Known for his pioneering work on Russia's early exploits in
Australia and the Pacific, historian Glynn Barratt again breaks new
ground in presenting the first comprehensive study of Russian
naval, social, mercantile, and scientific enterprise in New South
Wales between 1807 and 1835.
Through Tsar Peter the Great's Dutch contacts, Russia was aware
quite early of the existence of 'New Holland, ' and a number of
unsuccessful attempts were made to reach what is now Australia.
Following a description of these efforts, Barratt focuses on the
seventeen visits that Russian ships made to Australian ports on
voyages from the Baltic carrying supplies for the settlements in
Kamchatka and Alaska. As a result of the good will generated by the
Anglo-Russian alliance against Napoleonic France, relations between
the British colonists and the Russian seamen were extremely
cordial. While visiting Australia, Russian naval officers pursued a
range of scientific activities, including botany, zoology,
ethnography, and mineralogy, and collected specimens and artefacts.
They also studied the British penal system and filled journals with
Available in Russian archives and museums and examined there by
Barratt, the journals and collections, which until now have largely
remained unexplored by historians, reveal the high level of skill
and education of these early visitors to Australia. This is the
first of four books in a series entitled Russia and the South
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