- October 25, 2016 marks 400th anniversary of Dirk Hartog's landing on WA coast
- Website a key State Government initiative to mark significant event
- Dutch replica ship Duyfken preparing for commemorative journey
A new website depicting the start of 400 years of significant Western Australian maritime history has been launched today by Premier Colin Barnett aboard the replica Dutch ship of the era, the Duyfken.
Tomorrow (January 23) marks 400 years since Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog left Texel in the Netherlands on his ship, the Eendracht; a journey that would see him become the first European to leave recorded evidence of contact with Australian soil, at what is now known as Dirk Hartog Island, off the coast of Shark Bay.
The Eendracht sailed under the flag of the Dutch East India Company, or Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) and was laden with a rich cargo to be traded for other goods of the East Indies.
During his journey to Bantam, he accidentally encountered the west coast of what is now known as Dirk Hartog Island off the coast of Shark Bay on October 25, 1616. At Cape Inscription, Hartog left a plate nailed to a wooden post and inscribed with a record of his visit, which now represents the oldest physical evidence of European contact with Australia.
Mr Barnett said community celebrations, a commemorative journey by the Duyfken, and the establishment of new attractions at historic sites were among the initiatives that would mark the anniversary of Hartog's landing on the Western Australian coast.
"The State Government has made a significant investment in infrastructure and commemorations to mark the 400th anniversary, which is an important milestone for our State," the Premier said.
"This new website tells the story of Dirk Hartog and profiles other early skippers and their discoveries, subsequent VOC visits to Australia including the 17th and 18th century Dutch shipwrecks off the WA coast, and explains why VOC never formally settled in Australia.
"The website will continue to evolve through 2016 as additional information and new elements are added to enhance information about the stories and legacies of Hartog and VOC."
To complement the website, and further promote learning among West Australian schoolchildren about the State's European history, the history and science teachers' associations have been busy developing resources for use by primary and secondary school teachers in the 2016 school year.
The resources, which will be freely available, have links to the Year 3 and 4 history curricula, and Year 9 biological and chemical sciences focused on the Return to 1616 ecological restoration project taking place on Dirk Hartog Island.
Mr Barnett was given an overview of the Lotterywest-funded repairs being undertaken to enable the Duyfken to make her commemorative journey as part of the celebrations.
The Duyfken will depart Fremantle Harbour on August 20, 2016 and visit Bunbury, Mandurah, Hillarys, Jurien Bay, Dongara and Geraldton along the way to Denham, and will be available for public tours at each port call.
The centrepiece of local celebrations will be a four-day festival, Dirk Hartog Voyage of Discovery: Shark Bay 1616, to be held from Friday, October 21, 2016 to Tuesday, October 25, 2016, hosted by the Shire of Shark Bay.
Denham itself will be rejuvenated ahead of the anniversary with a new $2.2 million jetty and $6.1 million redevelopment of the Denham foreshore and main street, made possible by the State Government's Royalties for Regions Gascoyne Revitalisation Plan.
Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said the Denham foreshore was a key focal point for the town and the revitalisation, made possible by Royalties for Regions, would provide the community with a lasting legacy.
"This Royalties for Regions investment will provide vibrant new public spaces to enhance the upcoming celebrations," Mr Redman said.
"The anniversary provides a real opportunity for Australians to learn more about the Dirk Hartog story and our early maritime history."
- Visit the new website at http://museum.wa.gov.au/1616
- As part of about $26 million of private and State funding allocated to the recognition of the anniversary, $820,000 has been made available through the Royalties for Regions Community Services Fund to deliver a range of initiatives including the website, teachers' resources and new attractions and infrastructure on Dirk Hartog Island and in Denham
- The history teachers' resource can be downloaded at no cost at http://www.htawa.net.au/dirk_hartog
- For more information about the State Government-funded initiatives, visit http://www.dpc.wa.gov.au
Premier's office - 6552 5000