage. Surville was exploring off New Zealand at the same time as Lieutenant James Cook in 1769. Kerguelen and Saint Alouarn discovered the Kerguelen Islands in the southern Indian Ocean in 1771. Saint Alouarn sailed on to the south-west tip of Australia, then to Shark Bay in 1772, claiming Western Australia for France.
Also in 1772, Marion-Dufresne visited Tasmania, but was killed in New Zealand. In the mid 1780s, La Perouse explored the Pacific region, visiting South America and many Pacific islands including Hawaii, then Alaska, China, Japan, the Philippines and Russia. He then sailed into Botany Bay just eight days after the arrival of the First Fleet. He stayed several weeks, but disappeared in mid 1788. Today, La Perouse is remembered by a Sydney suburb of that name. In 1791 Bruny d’Entrecasteaux was sent to find La Perouse and he visited southern Australia and Tasmania in his unsuccessful search. It was not till 39 years later that La Perouse’s ship-wreck was discovered by Peter Dillon, on coral reefs near Vanikoro Island, to the east of the Solomon Islands.
Baudin and Hamelin were sent out by Napoleon in the Geographe and Naturaliste in 1800. They are responsible for most French names on the Australian coast and made many significant scientific discoveries, bringing back more than 100,000 specimens and over 2,500 new species. After Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, another series of French expeditions began in 1817, first with Freycinet - who smuggled his wife Rose on board - then Duperrey in 1822, Bougainville the Younger in 1825 and Dumont d’Urville in 1826.
The increasing frequency of the French visits alarmed the ‘NSV4’ Governor Ralph Darling, who sent Major Edmund Lockyer to Albany in Western Australia to ‘fly the British flag’ in late December 1826.
There have been many suggestions why the French did not settle in their claims area of Western Australia. Some say it was because of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror (1789-94), followed by Napoleon’s obsession with conquering Europe. Other say France probably thought Britain would honour Saint Alouarn’s 1772 claim to Western Australia, and felt no need to settle it immediately. Nevertheless, the 416 French names left on the Australian coastline form a fascinating ‘mirror’ of pre-and post-revolutionary France and early Australian history.
And while the French may not have laid official claim to Australia following the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, the first French settlers soon began to arrive, including officials, convicts and refugees, the majority heading for Victoria. Over the ensuing decades, many French settlers would go on to become land-owners, merchants and wine-makers. The Victorian gold rush of the 1850s saw many more French immigrants join their countrymen. By 1857 over 1,000 French immigrants lived in Victoria. However, the 1890s depression saw a rapid decrease in the French population. Nevertheless, in 1890 a Victorian branch of the Alliance Francaise was formed, promoting French language, culture and education and in 1892 the first foreign language newspaper in Australia, Le Courier Australianen, was established.
After World War II an assisted passage scheme for French migrants saw the French population of Victoria increase by 83% between 1947 and 1954, to 1,497 people. The independence of French colonies in Asia and Africa in the late 1960s and early 1970s saw a further increase. French trade with Australia continued to develop in the 1970s, and by the mid 1980s French radio and television programs, schools, exchange programs and restaurants had been established in Australia. Despite the relatively small number of French migrants in Australia, the French community has had a significant influence on Australian life – in the arts, education, the winemaking industry, and lay and religious organisations.
Today the Federation des Alliances Francaises d'Australie has 31 associations operating under the name ‘Alliance Francaise’. The network spans from Perth and Esperance to Sydney, Eurobodalla, Brisbane, Hobart and Darwin. The head office of the Federation des Alliance Francaises d'Australie is based in Alliance Francaise de Canberra.
Australia’s government relations with France today remain positive and friendly. Dialogue and practical cooperation between the two countries have been strengthening on many fronts in recent years, including on key global security issues such as arms control and disarmament, non-proliferation and counter-terrorism. Australian and French officials meet regularly for political-military talks. The last talks were held in Canberra in March 2008. The Pacific region, where both countries have direct interests, continues to be an important focus of bilateral engagement. Commercial links are substantial and France is an increasingly important source of direct investment and technology, including in the defence sector. Cooperation in the surveillance of valuable fisheries resources is also an area of ongoing bilateral activity, including under the Treaty on Cooperation in the Maritime Areas adjacent to the French Southern and Antarctic Territories, which entered into force in 2005.
Australia’s defence relationship with France continues to grow in terms of personal contact at high levels, frequent exchanges, single Service and Joint meetings, and major equipment procurement programs. In 2006, a new Defence Cooperation Agreement between the two countries was signed, providing a framework for further cooperation. The Agreement entered into force on 7 July 2009. Australia and France regularly participate in combined force training exercises. Australian and French forces have cooperated in the Pacific and Southern Oceans, including for emergency and disaster relief and operations against illegal fishing. In recent years Australia and France have developed a good working relationship in the counter-terrorism field, including as founding members of the Proliferation Security Initiative to combat the trafficking in weapons of mass destruction. Australia works closely with France in arms control regimes such as the Australia Group, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Missile Technology Control Regime and the Proliferation Security Initiative, to strengthen export controls and non-proliferation norms. As the fourth largest contributor to the United Nations and a P5 Member, France's positive approach to reform of the Security Council is important. The UN Peace Building Commission and Democracy Fund are reform initiatives where Australia and France share common views and together play a leading role.
The French company Thales has a major investment stake in Australian defence industries.
The legacy of Australian involvement on French soil in World Wars I and II plays an important role in the bilateral relationship. Over 45,000 Australians lost their lives on French soil in the two conflicts – more than in any other country in the world. Each year many Australians travel to the Western Front to commemorate the thousands of Australians who were killed and injured there in World War I. An Anzac Trail will develop seven key sites in France and Belgium over the next four years, to honour their courage and sacrifice. The sites currently under consideration are Villers-Bretonneux, Pozieres, Bullecourt, Fromelles, Mont St Quentin, Ypres and Tyne Cot. Over 4,000 people commemorated the 90th anniversary of the battle of Villers-Bretonneux on 25 April 2008 with a special Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. The Government announced that the Dawn Service would continue in future years.
Australia and France have a dynamic relationship in all fields of the arts, with Australian artists enthusiastic to work within the French cultural tradition, and many French counterparts keen to explore Australia's vibrant younger culture. Institutional links are encouraged within the framework of the 1977 Australia-France Agreement on Cultural and Scientific Cooperation. The Australian Embassy in Paris administers the Australia-France Foundation, which promotes cultural exchanges between the two countries and publishes a quarterly newsletter 'L'Australie en France' promoting Australian activities in France. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Cultural Awards Scheme has also promoted cultural relations between Australia and France.
Australia has made a significant contribution to the Musee du quai Branly, a major international museum dedicated to the world's indigenous arts and cultures that opened in Paris in June 2006. A permanent installation of works by eight Australian Indigenous artists commissioned by the Australian Government has been incorporated into the structure of one of the main buildings of the museum.
Tourists links between the two countries are significant, with over 400,000 Australians visiting France each year. Almost 98,000 visitor visas were granted to French nationals to visit Australia in 2005-06, making France the 10th largest source of visitor visa grants, and 1,867 student visas were granted. A working holiday-maker agreement signed between the two countries in November 2003 makes it easier for young French and Australian people to spend time in each other's countries. In 2005-06, 6,126 Australian working holiday visas were granted to French nationals, making France the 7th largest source of working holiday visitors, and 483 were granted to Australians.
In August 2009, Nicolas Sarkozy became the first serving French leader to visit Australia. Sarkozy and Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd discussed many bilateral issues including global warming and the war in Afghanistan.

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La Giraudiere is an accredited receiving organisation for the Erasmus Plus program  a program operated by the European Commission under its Life Long Learning program. for further detail of what is planned for 2019 for our Erasmus volunteers and how you could help visit  Erasmus Project in France

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