Wreck Update: Behind the scenes in Maritime Archaeology

Video | Updated 2 years ago

Presented by Adjunct professor Dr Michael (Mack) McCarthy, Curator, Maritime Archaeology, Western Australian Museum

Part of the WA Museum’s 2014 In the Wild West Lecture Series.

Some of Western Australia’s most historically significant maritime sites have had many new and exciting developments happening in the field and behind the scenes. Dutch shipwrecks Batavia, Zeewick, Zuytdorp and Gilt Dragon all have new research unfolding, as does the elusive Aagtkerke.

As the WA Museum gears up for the 2016 celebrations of Dirk Hartog’s landing, take an illustrated tour of the latest research activity in the Maritime Archaeology Department with Dr Mack McCarthy.

Rangelands Natural Resource Management is the Presenting Partner of the 2014 In the Wild West series.

Rangelands NRM


Mack McCarthy: Thank you Sarah. Thank you all. Having worn the coat to establish my bona fides as obviously intelligent and scholar, I'll now take it off. It's too warm and hot up here and we've got a lot to do. There are many, many people involved in what I have to say and the best way to, I think, acknowledge those people is in this manner.

[Addresses Screen] Two of those folk are here today - Dr Phillip Playford and Hugh Edwards, both famous for their work on our VOC ship wrecks. Other folk that you see up there are Jeremy Green of course who heads our program, Chila, a scholar who you'll get to know in a minute, Bob Sheppard, Juliet Paasveer, Myra of course - many of you know Myra well - Pat Baker, Walter Bloom Numismatist, Wendy a Dutch scholar, Alistair Paterson who's going to be leading a lot of the modern work that you see, Jennifer here, one of the artefact managers, Nick Bigourdan our scholar from France who's with us, Vicki, one of the heads of conservation, Steven Knott, you'll see him a bit more with a facial reconstruction, Jeff Kimpton of course, not only a great diver and the man who's built the Batavia façade and the Batavia timbers, but also a model maker of note, Dan Franklin a forensic archaeologist, JD Hill from London, Parthesius or "Party House" as we used to call him, a Dutch scholar, Ian MacLeod of course not just the Director, but acknowledged - widely acknowledged conservator, the late Rupert Gerritsen, a good friend and also a scholar, Maddy McAllister – one of our young things that we're passing it all over to - and then we just go on and on to all these wonderful folk who you won't know because they aren't part of the Roaring Forties group and they are all part of the new dimension that we're developing now in using of the best technology as part of the Roaring Forties program which I'll talk about in a minute.

You will recognise Corioli Souter there from the Department and then some of these folk you'll also know from our group - Sue Cox, our Department Secretary without whom we can't do anything, the boss Alec Coles, Ross Anderson one of our people, and of course Ed Punchard and Julia Redwood who will be doing film work. The others are scholars of some significance in technology, but I thought I'd just mention those whom most of you will know.

[Addresses Screen] This is where it all began with folk like Philip and Hugh and the late Max Cramer and others around, and these are the works that led many people to learn about the Dutch and with the advent of Jeremy Green shown here, [Addresses Screen] apparently he was that focused, as you needed to be in those days given the conditions and so on, the crowd actually had to send his lunch down to him one day in a plastic bag with a lead weight they had tied that he wouldn't come up. So they sent the message down.

It was naturally tightly focused work. Because it was new, Jeremy headed one of the only three maritime archaeology units in the world and it focused very, very much on the timbers and the objects and the various things from the wrecks. However, a lot has changed, as one would expect. We're talking now the time from 1971 through now to the present day and we've all come to learn an awful lot more of the importance of indigenous cultures and their complexities. And one of the things as a museum we do, is to try to attend to part of that missing understanding and knowledge that was there when we first started.

[Addresses Screen] Here, Samson or Tjangaloli his correct name, is on one of the world's oldest boats. He is predated in boats solely by those Aboriginal folk shown here at the bottom right with the canoes shown which probably go back to 30 or 40,000 years. The wanjinas there are four to five thousand years. So, in difference to that we also looked at our program of strangers on the shore, the interaction of indigenous people with shipwreck survivors [Addresses Screen] and I would have to say to you that this is a much purer view of what Aboriginal people feel about the visitors to their shores than those who come with power, with hats, drums and all the trappings of those things. The one on the right interestingly is a steam ship which is both part of Aboriginal legend and European legend which is part of our 26-ship database that is developed by one of our volunteers Lesley Silvester.

[Addresses Screen] Most of you are aware of all of this and most of you are aware of those who test the challenged to Dutch primacy. There's many works on the subject. We've assisted folk with many of them. Bill Richards for example, did this one.

[Addresses Screen] That one, 1421, its best use today is for Debbie, the mother of our children, so she doesn't have to lift her head too high in the morning to see what the alarm clock says. It's inerrant nonsense, beautifully written first two chapters but the rest of it are nonsense, and I'm afraid to say down the bottom right there, my eyes are closed for the brick bats that the Chinese at the 400th anniversary of Cheng Ho which I was privileged to go and lecture there, were not happy to find that Cheng Ho most likely did not come, and if he did come, there's no evidence of it. It's very interesting, nations like India and China now casting off the shackles of their earlier colonialism, are very keen not to ever again allow a colonial power to do what they did to them and to have been able to show Cheng Ho in a deservedly bright light to them is a very important thing. However it's not to be.

So, the actual evidence for the primacy lies with the Dutch. [Addresses Screen] Here is a lovely photo from NASA taken inside the space shuttle across to Dirk Hartog and the plate there for, because it is the only proof of this primacy of visitation to indigenous shores becomes priceless.

[Addresses Screen] And the first thing that's occurred in recent times behind the scenes at the Museum has been work on the De Vlamingh plate. It's been led by Ian MacLeod and groups of other folk, and Ian has just arrived. The science bit is far too much for people like me who haven't got right angles in their dictionary and my great skill is building chook runs, but there's all sorts of work that those who are scientifically-bent can follow.

[Addresses Screen] These are some of the images in Ian's report. What I tend to do with these scientists is read the abstract and the conclusion, [Addresses Screen] and the abstract is there. I'm really pleased – I won't give you death by PowerPoint – I'm really pleased that it's come out quite well. Because of its status it required the attention of these folk, it not only has preserved the plate for the future, but allows it to be properly housed and presented in this Museum in absolute best practice, and I would have to say learning a little bit of Ian's work that it's also a pointer for those owning the Dirk Hartog plate.

[Addresses Screen] The other thing that occurred very much for us in this post 1980s, 1990s, was the change in perception of Dirk Hartog Island from purely a Dutch place. It has a lot more going for it and you'll notice the presence between the laying of the Hartog Plate and the De Vlamingh plate of William Dampier's arrival.

[Addresses Screen] You'll also see the arrival of McCasson's and St Arlewan a Frenchman, and other French folk include Rose deFreycinet. The fact that Dampier is forgotten in the middle of this I think is related to our Dutch-centric approach here in Western Australia, with Dampier way ahead of even Cook and Banks in being our first natural Historian, in describing the flora and fauna, in even making a collection which can be viewed today. In fact it is Dampier who first saw the Sturt Pea and it should be called the Dampiera Formosa. In fact you can go and see the Sturt Pea that he collected in 1699 in London. I was privileged to be with Hugh to view that collection.

[Addresses Screen] The plates are now joined in importance with this, the proof of the French Annexation. We could have wines a lot earlier and there's my good friend and colleague Bob Sheppard and myself with the coin as found. These join the Dutch relics.

[Addresses Screen] We have a very strong French element now to our work contrasting and comparing the Dutch and we even note thanks to Nick Bigourdan my colleague, that the French were taking note of the VOC'ing. In fact Nick has translated in recent times a Journal that was in French of their interaction with the Dutch, or their learning of the Dutch. So, we have gone a lot broader than we once were and one would suggest that of course we should have. But given that we were very focused in those days with many, many wrecks to deal with, many threats to them, it's logical that we did not, but it is equally logical that we do now. The McCassons, Rose deFreycinet, Dampier … they're the first cultural exchange other than William Dampier's stay at Cape Leveque, what is now known Cape Leveque, with the Aboriginal people [Addresses Screen] at Shark Bay with Rose deFreycinet, and of course Rose deFreycinet's own story.

Today we also get into the mind of folk. We get the specialists to help us do so. [Addresses Screen] Bodin for example, writing up there that he couldn't understand how people could seize lands, from folk who do not deserve the name "savages" as being given to them. We're looking at a most recent publication on the one on the left, European Perceptions of Terra Australis, looking at the Bodin thing, the way he was vilely written out of the voyage, one by myself on Who do you Trust? – Discrepancies between official and unofficial accounts. People write for an awful lot of reasons and the unofficial accounts are often the truest, but coming back to the VOC, an extremely important chapter in this book on this one here, Perceptions of Terra Australis through the Prison of Batavia Wreck, a very learned piece of work and quite long, which I recommend to anybody interested in the perceptions.

[Addresses Screen] So we've gone from the picture on the left which was produced at the time that Phil and Hugh and Max Cramer and everyone else was doing their work, to around about the time, in 80s and so on with this map by Scott Sledge showing a much broader interest in the colonial sites, to this one here [Addresses Screen] which is most modern showing that we've really burgeoned in our interests as one would expect. I love this - the common man.

[Addresses Screen] We do have many, many Dutch scholars working with us nowadays and they're looking at it from a wide variety of perspectives including of course the art. One would hesitate to say that would represent the group here, but I think it's a wonderful thing that we have. But talking about the common man, we have literature that looks for all of us.

[Addresses Screen] Peter Fitzsimons I think is more for those not too interested in the truth, but a good story, and I must tell you Peter's a friend and I assisted him with the work, and he knows what I believe. It's a good story, but there's a lot of Peter in there. My preference of course is for some of those by our colleagues here and of course Mike Dash's work which I think is without par. You'll see there Phillip Playford's Carpet of Silver and lots of Hugh Edwards's work.

[Addresses Screen] You might not have seen this thing here. It's a graph that I ran across accidentally showing the publications and the Batavia of course is really one that's been published so often going right back to the numbers of works that you see here in this little bar graph.

[Addresses Screen] Lots of scholars at work now in Holland and so on, initially wondering what Jeremy Green, Myra or Pat Baker and company were doing here and now realising their own importance, and you're finding Dutch scholars realising that theirs was the first multinational. Theirs was the first company to issue stock. Theirs was the first to mint money. Theirs was able to wage war as a company. I know a lot of the Americans would like to do that - some of the neocons I suppose - and they were the first to establish colonies.

[Addresses screen] Our studies and studies that have come to our attention have also shown us the terrible brutality of colonialism. And I've got to tell you, I don't think anything has changed. The British were not immune from the Dutch brutality but I've got to tell you that every colonial power does it to every other group that they colonise.

[Addresses screen] There are obviously negatives and positives in what every group does and here is the extraordinary breadth of the Dutch East-India bases around the ocean and they are being studied now individually by many scholars. Research papers are coming in very regularly, some beautifully illustrated, some giving contemporary illustrations and so on. This one, as the editor of The Great Circle I received just the other day. Myra had a look at it for me and said it was beautifully written. It's interesting in its title though. It's the transfer of knowledge. So again as I was saying, we're getting away from purely the objects in the ships into sometimes people's minds, [Addresses screen] and this one on the right here by Peter Reynders, Why did the Largest Corporation in the World go Broke? and this of course, he's referring to the VOC.

[Addresses screen] Rupert, one of our good friends of the Museum is a great supporter and did an awful lot of work chasing the Gilt Dragon folk and other stories, a great scholar actually. Even though many people were not that impressed with some of his work, especially in linguists, I would have to say that across the board Rupert has been extremely good, and his latest just before he died was on the Immenhorn which was a voyage known I think only to Jeremy Green, Jim Henderson and Myra and a few others, but little known to other people as a visitation to this coast.

[Addresses screen] The universities have grabbed the VOC with alacrity. The universities - Flinders here, many overseas, Gothenburg of course, Notre Dame over here with Shane Burke and UWA of course. That's one of the course structures over there and one of those manifestations is Bob Sheppard's honours at UWA.

[Addresses screen] So from this, which was the fixation we had, which is a wonderful fixation I've got to tell you, there's myself well-dressed as usual on bottom right, Jeff Kimpton our chief diver, Bob Richards. 'Fixation' is the wrong word, but concentration on the objects underwater to this, and this is where we are today with the Gilt Dragon.

I got hammered by a scholar just yesterday for using the words "Gilt Dragon" and quite rightly so, but as you saw, I struggle with the words sometimes. I find "Gilt Dragon" so much easier and so I apologise for the Dutch amongst you for not saying "Vergulde Draeck".

[Addresses screen] This is where Bob has been concentrating and I've stolen some of Myra's slides here which you'll recognise, and I've got to say we were a bit late, more than a bit late in getting there. I think we should have been here a lot earlier.

[Addresses screen] A key question that Bob has answered, and he now has brought the archaeological community along with him in answering this question. I'm hoping Bob will also tell the story of Alan Robinson, the great pirate, because this is very much part of it just as much as some of the pirates have been part of everything else we've ever done. Peter and Jill Worsley are here. Their book Windswept Coast, the illustration is from there and they've done wonderful work in putting the Dutch within a broader context.

[Addresses screen] And here is Bob's honours thesis. I was pleased to be a supervisor of it and here is Bob with the famous Gilt Dragon urn which he's just had studies returned to him from Japan which are – not the urn, the incense urn, yep – it's not an incense urn, but he'll tell you more about that in the lecture coming up, and there he is with Peter Veth, one of our great archaeologists.

[Addresses screen] Bob's lecture is on the 12th of this month. I'm not going to pre-empt it except to say that Bob has examined the land camps over the last 12 years plus the stories and he has come to a conclusion that got him the honours degree, and he is part of a group that is going up there to examine some of his findings. The question that Bob is attending to is "What happened to those 68 men?" "What happened to those who were lost looking for the Dragon?" and I'm not going to say anymore except to tell you that he also has a blog which we often reproduce on our Facebook … we have Facebook, Twitter and all those things nowadays.

[Addresses screen] Always you get hoaxes and one of the things Wendy did was to have a look at one of the hoaxes to do with the Dragon which appears at just north of here and it did appear soon after the wrecks were found in this form here on rocks. It's been seized upon by numerous people who insist that it's real and that the [00:19:16] Museum who don't have any expertise in these sorts of things, and of course when you don't have expertise, you bring in those who do have it.

The engraving is here today. You can see down the bottom here, and Wendy and her associates have shown that it's almost certainly contemporary with the finding of the wreck and the fact that in between the time it was first seen in this picture, and this one here [Addresses screen], if it was going to get to that stage in 40 years, how did it last for 300 is an obvious question? But she's attended to all sorts of issues like the fonts that are used and so on and so on, and some wonderful work.

[Addresses screen] We've also had to deal with in the back rooms things like Henry's work, Henry claiming that there was a Dutch settlement here and so on. The evidence for it is limited at best.

[Addresses screen] We're a public institution and I'm a public archaeologist. So we're developing exhibitions and we're spreading ourselves around, and the Dutch need to be seen today in the context of the great Ocean oceanographic events. Edmund Matuta, a great favourite of mine, the voyages of the Portuguese, and the thing at the bottom there is Nick Burningham's. I would say a pretty definitive work on what Cheng Ho's boats really did look like, and I'm using Cheng Ho as an Anglicised version. Nick has done his estimates and gives it about 57 metres as a maximum for that sort of thing, and Nick will publish on that in time.

Some of the materials that we have are sent over. [Addresses screen] Here's the artefact management team at the time. Why they're wearing crash helmets I don't know, but it seems that that's the thing we have to do nowadays, and [Hyveers Vespa 00:21:13]. It's a great picture – and the Dutch were so keen on what was happening here with Myra, Jennifer, Wendy and Ross, that they sent this container over which was suitably inscribed on all sides with wonderful VOC images and so on, and this particular one was on its way to an exhibition.

[Addresses screen] So, that's how they appeared, but they have been shown in recent years throughout Holland and there's some quite beautiful exhibits that have focused on the Dutch and of course the Dutch now are rightly very proud of their Dutch shipwrecks and the works that Jeremy and company have pioneered and are now returning back to them in this form.

[Addresses screen] And there's some of the objects at the bottom and the middle slide, the one I've squished in, pays homage to those artefact managers who so wonderfully pack and send and catalogue and do all the things that I'm hopeless in doing.

[Addresses screen] We also have sent exhibitions to the regions … Geraldton of course, one at Kalbarri there. There's a new one down in the Shipwreck Museum crediting the finders of the Gilt Dragon of which Graham Henderson, our former Director and one of the leaders of our colonial wreck program is here today, and it's really, I think very correct that we give due credence to the finders, the Hughs, the Maxs, the Phils and all the others.

[Addresses screen] Most recently an exhibition at the Concert Hall with Jeff Kimpton's magnificent model of the Batavia there. For a man who builds facades and ships and was once brought out up from 1,000 feet underwater in a big gym suit, he's just shown remarkable skill in producing this model.

[Addresses screen] And then we got ourselves all our objects repatriated. It's quite interesting, the Dutch were repatriated, and there's Wendy and the Dutch Consul and the Minister, [Addresses screen] and of course Alec, Jeremy and the Minister again and the Premier … such an event.

Behind the scenes there's an enormous amount of management of these things. [Addresses screen] Here's our artefact management team at work cataloguing and also they have audits, regular audits to ensure that everything is where it should be, even down to the appropriate drawer and so on. So, it's very important that this be done but you don't hear about it, you don't get to see it, but there is a team that get involved under Myra's good guidance in doing so.

[Addresses screen] As public archaeologists we're committed to the Museum, of course, and of course the new museum is very much on our horizon, with Corioli from our staff now very much embedded within the new museum and with its curators joining us only today for a tour to see what sort of crossovers there may have been.

[Addresses screen] The little girl and the little boy on the right are the most magnificent pictures because again, I like to hark back and I know lots of other people do, to the indigenous links that we have. And with the Zuytdorp after 1986, our horizons lifted from the silver much to the people and the most magnificent picture I think that we have in the collection of Charlie Mallard with the console from the Zuytdorp, the most magnificent human picture with the exception of Samson I would suggest.

[Addresses screen] So here we are focusing elsewhere. Here's Jeff Kimpton and our on-site Conservator which again, is a major behind-the-scenes issue … conservation which you don't see much about. John Carpenter looking at this most glorious officer's cup, a glass that Jeff recovered from the Zuytdorp with the wreck behind, but I would say equally important is an original of the sort of plate that they hammered to make the Hartog and De Vlamingh plates.

[Addresses screen] But, our focus needed a site plan and any good shipwreck site plan has to be good to enable you to say the sort of things you want to say about what it means. Here however, we actually used aerial photography and there's Jeff, also a very good artist. We actually did the work underwater with a builder's tape, one of those retractable ones.

To do so, we used aerial photography and here, DOLA put in huge amounts of effort for us in putting a graticule across the wreck, allowing us to see through the water and then for Jeff - I hold the zero end of tapes by the way, I need to tell you - for Jeff to measure the distance between the rocks and between this anchor and that anchor, and the rocks that we could see in that picture, and that was how we came to have our site plan, the one that you see here. [Addresses screen] Thanks also to a man called Stanley Hewitt, a retired architect draftsman who one day came in looking for something to do and very quickly got onto that. Volunteers are very much a big part of the Museum and I see Curtis here today and numerous others like the Worsleys and other folk here who help us, Jill and others who are in the gallery, Copper John there, the whole load of folk who assist us. It's essential.

The big question though is this. [Addresses screen] And our work was able to show that Phil Playford's postulation that they got off, his record of there being evidence of occupation at the top was possible, using this record that we put because even though it comes from a scholar such as Phil, these things have to be tested. We now know the Zuytdorp actually lay up against the reef because the bell of the Zuytdorp is actually stuck here in the reef. It's not on the ground. It's there, and that can only have been there if something was supporting it, as it fixed in. That was Stanley's image by the way. He was also an artist of some note.

[Addresses screen] So to answer it we bring in our best archaeologists that we can get at the time to answer the questions. There John Carpenter taking video of Fiona Weaver and Richard Cassells, and we actually took a quantum leap and brought in a metal detector who actually brought himself in to the program, Bob Sheppard. And Bob was actually wanting to write a novel on the Zuytdorp and then very quickly told us of his skills and they were applied in searching for the movement of the survivors away from the wreck using metallic objects that obviously the Aboriginal people would not have used. At the time this was seriously looked down upon.

[Addresses screen] We also took the Museums then watch keeper, Dom Lamera who had been hunting for the Dutch in his own right and he joined and took us to all the wells and soaks, and with Bob and with that list of pretty high-powered archaeologists below, we examined the wells and soaks that Bob was able to point – that Don was able to show us and Jeff and I were able to find.

The Zuytdorp has also been a watershed in the use of metal detection in maritime, in archaeology. [Addresses screen] Here, Bob normally trails a chain behind him which marks the ground that he's been, so thorough, and here is something that we used up at Wale Well with Philip Playford in making sure that he was able to say, "I've been through everything. It's just the car tracks." But what has happened in the joining of his metal detection work with the archaeologists and going for minimum disturbance and placing flags of different colour to indicate what metal lies beneath - this for copper, this for iron, this for silver – we are able to tell the archaeologists, "Well if you don't dig over there, you're going to miss that over there," and in fact, if it had not been for Bob, the French bottle at Dirk Hartog Island would still be there today. So, the Zuytdorp has seen the introduction of heritage metal detection skills under Bob and his son Zach, into Maritime archaeology with St Arlewan, the French wreck Perseverant, Ned Kelly's work Batavia's Graveyard, Long Island and the Gilt Dragon. So, interesting development there and not without quite some considerable effort on our part and Bob's in validating the study, but it's there now thanks to Bob.

There was no Dutch indigenous interaction at the Zuytdorp that we can prove. [Addresses screen] Kate here, is at our normal afternoon sundowner contemplating the fact that she has dated the Aboriginal sites to four to five thousand years BP. We also supported Philip who joined - very kindly join our team to assist us and let us know what he knew about the place and its people, and the indigenous sites, in his postulation that the Dutch moved north to place called Wale Well which you'll see just at the bottom of Dirk Hartog Island – sorry, of Shark Bay – and that they would be there and thanks to Bob and Tony Cobain who actually found the object, this relic was found.

Phil equally importantly was able to show that these objects are from the Kalbarri region and that they had been moved the 70 or so miles north by Aboriginal folk in trade. So, what this has proven to us is that there certainly was movement of Aboriginal cultural material in the region behind the wreck. What we don't think has happened is that they were actually living near the coast. Phillip has plans to go back there and that has the support of the Museum.

[Addresses screen] Our works are there – Phillip's award-winning Carpet of Silver there, my own technical reports and so on, and those things appear as one would expect. However, we were beaten, Jeff and I and the rest of us who like to push it a bit, by the advent of health and safety legislation and the wheels literally fell off. It got that stupid that we weren't even allowed to take the four wheel drive into the field because Lend Lease wouldn't let you take your four wheel drive in without great sort of penalties and all that sort of stuff.

[Addresses screen] Jeff by the way is at the bottom of that line you can see in the bottom left, there's a line going into the water and he's at the bottom of that and that's yours truly jumping in at the top. Deb's only seen these pictures of late. So that was the end of our field work for that period.

[Addresses screen] However, we didn't stop. Wendy became a fundamental part of it all. Here's her report on the scans of that console, beginning to study the dendrochronology, the timbers and so on. This is an enormous ramification. Some of her work is leading to the realisation that some of the timbers used on some of our ships were actually also some of the timbers used to frame some of the great artworks of the world. Interesting stuff. More to come, and this is part of her report.

[Addresses screen] As always, scholars don't always agree. Wendy also helped develop a group to look at the ingots that Jeff and I raised over the years, a very important study, very interesting study in trade, those ingots. Some wonderful work Jim Stedman, one of the archaeologists from UWA led as part of his honours and Wendy put it together in an internationally-recognisable form.

[Addresses screen] Wendy is big on different spelling, being Dutch and all that, and insisted that "It's this." However, what we've learnt is that there are many ways of spelling it and we've stayed here in Western Australia with the ones that we've been led to from the earlier scholars. Arguments continue. As I said, I got it in the neck about using Gilt Dragon and then how the way we'd spelt Zeewijk in the flyer, just about a day before I came here. It all ended nicely, but that's how it works.

[Addresses screen] There was also a hoax on the Zuytdorp which again some of the so-called specialists in rock art demanded that it was real, but Phillip quite clearly showed that it was not. Apart from Wendy who showed that it was not from other reasons, there being a wonderful picture on the bottom right [Addresses screen] which was part of Phillip's early group in '54, showing the place that the Zuytdorp inscription was, with the chappy who's hat is being blown off because he's standing in a blowhole, and the place where the Zuytdorp's supposed to be, clearly not there in 1954. So that inscription clearly post-dates '54, thanks to some of the images.

[Addresses screen] Hoaxes sometimes go beyond that and Dominic, sad to say, not only under amnesty declared some beautiful coins, but didn't declare a lot of the Schellingen and eventually later on was dobbed in by a relative and his silver was found in his chook run or somewhere of that nature, and this is the sort of behind-the-scenes thing that Myra, Jen and Wendy and all the crowd have to deal with, is looking at these seizures and getting everything correct. They're in those you-beaut sort of evidence bags and all that sort of stuff. You don't see this. You don't hear about it.

[Addresses screen] This is – one of the other things is our links to the general public and other interests in research groups of which this one is very strong, or was, and they're very strong and did some beautiful work, but they were very strong on the issue of the indigenous European connections as one of the things and so are the Dutch. The Dutch love it. These are a couple of excerpts from Dutch works on the blonde Aborigines, but to date none of that has been resolved. The Porphyria Variegata link which was very keen at one stage has been shown not to have any greater than a normal incidence in populations.

[Addresses screen] So, while they are allowed to do that and can do that, we have to be much more circumspect in the way we manage such things. Down the bottom there's an interesting new book on the Zuytdorp – Peter Purchase – and we also have to point, and sometimes not to pleasure to those who point elsewhere, to other issues such as the landing of 120 Malay boys between ages 12 to 14 on this ship, the Xantho. They are from Batavia. So if you look to Dutch genes in the population of Shark Bay, one would have to look first to the Malay folk who were abandoned quite often by Charles Broadhurst and many of whom stayed and became the mainstays of the Shark Bay population.

[Addresses screen] We also need to look at this again, often considered to be a Dutch East-Indiaman. Colin Jack-Hinton from the Museum, one of the people who suggested it was. It lies at Walga Rock inland from Kalbarri and [Addresses screen] Stanley, my artist, had a look at this, and this was sort of quite incidental in his preparation of another image of Zuytdorp, in the suggestion that this is a mainmast. That thing in the middle of the Aboriginal paint picture is a mast. It appears however that it – and if I can draw your attention also to the sail [Addresses screen] - it appears however that it's equally likely to be a steamship which Ian Crawford called me one day and said "Could your Xantho have had guns?" and I said "No Ian, but it could have had false gun ports," and he said, as did Charlie Dorch soon after, felt that it's possible that the Walga Rock painting is actually a steamship with what they call a "woodbine funnel" to create a big draft.

Gun ports were common on steamers and on sailing ships in those days, but the other day we realised thanks to Alex Kilper one my colleagues, that so too were rectangular scuttles on passenger steamers, and the Xantho for example was a passenger steamer – a paddle steamer before being converted to a screw steamer. So, if we put our rectangular scuttles on our supposed Xantho then we need to accept that the Walga Rock painting could equally be a steam ship. I have an honours student now studying that as part of her honours.

[Addresses screen] The other thing I'd suggest to you is the Lateen sail which is shown on all the Dutch East-India ships does not match the sail in our Walga Rock picture which shows more readily a 19th Century mizzen.

[Addresses screen] One other study that we've got involved in of course is this one with the Zuytdorp, station folk who found the wreck. Their built heritage, their social heritage and members of the team are here today who have joined with us, Karen Bassett from the Museum. [Addresses screen] This is one of Phillip's plans from one of his early ones showing the wreck site and their built heritage. I would suggest to you this is extremely important to preserve.

[Addresses screen] Equally too, Betties at the bend of the Murchison River where a lot of them lived and there's the most remarkable oral histories and we have to preserve these before a fire goes through. [Addresses screen] And luckily the team, some shown here, and were able to find at least a number of them. We still have some more to find.

[Addresses screen] Zeewijk … magnificent image. Chris Halls, Conrad Hilt. Conrad – Marcus Conrad in The CountrymanOld wreck may be the Aagtekerke because these two divers had just been diving up there and had found tusks, [Addresses screen] and there on the left is Max Cramer, the late Max Cramer and Hugh Edwards. And the suggestion that this could be the Aagtekerke and not the Zeewijk at the time, was very well-founded because here is some research that was produced by Robert Parthesius showing [Addresses screen] that only three ships – that only one ship actually carried tusks of the three missing in Western Australia – or missing possibly in Western Australia – Fortuyn, Aagtekerke and Zeewijk – and only Aagtekerke  had tusks as part of its cargo. So, for Chris Halls to suggest that the divers in following Aagtekerke were right, is absolutely to be expected.

[Addresses screen] The Museum arrives in the form of Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg who now trundles along on her scooter and writes children's books in Sweden … it was her job that I took. When she left to chase a Swedish prince, the job came up and I was pleased to get it.

[Addresses screen] There's her report. You can read every one of them. They're all on the web. Here is her site plan showing the wreck out at sea, the area searched and you can see there the cannons and so on. [Addresses screen] Here is the work that was done on the island in searching for the relics and so on and here is two of our great notables in shipwreck archaeology [Addresses screen] on the island conducting a magnetometer search … Jeremy Green and Graham Henderson.

[Addresses screen] They also did a magnetometer search out of a helicopter. That helicopter is trialling a magnetometer and leading Graham to conclude when only one wreck was found, other than the ones, colonial ones known, that the Aagtekerke is most likely not on the Half Moon Reef, or certainly not in the southern Abrolhos. [Addresses screen] There's Catharina's work there.

[Addresses screen] We've got into the mind a bit here, nowadays. Martin Gibbs' shipwreck survivor camps. Lots of interesting things now being done by folk that we hadn't even dreamt of, and of course this is one of the reasons why archaeologists have to present and record to the nth degree.

[Addresses screen] Hugh never forgot about the ivory and then obtained backing from Kerry Stokes had Fugro fly for him a magnetometer search and presented his reasons. I must take some credit for this Hugh. When he and I went up to Max Cramer's funeral we discussed this a lot and though I said to Hugh, "I don't think so. I think Hugh that you should present your case," and Hugh did so, to some effect, to the Museum and presented the evidence that he had been given from Fugro and so on, [Addresses screen] such that it caused the Museum's Maritime Archaeology Advisory Committee, again a behind-the-scenes thing, to talk about the work that he was doing and what's required further.

[Addresses screen] Most recently Hugh has been back to follow more research and he's received quite some press on the subject. He's also received the backing of the Museum in it and here you see [Addresses screen] the Dutch embassy asking also for support to commence research in following up his work.

One of my students, Chila here, quite a brilliant young girl, a family excellent in archives could read old Dutch, so I had her look at the story of the Fortuyn to see where that might be and you'll see on the bottom left there [Addresses screen] at a meeting that Nick Gordon's attending for us, one of the subjects is the search for the Fortuyn and you'll see amongst those things, HMAS Sydney AE1, AE2 … a much more rounded approach to shipwrecks there, but Fortuyn is part of it. Chila has concluded that it may be at Christmas or at Cocos.

[Addresses screen] Robert's report came in assisted by the Foundation and Robert's conclusions are that he doesn't think so.

[Addresses screen] However, when he was part of the group that was here, like the group which was chaired by Graham Henderson with Jeremy there, the conclusion was that even though some don't think so, the work still must be done, and because there has to be final proof. As I've said to Hugh, because I like to have my two bob's worth, "Hugh, there's much more here about where the sloot was built. There's the wonderful stories of the people and one of the great things you've done Hugh, whether the wreck is found or not, is to put a focus back on the Zeewijk such that we can now understand it in better terms.

[Addresses screen] Chila for example, then took on a much bigger work for us and Jeremy and I supervised this one, on providing a database, a modern database of the losses from the VOC ships, the Batavia and Zeewijk. It's great stuff.

[Addresses screen] Modern young scholars are just wonderful in the way that they get about things, but here she has listed all those who are expected to be possibly still buried or were buried before the Broadhurst's guano industry from the Zeewijk.

[Addresses screen] Jeremy and others have begun ensuring that archives are searched and there's also been searches of the work and the reports of those who first saw Zeewijk records – sorry Zeewijk material on the reefs. Again, you can read them all.

[Addresses screen] Finally, only a week or two ago Jeremy came back from the Abrolhos and produced this report which again you can read, on his looking at georeferencing a 36-year-old survey plan. The point being made is that the work that Catter and others had done, could not be properly referenced in modern terms to the standards we require and here for example, [Addresses screen] airborne magnetometry happening, you need pinpoint accuracy with these things even though can cover great ground very quickly.

[Addresses screen] Here's the sorts of results that you get. Here for example are three indicators of a shipwreck up at Ningaloo, one proving to be the Correio Da Azia, another being a shipwreck that was not even in the records and we apparently know nothing of it just yet even though Graham has been exhaustive in his research for unfinished voyages, but this wreck appears in indigenous legend. So it's interesting that the Aboriginal stories have been proven in this case.

[Addresses screen] This is what we're looking to do, but what Jeremy's done in the interim is match the Fugro data with the data from Catharina using a rock, a huge great rock which appears on both plans – the Fugro plan and Catharina's plan shown on that red arrow top right, [Addresses screen] and what he has found is that they do match to within good parameters and now we're into the next stage where we can start going with Hugh and Fugro and others to finalise that work.

[Addresses screen] We are public archaeologists. We work in the gallery. We like to have the people around us when we work. I think that's the essence of a good museum. I learnt this watching Jeff Kimpton build the Batavia. He was in there in his overalls and when he wasn't welding and swearing as I told the people from the new museum today, the gallery was open and people could watch him at work. That's a true living museum.

[Addresses screen] Here's Wendy at work doing her shipwreck – her ship studies and she has a course in it now, at Flinders University.

[Addresses screen] A beautiful picture of Wendy and Bill Leonard, the great Bill Leonard. For those who don't know, built Endeavour and Duyfken and the set for Master and Commander.

[Addresses screen] New work on old ships.

[Addresses screen] The trouble is it's all rotting away and there's Vicki Richards, one of our conservators again behind the scenes looking at the problem of acid formation in the Batavia timbers, caused by sulphate-reducing bacteria. It's there in every one of them. It's there in the Viking ships, in Mary Rose, in Vasa, in the Bremen Cog. And she has worked with her colleagues, Ian MacLeod, Ian Godfrey and many others, to go overseas to assist them and also to come back with the answers for here. Again, behind the scenes. Again something you won't see or hear much of unless you read those sorts of journals. As I said, read the abstract and the conclusion. That's the easiest way. They're onto it well.

[Addresses screen] Other studies you don't see are Walter Bloom's, lectures to the Numismatic community, and they're always interested in all sorts of esoteric things, as collectors are and they have every right to all this sort of information, and it's out there in our databases.

[Addresses screen] But most interestingly, on top of one of his older things I've superimposed a new thing. Now, I bet none of you can handle this – laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Elemental finger printing being run by some of the team – Lisel Gentilly doing her PhD on top of the work that Walter's doing and this is behind the scenes, including DNA work on that ivory.

[Addresses screen] The Graveyards, the wreck, our commitment to the divers, to kids, the underwater display case, the Museum-Without-Walls. Your Museum is the first to establish a wreck trail in the Southern Hemisphere. We like to see ourselves as leaders and we have to work hard to stay there, and we do that with some of the young folk that we've now taken on board.

[Addresses screen] This is still a beautiful picture … Henrietta over the top of the remains of the Batavia. What this also does is show you how small a part of the wreck we actually have because it's stretched all the way up to those anchors.

If you're going and having a look today, look for the hole in the reef. In fact, it's exactly what I said to some of my friends who were trundling up there for a dive – the McLean's – how to find it. I said "Look for the hole in the reef," and they did.

[Addresses screen] There Pat Baker has superimposed the ship over it. There today you can have a look and see Jeremy in that hole. You can just go and Google that and you can actually take this tour, in a virtual sense. So we've actually changed and gone a long way beyond where we were.

[Addresses screen] Declaring of historic, listing under the Heritage Acts and so on … something that's taken a while, but now is well in place.

[Addresses screen] The terrestrial sites at Beacon Island and Long Island.

[Addresses screen] The commencements of the excavations in 2001.

[Addresses screen] The continuation of Martin Gibbs's work on survival strategies, there a thesis by Ben Marwick, based upon things - and again one of Myra's slides - based upon all sorts of things and reports different to the ones that we used to deal with. The advent of the young into our world.

[Addresses screen] Post-disaster behaviour and this is one of course that many of you know a bit about.

[Addresses screen] One of the most horrific pictures I think in the collection. Nothing seems to change it appears.

[Addresses screen] And of course some of these, the good in the bad, is that you're able then to use some of these remains to answer questions about health and welfare and so on, of these people and of course, helping to tell their story.

[Addresses screen] Here's Myra and Juliet Paasveer, one of the forensic scientists.

[Addresses screen] Another team of forensic scientists here. They had to chuck some poor person out needing an MRI scan, it appears.

[Addresses screen] Other experts and the papers are just extraordinary. Dan Franklin.

[Addresses screen] Here we have Dr Watling's.

[Addresses screen] And then of course this is what excites everyone, but I challenge any of you and I'm going to – I'm not going to donate my head to the job, but I was going to say that what should happen is they should be given a head of somebody who we all know, and be given the job of seeing if it works and whether it looks anything like that head. A fairly simple thing to do I would have thought, but I'll keep mine on for now thanks.

[Addresses screen] But isn't it fantastic stuff. Apparently it is based on science and there's Steven Knott doing his work. This is all stuff that's coming out and of course [Addresses screen] Chila's databases and then some wonderful stuff that's been happening with the Dutch archives, finding the original documents and reading them.

[Addresses screen] Here, you'll see Pelsaert's – Francisco Pelsaert's signature.

[Addresses screen] Beacon Island survey is underway now. Ground-penetrating radar. There's Bob on Beacon Island. There's the places that the team, including myself, were part of in the survey of Long Island. They were the reports.

[Addresses screen] You've probably all seen the time team and how good GeoPhys is. Well GeoPhys sometimes doesn't work and ground-penetrating radar has not proved successful on Beacon Island.

[Addresses screen] Here is the beginnings of the regreening, first that patch you see which is the beginnings of the removal of parts of the vegetation to examine where there may be graves and that’s been returned back to natural. The removal of the shacks.

[Addresses screen] This amazing work being undertaken here by some of our scientists from UWA and from the University of – and Curtin University.

[Addresses screen] Why he was doing that I didn't know until [00:54:32] and of course some of the more common things. If you're going to remove these things you must record them. Why? Because the Fishers are just as much an important part of our society as anything else and if you're going to remove evidence of their wonderful work for the economy and for themselves as society, you must record it.

[Addresses screen] Now look at this. Paul Bourke and company.

[Addresses screen] This is some of the 3D records. There's the Minister announcing the removal of the huts and this [Addresses screen] is a bubble thingy inside the huts. So the huts have been recorded before they're removed, in a form that you can then disassemble and see exactly as the school room on Beacon Island was. One of the living huts, and my favourite [Addresses screen], this.

Then of course the islands need to be protected while the archaeology occurs and this is occurring right now, [Addresses screen] such that the ground can't be disturbed in the interim as a team called the Roaring Forties team goes up there and commences its work [Addresses screen] on a grant that was received to look at these sites and to apply new technology. I think Jeff and I will have a quiet bet as to whether they can produce a plan as good as ours for Zuytdorp, and Stanley, but - you know – we'll see how they go. The gauntlet's thrown down.

[Addresses screen] This is the team. That's the people you saw, early on, plus some of our staff who are not on the team. It's quite an amazing team, right from all around the world that is now going to take the East-India studies and some of the pre-colonial wrecks including the Rapid which Graham worked, and so on, and do their sort of science and all those wonderful things with it. So, watch this space and they hopefully will achieve these aims.

[Addresses screen] One of the things they will do is present at a thing called IKUWA in 2016 which is a major conference that's happening here and you see there in the middle the team that has brought IKUWA to us. On the left, the old schoolbook which I still use on the Maritime Exploration of Australia by Jacob and Vellios, a school group of young scientists coming in to talk to our conservators, Ian Godfrey and co, and on the right, and to finish off, the development of a website by Carmelo Amalfi which you'll see Hugh there as part of the launch with the National Trust and the Dutch Ambassador.

Thank you.