Thursday, July 29, 2010


On 26 October 1616 Captain Dirk Hartog set foot on what is now known as Dirk Hartog Island, just North of Shark Bay in Western Australia. It was the second recorded landing of a European on Australian soil, and the first on the west coast of Australia. Hartogh's ship was the Eendracht, a 200 tonne vessel with 32 guns and a crew of 200, and it was on the way to the East Indies from the Netherlands.

He recorded his position, now called "Cape Inscription", and left a pewter plate nailed to a post standing upright in a rock cleft on top of the cliff, inscribed with the details of the date, ship and crew. That plate, now held in the Rijksmuseurn in Amsterdam, is the oldest known written record of a European landing in Australia - Australia’s first known piece of writing. The plate was found 81 years later by another Dutch mariner Willem de Vlamingh.


JP said...

And hence it was named "New Holland" - that's several decades before William Dampier.

Must have been rather amazing discovering that plate in such a far away place.

O Docker said...

I was a little curious if this tradition of leaving inscribed plates had been passed down to us in some way, so I ran the text through Google's online translator, and, besides the date, the plate also says,

"Change foredeck crew every six months or five thousand miles."

Tillerman said...

O Docker I am sure you are aware that Sir Francis Drake sailed up your coast and landed somewhere north of San Francisco Bay in 1579 and that he left behind "a plate of brasse" as "a monument of our being there" that claimed "her maiesties, and successors right and title to that kingdome."

You really ought to look for it. It would make for a good blog post if you could find it.

Baydog said...


Tillerman said...

Sorry Dirk. Nothing personal.

It's just that my blogging friend O Docker declared on his blog that this week is Dirk Week in the sailing blogosphere, so I wrote a post about the most famous sailor called Dirk that I knew before anyone else could.

No wait.

I think I read that wrong.

Oh shit!

Sam Chapin said...

When do you folks find time to look up all this stuff? Its anyone going sailing anymore?

Tillerman said...

You know what they say Sam, "Those who can sail, do. Those who can't, become sailing instructors."

No, wait. That doesn't make any sense.

Actually, in my own defense, I haven't been sailing for a couple of weeks because of a severe case of The Man Cold. So I have had time to blog and research the history of the Dutch East India Company and generally feel sorry for myself.

I'm feeling a bit better today though so may do something more strenuous like regrease my trailer hubs.

Pat said...

No recent sailing here, alas -- I've worked on boats, attended the funeral of a sailor friend, kayaked, taken pictures of boats sailing, and taught a boating safety class this summer.

Anonymous said...

I like it. I don't think I ever knew anyone really named Dirk, other than Dirk Pitt of course.

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