September September .. October 93 October 93
to the Indies was being discussed, but had not yet been offi cially
decreed. The so-called Brouwer Route involved sailing due east
from the Cape with the strong westerly winds of the Roaring
Forties and judging the right position to turn north to head
for Sunda Strait, between the Indonesian islands of Java and
Sumatera. Previously, Dutch ships had swung through the northern
Indian Ocean. The Brouwer Route became the standard from
1617, but because methods of determining longitude at the
time were diffi cult, judging the right position to turn north
was questionable. If ships using this new route travelled too far
east, they’d sight the coast of WA.
The fi ve ships in Hartog’s party became separated during the
early phases of their voyage and left the Cape on diff erent dates.
Four of them found Sunda Strait without recorded diffi culty.
Hartog chose to sail further east because he was heading for
Sape Strait, east of the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, in order
to sail directly to the Spice Islands. As a result, he encountered
the western extremity of the Australian coast and landed on
Dirk Hartog Island.
On the island, Hartog nailed an inscribed pewter plate to
a post as a record of his visit – it is now on display at the
Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, and is the
oldest known artefact of European exploration in Australia.
Hartog sailed north, charting the coastline to North West Cape,
in north-western WA. The portion of coast he charted was for
some decades known as Eendrachtslandt.
Directly following Hartog’s encounter with Australia’s west
coast there were three more adventitious encounters by VOC
ships. In 1618 skipper Haevick Claeszoon van Hillegom and
supercargo Pieter Dirkszoon, unaware of Hartog’s discover-
ies, reached the Pilbara coast, in northern WA, in Zeewolf and
noted an extensive coastline. In July the same year Mauritius,
captained by Lenaert Jacobszoon, landed at North West Cape.
The ship’s supercargo Willem Janszoon, who’d skippered the
Duyfken, noted human footprints. The following year, Frederick
von Houtman, commanding Amsterdam, and Jacob d’Edel on
Dordrecht sighted land somewhere close to Cape Leeuwin, in
south-western WA. They followed the WA coast all the way to
Eendrachtslandt, noting that it was all one land and discovering
the Houtman Abrolhos (Abrolhos Islands).
More intentional and concerted surveys of Australia’s west
coast took place in the years that followed but it wasn’t until 1623,
17 years after the voyage of Duyfken, that Dutch ships returned to
Cape York. Two jachts, Aernem (Arnhem) and Pera, commanded
by Jan Carstenszoon, were sent to further the exploration carried
out by Duyfken. They spent two months exploring the southern
coast of Papua, which Carstenszoon called de Papues and also,
mistakenly, Ceram, the name of a smaller island. Trying to
coast eastwards to Torres Strait, they encountered the Vuyle
Bancken reefs that had thwarted Duyfken’s northward progress.
Methods of determining
longitude at the time
A view of Post Offi ce Island,
one of 122 that make up the
Abrolhos (Abri voll olos – keep
your eyes open) Islands,
which were charted by
Frederik von Houtman in
1619 and subsequently
named aft er him.
PHOTO CREDITS, OPPOSITE,CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: ART COLLECTION 3 / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO; THE PICTURE ART COLLECTION / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO; ARTOKOLORO QUINT LOX LIMITED / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO; WIKIMEDIA COMMONS; THIS PAGE: PETER AITCHISON/AUSTRALIAN GEOGRAPHIC