On this day …….. 27th April 1971
The ‘Batavia’ was a ship built in Amsterdam in 1628. On 29 October 1628, the newly built Batavia, commissioned by the Dutch East India Company, sailed from Texel for the Dutch East Indies to obtain spices. During the voyage two of the crew, Jacobsz and Cornelisz, planned to hijack the ship, with the aim of starting a new life somewhere using the supply of trade gold and silver on board. After stopping at South Africa for supplies, Jacobsz deliberately steered the ship off course away from the rest of the fleet, planning to organise a mutiny against the captain at some stage. In June 1629 the ship struck a reef near Beacon Island, part of the Houtman Abrolhos island group off the Western Australian coast. 40 drowned but most of the crew and passengers were taken to nearby islands in the ship’s longboat and yawl. The captain organised a group of senior officers, crew members and some passengers to search for drinking water on the mainland. Unsuccessful, they then headed north to the city of Batavia, now Jakarta. Their amazing journey took 33 days, and all survived. After they arrived in Batavia, a rescue attempt was made for the other survivors, but it was discovered that a mutiny had taken place. Cornelisz had planned to hijack any rescue ships, and organised the murder of 125 men, women and children. The rescue party overcame the mutineers, executing the major leaders, including Cornelisz, while others were taken to be tried in Batavia. The mutiny and murders brought infamy to the story of the lost Batavia. On 27 April 1971, relics and artifacts from the Batavia wreck were salvaged, later followed by the stern of the ship. In 1972 The Netherlands transferred all rights to Dutch shipwrecks on the Australian coasts to Australia. Some of the items, including human remains, which were excavated, are now on display in the Western Australian Maritime Museum in Fremantle, Australia. Others are held by the Geraldton Region Museum. Included in the relics is a stone arch which was intended to serve as a welcome arch for the city of Batavia.