Le Courrier Australien Collectors' Book - Part 1 : 1892 to 1945

$85.00
Throughout its 128 year existence, part of Le Courrier Australien’s DNA has been the link that unites francophones and francophiles across the vast Australian territory. It is a testament to the history of the French presence in Australia and is in many ways the voice of the exceptional friendship that exists between France and Australia
Le Courrier Australien has a rich history. Le Courrier Australien has been in existence continuously since the end of the nineteenth century. Its first issue appeared on 30 April 1892. Le Courrier Australien saw itself as a French-language Australian paper, French being seen as a means of gaining access to the cosmopolitan culture of Europe. The newspaper plays an important role in the French community in Australia. Australia was already considered to be a “promised land with several advantages, and the 4,261 people of the French colony (mainly made up of winegrowers, farmers, scientists, teachers and wool traders) assimilates remarkably well to its new environment. 


Le Courier Australien becomes a key social driver. It conveys French cultural values, enlightens readers about the political and social news in Australia and keeps readers up to date on trade relations between Australia, France and New Caledonia.

In the first chapter of this bilingual collector’s edition, through the newspaper’s archives, you will discover topics about the specificity of the inhabitants of the Island Australasia, the language and achievements of French diplomacy in a colony dreaming of becoming a nation but also interesting facts, for example about the different options envisaged to address the issue of intransigent alcoholics in this Imperial colony, about the approach to fight the plague that appeared in 
Australia in 1900 (local men were employed to catch rats for 6 pence each and transport them to Darling Harbour‘s incinerator), or about the White Australia policy that forced new non-white arrivals to take a test: writing fifty words in a European language chosen by the immigration officer!


On the eve of a new century, Australia is forging its identity. The commonwealth is created 
on the 1st of January 1901 and several articles explain the discussion and the negotiation between the different States to choose the site of the capital of the Federation, or just relate the Federal celebrations where a huge crowd of guests and curious onlookers flocked to Centennial Park. These are treasures that we no longer see in any history books.

Australia is a prosperous country and the population remains optimistic for its future: public transport development, the growth of wireless telegraphy, as well as the popularity of pioneering aviators from Europe all contribute to the country’s economic development. Did you know that the first man who conquered the distance by air between Melbourne and Sydney was a French? In 1913, international relations become strained and the Federal Government now realises the need to strengthen the defence of its territory. A big chapter is dedicated to Australia’s war effort alongside the Allies. Australia, colony of the British Empire, finds itself at war. “When the empire is at war, Australia is also”. For four years, Le Courrier Australien almost exclusively dedicated its columns to news from the European front. The human financial and military involvement of the young Australian nation contributed to the emergence of a new national identity, an identity forged on the memory of symbolic’s battles, such as Gallipoli on the Turkish coast in the Dardanelles.

The departure of reservists from Sydney, or the mobilisation of the Australian populations, a Grand patriotic concert to support the work of French Red Cross or the French-Australian League of Help are just a few of the moving articles. The extract from an interesting account provides an idea of the nature of the struggle involved of conquering the Straits in the Dardanelles. 


In 1918, Australia emerged from the First World War traumatised. It has supplied 420,000 men to the ranks of the British Army, from a country, which, at the time of war, had only 4.5 million inhabitants. This represented 40% of its male population fit to fight! The island continent mourned 60,000 soldiers fallen and 200,000 injured on the front! Australia’s involvement in the First World War is internationally praised. The Australian identity is forged through this traumatic event. The end of the conflicts also enables the Nation to turn a new page in its history. Australia has a flourishing economy and a fast-growing population. During the Roaring Twenties, the Federation inaugurates a new capital in Canberra, the building of the Federal Parliament and the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, representative of the country’s great ambition! 

Australia is now placed among the major western powers. The country recovers quickly from the 1929 crisis and has a stable economy. The people are particularly interested in the events in Europe and Le Courrier Australien covers, featuring the rising tensions on the Old continent, are testament to this.

The French claim that happy nations have no history: it could be suggested that happy newspapers have no history either. As it happens, from the beginning of the twentieth century until the Second World War Le Courrier was a happy newspaper. 

On 20 August 1937, after 38 years, the reference in the subtitle to the Chamber of Commerce and the Alliance Française disappeared, to be replaced by a slightly more aggressive “Organ of the French interests in Australia”. This subtitle did not have the same longevity as its predecessor: it was to last only a little over three years. 

In mid-1940s, after France had been overpowered by Nazi Germany, there occurred a breakdown between Le Courrier Australien, whose owner was sympathetic to the Allies and the Gaullist movement, and French Consul General who had opted for Pétain’s Vichy régime. The following announcement appeared in the 26 July 1940 issue of Le Courrier: “The owner (and managing editor) of Le Courrier Australien regrets to have to inform the paper’s readers that on account of an article published in the last issue he was formally refused entry into the premises of the French Consulate General. [...] The owner expresses the hope that this measure will not deprive him of his readers’ support. [...] All his time and energy are being devoted to the service of the FRENCH CAUSE.” A week later the paper’s title page carried photos of Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle. 

From 3 January 1941 and for the entire duration of the war Le Courrier carried the bilingual subtitle “Journal hebdomadaire de la France Libre dans le Pacifique - Weekly Journal of the Free French Movement in Australasia”. The war years were the heroic years of Le Courrier, when it played a significant national and indeed international political role. The newspaper becomes a newspaper of the Resistance until the end of the European conflict in 1944 and the atomic bombings of August 1945 that result in Japanese capitulation.

In this Collector’s Edition, precious articles showcase the civil and military mobilisation in Australia. Original covers from the newspaper and different messages from the General De Gaulle will transport you to this dark period of the 20st century but also reveal the friendships and fraternity between the French and Australian community with the celebrations in Sydney after the liberation of Paris or the creation of the French Australian League of Help in 1945. You will also discover stories and images about the celebration of the victory against Japan in Australia and Australia’s response to Emperor Hirohito’s message.

Making this Collector’s Edition a reality was very important to us and it could not have been achieved without the support and involvement of many volunteers. Producing this book required combing through over 16,160 pages of archives, for the period from 1892 to 1945 alone! Covering so many important events in only 240 pages was not an easy feat. This book of course needs to be read as a collection of archives conveying how news was communicated to the French community in Australia, not simply as a historical account. This publication is part of the vision to protect the collective memory of our community and we have already started tackling the second volume with great enthusiasm: 1946 until today
Shipping cost: $15 within Australia - $55 overseas


"Through both photos and the written word, this book allows us to delve back in time and examine the History of Australia. The front pages of the CA depict the happiest and best of times in Australia, such as the official opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932, but also some of the most painful moments of its past, like the battles of World War II." -  Jean Baptiste Lemoyne / Secrétaire d'Etat auprès du ministre de l'Europe et des Affaires étrangères
 
 
"I commend the first instalment Le Courrier Australien - Collector's Edition to Australian and French audiences and for those interested in significant historical events" - His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia 
 
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