Resurfacing History: Lapérouse’s Anchor Takes Center Stage at the La Perouse Museum

Resurfacing History: Lapérouse’s Anchor Takes Centre Stage at the La Perouse Museum

Did you know that after more than 50 years, the original anchor from the 1788 French expedition is finally on display at the La Perouse Museum?

In a momentous ceremony held at the La Perouse Museum, the original ship anchor from Admiral Lapérouse’s legendary voyage to Australia in 1788 was finally revealed to the world on 5 May 2023. After languishing in storage for over half a century and lying dormant on the ocean floor for nearly two centuries, this remarkable artefact resurfaced, breathing life into a bygone era.

The anchor was unveiled in a joint effort by Dylan Parker, Mayor of Randwick and Martin Juillard, the Consul-General of France, symbolising the enduring friendship between the two nations.

“This anchor is an incredible piece of history. It is tangible evidence of Lapérouse and his stay here for six weeks in 1788, before he sailed off into mystery and then into history,” said Mayor Dylan Parker.

This anchor once belonged to Jean François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse, a French naval officer and explorer. Docking his majestic vessel, the Astrolabe, at Botany Bay on that fateful day of 24 January 1788, Lapérouse crossed paths with Captain Arthur Philip and his crew, who were dispatched to establish the penal colony of New South Wales.

After resupplying and rejuvenating during their six-week stay, Admiral Lapérouse and his crew set sail, vanishing into the vastness of the ocean, never to be seen again. Decades passed before the wreckage of their vessel was discovered in 1826, lying amidst a reef in the Solomon Islands. 

The anchor, once an integral part of Lapérouse’s expedition, lay undisturbed on the ocean floor until 1959 when it was finally salvaged. In a gesture of camaraderie, the French Navy bestowed this priceless artefact upon the French community of Sydney in 1964.

After a period of public display on the headland at La Perouse, it suffered from an act of vandalism, prompting its relocation to storage in the 1970s. However, recent efforts by the Randwick City Council, in collaboration with International Conservation Services, have successfully restored and preserved this historical gem. Through their meticulous work, the anchor’s deterioration has been arrested, ensuring its perpetual exhibition in the serene courtyard of the La Perouse Museum.

Published 8-June-2023