William Dampier became famous after his epic pirating travels were published in his book ‘A New Voyage Round the World’. This became an international best seller overnight and influenced many literary greats such as Coleridge (The Ancient Mariner), Swift (Gulliver’s Travels) and Defoe (Robinson Crusoe).

Join Western Australian Museum Maritime Archaeology curator, Dr Michael (Mack) McCarthy as he presents a public talk about the life and times of the pirate and hydrographer as part of The Harry Butler: In the Wild West lecture series.

In the late 1600s, Dampier convinced the British Admiralty to provide him with the vessel to further explore the uncharted east coast of New Holland via the Pacific Ocean, around Cape Horn. They hoped that he might also solve the mystery of the mythical Terra Australis during his journey.

“Delays with the fit-out and provisioning of Roebuck forced Dampier to take a much longer voyage via the Cape of Good Hope,” Dr McCarthy said.

“He first made landfall at a place he named ‘Sharks Bay’ and while on this coast he produced a chart and collected and described many plants, shells and other specimens including fish, marine mammals, reptiles, shells and one insect.”

Eventually the leaky Roeback sank at the Ascension Islands in February 1701. Luckily Dampier managed to salvage his journals and some specimens from the wreck.

Dampier’s subsequent new book, A Voyage to New Holland, was another best seller and Dampier became widely recognised by his collections and his vivid descriptions as ‘Australia’s first natural historian’.

“He also produced a treatise on the world’s oceanography, currents, winds and tides and these works influenced mariners and explorers, including James Cook and Joseph Banks, for hundreds of years.”

Adjunct Professor Dr Michael McCarthy is the Curator of Maritime Archaeology at the Western Australian Maritime Museum and a member of the School of Arts and Sciences at Notre Dame University in Fremantle. Dr McCarthy has been the archaeologist responsible for the excavation of many historic sites; including the wrecks of the Dutch East India ship Zuytdorp (1711) the iron hulled SS Xantho (1872), the submerged WWII flying boats at Broome and a number of submerged jetty sites. He was also responsible for the Museum’s HMAS Sydney/HSK Kormoran program and was part of the inspection team when the wrecks were found. In 2001, Dr McCarthy led a research and search team to locate the long-lost wreck of HM ship Roebuck at the Ascension Islands 300 years later after it sank. Dr McCarthy has published widely in archaeology and history, has curated many exhibitions and has co-produced numerous websites.

The William Dampier: the great pirate and hydrographer lecture is part of The Harry Butler lecture series: In the Wild West proudly presented by the WA Museum in partnership with Chevron Australia. The series showcases the work of Museum scientists, curators and associates in the areas of natural and social sciences.

LECTURE: William Dampier: the great pirate and hydrographer
WHEN: 7.00pm, Thursday 14 July 2011, and 2.00pm, Friday 15 July 2011.
WHERE: WA Museum – Albany, Residency Road, Albany.
BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL: www.museum.wa.gov.au/inthewildwest
COST: By gold coin donation.

Teresa Belcher, Western Australian Museum: T: 9212 3856