The Governor’s Noble Guest

Hyacinthe de Bougainville’s account of Port Jackson, 1825

Translated and edited by Marc Serge Rivière


“Baron Hyacinthe de Bougainville was the son of the famous French Pacific navigator Louis-Antoine de Bougainville.

“Like his father he was an officer of the French navy and in 1825 he commanded an expedition which tooK the ships Thétis and Espérance to Macau, Manila and New South Wales. It was at his initiative that the monument to his hero, La Perouse, was erected there.”

The Baron’s visit in 1825 was not his first visit. In 1802 he was part of the Baudin expedition visiting Port Jackson, as a midshipman first class, in the Géographe. Feigning illness, he was repatriated back to France on the Naturaliste under the command of Louis-Claude de Freycinet.

“This book is a translation of the private diaries kept by the Baron during his stay in New South Wales. In the diaries he recorded both his reactions to the society of the colony and his observations on some of its leading figures, among whom were Governor Brisbane; the explorers Hume, Hovell, Blaxland and Oxley; John Macarthur, Samuel Marsden and John Piper.

“The diaries also contain de Bougainville’s records of private comments these dignitaries made about one another, thus providing for the reader not only insights into the major personalities of the colony but also hitherto unpublished information about the administrative structures of New South Wales at this time.

“De Bougainville also gives detailed descriptions of expeditions to the Blue Mountains, Emu Plains, Cow Pastures, Windsor, Parramatta, Liverpool and other localities. He reflects on the architecture of Sydney and other towns, on the problems of the aborigines and emancipated convicts, and on trade, law and order.

“Through his eyes we see the leading figures of the colony in the privacy of their own homes and follow Bougainville’s brief romance with a local married beauty.”

The above text is quoted from the inside cover of the book.


Marc Serge Rivière is Professor of French and Head of the Department of Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of Limerick, Ireland, and formerly taught at James Cook University.

His previous works include:
A Woman of Courage, an account of Rose de Freycinet’s voyage to Australia (1996), and
Discovery of the Brisbane River, 1823. Oxley, Uniacke and Pamphlet: 175 Years in Retrospect (1998)

The Miegunyah Press
The Miegunyah Press is a special imprint of MUP

Published by
Melbourne University Press (MUP)
PO Box 278 Carlton South Vic 3053 Australia

First published in 1999

ISBN 0522848524