[Orchestral music with didgeridoo plays]
Voiceover: This is an audio dramatisation from the State Library of Victoria.
Man: Not feeling very well here aboard the Geography. We’re sailing to Australia with two ships, in what will surely be the greatest scientific expedition ever mounted. The French emperor Napoleon has spared no expense to outfit these ships with the finest scientific talent available. Well, let’s go below.
Baudin: [Shouts indecipherably]
Peron [in a French accent]: Why don’t you just use the maps, Baudin. That’s what we brought them for.
Baudin [in a French accent]: There, citizen Peron, look, move around. Twenty copies they sent us with, twenty copies of the same useless piece of paper. Look at this – the coastline simply stops.
Peron: Perhaps the entrance to the great inland sea.
Man: I’m afraid there is no inland sea.
Baudin: What do you know?
Peron: What does that say? Shark’s Bay?
Baudin: A little frightened pigeon. Tell him to stick to science and I will stick to sailing.
[Yelling and splashing sounds]
Baudin: Ask him, are the botanists and zoologists prepared to go to shore and collect some pearls?
Peron: Why doesn’t he ask young Bougainville?
Baudin: [Speaks French]
Man: Who is Monsieur Bougainville?
Peron: It doesn’t matter, he left with the other 50 men who had the good sense to jump ship at Île-de-France.
Man: Things seem a little tense.
Baudin: Matthew Flinders might already be there, way ahead of us. The English kept the good maps for themselves.
Peron: General Bonaparte has demanded too much of this expedition.
Baudin: Have you seen what waits to greet us when we land?
Peron: What is this? I have not seen this book before. Journal of a voyage to New South Wales, 1790!
Man: Oh my goodness, that would be John White’s book. He was a surgeon on the First Fleet.
Baudin: This bird stands seven feet high and has a saw-blade down the back of each leg.
Peron:Mon dieu, look at that! It is a giant murderous goose. How many books do you have here? Why have you not shared these with the scientists?
[Sound of pages turning]
Baudin: How about this one? This animal stands between five and eight feet on its hind legs – legs so powerful as to propel it through the air more than 10 feet and faster than an ‘orse.
Peron: That one?
Peron: Is it a giant mouse?
Baudin: The Englishman Banks writes here that it is called a kangaroo.
Peron: Giant geese, a giant mouse! What other monsters wait for us in this hell?
Man: If you will excuse me gentlemen, I think I’d best retire to my quarters.
Baudin: You don’t look so good.
[Orchestral music with didgeridoo swells]
Voiceover: This has been an audio dramatisation from the State Library of Victoria.