Powder scoop from the Batavia

An exhibition encompassing the stories of the first recorded European (Dutch) landing in Western Australia at Shark Bay will be on display at the Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Centre from 27 August.

The Accidental Encounters: the Dutch connection exhibition was developed by the Western Australian Museum in preparation for this year’s 400th anniversary of Dirk Hartog’s landing in Shark Bay.

Museum CEO Alec Coles said Accidental Encounters tells the story of the first recorded European landings in WA and the four 17th and 18th Century United Dutch East India Company (VOC) shipwrecks off the Western Australian coast.

“This exhibition tells the story of an important part of Western Australia’s history and we are delighted to be able to tour it to regional centres in the State,” Mr Coles said.

Accidental Encounters includes replicas of the pewter dishes placed at Cape Inscription by Dirk Hartog and Willem de Vlamingh.

“On the dish left in 1616, Hartog inscribed text about the ship, the skipper and senior officers, and their landfall. The dish and the wooden post to which it was nailed represent the first physical evidence of European landing in Australia,” Mr Coles said.

“Recognising the historical value of the Hartog Dish in 1697, de Vlamingh replaced it with another pewter dish of his own. He copied the text from the Hartog Dish and added details of his own voyage which included his ship, the skipper and senior officers, their destination and departure date. De Vlamingh then took Hartog’s dish with him to the Dutch authorities in Batavia (now known as Jakarta).”

The Hartog Dish was eventually taken to the Netherlands and is currently on display at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The de Vlamingh Dish was taken by French captain of the Uranie, Louise de Freycinet, in 1818 to France for safe keeping. The de Vlamingh Dish was given by France to Australia in 1947, and has been preserved at the WA Museum since 1950 and where it is on display at the WA Museum’s Shipwreck Galleries in Fremantle.

Accidental Encounters also features authentic artefacts from the four known United Dutch East India Company wrecks, the Zeewijk (wrecked 1727), the Zuytdorp (wrecked 1712) and the Vergulde Draeck (wrecked 1656), as well as the earliest recorded Dutch wreck, the Batavia (wrecked 1629).

“The exhibition provides an insight into the life on board these vessels and a glimpse of what they were carrying at the time,” Mr Coles said.

“It also includes a model of the ship Batavia, and 3D underwater footage taken by WA Museum maritime archaeologists, providing visitors with the experience of diving on the Batavia wreck.”

The State Government, through its Royalties for Region programme, has made a significant investment in infrastructure and commemorations to mark the 400th anniversary of Hartog's landing on the Western Australian coast, to deliver a range of initiatives including the Western Australian Museum’s upgrade of the Dirk Hartog and VOC interpretive material within the Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Centre.

Accidental Encounters: the Dutch connection is a free exhibition that has been on display at the Perth Concert Hall, Kalbarri, and Carnarvon, with its final regional stop this year at the Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Centre from 27 August 2016 to 30 January 2017. For opening hours visit sharkbayvisit.com.au


Media contact
Flora Perrella
Media and Communications Coordinator  
Western Australian Museum