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The Russians in Hobart 1823






The Russians in Hobart 1823


Glynn Barratt


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Book cover

In May 1823 two ships of the Russian Baltic fleet, the frigate Kreiser and the sloop Ladoga, entered the Derwent for a three-week visit. Ostensibly, and largely in fact, their purpose was scientific discovery. They were also, although they did not tell their hosts this, instructed to be watchful of Russian imperial and trading interests in the Pacific.

The Russian squadron was warmly welcomed in Hobart. Partly this was because supplying Russian needs represented a significant opportunity for local traders. As well, for the local elite, there was the interest of the sheer exoticism of the visitors. Hobart was significantly out of the way.

Russian men-below-decks had only limited chances to see the sights of the town, but Russian officers were often able to socialise, study non-Russian penal arrangements, and venture into the interior to study flora and fauna. Both ships carried a natural scientist.

Routinely, officers were expected to observe, assess and report to superiors about the colony. Some of these reports are reproduced here, and commented on by Professor Barratt. As well, one of the midshipmen, Dmitrii Zavalishin, published several detailed accounts of the Russian stay. These, too, are reproduced here. It is from Zavalishin that we learn most about a minor mutiny of some Russian sailors.

Glynn Barratt is author of several books about Russians in the Pacific, including The Russians in Australia, The Russian Navy in Australia to 1825, Russia and the South Pacific, and The Russians at Port Jackson, 1814-1822.