Located on the northern shore of Botany Bay, 15 km south of Sydney on Anzac Parade, La Perouse is rich in Aboriginal and European history. The suburb is named after the explorer Lapérouse who arrived in Australia just a few days after the First Fleet in January 1788. During the six weeks he and his crew were encamped there were at least 11 encounters between the English settlers and the French explorers with the French responsible for establishing the first known observatory, the first garden, and making the first geological observations. The first mail from the new colony included the journals and letters from the Lapérouse expedition.
With public toilets and ample parking available, it’s a great place to picnic and enjoy the many attractions of the area. Visitors can relax and enjoy the calming view across Frenchmans and Yarra Bays and watch as sailing boats race across the water and wind and kite surfers skid across the tranquil bay. Take a short walk to Congwong Bay and you will discover a sheltered beach, the ideal place to play in the sand and surf.
The history of the Lapérouse expedition is fully explained at the nearby Museum. The building, originally a cable station was built in 1882 for the operation of the first telegraph line to New Zealand. Open on Sunday, from 10 am to 4 pm, it’s an ideal place to learn about sea exploration, the snake show tradition and local aboriginal culture. Here you can uncover the hapless story of Lapérouse as you take time to view the display of original maps, journals, scientific instruments and remnants retrieved from Lapérouse’s wrecked ships.
Macquarie Watchtower, Australia’s first customs house, is the oldest building on Botany Bay. It was built in 1820 by Governor Lachlan Macquarie and soldiers were stationed there to prevent smuggling. Nearby visitors can inspect the grave of Pere Receveur, a chaplain and scientist from Lapérouse’s expedition.
Guided tours make it easy to explore the military history and secrets hidden at the Bare Island Fort. Built in 1885 to protect Sydney’s coast from attack, the old fort is more recently famous as one of the locations used in filming the action movie, Mission Impossible 2. Access to the fort is across a wooden bridge where one enters a secret world of tunnels filled with military honour and mystery. Twilight tours begin as the sun sets over Botany Bay and guides will lead you through the eerie tunnels by lantern light. To enquire and to book day and twilight tours, call the La Perouse Visitor Centre on 93113379.
Snake Shows are presented at Cann Park, opposite the bus terminus, every Sunday afternoon and locally made boomerangs and other aboriginal products are for sale at the Blak Markets on Bare Island held 4 times a year.
Available refreshments range from coffee and snacks to sumptuous meals. Visitors should try Paris Seafood Café at 51 Endeavour Avenue, Driftwood on the Bay at 1/1599-1601 Anzac Parade, La Perouse Thai 1599a Anzac Parade, Bare Grill and Cafe La Perouse 3/1599 Anzac Parade, or nearby Danny’s Seafood Restaurant at 1065 Anzac Parade.