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La Perouse
SydneyNew South Wales
La Perouse 3.JPG
La Perouse Monument, view to Frenchmans Bay
Postcode: 2036
Location: 14 km (9 mi) south-east of Sydney CBD
LGA: Randwick
State District: Maroubra
Federal Division: Kingsford Smith
Suburbs around La Perouse:
Phillip Bay Chifley Little Bay
La Perouse
Botany Bay Kurnell Tasman Sea
Bare Island, view from La Perouse

La Perouse is a suburb in south-eastern Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. La Perouse is located about 14 kilometres south-east of the Sydney central business district, in the City of Randwick.

The La Perouse peninsula is the northern headland of Botany Bay. It is notable for its old military outpost at Bare Island and the 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 title, another being Sans Souci. Kurnell is located opposite, on the southern headland of Botany Bay.



La Perouse was named after the French navigator Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse (1741-88), who landed on the northern shore of Botany Bay west of Bare Island in January 1788. La Pérouse’s two ships sailed to New South Wales after some of his men had been attacked and killed in the Navigator Islands (Samoa). La Pérouse arrived off Botany Bay on 24 January just six days after Captain Arthur Phillip (1738-1814) had anchored just east of Bare Island, in H.M. Armed Tender Supply. On 26 January 1788, as Arthur Phillip was moving the First Fleet around to Port Jackson after finding Botany Bay unsuitable for a Settlement, La Pérouse was sailing into Botany Bay,[1][2][3][4] anchoring there just eight days after the British had.

The British received La Pérouse 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 neither offer was accepted.[5] La Pérouse sent his journals and letters to Europe with a British ship, the Sirius. A scientist on the expedition, Father Receveur, died in February and was buried at what is now known as La Perouse. After 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. He wrote in his journals that he expected to be back in France by December 1788, but the two ships vanished. 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.

La Perouse Tower

The first building in the area was the round stone tower constructed in 1820-22 as accommodation for a small guard of soldiers stationed there to prevent smuggling, and the tower still stands today. By 1885, an Aboriginal reserve had been established in the suburb and a number of missions were operated in the area. The original church was dismantled and moved to the corner of Elaroo and Adina Avenues, where it still stands.

The Loop is the circular track that was built as part of the Sydney tram terminus at La Perouse. The last service ran in 1961. A kiosk was built here in 1896 to cater for tourists who came to see the attractions, including the snake-handling shows that still operate today. During the Great Depression, from the late 1920s, many severely affected low-income families took up residence here in settlements beside the Aboriginal reserve.

The small island just inside the heads was described by Captain James Cook as ‘a small bare island’. Bare Island was fortified in 1885 according to a design by colonial architect, James Barnet (1827-1904). 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.[6]

The Henry Head Battery is also located in La Perouse

Apart from Bare Island there are two other forts located in La Perouse. One of these is Fort Banks, located on Cape Banks. This facility was part of the Eastern Command Fixed Defences unit and was constructed for the purpose of defending the approaches to Botany Bay during the World War II period. The other fortification located in La Perouse is the Henry Head Battery and was also re-utilised during the Second World War. Its location is on Henry Head La Perouse.[7]

La Perouse Museum
View to Port Botany at dusk


The former La Perouse tram line branched from Oxford St at Taylor Square in Darlinghurst to run south along Flinders St, then into its own tram reservation along the eastern side of Anzac Pde 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. 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.


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 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.

La Perouse has a few cafes and restaurants around the historic precinct, close to Frenchmans Bay.

Scuba Diving

The area around the La Perouse peninsula is considered to be one of the best scuba diving sites in NSW. Bare Island has numerous dive sites, some of which extend to over 19 metres in depth. The reef around the area is very extensive. There are also a number of dives around the mainland at La Perouse.

Scuba divers here can see the wonderous common (weedy) sea dragon, red Indianfish, pygmy pipefish and big belly sea horses as well as all the normal fish found on dive sites in the Sydney area. The Bare Island dive sites are considered by experienced divers to be the best shore dive in Australia.

Pop culture

  • Several scenes from Mission: Impossible II were filmed in La Perouse, including Bare Island.[8]


  1. ^ Sydney's first four years-captain Watkin Tench 1793
  2. ^ Peter Dillon's report 1826
  3. ^ Captain John Hunter's Journal 1793
  4. ^ The voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay-printed for John Stockdale 1789
  5. ^ David Hill, 1788: The Brutal Truth of the First Fleet
  6. ^ The Book of Sydney Suburbs, Compiled by Frances Pollon, Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1990, Published in Australia ISBN 0-207-14495-8, page 149
  7. ^ History
  8. ^

External links


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