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Australia receives important Dutch maritime collection

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Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water

Tuesday, 9 November 2010



The Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water, Senator Don Farrell today accepted an extensive consignment of artefacts recovered from four Dutch shipwrecks found off the West Australian coast.

Until now the collections from the Batavia (sunk in 1629), the Vergulde Draeck (1656), the Zuytdorp (1712) and the Zeewijk (1727) had been located in Australia and the Netherlands under the Agreement between the Netherlands and Australia Concerning Old Dutch Shipwrecks (ANCODS).

Artefacts recovered from these ships include silver coins, bricks, lead ingots, canon balls, amber and pitch, as well as rare objects owned by crew and passengers such as navigational instruments and ornaments.

The decision to transfer the objects was formalised on 15 September 2010, when Australia’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Lydia Morton, and the Netherlands Secretary for Culture, Judith van Kranendonk, signed an agreement aboard a replica of the Batavia in Lelystad in the Netherlands.

Today, his Excellency Mr Willem Andreae, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands presented the artefacts to Senator Farrell at a ceremony held at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney.

“It is an honour to receive these artefacts on behalf of the Australian Government and the people of Australia,” Senator Farrell said.

“The ANCODS Agreement was signed on 6 November 1972 and the repatriation of these Dutch artefacts brings to a close more than 37 years of work by the ANCODS committee.

“As a result of important voyages some 400 years ago, Dutch maritime history and the history of modern Australia are forever intertwined.

“Dutch ships undertook significant exploration off Australia’s coasts, with many ships and their crew thwarted by treacherous seas and unfamiliar waters. These artefacts represent that bravery and endeavour.

“I want to thank the Netherlands Government for their generosity. This is the largest maritime artefact endowment Australia has ever received and these priceless artefacts form an important part of Australia’s rich maritime heritage,” he said.

Ambassador Willem Andreae explained why the Netherlands has agreed to entrust Australia with safeguarding the Dutch collection.

“These artefacts are the silent witness to the dramatic events that took place 400 years ago”, he said.

“Together they tell a fascinating story of our joint past and our shared cultural heritage.

“Repatriating the objects to Australia is an expression of the close cooperation between the Australian and Netherlands’ governments. It is important that we continue to work together to understand, protect and showcase our shared cultural heritage.

“The transfer of this unique collection also makes sense from a scientific and practical point of view,” Ambassador Andreae continued.

“Rather than dividing the objects, the materials will be kept as one collection, as close as possible to their original resting place. An integrated collection will also enable more extensive research in this important area of maritime archaeology.”

The artefacts will be housed in the Western Australian Museum and will be available for museums and scholars, particularly in Australia and the Netherlands, for greater study and appreciation of the entire collection. To facilitate this, an online database has been developed.

A travelling exhibition of the ANCODS collection throughout Australia is foreseen for 2011/2012.

More information about ANCODS including images can be found at: