French Designs on Colonial New South Wales

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Jean Fornasiero and John West-Sooby, French Designs on Colonial New South Wales: François Péron’s Memoir on the English Settlements in New Holland, Van Diemen’s Land and the Archipelagos of the Great Pacific Ocean, Adelaide, Friends of the State Library of South Australia, 2014.

$35 (paperback); $65 (hardback)

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François Péron’s Memoir was intended to inform Napoleon that it would be easy to invade New South Wales and make the British colony a French possession in the Pacific. Péron also confidently predicted that the British would shortly move to establish settlements in Tasmania and other parts of mainland Australia, so as “to exclude from these shores such formidable rivals as the French”. Péron’s report, presented for the first time in its entirety in English translation, highlights the strategic importance of the Port Jackson colony to Britain’s interests in the Pacific. Jean Fornasiero and John West-Sooby have prepared this translation from Péron’s notes and drafts for a publication that his early death forestalled. The translators’ extensive and erudite introduction places Péron’s work in its historical context. The book includes a selection of letters and other contemporary documents commenting on the state of the colony of New South Wales at the time.

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