WAM 34


This collection contains artefacts from the wreck of the Batavia in 1629 on the Houtman Abrolhos, off the coast of Western Australia.

Batavia is Australia's second oldest known shipwreck; the oldest is the English East India Company ship Trial lost in 1622. On the morning of 4 June 1629, the VOC-ship Batavia was wrecked on the Houtman Abrolhos, off the coast of Western Australia. Commander Francisco Pelsaert, all the senior officers, some crew and passengers, 48 in all, deserted 268 people on the wreck and on two waterless islands whilst they went in search of water. Abandoning the search on the mainland coast, they made their way to Batavia (modern Jakarta, Indonesia), to obtain help; the journey took 33 days. On arrival, the Governor General dispatched Pelsaert in the yacht Sardam to rescue the survivors. With extraordinary bad luck, it took 63 days to find the wreck site, almost double the time it took the party to get to Batavia. At the Abrolhos, Pelsaert discovered that mutiny had taken place. A small group of mutineers, led by Jeronimus Cornelisz the undermerchant, had massacred 125 men, women and children. Pelsaert arrested the mutineers, tried them according to Dutch law and executed some of them. When the Sardam finally returned to Batavia, some of the lesser offenders, who had been flogged, keelhauled and dropped from the yard-arm as punishment on the voyage, were executed. Two people were marooned on the mainland coast as punishment. Out of 316 people aboard Batavia, only 116 survived. Pelsaert died in the following year. Batavia's shipwreck was found in 1963 by fisherman and divers. In the late 1960s the Museum conducted a holding operation on the site using watch-keepers to ensure the site was not looted. Between 1972 and 1976 the Department of Maritime Archaeology conducted a series of excavations of the Batavia wreck site. The artefacts from these excavations were treated by the Western Australian Museum's Department of Materials Conservation and may now be seen in the Shipwreck Galleries in Fremantle, and in the Western Australian Museum Geraldton. During the excavation, part of the hull of the vessel was uncovered. This was carefully recorded and raised. After a number of years of conservation treatment, the remains were rebuilt in the Shipwreck Galleries. This provides the centre-piece for the Batavia Gallery display. The section is the stern quarter of the port side of the ship up to the top of the first gun-deck, and includes the transom and sternpost. Part of a portico fa├žade was found on the site, comprising 97 (of a total of 149) blocks weighing over 36 tonnes. The portico was reconstructed and is on display in the WA Museum Geraldton. From archival research, it was found that the portico was destined for either the Land Port or the Waterport at the Castle at Batavia.


Artefacts; Marine archaeology; Maritime history; Ships; Shipwrecks; Water transport

Batavia; Dutch East India Company; Dutch Shipwreck; Historic; Maritime archaeology; Mutiny; Shipwreck; Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie; VOC; Wreck

Commander Francisco Pelsaert; Department of Maritime Archaeology; Dutch East India Company (VOC); Jeronimus Cornelisz; Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie

Ships; Watercraft

Shipwreck artefacts; Shipwreck survivors; Shipwrecks; Vessels (watercraft)

Coverage Spatial

Batavia (Jakarta, Indonesia); Houtman Abrolhos

Coverage Temporal



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