30 October, 2007


On the occasion of the celebration of "Netherlands - Australia 1606 - 2006" the KB presents here the complete digital facsimiles of five early Dutch books on the exploration of Australia.

Pelsaert, Batavia, 1629

Ongeluckige voyagie, van't schip Batavia, nae de Oost-Indien [...]. Vytgevaren onder den E. Francoys Pelsert. Amsterdam: J. Jansz., 1647.
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This CD-rom presents facsimiles from five early Dutch books on the exploration of Australia. Each of the texts represents a different way of editing and publishing travel stories. In the Dutch Republic of the 17th century there was a great interest in the travelogues of the ships that had made the long voyage to the East Indies and even further. Merchants were constantly looking for profitable investments. Scholars were fascinated by the descriptions of strange animals and peoples. Cartographers were eagerly waiting for more details on far away shores and islands. And the general public was fond of the sensational stories about shipwrecks, mutinies and the like. As literacy was wide-spread, there was a large audience and many itineraries, land descriptions, atlases and the like were printed and reprinted over and over.

The descriptions of the five books presented here were taken from the Short-Title Catalogue, Netherlands.

Ongeluckige voyagie, van't schip Batavia nae de Oost-Indien [...]. Vytgevaren onder den E. Francoys Pelsert. Amsterdam: J. Jansz., 1647.
A typical example of a cheap publication for a wide audience. The catastrophe on the Houtman Abrolhos, where the voyage of the proud Batavia ended in shipwreck, mutiny and slaughter, has been reprinted many times. This is the rare first edition, published by the renowned bookseller Johannes Janssonius. Six pages of engraved illustrations add to the dramatic story.
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History of the Batavia

On October 28 1628 the VOC East Indiamen ship Batavia sailed from Texel, in the North of the Netherlands, on her maiden journey to Batavia (now Jakarta, Indonesia). Seven other ships of various sizes accompanied her.

In the early hours of 4 June 1629 the Dutch East India Company ship Batavia, with 316 people on board, was wrecked on Morning Reef in the Wallabi Group of the Abrolhos Islands just 60 km off the coast of Geraldton, Western Australia.

What followed was the most horrific mutiny in the annals of maritime history with the systematic torture, rape and murder of 125 shipwreck survivors at the hand of a religious fanatic - one of the ship's senior officers - and his followers.


The reconstructed section of the VOC (United Dutch East India Company) ship Batavia is on display in the Batavia Gallery at the Shipwreck Galleries, Western Australian Maritime Museum, Fremantle.


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