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The Batavia Gallery is the centrepiece of the WA Shipwrecks Museum (Maritime Museum in Fremantle). The gallery houses the reconstructed remains of the VOC ship Batavia, excavated by archaeologists in the 1970s.
While sailing south, a Dutch ship, the Batavia “struck a reef 40km off the coast of Western Australia near the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, a chain of 122 islands in the Indian Ocean.
During the excavation, part of the hull of the vessel was uncovered. The hull was carefully recorded and raised. After a number of years of conservation treatment, the remains were rebuilt in the Shipwreck Galleries in Fremantle.
The hull represents 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 stern-post.
Part of a portico façade 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 in Geraldton. From archival research, it was found that the portico was destined for either the Land Port or the Waterport for the Castle at Batavia.
Based over a number of floors and rooms, in total the gallery features artefacts from four local shipwrecks (Batavia, Zuytdorp, Zeewijk and Vergulde Draeck), including items such as clay pipes, silver coins, cannons and numerous other relics. WA Maritime Museum.
A depiction of the murder of the survivors. Wikimedia Commons
Massacre after the shipwreck of the Batavia in 1629 / From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository
This is a novel from the era (1629) detailing the fate of the Batavia and her crew. It was so popular at the time, that it became an instant bestseller, because it contained the real-life story of murder, deceit and the perilous high seas. Credit: News L
Long Island, in the Abrolhos group off the coast of Geraldton, Western Australia. Long Island was the place where the ringleaders of the slaughter of survivors of the Dutch East India shipwreck 'Batavia', were hung in 1629. Credit: News Corp Australia, Supplied.
The Batavia left Texel, Holland on her maiden voyage to the exotic East Indies as the flagship of the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie or VOC) fleet of 1629. She was commanded by one of the VOC's most experienced merchants, Francisco Pelsaert, but not even he could have foreseen what was in store for the Batavia and her crew.
Secrets from one of the nation's most horrific maritime mass murders have been unearthed on a tiny island off Western Australia's coast.
A new grave has been discovered almost four centuries after the Batavia was wrecked on Morning Reef, within the Abrolhos Islands.
Franklin’s team has just been on a two-week dig near the wreck site and returned with three previously unknown skeletons. That brings the total of Batavia bodies unearthed since the early 1960s to 13, including six tossed together into a mass grave. Two of the skeletons bear wounds consistent with murder: the one with the sword cut, which Franklin has shown me, and another with a cranium shattered from a blunt blow.
The deliberate act of keeping cultural heritage from the present for the future is known as conservation. But in 1963, there were no underwater heritage protection laws, only salvage law . That became a problem when the first silver coins were found. Salvage law involves the concept of ‘salvor in possession’, and encourages destructive and violent activity on heritage sites.
Under commandeur Francisco Pelsaert, and Ariaen Jacobsz skipper, newly built Batavia sailed from Texel 27 October 1628 for the Dutch East Indies with bullion, goods and silver. On 4 June 1629 the ship struck a reef near Beacon Island in the Houtman Abrolhos.
Of the 322 aboard 40 drowned and the rest got ashore. In search of water and food Jacobsz, Pelsaert and others left site in a 30-foot (9.1 m) longboat (a replica of which has also been made) and in being unsuccessful sailed for Batavia, now known as Jakarta. Soon after their arrival in Batavia Pelsaert was sent in the Jacht Sardam to recover the bullion and to rescue the survivors. In his absence a murderous mutiny occurred led by Jeronimus Cornelisz.
In the period 1970 through to 1974, under the leadership of Jeremy Green of the Western Australian Museum, some of the cannon from the Batavia wreck, an anchor and many artifacts were salvaged, including timbers from the port side of the stern of the ship. These were then conserved by the Museum's conservation laboratories under the leadership of Colin Pearson and his successors Neil North and Ian MacLeod and Ian Godfrey and Vicki Richards. In order to facilitate the monitoring and any future treatment the hull timbers were erected on a steel frame designed and erected by Geoff Kimpton, a member of Green's staff. The design, and that of a stone arch, or portico, which was also raised form the seabed, is such that individual components can be removed for treatment without affecting those adjacent, or the exhibit as a whole. A replica of the Batavia was built at the Bataviawerf (Batavia Wharf) in Lelystad in the Netherlands and was launched in 1995 under master-shipbuilder Willem Vos. A replica of the longboat was also constructed and is presently on exhibition at the WA Museum in Geraldton.