Voyages of Grand Discovery
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In Search of the Great Southland
Past Before Time
Dirk Hartog
Willem de Vlamingh
William Dampier
Nicolas Baudin
Saint Alouran
Matthew Flinders
de Freycinet
Lines of Fate
On 19 July 1619 commander Frederik de Houtman sailing on board Dordrecht, skippered by Reyer Jansz, and the Amsterdam under skipper Maarten Cornelisz, struck upon ‘the Southland lying behind Java’, much further south than the ships before them. On board the Amsterdam was the Councillor of the Indies, Jacob Dedel. The new land was named Dedelsland after him as the highest ranked person.

The weather did not allow closer examination and the two ships sailed north, keeping far out from shore. On 29 July, de Houtman discovered several low islands surrounded by extensive coral reefs.

The position of these islands was accurately plotted and as a warning they were named De Houtman Abrolhos, meaning ‘look out’.

Pelsaert Island Aerial Shot

Right: Aerial view of Pelsaert
Island, Houtman Abrolhos.
Photo: Patrick Baker,
Western Australian Museum.

This warning, however, did not prevent the loss of two Dutch East India Company ships in the Houtman Abrolhos some years later — Batavia in 1629 and Zeewijk in 1727. In their letters home, de Houtman and Dedel’s mention of gold made their masters extremely interested in the new land and keen to investigate futher.

Although the VOC took every measure to keep the sailing routes secret, competitors inevitably got to know about them. In 1622 the English East India Company ship Trial tried to follow the new south route but the voyage ended in catastrophe off the Monte Bello Islands.

This Southland, it seems to be fine country as we could see…

…one should stay clear of this shoal, for it lies most treacherously for ships that want to call in at this land. It is at least 10 mijlen long; lies at 28 degress, 26 minutes.’
Frederik de Houtman

'The Land of Eendracht looked to be red, clayish land, and, according to some people’s description, could be found to be rich in gold…’ Jacob Dedel

Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis
Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica AC
Hydrographica Tabula, 1630
First published in ‘Atlantis Maioris Appendix’.
Amsterdam, 1631

Hendrik Hondius

Hondius’ twin globe map of the world, with its elaborately drawn margins and portraits of Mercator, Caesar, Ptolemy and Jodocus Hondius in the corners, is the first dated map in an atlas to show any part of Australia. Charted are the 1623 discoveries of Dutchman Jan Carstensz on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula.

For first time on a widely available printed world map, the early Dutch discoveries of Australia are shown. This map is a watershed in the history of the mapping of Australia. 

Hondius lists  place names on Australia’s west coast indicative of the discoveries of Hartog and  de Houtman including Dirk Hartog's ree and T. Lant van Eendracht, F Houtmans arbrooleus and Dedelis landt.

On loan from Jock Clough Collection

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