La Perouse, New South Wales

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La Perouse
Sydney,  New South Wales
Bare island fort La Perouse.jpg
Bare Island Fort, Botany Bay
La Perouse, New South Wales
Population399 (2016 census) [1]
Postcode(s) 2036
Location14 km (9 mi) south-east of Sydney CBD
LGA(s) City of Randwick
State electorate(s) Maroubra
Federal Division(s) Kingsford Smith
Suburbs around La Perouse:
Phillip Bay Chifley Little Bay
La Perouse
Botany Bay Kurnell Tasman Sea

La Perouse is a suburb in south-eastern Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. The suburb of La Perouse is located about 14 kilometres southeast of the Sydney central business district, in the City of Randwick.


The La Perouse peninsula is the northern headland of Botany Bay. It is notable for its old military outpost at Bare Island and the Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Congwong Bay Beach, Little Congwong Beach, and the beach at Frenchmans Bay provide protected swimming areas in Botany Bay. La Perouse is one of few Sydney suburbs with a French name, others being Sans Souci and Vaucluse. Kurnell is located opposite, on the southern headland of Botany Bay.


La Perouse was known as "Gooriwal" to the Muruora-dial people of the area. [2]

La Perouse was named after the French navigator Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse (1741–88), who landed on the northern shore of Botany Bay west of Bare Island on 26 January 1788. Captain Arthur Phillip and the first fleet of convicts had arrived in Botany Bay a few days earlier. Louis XVI of France had commissioned Lapérouse to explore the Pacific. [3] In April 1770 James Cook's expedition had sailed onto the east coast of Australia whilst exploring the south Pacific searching for Terra Australis or ‘Land of the South’. Upon King Louis XVI's orders, Lapérouse departed Brest, France, in command of the Astrolabe and Boussole on 1 August 1785 on a scientific voyage of the Pacific inspired by the voyages of Cook. La Perouse in Sydney's south is named after the leader of this French expedition.

La Perouse Monument, view to Frenchmans Bay La Perouse 3.JPG
La Perouse Monument, view to Frenchmans Bay

Lapérouse's two ships sailed to New South Wales after 12 of his men had been attacked and killed in the Navigator Islands (Samoa). Astrolabe and Boussole arrived off Botany Bay on 24 January just six days after Captain Arthur Phillip (1738–1814) had anchored just west[ citation needed ] of Bare Island, in HMS Supply. On 26 January 1788, as Captain John Hunter was moving the First Fleet around to Port Jackson after finding Botany Bay unsuitable for a Settlement, Lapérouse was sailing into Botany Bay, [4] [5] [6] [7] anchoring there just eight days after the British had.

The British received Lapérouse courteously, and offered him any assistance he might need. The French were far better provisioned than the British were, and extended the same courtesy but apparently neither offer was accepted. [8] The commander of the Fleet, Captain Phillip, ordered that two British naval vessels, HMS Sirius and Supply, meet the French. Contrary to popular belief,[ citation needed ] the French did not have orders to claim Terra Australis for France and the arrival of the French ships Astrolabe and Boussole and their meeting with the ships of the British expedition was cordial and followed normal protocols. Lapérouse subsequently sent his journals and letters to Europe with the British ship, the Sirius.

Laperouse Museum La Perouse 2.jpg
Lapérouse Museum
View to Port Botany at dusk Portbotany.jpg
View to Port Botany at dusk
Another perspective of Bare Island Fort. Bare Island Fort.JPG
Another perspective of Bare Island Fort.

The expedition's naturalist and chaplain, Father Louis Receveur, died in February after a skirmish the previous December in Samoa with the inhabitants, in which Paul Antoine Fleuriot de Langle, commander of Astrolabe and 12 other members of the French expedition were killed. Receveur, injured in that skirmish, died at Botany Bay and was buried at Frenchmans Cove below the headland that is now called La Perouse, not far from the Lapérouse Museum. The place was marked by a tin plate but the local Aboriginal people quickly removed it. The British replaced it with another and tended the site. In 1824, the tree was inscribed by Victor-Charles Lottin (1781–1846), an ensign visiting with Louis Isidore Duperrey. The following year, Hyacinthe de Bougainville paid for the tombstone that is on the site today. It was designed by Government Architect George Cookney (1799–1876). [9] Receveur was the second European to be buried on the East Coast of Australian, the first being Forby Sutherland from Cook's 1770 expedition who is buried at nearby Kurnell on the other side of the Botany Bay headlands.

The French stayed at Botany Bay for six weeks and built a stockade, observatory and a garden for fresh produce on what is now known as the La Perouse peninsula. After completing the building of a longboat (to replace one lost in the attack in the Navigator Islands) and obtaining wood and water, the French departed for New Caledonia, Santa Cruz, the Solomons, and the Louisiades. Lapérouse wrote in his journals that he expected to be back in France by December 1788, but the two ships vanished. The last official sighting of the French expedition was in March 1788 when British lookouts stationed at the South Head of Port Jackson saw the expedition sail from Botany Bay. The French expedition was wrecked a short time later on the reefs of Vanikoro in the Solomon Islands during a cyclone sometime during April or May 1788, the circumstances remained a mystery for 40 years. [10] Some of the mystery was solved in 1826 when items associated with the French ships were found on an island in the Santa Cruz group, with wreckage of the ships themselves discovered in 1964. [11]

More recently two major expeditions have been mounted to explore the sites in Vanikoro. In May 2005, the wreck was formally identified as that of the Boussole. [12] The 2005 expedition was embarked aboard Jacques Cartier, a French naval vessel. The ship supported a multi-discipline scientific team to investigate the "Mystery of Lapérouse". [13] The mission was called "Opération Vanikoro-Sur les traces des épaves de Lapérouse 2005". A further similar mission was mounted in 2008. [14] [15] [16] Between 16 September and 15 October 2008 two French Navy boats set out from Nouméa (New Caledonia) for a voyage to Vanikoro, recreating that section of the final journey of discovery made by Lapérouse. [15] [17] [18] [19]

Early Subdivision Plans

Historic structures

La Perouse's 19th century Customs tower, used to combat smugglers La Perouse 1.JPG
La Perouse's 19th century Customs tower, used to combat smugglers
Vaulted ammunition storage rooms and gunpowder magazines of the Henry Head Battery, La Perouse Henrybattery.jpg
Vaulted ammunition storage rooms and gunpowder magazines of the Henry Head Battery, La Perouse
Vandalized World War II bunker (Inside the observation post) WWIIBunkALaPeruseNSW0133.JPG
Vandalized World War II bunker (Inside the observation post)

The first building in the area was the octagonal stone tower constructed in 1820-22 as accommodation for a small guard of soldiers stationed there to prevent smuggling, and the tower still stands today. [20] By 1885, an Aboriginal reserve had been established in the suburb and a number of missions were operated in the area. The original church was dismantled and moved to the corner of Elaroo and Adina Avenues, where it still stands.

A kiosk was built in 1896 to cater for tourists who came to see the attractions, including snake-handling shows. [21] During the Great Depression, from the late 1920s, many severely affected low-income families took up residence here in settlements beside the Aboriginal reserve.

The small island just inside the heads was described by Captain James Cook as "a small bare island". Bare Island was fortified in 1885, according to a design by colonial architect, James Barnet (1827–1904), and fitted with heavy guns. In 1912 Bare Island became a retirement home for war veterans, which continued to operate until 1963 when it was handed over to the New South Wales Parks and Wildlife Service for use as a museum and tourist attraction. [22]

Apart from the fortification on Bare Island two other fortifications are located within La Perouse, one of them, Fort Banks is located on Cape Banks. This facility was part of the Eastern Command Fixed Defences unit, it was designed and positioned in a way that would allow it to protect the approaches to Botany Bay in the event of a sea born attack during the World War II period. Henry Head Battery, constructed 1892 - 1895, operated until 1910, when the fort became obsolete. The battery along with two gun-emplacements and observation posts was recommissioned for use during the second World War. [23]

Heritage listings

La Perouse has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:


The former La Perouse tram line branched from Oxford Street at Taylor Square in Darlinghurst to run south along Flinders Street, then into its own tram reservation along the eastern side of Anzac Parade beside Moore Park. It then proceeded down the centre of Anzac Parade through Maroubra Junction, and Malabar to its balloon loop terminus at La Perouse. At Malabar, a single line branched off to serve Long Bay Gaol. The line was double track throughout. The line reached La Perouse in stages from 1900 to 1902. The Loop is the circular track that was built as part of the Sydney tram terminus at La Perouse. Closure was supported by the NRMA, but generally went against public opinion. Nevertheless, closure became Labor government policy and the system was wound down in stages, with withdrawal of the last service, to La Perouse in 1961. The line followed the current route of bus 394.


According to the 2016 census of Population, there were 399 people in La Perouse.


The La Perouse Museum contains maps, scientific instruments and relics recovered from French explorers. A walking trail from the museum to the Endeavour Lighthouse has views across the bay to the site of Captain Cook's Landing Place. The large Lapérouse Monument is an obelisk erected in 1825 by the French, located close to the museum. [27] Another memorial marks the grave of Father Receveur. [28] The fortified Bare Island is linked by a footbridge. The Museum was originally built as cable station to house the operation of the first submarine telegraph communications cable laid between Australia and Nelson in New Zealand. This cable also served as the first link in telegraph communications between New Zealand and the rest of the world. After the cessation of telegraph communications, the building served as a home for orphans run by the Salvation Army, with the children attending La Perouse Public School when this first opened in the early 1950s. [29] [30]

Visitors can learn about the indigenous significance of the area from the Aboriginal people of the area, with boomerang-throwing demonstrations often held on weekends and Aboriginal guided tours operating from Yarra Bay House during the week. Aboriginal artefacts are produced and sold by locals. The Snake Man of La Perouse has an outdoor reptile show is also a tourist attraction in the pit, at The Loop, on Sunday afternoons. The reptile shows were begun by the legendary Professor Fox in the late 19th century and resumed by George Cann just after the Great War in 1918. The tradition was continued by members of the Cann family, [31] until recently, and other snake handlers since.[ citation needed ]

La Perouse has a few cafés and restaurants around the historic precinct, close to Frenchmans Bay.

The New South Wales Golf Club, a links style golf course, is at La Perouse, facing both Botany Bay and the Tasman Sea.

Scuba diving

The area around the La Perouse peninsula is considered to be one of the best scuba diving sites in NSW.[ citation needed ] Bare Island has a number of dive sites, some of which extend to over 19 metres in depth. The reef around the area is extensive. There are also a number of dives around the mainland at La Perouse. Little Congwong too is popular for snorkelling. This beach has been an often contested site for nude bathing.

Scuba divers here can see the common (weedy) sea dragon, red Indianfish, pygmy pipefish and big belly sea horses as well as fish normally found on dive sites in the Sydney area.

Notable residents

See also

Related Research Articles

Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse

Jean François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse was a French naval officer and explorer whose expedition vanished in Oceania.

First Fleet 11 ships that left Great Britain to found the penal colony in Australia

The First Fleet was the 11 ships that departed from Portsmouth, England on 13 May 1787 to New South Wales, the penal colony that became the first European settlement in Australia. The First Fleet consisted of two Royal Navy vessels, three store ships and six convict transports, carrying between 1,000 and 1,500 convicts, marines, seamen, civil officers and free people, and a large quantity of stores. From England, the Fleet sailed southwest to Rio de Janeiro, then east to Cape Town and via the Great Southern Ocean to Botany Bay (Australia), over the period of 18-20 January 1788, taking 250 to 252 days from departure to final arrival. During the period 25-26 January 1788 the fleet moved from Botany Bay to present-day Sydney.

Kamay Botany Bay National Park Protected area in New South Wales, Australia

The Kamay Botany Bay National Park is a heritage-listed protected national park that is located in the Sydney metropolitan region of New South Wales, in eastern Australia. The 456-hectare (1,130-acre) national park is situated approximately 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) south-east of the Sydney central business district, on the northern and southern headlands of Botany Bay. The northern headland is at La Perouse and the southern headland is at Kurnell.

Botany Bay Open ocean bay in Sydney, Australia

Botany Bay, an open oceanic embayment, is located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 13 km (8 mi) south of the Sydney central business district. Its source is the confluence of the Georges River at Taren Point and the Cooks River at Kyeemagh, which flows 10 km (6 mi) to the east before meeting its mouth at the Tasman Sea, midpoint between the suburbs of La Perouse and Kurnell. The northern headland of the entrance to the bay from the Tasman Sea is Cape Banks and, on the southern side, the outer headland is Cape Solander and the inner headland is Sutherland Point.

Phillip Bay, New South Wales Suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Peter Dillon was a ship's captain engaged in the merchant trade, explorer and writer. Dillon discovered in 1826–27 the fate of the La Pérouse expedition.

Bare Island (New South Wales)

Bare Island is a heritage-listed islet located in south-eastern Sydney, in La Perouse in the City of Randwick local government area in the state of New South Wales, in eastern Australia. The islet is located about 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) south east of the Sydney central business district, within Botany Bay, close to the bay's northern headland. Containing former fortification facilities, Bare Island was a former war veterans' home and museum and is now a historic site that was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999 and is significant as an almost completely intact example of late nineteenth century coastal defence technology. It was designed by Sir Peter Scratchley, Gustave Morell and James Barnet and built from 1881 to 1889 by John McLeod on behalf of the NSW Department of Public Works.

French ship <i>Astrolabe</i> (1781)

Astrolabe was a converted flûte of the French Navy, famous for her travels with Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse.

Boussole was a former flûte of the French Navy, famous for its exploration of the Pacific under Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse.

Vanikoro One of the Solomon Islands of the south-west Pacific

Vanikoro is an island in the Santa Cruz group, located 118 kilometres to the Southeast of the main Santa Cruz group. It is part of the Temotu Province of the Solomon Islands.

Paul Antoine Fleuriot de Langle

Paul Antoine Fleuriot de Langle was a French vicomte, académicien de marine, naval commander and explorer. He was second in command of the La Pérouse expedition, which departed France on 1 August 1785 and was eventually lost in the Pacific. Fleuriot de Langle died in an encounter with natives in what is now American Samoa before the expedition was lost; his remains were returned to France, and were buried in the choir of the church of Saint-Louis at Brest.

Barthélemy de Lesseps

Jean-Baptiste Barthélemy de Lesseps was a French diplomat and writer, member of the scientific expedition of Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse and uncle of Ferdinand de Lesseps.

Hyacinthe de Bougainville

Hyacinthe Yves Philippe Potentien, baron de Bougainville was a French naval officer. He was the son of Louis-Antoine de Bougainville. He became Rear-Admiral on 1 May 1838.

Jean-André Mongez was a French priest and mineralogist. He died at Vanikoro, on the La Pérouse expedition.

Louis Receveur

Claude-Francois Joseph Louis Receveur O.F.M. Conv.., was a French friar priest, naturalist and astronomer who sailed with Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse.

Jean Nicolas Collignon (1762–?1788) was a gardener and botanist from the Jardin du Roi who served on the La Pérouse expedition to the South Seas (1785–?1788).

Robert Sutton de Clonard was a French naval officer of Irish descent, notable for his role in the War of American Independence and in the Lapérouse expedition.

La Perouse Mission Church Church in New South Wales, Australia

The La Perouse Mission Church is a heritage-listed former church building and now vacant building and unused church located at 46 Adina Avenue, La Perouse, City of Randwick, New South Wales, Australia. It was built from 1894 to 1930. It is also known as Colebrook Memorial Aboriginal Evangelical Church. The property is owned by La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 15 March 2013.

Chinese Market Gardens (La Perouse)

The Chinese Market Gardens is a heritage-listed market gardens at 1-39 Bunnerong Road, La Perouse, City of Randwick, New South Wales, Australia. It is also known as Chinese Gardens La Perouse, Phillip Bay, Matraville and Randwick. The property is Crown land and is owned by NSW Department of Industry, a department of the Government of New South Wales. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 13 August 1999.


  1. 1 2 Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "La Perouse (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 17 December 2018. OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg CC-BY icon.svg Material was copied from this source, which is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
  2. "A place called Gooriwal | At The Beach | NSW Migration Heritage Centre". Retrieved 5 April 2017.
  3. "L'expédition de Lapérouse, 1785–1788". Retrieved 3 June 2014.
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  5. Peter Dillon's report 1826
  6. Captain John Hunter's Journal 1793
  7. The voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay-printed for John Stockdale 1789
  8. Hill, David (2009). 1788 : the brutal truth of the First Fleet. William Heinemann. ISBN   978-1-74166-800-1.
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  11. Wéry, Claudine (7 April 2005). "What news of Lapérouse?". The Guardian. London.
  12. Lapérouse wreck identified in Solomon Is Archived 11 May 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  13. Wéry, Claudine (7 April 2005). "What news of Lapérouse?". London: Guardian Weekly. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
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  15. 1 2 "". Archived from the original on 21 October 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
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  18. "Launch of "Lapérouse 2008-Press Club de France to launch Operation Lapérouse 2008, attended by Admiral Jean-Louis Battet" Operation". Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 24 July 2010.
  19. Le mystère Lapérouse, enquête dans le Pacifique sud (Musée de la Marine - Paris)
  20. "Macquarie Watchtower". New South Wales Heritage Database. Office of Environment and Heritage.
  21. Adele Horin (18 April 2010). "No Cann do any more as snake man farewells family tradition". The Sydney Morning Herald . Archived from the original on 10 October 2014.<
  22. The Book of Sydney Suburbs, Compiled by Frances Pollon, Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1990, Published in Australia ISBN   0-207-14495-8, page 149
  23. "History". Retrieved 3 June 2014.
  24. "Bare Island Fort". New South Wales State Heritage Register . Office of Environment and Heritage. H00978. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  25. "La Perouse Mission Church". New South Wales State Heritage Register . Office of Environment and Heritage. H01893. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  26. "Chinese Market Gardens". New South Wales State Heritage Register . Office of Environment and Heritage. H01299. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  27. "La Perouse Memorial". New South Wales Heritage Database. Office of Environment and Heritage.
  28. "Tomb of pere le Receveur". New South Wales Heritage Database. Office of Environment and Heritage.
  29. "La Perouse Museum". Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  30. "Laperouse Museum". Museums & Galleries NSW. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  31. 1938-, Cann, John (24 January 2018). The last snake man : the remarkable true-life story of an Aussie legend and a century of snake shows. Sydney. ISBN   9781760630515. OCLC   1014018699.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  32. "The Sydney Morning Herald Blogs: Entertainment".

Coordinates: 33°59′35″S151°14′36″E / 33.99306°S 151.24333°E / -33.99306; 151.24333