de Vlamingh’s Journey: Exploring the Evidence

Willem de Vlamingh's ships, with black swans, at the entrance to the Swan River.

Willem de Vlamingh's ships, with black swans, at the entrance to the Swan River, Western Australia, coloured engraving (1796), derived from an earlier drawing (now lost)



Victorsz detail of de Vlamingh’s expedition to the South Land, 1697.

Victor Victorsz,Victor Victorsz, Detail of Willem de Vlamingh’s expedition to the South Land, 1697. The inscription ‘alhier de schootel gevonden’ refers to the ‘plate found here’. Reproduced courtesy National Archives of the Netherlands 


Year Group: Year 4
Availability: Monday to Friday during term
Sessions: 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm. Bookings Essential
Cost: $180 per session
Duration: 120 minutes (approx)
Maximum students: 32 per session
Supervision ratio: minimum 1 adult to 10 students (1 to 6 preferred)
Curriculum links: First Contacts: ACHASSK084



Travel back through the centuries to the height of the Dutch spice trade era.

Join the fleet of Willem de Vlamingh as he explores the coast of the ‘Southland’, searching for lost ships, making maps, collecting natural specimens, and leaving behind what became one of the most famous objects in the Shipwrecks Museum’s collection. This interactive experience will give students the chance to handle plenty of authentic props before they explore the Museum to examine the real historical evidence of this journey.

de Vlamingh’s Journey: Exploring the Evidence is a new two-part, 120 minute, curriculum-linked package that immerses your students throughout our galleries and in a separate activity room that has been specifically developed for school groups. It assists Year 4 teachers with the following HASS questions:

  • Why did Dutch traders explore the West coast of Australia in the 17th Century? (ACHASSK084)
  • What happened on some of these early journeys to the coast of WA? (ACHASSK084)
  • What were some of the contacts, exchanges and impacts that occurred as a result of these journeys? (ACHASSK084)

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Booking Instructions 

Step 1 – Create your Class Rotation

  • Before you book it is important that you create a proposed rotation for your visit so that you are clear on what time your class is participating in the activity (Part A - Facilitated) and what time the class is visiting the galleries (Part B – Self Guided). This is even more important when you are booking for more than one class.
  • We can accommodate up to 5 facilitated (Part A) sessions per day, with available time-slots of 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm during term time. Each session needs to be booked separately.
  • A maximum of 32 students (a class) is allowed per facilitated (Part A) session.
  • Up to two classes can be in the galleries at the same time for the self-guided (Part B) session.

Step 2 – Make the online Booking

  • Click on the ‘Book de Vlamingh's Journey’ button below.
  • Navigate to the desired date you wish to visit.
    Note: If booking for more than one class ensure all the sessions you require are available before proceeding further.
  • Select the session time. 
  • Select the de Vlaminghs Journey from the program choices.
  • Select if the self-guided session in the galleries is happening before or after this facilitated session. (Please Note: if you are booking the 10am facilitated session the self-guided must occur after)
  • Fill out your details – with name and contact mobile of the supervising teacher.
  • You will require your school's payment card (we accept VISA or Mastercard) to complete your booking.
  • Your payment will be instantly processed and you will receive a confirmation email of your booking. This email is also your Tax Invoice and receipt for the credit card holder.
  • Please check the email has the correct booking details, remembering this is the time of the facilitated session (Part A). If it is incorrect please contact us.

Book de Vlamingh's Journey

Step 3 – Booking additional sessions

  • If more than one class is attending you will need to repeat step 2 for each facilitated session (Part A).
  • If possible please provide the contact details of the supervising teacher of that class. 

Step 4 – Planning Your Visit

  • Don’t forget to read the Planning Your Visit section so you are prepared for your visit to the Museum.
  • If you are booking for more than one class please share this page with your fellow class teachers.

Please email or call us on 1300 134 081 to discuss other booking options if the above is not suitable.

Booking Conditions

  • We may need refuse entry if we are already at capacity at your selected Museum and you haven't pre-booked.
  • A minimum supervisor ratio of 1 adult to 10 students is required, however a ratio of 1 to 6 is preferred for this activity.
  • Bookings need to be made 14 days before the date of your visit.
  • Changes to dates and times are subject to availability.
  • Refunds are not available if you cancel your booking within 14 days of your visit.

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Curriculum Links 

Programs and exhibitions at the WA Museum support teachers in their delivery of the WA Curriculum to their students. de Vlamingh's Journey: Exploring the Evidence has been developed with reference to the following content description(s) from the Year 5 Western Australian Curriculum:

Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS)

  • Knowledge and understanding
    History: First Contacts

    The journey(s) of at least one world navigator, explorer or trader up to the late 18th century (e.g. Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan), including their contacts and exchanges with societies in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Oceania, and the impact on one society (ACHASSK084)
  • Skills
    Questioning and Researching, Analysing

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Strangers on the Shore is a 2 hour package that consists of the following two components:

  • Part A - Facilitated Activity - 50 minutes (approx.)
  • Part B - Self-guided Gallery Exploration - 50 minutes (approx.)

Both components start on the hour with allowance for changeover.

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Inside the Hartog to de Vlamingh Gallery
Inside the Hartog to de Vlamingh Gallery

At the Museum - What your class will experience

Students participating in this two part program will:

Part A - Facilitated Activity (Education Activity Room - Adjacent to the WA Shipwrecks Museum)

  • Learn about the important missions that Willem de Vlamingh was tasked with for his journey to the Southland (Western Australia).
  • Participate in engaging role-play activities which highlight the challenges and achievements of exploration in the 17th Century.
  • Recreate some of the exchanges of goods and ideas that took place in the Age of Exploration.
  • Discover whether contact was made with the local Aboriginal people and discuss the implications of ‘first contacts’.

Part B – Self-Guided Gallery Exploration (Inside the WA Shipwrecks Museum):

  • Use the Self-guided Gallery Exploration resource to learn more about the objects in the Museum linked to 17th Century Dutch exploration of the Western Australian Coast.
  • Explore Museum evidence (primary sources) of deVlamingh’s journey, including maps, journal entries, pictures and the de Vlamingh plate and posts. 
  • Examine objects from 17th Century Dutch wrecks, that provide information on navigation, trade and daily life so that historical events can be studied and reconstructed. 
  • Discover the events surrounding the wreck of the Dutch ship Batavia, and locate source objects from the ship’s remains and surrounding islands. 
  • Download the Self-Guided Gallery resource and print one per group leader.

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de Vlaminghs Plate
de Vlaminghs Plate

Planning your visit

Specific to this program

  • Before arriving at the Museum please have students already organised into groups of 4-7 students, each with an adult helper, for the Part B - Self-Guided Gallery Exploration component of this program. Having your students already organised into groups will give them more time to enjoy exploring the precinct, rather than spending time splitting into groups. If you do not have enough adult helpers, larger groups will need to be arranged as all groups require supervision in the Museum. The minimum supervisor ratio is 1 adult to 10 students, however a ratio of 1 to 6 is preferred for this activity.
  • Please have the trail printed before you arrive and give a copy to your adult helpers. Make sure all adult helpers are familiar with the Self-guided Gallery Exploration notes and the layout of the Museum. Please note that the Gallery Exploration can be completed in any order, so that gallery spaces are not congested.  
  • Students will NOT require any pencils/paper or clipboards unless you specifically wish them to record their work for later use.
  • Part A - Facilitated Activity starts promptly at your booked session time. Please assemble your class in the courtyard between the WA Shipwrecks Museum and the Education Activity Room. In the event of rain, please assemble in the foyer of the Museum where you will be collected. If you are starting the program with Part B – Self-guided gallery Exploration, you may take your students into the Museum to commence this part on arrival. 

General to WA Shipwrecks Museum

  • On arrival at the Museum, please check in at the Front Desk to confirm your student numbers, booked session times and emergency contact details.
  • The Museum is open from 9.30am for access to toilets and storage of bags etc.
  • If you are running late please contact the WA Shipwrecks Museum front desk on 9431 8469, or the Customer Relations Team on 1300 134 081.

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Teacher Familiarisation Sessions

Date: Thursday 5 December 2019
Arrival & Session Time: 9.15am for 9.30am; 1.15pm for 1.30pm; 4.15pm for 4.30pm
Duration: 1.5 hours
Cost: Free
Bookings: Essential via the button below

The WA Shipwrecks Museum Education Team is excited to offer teachers the opportunity to experience de Vlamingh's Journey: Exploring the Evidence through one of our FREE program familiarisation sessions. This will help you to plan your excursion and prepare your students and adult helpers for the day. 

At the familiarisation sessions teachers will:

  • Meet the Education Officers who created the program
  • Learn about the background to Strangers on the Shore and how the program links to the curriculum
  • Take part in an abridged version of the program
  • Find out about the booking process and important excursion essentials to the WA Shipwrecks Museum
  • Chat with your teaching colleagues on how they will incorporate Strangers on the Shore into their classroom

The next de Vlamingh's Journey: Exploring the Evidence familiarisation sessions will be held at the WA Maritime Museum on Thursday 5 December 2019. The familiarisation program is free and includes light refreshments (offered during the arrival period). There will be three sessions offered throughout the day and teachers are welcome to explore the Museum before/after the session during opening hours. The session times available are:

  • Session 1: 9.15am arrival, 9.30am start - 11.00am finish
  • Session 2: 1.15pm arrival, 1.30pm start - 3.00pm finish
  • Session 3: 4.15pm arrival, 4.30pm start - 6.00pm finish

Registration is essential via selecting your session choice below.

Session 1 Session 2 Session 3

Familiarisation sessions can be arranged at other times should you have a group of fellow teachers, please contact us on

Sign-up to our education newsletter to be notified of the next session.

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WA Shipwrecks Museum
WA Shipwrecks Museum

Excursion Extensions in Fremantle

While in Fremantle you might like to extend your excursion with the following suggestions:

  • If you are spending the day in Fremantle you might like to add on the precinct walking trail A Trek Through Time. This trail takes you between the WA Shipwrecks Museum and WA Maritime Museum. Bookings are essential for this trail by clicking on the button below.

    Find out More and Book A Trek Through Time
  • If you are visiting the WA Maritime Museum, be sure to explore the or spice trade market display on the ground floor (Indian Ocean Gallery), as this will provide additional context for today’s lesson. Also find examples of early navigational tools nearby.
  • The area of the Western Australian coast, around the Swan River has been an area of significance for thousands of years before the arrival of Willem de Vlamingh. Explore the area around Bathers Beach called Manjaree by the Whadjuk Noongar people.
    • Manjaree was an important meeting and trading place for the Whadjuk people. The path through the bush by the beach follows the original shoreline, and the vegetation is being restored to represent the landscape before settlement.  There are several signs around the Bather’s beach area, near the railway on the grass and near the beach paths, that explain the significance of the Manjaree, Aboriginal trade items, the appearance of the original coast line, the local /native vegetation and uses of these plants, Noongar seasons and two paintings showing Noongar and a British perspectives of the area. Challenge students to find all these signs to find out more about the Whadjuk Noongar perspective of this area.
  • Stand outside the WA Shipwrecks Museum and reflect on the significance of the site and its changes over time:
    • The line of bricks on the ground is where the original shoreline used to be. The animals etched in the brick are the sea life that Whadjuk Noongar people fished for. The area around the building, including restaurants near Bathers Beach and the Esplanade Park across the road is reclaimed land that has been developed since 1829 settlement.
    • The WA Shipwrecks Museum was built by convicts in the 1850s, and has been used as a government storehouse (Commissariat) for holding building materials and food supplies, until it became a Museum in 1970s. Look closely on the bars of the lower windows (to the right of the entrance to the Museum) and you might see a ‘broad-arrow’ stamp (symbol of Government property – which convicts were considered to be) in the metal, just like convicts used to have on their uniforms. 

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Portrait thought to be Willem de Vlamingh, by Johannes en Nicholaas Verkolje

Portrait thought to be Willem de Vlamingh, by Johannes en Nicholaas Verkolje

At School – Classroom Activities

Following are some suggested activities for exploring the topic of Dutch, French and English exploration of the WA coast:

  • Spice It Up: Play a ‘guess the spice’ smelling game to introduce students to the different spices. Research the history of spices, what types there are, why they were so important, where they were gown in the past and where they are grown today (mark these locations on a map). Create some recipes using spices, experiment with various spices in preserving food (taking care with food safety precautions). 

  • Trade Fair: Research all of the things that were traded in the 17th Century such as spices, textiles, ceramics, foods, jewellery, etc. Source these items from home or make models of them in class and set up a spice market. Create copies of coins to trade the items.

  • Finding Your Way: Learn about the history of navigational tools. For some of the more simple ones, get students to make their own (for example a simple magnetic compass, lead line, log line, etc). Use these tools to learn more about the difference between latitude and longitude.

  • On the Map: Look at all the names along the WA coast that were given by Dutch, French and English explorer.s Mark each one on a map with a small symbol of a flag  or initials from that country (if possible, find a copy of an older map to write on). Next to each one, find out the Aboriginal name for that area and write that in larger text as the original name for that place. On this map, mark areas where significant encounters between Aboriginal people and explorers took place. As an extension, find out about all the different names that Western Australia has been called, who used these names and what they meant (eg Terra Nullis Incognita, Southland, New Holland, Eendracht’s Land, etc).

  • Impact of Exploration: Review each of the events of de Vlamingh’s exploration of the WA coast. Although de Vlamingh was instructed to find Aboriginal people there was not direct contact between de Vlamingh’s fleet and the Aboriginal people. However, there still would have been impacts made. As a class, discuss and brainstorm all of the possible impacts, for example, what the Aboriginal peoples may have felt when they saw the ships arriving (please note that we can only made guesses here, we will never know the actual answer); anything that might have been left behind such as fires and campsites set up by explorers, remnants of shipwrecks, etc, as well as the longer-term impacts of the mapping and naming of the area on Aboriginal peoples.

  • Dear Diary: Find out more about ships logs and journals. What is the difference? Based on your experience today, pick a significant event in Willem de Vlamingh’s journey and write a journal entry from the perspective of the character that you or one of your classmates ‘played’.

  • Make a Meal: Find out about foods eaten by early Dutch explorers and compare to the local food eaten by Noongar people. Make a meal plan or menu for both.

  • Sick of Scurvy: Research scurvy symptoms and cures and make up a ship surgeon’s information booklet on this, complete with illustrations.

  • Ship’s Artist: Imagine you are the ship’s artist, tasked with drawing all of the exotic plants and animals you encounter. After examining a local animal or a picture, use only your memory to create an accurate scientific drawing with pencil or watercolours. Host an exhibition in your classroom.

  • I Sea Monsters: In the past, the loss of ships were sometimes blamed on sea monsters. Find out more about this and draw your own sea monster creation.

  • Find Out More: Use the following WA Museum sites and resources to find out more information or classroom activity ideas:

  • Voyages of Grand Discovery (Previous exhibtion)

  • French Explorers in WA (Previous exhibition)

  • Dirk Hartog 400th Anniversary (WA Museum)

  • Dirk Harog 400th Anniversary (HTAWA)

  • Scootle: Search the Scootle website by the Australian Curriculum descriptor codes for more ideas: ACHASSK084

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You can download the de Vlamingh's Journey resources via the link below when they become available