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This resource has been generously supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Australia, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Dirk Hartog on the West Australian coast in 1616.

1. Once familiar with the events of 1629, have students explore the story of the Batavia wreck in detail with the following questions: 

  • Who were the main characters on board the Batavia and what was the relationship between them?
  • What were the factors that led to a plan of mutiny against Pelsaert?
  • Is any one person to blame for the events of 1629? 

2. Have students work together to create a timeline of the events that happened in 1629, from the departure of the Batavia in Texel, to the trials of the mutineers in Batavia.

Show students the images in Pelsaert’s journal, and allocate these images to their timeline. Have them each choose an event from the remainder of the timeline, and have them illustrate this scene.

Combine their own illustrations with the images from Pelsaert’s journal, in a visual timeline on the classroom wall.

3. Explore the other three known VOC shipwrecks with your students - the Vergulde Draeck (or Gilted Dragon) in 1656, the Zuytdorp in 1712 and the Zeewijk in 1727. In building an understanding of the need to preserve history, lead the class in a discussion with the following questions: 

  • Who owns a shipwreck?
  • Should a wreck site be preserved?
  • Should a wreck site be visited?

4. Have students view the episode, Batavia Shipwreck Ruins from the series Australia’s Heritage – National Treasures with Chris Taylor.

The need to preserve wreck sites on the Western Australian coast inspired the forming of an organisation known as ANCODS, the Australian Netherlands Committee on Old Dutch Shipwrecks. This organisation is tasked with preserving a collection of thousands of items belonging to those wrecks, some of which are displayed in museums around the world.

Using Trove, have students research the salvaging of the wrecks off the Western Australian coast, including the discovery of artefacts and graves in the Abrolhos Islands. They should consider the following questions: 

  • What has been discovered in the shipwrecks?
  • Where are those items kept now and why?
  • Who is responsible for preserving such artefacts?

Using Pinterest, students can then create a theme wall of links to the many existing artefacts, memorials, statues and sites that tell the story of the Batavia. They should write appropriate descriptions for each item, with regards to historical accuracy. 

5. Survivors of shipwrecks on the WA coast may have lived with the local indigenous people and not only survived, but reproduced. Using both Trove and the Internet, have students investigate current theories, evidence and projects, in relation to indigenous people with Dutch heritage.

Other Digital Classroom sources that relate to the concepts explored in this source include: Early Explorers