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Wrecked VOC Ships that provided Australia’s first European inhabitants.


  • June 4. The ship Batavia, under the command of Commander Francois Pelsaert shipwrecked on the Abrolhos.

  • June 7. Pelsaert and 46 others set sail for Jakarta in the ship's sloop to get help.

  • September 17. Pelsaert returns from Batavia with the ship Sardam

  • October 12. Sardam skipper Jacop Jacopszoon and 4 others sent to search the Abrolhos islands for valuables. Never seen again, but they could have survived on an island and eventually made their way to the mainland. Potentially 5 survivors.

  • November 16. Wouter Loos and Jan Pelgrom marooned by Pelsaert on the mainland at Wittecarra Gully, near the mouth of the Murchison River, Western Australia. Pelsaert sails Sardam back to Batavia. Potentially 2 survivors.

Potentially 7 people could have survived these dramas in 1629. 

Then 27 years later……


  • April 28. The Vergulde Draeck shipwrecked on a reef off 5 km off the coast near Ledge Point about 100 km North of Perth. Skipper was Captain Pieter Albertszoon. It is recorded that 75 of the 193 on board landed on the coast. What happened to the other 118? Some of them (number unknown) may have made their way to the mainland some time later using part of the wreckage. It is quite realistic to estimated that at least 50 of them may have survived..

  • May. Crew of 7 sailed and reached Batavia with a small sailing boat. Including the Captain, 68 people stayed behind. Potentially 68 survivors.

  • July/August. Ships Witte Valk and Goede Hoop arrived to search for survivors. Witte Valk did not land due to furious storms. Goede Hoop more persistent and landed with a search party. Three of the crew got lost in the bush never to be seen again by the ship’s company. Could have survived yielding another 3 survivors. A longboat with 8 crew were send to look for the 3 but were also never seen again. Their boat was smashed on inshore reefs by pounding surf but the crew could have survived. Potentially 8 more survivors. Goede Hoop sailed away soon after leaving the 11 men to fend for themselves.

As many 129 people may have survived this incident.


  • June. The Zuytdorp, with a complement of 280 persons, was wrecked about 50 km north of the mouth of the Murchison River (Kalbarri). A considerable number survived and camped near where they were wrecked for some time. It may well be that as many as 200 that survived the wrecking considering the ship wrecked on the mainland.

Conservatively 200 may have survived.


  • April 26. The Zeewijck with crew of 208 and commanded by Jan Steijns came aground on reefs in the Abrolhos. 12 crew sailed to Batavia in a longboat and were never seen again. Potentially 12 survivors.

  • July 10. The remainder of the crew built a large boat from the wreckage over several months and sailed back to Batavia.

Potentially 12 survivors.

It seems therefore that between 1629 and 1727 - nearly 100 years - around 348 VOC crew and passengers could have spend some time on Australian soil trying to survive.

How, and for how long, did they survive?

The VOC Society believes some did survive and is certain many survived long enough to mingle with the local aboriginal population and produced offspring and that traces of this co-habitation can still be found today.

They were Australia’s first European inhabitants!

And .... there may have been more!
Three more ships belonging to the VOC never reached their destination - Batavia - after leaving Cape Town. One, two and maybe all three of the ships could have suffered similar fates as the above ships. They just have not been found! But Westerns Australia has a huge coastline and you just never know! See the web page on the lost ships for information about these three ships.

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