Maritime Heritage Activities
Research Report VOC Shipwrecks
Partners: Western Australia Museum (WAM)
During the 200 years of the Dutch East India Company (1602-1795) 1,850 ships undertook 4,800 journeys between the Netherlands and Asia. 19 of these ships were lost in the Indian Ocean during their outward journeys. In 1963 Hugh Edwards led the first of a series of expeditions to the Southern Abrolhos in Western Australia, during which the location of the Dutch Shipwreck The Batavia was identified. He also discovered an elephant tusk in the same area, supposedly belonging to the cargo of another stranded VOC ship. It was this discovery that prompted the WAM to conduct further research in the region.
The Dutch ship, The Aagterkerke, went missing in 1726 and was never seen nor heard of again. It was believed that this could have been the mysterious second shipwreck, to which the elephant tusk belonged. In order to test this hypothesis, WAM commissioned CIE to make an assessment of the VOC archives to research and collect any possible evidence on hips lost off the Western Australian Coast. CIE compiled a report based on the findings of our CIE Research Team on the likely presence of a VOC shipwreck at the Houtman Abrolhos. It also contained research and transcripts of VOC documents relating to lost ships leaving from the Cape of Good Hope for Batavia, in addition to research on the socio-economic context of 18th Century VOC activities in Middelburg.
Footprints as Stepping Stones: Kick-Off Dutch Australian Cultural Heritage Celebrations
Partners: Dutch Embassy in Canberra, National Library of Australia
This Cultural heritage event was organised in advance of upcoming Dutch-Australian cultural heritage celebrations, in particular for the anniversary of the landing of the Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog in Western Australia (1616-2016). It was part of a 'heritage week', aiming to refine the recommendations that resulted from the Heritage Days. Over 65 participants attended during the day and more than 100 at the evening symposium and public event. The whole celebration was organised by the Dutch Embassy in Canberra and CIE at the National Library of Australia.
The evening symposium comprised of dynamic workshops and a roundtable event. Invited participants included representatives of the so-called GLAMS (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums), cultural heritage experts, government representatives and companies. In the evening the general public were also invited to attend a Keynote speech by Dr. Peter van Onselen, who is an author and academic at the University of Western Australia and political commentator for The Australian and Sky News. He is of Dutch descent and talked about the unique ties between Australia and the Netherlands from an Australian perspective, drawing upon his own personal experiences. This lecture was followed by a reception hosted by the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Australia, Her Excellency Mrs. Annemieke Ruigrok.
During these activities the attendees focused upon identifying involved experts and organisations, to make the different projects and activities that took place in the field of Dutch-Australian heritage visible. Primary themes within heritage cooperation were identified- the four M's- Maritime, Mercantile, Migration and Military Heritage relations. The historical ties and activities form footprints in the relations between the two countries, these footprints are stepping stones for future mutual heritage cooperation. This event aimed to look ahead and discuss ways to create 'joint ownership' in the 2016 cultural heritage celebrations. The aim is to involve symposium participants in the creation of a roadmap towards Dutch-Australian cultural heritage celebrations in 2016.
The first workshop gave an overview of activities organised by the cultural field in regards to Dutch-Australian cultural heritage and projects which are scheduled to take place leading up to 2016 and during this celebratory year itself. The workshop began with a presentation from Mr. Rupert Gerritsen and Mr. Peter Renders from 'Australia on the Map', reflecting on the Dutch-Australian celebrations in 2006. Mr. Roelof Hol from the National Archives in The Hague then presented the Dutch Common Cultural Heritage Policy in relation to the roadmap towards 2016 celebrations. He informed guests about the official Dutch policy towards common cultural heritage and how this affects Australia once they became a priority country from 1st January 2013.
Partners: Netherlands Embassy in Canberra, Australian National Maritime Museum, Western Australian Museum, Geldmuseum in Utrecht, RIjksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (RCE), The National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
During the 17th and 18th Centuries seafaring was a dangerous business. Many ships and men were lost at sea due to rough seas and bad weather. In the 1950s and 1960s four VOC wrecks were discovered and excavated near to the Western Australian coast; The Batavia (1629), Vergulde Draeck (1656), Zuytdorp (1712) and the Zeewijk (1729). The Australian-Netherlands Committee on Old Dutch Shipwrecks (ANCODS) was founded to take responsibility for the resulting archaeological collections from these wrecks. Over the years this collection has been scattered between different museums throughout both countries.
In 2006 the Dutch Ministry for Education, Culture and Science disposed the repatriation of the Dutch ANCODS artefacts to Australia. The Dutch part of the collection was previously housed in the Scheepvaart Museum (Amsterdam Maritime Museum) and the Geld Museum (Money Museum), following this CIE was made keeper of this collection.
In August 2009 two meetings were organised to discuss further cooperation between the two countries. One of the meetings also cooincided with the 12th ANCODS meeting held in the Shipwreck Gallery in Frementle. The first Data Coordination Workshop- Dutch Relic Return- was also held. This event was an informal workshop, organised to share information and develop further collaboration with the Australian counterparts, in order to develop a high quality database. The involved organisations also explored opportunities to establish a Netherlands-Australian online ANCODS database to include other parts of the collection. With the decision to repatriate the collection to Australia, CIE set up the ANCODS Online Database, to become an online repository of information. A web portal that allows the best possible access to information and the objects for international visitors, especially as the collection is no longer present in the Netherlands.
Phase 1: December 2008-February 2010- creating a digital inventory and description of the objects which were set to return to Australia. These were then made accessible online accompanied by information and explanations, thereby providing full digital access. As the Australian National Maritime Museum is now the keeper of the collection, the ANCODS database was handed over to them in 2011 to enable them to care for its continued development and management. CIE coordinated the actual organization of the repatriation and in advance of the event, created a small exhibition at the Nieuwland Erfgoed Centrum in Lelystad, to give the Dutch people a final chance to see the physical objects themselves before they left the country. Upon the event of this exhibition opening, the mutual declaration was signed between the two countries. The Australian National Maritime Museum now act as the custodians and repository for the ANCODS collection.
In November 2010 the objects were transferred to Australia. To commemorate the repatriation and official handover event was organised in Sydney on 9th November 2010, shortly following this the object were fianlly transferred to the Western Australian Museum in Frementle. See their ANCODS page. Also in 2010 a concept was developed and written for a travelling exhibition in 2016. This exhibition will be realised in cooperation with the Australian National Maritime Museum and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Australia