Dutch Mariners on the West Coast - Part 2



The Dutch mariners… Hartog lands on the west coast…

You will recall from our last article in Have a Go News that Dirk Hartog and some members of the Een-dracht had just ventured ashore at the northern tip of what we now know as Dirk Hartog Island.

These first steps to investigate this unknown island created history, for their footprints would be the first of any Europeans to set foot on the most western point of Terra Australis Incognita.

In many ways this discovery, like many before, was due to good for-tune rather than design. For if the Eendracht had sailed a course 10 nautical miles further to the west then it is most likely that no land would have been seen, and Hartog and his crew would simply have continued on to the East Indies.

Hartog knew that this land upon which he had set foot was as yet unrecorded on any previous maps. And so the decision he made was to leave evidence of his visit for future mariners. A pewter dinner plate was flattened and engraved onto it the details of their visit.

Translating from Dutch the words read…

1616 the 25 October is here arrived the ship Eendraght of Amsterdam the upper merchant Gil-lis Miebais of Liege, skipper Dirck Hatichs of Amsterdam. The 27 ditto set sail for Bantum the under-merchant Jan Stins, the first master Pieter Dookes van Bil. Anno 1616.

And with those words and the fixing of the plate to an oak post, which was then set firmly in a rock fissure in the cliffs above the bay where the Eendracht laid at anchor, another piece was added to the evolving story of this, the Great South Land.

After two days of exploring the island, the Eendracht pulled anchor on 27 October to continue her journey northwards to the East Indies. The course chosen kept her close to the coast so that the land could be charted. In all, 225 nautical miles was covered before the Eendracht reached what we know today as North West Cape, a point at which the coastline disappeared as it swept away to the north east.

It was now time for Hartog and his crew to call it a day on their exploration. Their primary purpose was of a commercial nature, and that meant getting on their way to the East Indies where cargo awaited their arrival.

This coastline was given the name Eendrachtsland… the name that remained in place until Abel Tasman appeared on the scene in the early 1640s.

So the Dutch story will continue in the next edition of Have a Go News.


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Hartog’s plate