La Perouse



The La Perouse peninsula is the northern headland of Botany Bay. A large area of La Perouse is open space, where one can find the old military outpost at Bare Island and the northern section of Botany Bay National Park. Congwong Bay Beach, Little Congwong Beach, and the beach at Frenchmans Bay provide protected swimming areas in Botany Bay. La Perouse is one of few Sydney suburbs with a French name, others being Sans Souci, Engadine and Vaucluse. Kurnell is located opposite, on the southern headland of Botany Bay. These features and the picturesque beaches attract large numbers of visitors to the suburb.

Visitors can learn about the indigenous significance of the area from the Aboriginal people of the area, with boomerang-throwing demonstrations often held on weekends and Aboriginal guided tours operating from Yarra Bay House during the week. Aboriginal artefacts are produced and sold by locals. An outdoor reptile show is also a well-known tourist attraction in the pit, at The Loop, on Sunday afternoons. The reptile shows were begun by George Cann in the early 1920s and the tradition has been continued by members of the Cann family ever since, until 2010.

Click on or tap an attraction to read the description. Click or tap again to hide the description.

Congwong Bay



Though the Kurnell Refinery is visible across the bay and Botany s port and industrial area is just around the corner, the low-surf Congwong Bay, like its neighbour, Little Congwong Bay, is sufficiently secluded to not be affected by its location. Incoming tides gently scour the bay, ensuring this beach has the lowest pollution readings of any in the Sydney metro area. Located on Botany Bay within the Botany Bay National Park. Anzac Parade, La Perouse.

To reach Little Congwong Bay, take the Congwong Beach Walk, cross Congwong Beach and follow the pathway to Little Congwong. Many regulars take short-cuts across the rocks between the two beaches. Little Congwong is an unofficial nudist beach. No facilities at beach.

Frenchmans and Yarra Bays


In spite of its close proximity to local industry, the airport and Port Botany shipping facilities, Frenchmans Bay is a pleasant 60-metre strip of beach, ideal for families, on the north-east shore of Botany Bay. The bay's name recalls the visit of French explorer Comte de La Perouse, whose two ships entered Botany Bay and anchored here shortly after the arrival of the First Fleet in January 1788. Yarra Bay is large bay to the immediate west of Frenchmans Bay. It was for many years the site of an Aboriginal community, which was first established during the 19th Century. Landscaping has done much to improve the park and hide its location, as Port Botany and the airport are just a stone's throw away. It has a picnic area, sailboard and kayak launching area; yacht club with boat ramp.

Facilities: toilets, grassed picnic area with barbecue and picnic facilities, shops, cafe and restaurant at nearby Frenchman's Bay.

La Perouse Watch Tower



An octagonal building complete with firing slots in the walls that have never been used. It was constructed of local a sandstone under instructions from Gov. Macquarie as a place from which coastguards could keep a lookout for smugglers and stray vessels in the Botany Bay area. The watchtower was the last building to be erected by Macquarie in New South Wales. It stands near the northern entrance to Botany Bay on the promontory where in January 1788, a day after the arrival of the First Fleet, French explorer and scientist La Perouse brought his two ships to anchor for a two month sojourn. His visit is marked by a monument located near the grave of Pere (Father) L.C. Receveur, a Franciscan Monk travelling as a scientist aboard L Astrolabe, who died here from spear wounds received in Bougainville. He was the first Frenchman to die and be buried on Australian soil.

La Perouse Monument



A stone obelisk with a globe on top which commemorates the visit to Botany Bay in January 1788 of French explorer La Perouse and his two ships L Astrolabe and La Boussole. The two ships stayed at Botany Bay for six weeks before setting sail never to be seen again. More than a century later they later discovered wrecked on reefs at Vantikoro off the Solomon Islands. The monument was designed by Colonial Architect George Cockney to the instructions of the Governor, Sir Thomas Brisbane, and officially commemorated by Captain B.H. Bougainville. Erected in 1825, it is believed to be the oldest monument in Sydney and perhaps the whole of Australia. Several plaques have since been added which commemorate other French citizens in Australia.

Joseph (Pére) Receveur's Grave



On the shores of Frenchmans Bay is the grave of French Franciscan friar Claude-Francois Joseph (Pére) Receveur, who came to Australia on La Boussole in January 1788 at the time of the arrival of the first fleet. L'Astrolabe and La Boussole, commanded by La Compt de La Perouse, were on an expedition of discovery and exploration into the Pacific. They landed on 6th December 1787 at Maouna, in the Navigator Islands in the Samoan Group, where an exploring party was attacked by natives, 12 being killed and others wounded. Among the latter was Receveur, who was a chaplain, botanist and shoemaker. He succumbed to his wounds after landing on Australian shores. The tomb we see today was erected by Baron de Bougainville in 1825 near the grave site. The Baron commissioned and paid for the present tombstone and the monument to Laperouse, after consultation with Governor Thomas Brisbane. Both were designed and costed by the Government Architect George Cookney. The epitaph appears to have been based on the texts recorded by the First Fleet officers in early 1788, but with some change in the Latin grammar. Although commemorative Catholic Masses at the gravesite were reported as early as 1879, in 1933, 5,000 people attended the first mass 'pilgrimage' to Pére Receveur's grave.

Receveur's burial, on 17th February 1788 on the La Perouse headland, was the third recorded death and burial of an European on Australian soil. Forby Sutherland, a member of James Cook's expedition, died a few kilometres to the south of La Perouse in April 1770; William Dampier's cook, John Goodman, died in August 1699 whilst in Shark Bay; a Dutch sailor of the Duyfken is known to have died and been buried near Cape Keerweer on the Gulf of Carpentaria in March 1606, though his name was not recorded.

Receveur's grave was originally marked with a painted epitaph fixed to a tree trunk. Laperouse departed Botany Bay on 10 March 1788. Soon after, the grave marker was found to have been torn down. Governor Phillip ordered a replacement to be engraved on copper. Several officers in the First Fleet recorded the epitaph with varying degrees of consistency. When Louis Isidore Duperrey's expedition arrived in New South Wales on the Coquille in 1824, a number of the officers went in search of Laperouse's campsite and Receveur's grave on Botany Bay. One of them, Ensign Victor-Charles Lottin, recorded that after they found it. They carved the trunk of an enormous eucalyptus which shaded the site, with the words: Prés de cet arbre reposent les cendres du pére Receveur, visité en mars 1824 [Near this tree lie the remains of Father Receveur, visited in March 1824]. The tree was later used as a windbreak for a fire, but the carved inscription was saved thanks to the efforts of Simeon Pearce, later the first mayor of Randwick. It was then exhibited at the Exposition Universelle, in Paris in 1854. Soon after, it became part of the collection of the Louvre and thence the nascent Musée de la Marine in Paris.



Kamay Botany Bay National Park


Filled with significant sites, remarkable landscapes and heritage-listed attractions, Kamay Botany Bay National Park offers an idyllic daytrip from Sydney. Separated by the marine-rich waters of historic Botany Bay, the park s northern and southern headlands feature a unique combination of natural and cultural heritage. Most of the places listed here are found within Kamay Botany Bay National Park.

Botany Bay National Park has two sections  one on the northern side of the entrance to Botany Bay, and the other on the southern shore. The park has numerous historic sites, including the site of Lt. James Cook s landing in 1770. A snake display and demonstrations of boomerang throwing are held on weekends at La Perouse.

La Perouse: End of Anzac Parade, La Perouse: Open all times. La Perouse Museum (Old Cable Station) open 9.00 am - 4.30 pm daily, phone (02) 9331 3379. Bare Island Fort open Sundays, phone (02) 9311 2765. Facilities: toilets, picnic area, cafes and restaurant, swimming beach.

Kurnell: End of Captain Cook Drive, Kurnell: Park open 7.00 am 0 8.00 pm every day. Discovery Centre open 9.30 pm - 4.00 pm daily. Gift shop open Wednesday to Sunday. Phone (02) 9668 9111.

Bare Island


The small island just inside the heads was described by Captain James Cook as 'a small bare island'. It was never given a name, and so the notation on Cook s charts stayed as the means of identifaction of this small island at the head of Botany Bay.

Bare Island was part of the traditional land of the Gweagal and Kameygal Aboriginal tribes. The island was fortified in 1885, according to a design by colonial architect, James Barnet (1827 1904), and fitted with heavy guns. In 1912 Bare Island became a retirement home for war veterans, which continued to operate until 1963 when it was handed over to the New South Wales Parks and Wildlife Service for use as a museum and tourist attraction. Bare Island is connected by a footbridge to the suburb of La Perouse. The historic military fort and tunnels can only be visited by guided tour. The waters around the island are popular with scuba divers.
Cape Banks Walking Track


A walking track from the main car parking area at La Perouse follows the coastline to Henry Head and Cape Banks. On the way you'll pass Bare Island, Congwong Bay, Endeavour lighthouse which guides ships into Botany Bay; the ruins of Henry Head fortifications and the remains of the coastal steamer, the Minmi, which ran aground one foggy morning in May 1937 and has been washed onto the rocks of Pussycat Bay. North of the wreck are the remains of the Cape Banks fortifications; an old cemetery attached to Prince Henry Hospital where people who died of infectious diseases were buried (including victims of Leperosy, Smallpox plague of 1881, Bubonic plague of 1901, Spanish Flu brought home by World War I soldiers); and freshwater pools noted in the log of the Endeavour by James Cook in 1770. These pools are located directly below the 128th tee of the N.S.W. Golf Club.

Prior to World War II a portion of the land located on Cape Banks that belongs to the New South Wales Golf Club was utilized by the Australian Defence Forces for the construction of the Cape Banks Battery. This was part of the Sydney Coastal Defences built prior to and during World War II. The counter bombardment fortifications consisted of two breech loading 9.2 inch gun emplacements, underground plotting room, underground powder and shell magazine, hydraulic pump room, and some short tunnels linking the different sections. During this period the Henry Head Battery which was built much earlier was also re-utilized as a local defence post, to stop landing parties from lning at La Perouse to attack Cape Banks, and consisted of two breech loading 6 inch guns when built, but by World War II was armed with two 18pdr field guns, on pedestals, in newly built concrete emplacements. Easy to Moderate walk. 4 km return.

SS Minmi shipwreck


The remains of the coastal steamer, the Minmi, which ran aground one foggy morning in May 1937 and was washed onto the rocks of Pussycat Bay, can be seen on the Cape Banks Walking Track. The SS Minmi was built in Glasgow, Scotland in 1927. She was 75 metres long, and displaced 1,455 tons. The Minmi was a collier, carrying coal from Newcastle to Melbourne and returning empty. It was named after either the lower Hunter Valley town of Minmi, or the nearby Minmi Colliery.

On 8 May 1937, the Minmi left Melbourne for Newcastle under Captain Robert Clark Callum. The Minmi s captain for all of her ten-year service was Captain McPhall, who had brought the ship to Australia. Captain McPhall commenced two weeks  leave in the first week of May, leaving Chief Officer Callum to take over as Captain. At 10 pm they were off Botany Bay in heavy seas and dense fog, and shortly after the ship struck the outside of Cape Banks, the outer northern headland of Botany Bay.

Soldiers at the nearby Cape Banks Artillery Garrison were awoken by the sound of escaping steam, and saw the ship hard on the rocks. Frederick Boulton, the ship s cook, collapsed and died of a heart attack soon after the ship struck the rocks. The rest of the crew of more than 20 were stranded on the vessel due to the heavy seas.

The Minmi split in two at about 12:45 am, with crew members stranded on both the front and back sections. Those at the front were rescued without incident, but it was more perilous for those in the rear. A line was tied to the rear section, with the other end held by rescuers. One life, a Mr Burnside, was lost in the heavy seas, and several other members of the crew spent the night on the vessel before being rescued at daylight.

Crowds estimated at 40,000 on 15 May 1937 and 60,000 the next day made the trek to La Perouse to see the wreck. Cars were banked up for four miles along Bunnerong Road (now Anzac Parade) towards the city, and police were required to control traffic and guard the cliffs. Many sightseers crossed the NSW Golf Course to get to the wreck site, and in doing so prevented golf games from proceeding, and causing damage to the course.

The wreck was sold for 200 pounds to salvagers Penguin Ltd, and while undertaking salvage operations the men lived in caves at the scene. A marine inquiry exonerated the captain of the charge of failing to navigate the ship safely. The stern section of the Minmi is still visible on the rock platform on the inside of Cape Banks.
Easy to Moderate walk. 4 km return.

Aboriginal Rock Art

A carving of a large sea creature, possibly a whale, and its calf, was once clearly visible on the rocks at the southern end of Frenchmans Bay. Identified as being 120 metres south west of the La Perouse monument, the whale is 10 metres long and the calf half that length. Little of the carving is visible today, thanks to wind, water and foot erosion, being located at a spot which has been frequented by fishermen and visitors for over a hundred years. A carving of a shark and two unidentified objects, possibly weapons or tools such as an axe, are known to have existed 180 metres away. On a boulder like rock 30 metres north east of the fish were two carvings of boomerangs, one with a reverse curve.

La Perouse Museum


The Laperouse Museum contains maps, scientific instruments and relics recovered from French explorers. A walking trail from the museum to the Endeavour Lighthouse, offers spectacular views across the bay to the site of Captain Cook s Landing Place. The large La Perouse Monument is an obelisk erected in 1825 by the French, is located close to the museum and another memorial marks the grave of Father Receveur. The fortified Bare Island is linked by a footbridge. The Museum was originally built as cable station to house the operation of the first submarine telegraph communications cable laid between Australia and Nelson in New Zealand. This cable also served as the first link in telegraph communications between New Zealand and the rest of the world. After the cessation of telegraph communications, the building served as a home for orphans run by the Salvation Army, with the children attending La Perouse Public School when this first opened in the early 1950s.

Visitors can learn about the indigenous significance of the area from the Aboriginal people of the area, with boomerang-throwing demonstrations often held on weekends and Aboriginal guided tours operating from Yarra Bay House during the week. Aboriginal artefacts are produced and sold by locals. An outdoor reptile show is also a well-known tourist attraction in the pit, at The Loop, on Sunday afternoons. The reptile shows were begun by George Cann in the early 1920s and the tradition has been continued by members of the Cann family ever since, until 2010.

Old Cable Station, Anzac Parade, La Perouse. Open daily 9.30 am - 4.00 pm. Phone (02) 9311 3379

La Perouse: The place


Aboriginal people were the first to live at Phillip Bay and La Perouse and their presence was recorded by Europeans in 1812 by a French expedition. In 1883 a camp was established under the Aborigines Protection Board. Through time the settlement was run by a variety of church and welfare groups. At the end of the 1920s the reserve was moved back from the unstable sand to around the Elaroo Avenue area. The area is now owned by Aboriginal people, as is Yarra Bay house and the headland between Frenchmans and Yarra Bay.

Apart from the presence of that aboriginal community and a number of whaleboat operators, the area remained relatively untouched until after World War II. In 1821, Gov. Macquarie built the stone watchtower for the use of soldiers posted in the area to sight enemy ships. It was Macquarie s last construction project before his departure in that year. In 1885 the Bare Island Fort was erected as part of Sydney s maritime defence system.

The former La Perouse tram line branched from Oxford Street at Taylor Square in Darlinghurst to run south along Flinders Street, then into its own tram reservation along the eastern side of Anzac Parade beside Moore Park. It then proceeded down the centre of Anzac Parade through Maroubra Junction, and Malabar to its balloon loop terminus at La Perouse. At Malabar, a single line branched off to serve Long Bay Gaol. The line was double track throughout. The line reached La Perouse in stages from 1900 to 1902. The Loop is the circular track that was built as part of the Sydney tram terminus at La Perouse. Closure was supported by the NRMA, but generally went against public opinion. Nevertheless, closure became Labor government policy and the system was wound down in stages, with withdrawal of the last service, to La Perouse in 1961. The line followed the current route of bus 394.

La Perouse: The Man

Louis XVI giving his instructions to La Perouse - Tableau de Nicolas Monsiau, 1817.

La Perouse was named after the French navigator Jean-Francois de Galaup, comte de La Perouse (1741 88), who landed on the northern shore of Botany Bay west of Bare Island on the 26th January 1788. Captain Arthur Phillip and the first fleet of convicts had arrived in Botany Bay a few days earlier. Louis XVI of France had commissioned La Perouse to explore the Pacific. In April 1770 James Cook s expedition had sailed onto the east coast of Australia whilst exploring the south Pacific searching for Terra Australis or 'Land of the South'. Upon King Louis XVI s orders, La Perouse departed Brest, France, in command of Astrolabe and Boussole on 1 August 1785 on a scientific voyage of the Pacific Inspired by the voyages of Cook. La Perouse in Sydney s south is named after the leader of this French expedition.

La Perouse s two ships sailed to New South Wales after 12 of his men had been attacked and killed in the Navigator Islands (Samoa). Astrolabe and Boussole arrived off Botany Bay on 24 January just six days after Captain Arthur Phillip (1738 1814) had anchored just west[citation needed] of Bare Island, in H.M. Armed Tender Supply. On 26 January 1788, as Hunter was moving the First Fleet around to Port Jackson after finding Botany Bay unsuitable for a Settlement, La Perouse was sailing into Botany Bay, anchoring there just eight days after the British had.

The British received La Perouse courteously, and offered him any assistance he might need. The French were far better provisioned than the English were, and extended the same courtesy but apparently neither offer was accepted. The commander of the Fleet, Captain Phillip, ordered that two British naval vessels, Sirius and Supply, meet the French. Contrary to popular belief, the French did not have orders to claim Terra Australis for France and the arrival of the French ships Astrolabe and Boussole and their meeting with the ships of the British expedition was cordial and followed normal protocols. La Perouse subsequently sent his journals and letters to Europe with the British ship, the Sirius.

The expedition s naturalist and chaplain, Father Receveur, died in February after a skirmish the previous December in Samoa with the inhabitants, in which Langle, commander of Astrolabe and 12 other members of the French expedition were killed. Receveur, injured in that skirmish, died at Botany Bay and was buried at Frenchmans Cove below the headland that is now called La Perouse, not far from the La Perouse Museum. The place was marked by a tin plate but the local Aborigines quickly removed it. The British replaced it with another and tended the site. In 1824 the tree was inscribed by Victor-Charles Lottin (1781 1846), an ensign visiting with Louis Isidore Duperrey. The following year, Hyacinthe de Bougainville paid for the tombstone that is on the site today. It was designed by Government Architect George Cookney (1799 1876). Receveur was the second European to be buried in Australian soil, the first being Sutherland from Cook s 1770 expedition who is buried at nearby Kurnell on the other side of the Botany Bay headlands.

Monument to La Perouse near the La Perouse Museum

The French stayed at Botany Bay for six weeks and built a stockade, observatory and a garden for fresh produce on what is now known as the La Perouse peninsula. After completing the building a longboat (to replace one lost in the attack in the Navigator Islands) and obtaining wood and water, the French departed for New Caledonia, Santa Cruz, the Solomons, and the Louisiades. La Perouse wrote in his journals that he expected to be back in France by December 1788, but the two ships vanished. The last official sighting of the French expedition was in March 1788 when British lookouts stationed at the South Head of Port Jackson saw the expedition sail from Botany Bay. The French expedition was wrecked a short time later on the reefs of Vanikoro in the Solomon Islands during a cyclone sometime during April or May 1788, the circumstances remained a mystery for 40 years. Some of the mystery was solved in 1826 when items associated with the French ships were found on an island in the Santa Cruz group, with wreckage of the ships themselves discovered in 1964.



  • Get Directions







  • How to get there:
    by car to La Perouse headland; orBus No. 393 from Railway Square; or Bus No. 394, 398, 399 from Circular Quay.

    The Name
    Commemorates French navigator Jean-Francois de Galaup, Comte de La Perouse, whose two ships entered Botany Bay and anchored on the northern side of the Bay shortly after the arrival of the First Fleet in January 1788. A week after the expedition landed, Pere Receveur, a Franciscan monk who was travelling as a scientist aboard L Astrolabe, died from spear wounds received in Samoa two months earlier when a landing party was attacked by natives. La Perouse s ships left the area on 11 March 1788, never to be seen or heard of again. Receveur s grave, and the name of nearby Frenchmans Bay, recall the visit of this ill-fated expedition. The aboriginal name for the locality was Bunnerong.

Australia For Everyone: Ph: 0412 879 698 | Email
Content © 2017, Australia For Everyone