- Several artifacts found near Ledge Point, in the vicinity of where it is believed the VOC ship the Vergulde Draeck (Gilt Dragon) struck a reef on 28 April 1656, are being returned to the Western Australian Museum
- The artifacts are believed to be musket balls and spring shot
- The find is potentially significant because it may confirm existence of a second shore-based site related to the Vergulde Draeck survivors and provide insight into the survivors' post shipwreck activities
Several artifacts, believed to be from Vergulde Draeck (Gilt Dragon) wrecked off the coast near Ledge Point in 1656, were returned to the Western Australian Museum today.
Culture and Arts Minister David Templeman, on behalf of the Western Australian Museum, accepted the artifacts from finders Leon Pule and Hanneley Tredoux.
The finds are significant because they may confirm the existence of another shore-based site related to the possible fate of the Vergulde Draeck survivors. The WA Museum's maritime archaeologists will further investigate the artifacts, which are believed to be musket balls and spring shot.
Visiting Metals Conservator, Tamar Davidowitz from the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands, will examine the artifacts on behalf of the Western Australian Museum to provide assistance in confirming their origins.
Vergulde Draeck sailed from Texel bound for Batavia (Jakarta) skippered by Pieter Albertsz, carrying trade goods and eight chests of silver to the value of 78,600 guilders. On 28 April 1656, Vergulde Draeck struck a reef south of Ledge Point. Seventy-five of the 193 crew and passengers made it to shore. A small boat was sent with the Under steersman (the second officer), believed to have been Abraham Leeman, and six others to Batavia (now Jakarta), arriving 40 days later.
Several attempts were made at the time to search for the wreckage and survivors. None were successful; however, other boats and lives were lost as part of these attempts.
The wreck, the first of the Dutch and English East India ships found on the Western Australian coast, was discovered by five spearfishermen (John Cowen; Jim, Alan and Graeme Henderson; and Alan Robinson) in April 1963.
After a period in which both it and Batavia (found later the same year) were heavily looted, protective legislation was enacted, protecting the wreck site along with any associated sites and artifacts. Subsequently, the artifacts from the wreck site were excavated by the Museum and, after extensive conservation treatment, exhibited at the WA Shipwrecks Museum.
Comments attributed to Culture and the Arts Minister David Templeman:
"I want to thank Leon Pule and Hanneley Tredoux for doing the right thing and returning these artifacts to the Western Australian Museum.
"This will enable our expert maritime archaeologists to examine the artifacts, and the site where they were found, to learn more about the fate of the Vergulde Draeck and its crew.
"WA has a fascinating maritime history and it is so exciting to see the stories come to light every time something new is found."
Comments attributed to Fremantle MLA Simone McGurk:
"Fremantle is a proud custodian of many of our maritime artifacts and people travel from across the world to view and examine them.
"I am so pleased to hear that these artifacts have been presented to the WA Shipwrecks Museum, and am sure many people will want to see them once they are ready for display."
Minister's office - 6552 5400