French garden from 1792

Tuesday 26 February 2019

The Pigsties, Recherche Bay

It was a lazy start to the day.  And when I say “lazy”, I mean Chimere was breaking new ground with 9:00am, or there-a-bouts, being a PB for ALL crew to appear from their respective cabins.

“But I was reading a book in bed” said Isabel.  “And I kept asking her questions, and interrupting her … but it’s not our fault … if you provide us with comfy beds, we’re naturally going to use them … ”, followed up Jacqui. 

But this really WAS meant to be a slow day and after a generous breakfast we were ready to go ashore and explore by around 12:00 noon

Isabel led the way to discover what remains of the stone walls that once enclosed the French garden built in 1792
The rocks along the beach had distinctive shapes

Once ashore, Isabel took the lead with her Google-notes about Felix Delahaye, (plus old map of the area) the gardener aboard the French ship Recherche.  Our objective was to locate the walled garden – or what was left of it – he, and no doubt many of the ship’s crew, built in 1792.  The purpose of the garden being to supply the ship as well as serve as a form of food-insurance for future visitors. 

How hard could it be? 

Isabel leads the way

But Isabel was not deterred by the thick forest that extended inland from the rocky tide-line.  She had her ancient map and after lining up one rocky headland against the other to establish exactly where it might be … what do you think we found?  Moss-covered rock walls, evidence of a dam, a hand-dug overflow channel and piles of rocks further inland; no doubt the remains of further walls or structures.

The remains of the garden wall were easy to find … when you knew where to look … and were very impressive
More stone walls in the forest that has reclaimed the garden it once encircled
Ray, Isabel, Jacqui and John next to a pile of rocks further off the beach

I WAS hoping to be able to dig up some carrots, or maybe pick a few French apples, but still, what do you expect after more than 200 years?!

Check out the following links for more reading on the site.   It’s certainly a fascinating part of Australia’s early European history that I suspect is largely unknown.

It was a voyage of scientific discovery in 1792. We found this small plaque set in a rock on the headland overlooking the bay and the French garden
John inspects the plaque set in the rock in 1992 to recognise 200 years since D’Entrecasteaux landed in 1792’Entrecasteaux_1792_Celebrating_a_bicentennial_in_geomagnetism

Making our way back to Chimere for a late lunch, John took the prize for seeing the only wildlife … a tiger snake curled up minding its own business in a small clearing.  As a New Zealander, John took the encounter very much in his stride and by the time I’d caught up with him all I saw was 30cm of black tail retreating into the bushes.   …

The wind kept up a persistent 15-20 knots from the south-west, but whilst it threatened, the only rain was during the night  

John relaxes with a book from the ships library

Culinary-wise … this was definitely the day of the egg.  For breakfast, in two cakes (carrot, date and sultana cake) for first and second afternoon teas (and dessert tonight with ice-cream) and quiche.

What could be better than a carrot/date/sultana cake … TWO
carrot/date/sultana cakes
Some of the green things that again ended up in the delicious dinner

Back on board there was some sleeping in the afternoon, reading, cooking and relaxing – all the while anticipating our departure from the bay tomorrow and return to the bays, coves, beaches and headlands around the south west corner from where we had retreated two days earlier.

My kind of sailing footwear
What sort of sailing is this??

With the wind expected to move “northeast to southeasterly” tomorrow, we are looking forward to off-shore winds, rather than the persistent south westerly that builds the swell and always seems to have you on edge

The view from the side deck in The Pigsties, Recherche Bay
These guys waited in vain for a feed
Photographing the sunset and this bird flies past and mucks up the shot …

Our destination will again be Louisa Bay tomorrow night, however, we might consider alternatives if the effect of the southwest swell is too dominant – anchorages such as Cox Bight, New Harbour or Ketchem Bay.

Smooth seas, fair breeze and French garden from 1792

Rob Latimer


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