26/09/2006 - 22:00

Not for profit: Making the French connection

26/09/2006 - 22:00


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Leschenault, Vasse and Hamelin are names familiar to many Western Australians.

Not for profit: Making the French connection

Leschenault, Vasse and Hamelin are names familiar to many Western Australians.

What’s perhaps not so well known about the 240 places along the WA coast with names of French origin, however, is the history behind the names.

And it was this lack of familiarity with WA’s history that provided motivation for the establishment of the Woodside Valley Foundation in 2003, according to director Peter Woods.

Through acquisitions and other projects, the foundation aims to preserve the heritage of maritime explorers and scientists who visited WA.

One of the more significant events in the foundation’s short history occurred last week, with the arrival of Henri de Freycinet in Perth to launch the ‘Friends of the Foundation’ membership drive.

 “We are especially honoured to have Henry de Freycinet in WA” Mr Woods told WA Business News.

Mr de Freycinet, a petty officer in the French Navy, is a direct descendant of Louis Henri de Saulces de Freycinet, who, with his brother, Louis Claude, made a voyage to the coast of WA in 1801.

After learning of the foundation and his family’s connection to WA, Mr de Freycinet spent a year in correspondence with Mr Woods before being granted a request to naval transfer to New Caledonia and securing a leave pass to attend the launch.

He spent five days in WA, including a tour to visit Point Freycinet in the South West, named after his family.

Mr Woods established the foundation through collaboration with his friend and mentor, the late professor Leslie Marchant.

Inspiration came when Mr Woods realised that many documents relating to the history of WA were being sequestered away in private collections overseas.

“What I wanted to do was something a bit different.” Mr Woods said.

“I thought, ‘well we’d better do something about this or else in 200 years there’ll be gaps in our history’.”

The foundation’s collection is worth about $500,000 and includes manuscripts, journals, maps and letters, many of which originated from exploratory voyages around WA during the early 19th century.

One of the items in the collection is a letter from Rose de Saulces de Freycinet, a stowaway on one of her husband Louis Claude’s voyages to WA, to her sister-in-law, Clementine.

Items are sourced from mainly private collections at auction, and the foundation is currently in discussions with UWA regarding housing for the collection and for professor Marchant’s extensive archive of work.

Sustainable at work

A new, free program for businesses, titled ‘Living Smart for the Workplace’, was launched last week by the Mayor of Fremantle, Peter Tagliaferri, to encourage local businesses to adopt sustainable practices in the workplace.

The program, which will run for several months, consists of four action-focused seminars, involving about 20 businesses in the Fremantle area.

Sponsored by the City of Fremantle, Coastal Business Centre and the Federal Government, the program aims to communicate the economic and social benefits of sustainable workplace practices.

It will also highlight the marketing advantage of adopting such measures, with consumers becoming increasingly savvy about sustainability issues and seeking to support businesses that endorse these values.

Last week’s launch, promoting the theme of connecting locally, represents the first of four seminars.

The remaining three seminars will take place between now and the end of the year.



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