Catégorie : History

Hot From The Press…

Le Courrier Australien is a bilingual (french & english) monthly newspaper in Sydney. Article of August, 2018.

Residence of Australian Excellence in France: the Hamelin house.


The historic Hamelin House in Honfleur, close to Le Havre, is for sale. Given its Franco-Australian ties, the Institute Nicholas Baudin is looking for an Australian organisation, company or individual to continue the Institute’s valuable work.

Jacques Hamelin was Baudin’s Second-in-Command and Captained the renowned ship “Naturaliste”.  Hamelin was also the victor of the battle of Grand Port, Mauritius, which was the only naval battle won by the French against the English during the Napoleonic wars, and remains the only battle inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Hamelin was born and raised in the house and spent time there before the departure of the Baudin expedition from Le Havre to farewell his parents and entrust them with the safety of his wife. The suburb of Honfleur is very close to Le Havre, where the Museum of Natural History is located and holds the Lesueur et Petit collection – works by the artists of the Baudin expedition.


Honfleur is an historic city, and many families have lived there for generations if not centuries. There remains a wealth of historical artefacts held by these families and have never been made public. It isn’t unheard of to unearth unpublished papers from Hamelin’s very hand when making friends with locals and digging up treasures from this town steeped in history.

Whenever locals begin renovations on their properties they find objects, writing on their housing foundations, and even sculptures from centuries ago. The Hamelin House would likely qualify to be registered on the ISMH list of Historical Monuments for protection by the French State, and with the help of an architect or archaeologist the original XVIIIths century features of the home could be uncovered.

The Institut Nicolas Baudin (INB), a French-Australian research institute whose scientific direction is ensured by the CSIRO, immediately formed the project to create in this house a Residence of Australian Excellence in France. It will be able to welcome Australian scientists, researchers, students and artists who have come to complete their research and work in France. For this purpose, the INB launched this week a search for Australian foundations, institutions, private people likely to collect the sum (low enough) to acquire the house and arrange it to accommodate residents. INB members live in Honfleur are therefore ideally positioned to take care of the site on a full-time basis.

The Property:

The entire property comprises of two apartments and has been listed for sale for a short period. The apartments are high-end, seasonal spaces which we believe will make well-suited residences for researchers. There is a restaurant on the ground floor which originally house Hamelin’s father’s apothecary and is currently in perfect condition. A plaque on the building’s façade signifies that the home was the true birthplace of Hamelin.


Hot From The Press… is a French daily newspaper in Melbourne, Victoria and their surroundings. Article of June 8, 2018.

The Institut Nicolas Baudin will present  a forgotten antique map in Australia between November 2018 and January 2019.


Since 2015, the founders of the Institute, Alizée Chasse and Patrick Llewellyn, have been working on the writing of their book « Terra Australe » – Terra Australis, a trilogy that tells the expeditions of Nicolas Baudin and the English Matthew Flinders in Australia to 1800. They also have contributed to the Art of Science exhibition currently in Canberra. While conducting theirs researches with the director of maps and plans of the National Library of France (BNF), they discovered a totally new and forgotten map, fundamental in the history of Australia.

The legacy of explorer Nicolas Baudin.
explorateur france australie carte héritage livre roman histoire institut nicolas baudin BNF bibliothèque nationale de France cartographie

Today, about 450 French names punctuate the map of the coast of Australia. On his return from the Baudin expedition, one of the officers, Louis de Freycinet, drew and published in France the very first complete map of the Australian coast in 1811, under Napoleon. A few years later a controversy replaced many names of French places by English names. In 1910, on the occasion of the creation of the Australian federal capital, Canberra, the descendant of one of the expedition’s officers, Alphonse de Fleurieu came to Australia to ask for – and obtain – the restoration of many French names. He drew a map with his own hand, indicating in red the names he claimed. This map was transferred to the BNF archives in 1912 and has never been published since.


For the first time, the Nicolas Baudin Institute will digitize this map to show it as part of a series of free public lectures in Paris, Perth / Fremantle, Albany, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Hobart. This will be the first essential step before an exhibition with the original map in 2019 in Australia. In order to finance this introductory tour, the Institut Nicolas Baudin uses a crowdfunding campaign, hoping that many Australians and French will support this project deeply rooted in the common history of France and Australia. The crowdfunding campaign has just been launched on an Australian platform, Ready Fund Go.

5 things you didn’t know about sea pigs.

credit:  mother nature network (mnn)

1. Yes, sea pigs actually exist.

It’s an alien, it’s a cucumber, no — it’s the sea pig! It’s hard to imagine something small and pink that snarfles its way across the ocean floor like a pig in a pen, but here it is. Sea pigs are sea cucumbers, a class of animals called echinoderms that also includes sea urchins and starfish.

Maybe next time you see a sea star, you’ll look out to the ocean’s horizon and think of Scotoplanes, this strange cousin of your familiar tide pool creatures.

2. Sea pigs are found in all of the oceans of the world.

While you might not have heard of them before, they’re actually all over the place — well, as long as it’s very cold and very deep. They’ve been found as far as 3.7 miles under the ocean surface.

Encyclopedia of Life notes that they « are restricted to deep and cold parts of the world ocean, where they are the dominant large animals in most areas, often comprising more than 95 percent of the total weight of animals on the deep-sea floor. »

While they’re abundant, you’re probably never going to see one since they are truly creatures of the abyss.

3. Sea pigs are scavengers.

These small creatures prefer an easy meal, mostly one that they don’t have to catch. While it sounds lazy, this scavenging is actually a great service for the ocean ecosystem, as sea pigs act like vacuum cleaners tidying up the ocean floor. If there’s a carcass that sinks to the floor, there’s likely a little herd of piggies zeroing in on it for lunch.

Australian Geographic notes, « Sea pigs can congregate in enormous numbers when there’s a meal to be had — biologists have spotted herds of 300-600 individuals, and weirdly enough, they all face in the same direction, presumably to take advantage of the detritus floating in the current. »

4. They’re also like earthworms.

The comparison of Scotoplanes to land-dwelling creatures doesn’t stop at barnyard animals. Marine biologist David Pawson of the National Museum of Natural History compares them to another weird but helpful animal. WIRED explains:

When they’re not gobbling marine snow or the occasional whale juice, sea pigs are going after all kinds of microbes on the seafloor. Which is just as well, because such microbes are consuming a whole lot of oxygen down there. When the sea pigs pass this microbial mud through their digestive system, they of course absorb all the good nutrients, but also themselves end up adding oxygen back into the muck and pooping it out on the seafloor. « They’re like earthworms, » says Pawson. « They sort of process the deep-sea mud and make it livable for other animals because they’ve increased the amount of available oxygen in it. »

5. They’ve got crabs (in a good way). 

Sea pigs aren’t the only ones making a life at the bottom of the ocean. Baby king crabs make a go of growing up there as well. And those baby crabs, an easy meal for predators, need protectors. They find just such a protector in the unlikely shape of a sea pig.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute reports that in 2011, researchers noticed baby king crabs clinging to quite a few sea pigs. In reviewing footage of other deep sea creatures, they witnessed this savvy survival strategy:

All in all, the researchers examined about 2,600 sea cucumbers and found that almost one quarter of them carried crabs. Virtually all of the crabs were juveniles of a species of king crab called Neolithodes diomedeae. The researchers were surprised to discover that virtually all (96 percent) of the juvenile Neolithodes crabs they saw in deep muddy-bottom areas were clinging to sea pigs.

It doesn’t happen everywhere. Rather, juvenile crabs hitch a hiding place on sea pigs only in places where sea pigs are « the largest benthic structure available as shelter. »

On board the Valdivia, Fritz Winter – expedition photographer at the age of 20.

In 1898, 20-year-old Fritz Winter was supposed to finish high school, instead he boarded the first German deep-sea expedition. He recorded on impressive photos, what the deep-sea researchers on the Valdivia experienced during their expedition. His pictures also show everyday life aboard the ship.

« Before passing the Abitur examination, I received the request to participate in the voyage of the 1st German Deep Sea Expedition, which was carried out on behalf of the Reichsamt of the Interior on S. M. S. Valdivia. »

With these sober words Friedrich Wilhem Winter, called Fritz, describes the beginning of probably the greatest adventure of his still young life. He spent an entire year aboard the Valdivia. With the research vessel, which started on 1 August 1898 in Hamburg, he once traveled all over Africa, to the Antarctic pack ice border and to the Indonesian island of Sumatra. What they brought with them from the journey should keep science busy for many years to come. They discovered a large number of new species, including the alien-looking frogfish. Fritz Winter’s pictures were not just scientific. In impressive shots, he also recorded the events on deck and the environment.

Fritz Winter was born in Frankfurt am Main on June 21, 1878. His father was a partner of the Graphic Arts Institutions and printers Wener and Winter. In addition to the preparations for the Abitur Fritz Winter attended lectures in the Senckenberg Institutes in Frankfurt and lectures on plastic anatomy in the Städel Art Institute. Qualified enough to hire as a photographer and sketch artist in one of the world’s most important deep-sea expeditions. Ten expedition members went aboard with him. Led by the head of the research trip, Carl Chun from Leipzig. There were also 46 crew members, most notably Captain Adalbert Krech.

After his return Fritz Winter studied natural sciences and systematic anatomy at the University of Leipzig. Due to the death of his father, he had to give up studying and took over the management of the father’s company. He later continued his studies in Fankfurt at the Senckenberg Institutes. In 1901 he was appointed as a scientific reproduction technician member of the Senckenberg Society. The scientist and photographer died on 8 June 1917 from a war injury. On the occasion of its centenary on November 22, 1917, the Senckenberg Society welcomed Friedrich Wilhelm Winter as an « Eternal Member ».

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