New website reveals Hartog stories and legacies
A new website depicting the start of 400 years of significant Western Australian maritime history has been launched today by Premier Colin Barnett aboard the replica Dutch ship of the era, the Duyfken.
Tomorrow (January 23) marks 400 years since Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog left Texel in the Netherlands on his ship, the Eendracht; a journey that would see him become the first European to leave recorded evidence of contact with Australian soil, at what is now known as Dirk Hartog Island, off the coast of Shark Bay.
The Eendracht sailed under the flag of the Dutch East India Company, or Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) and was laden with a rich cargo to be traded for other goods of the East Indies.
During his journey to Bantam, he accidentally encountered the west coast of what is now known as Dirk Hartog Island off the coast of Shark Bay on October 25, 1616. At Cape Inscription, Hartog left a plate nailed to a wooden post and inscribed with a record of his visit, which now represents the oldest physical evidence of European contact with Australia.
Mr Barnett said community celebrations, a commemorative journey by the Duyfken, and the establishment of new attractions at historic sites were among the initiatives that would mark the anniversary of Hartog's landing on the Western Australian coast.
"The State Government has made a significant investment in infrastructure and commemorations to mark the 400th anniversary, which is an important milestone for our State," the Premier said.
"This new website tells the story of Dirk Hartog and profiles other early skippers and their discoveries, subsequent VOC visits to Australia including the 17th and 18th century Dutch shipwrecks off the WA coast, and explains why VOC never formally settled in Australia.
"The website will continue to evolve through 2016 as additional information and new elements are added to enhance information about the stories and legacies of Hartog and VOC."
To complement the website, and further promote learning among West Australian schoolchildren about the State's European history, the history and science teachers' associations have been busy developing resources for use by primary and secondary school teachers in the 2016 school year.