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Almost 150 years before Lieutenant Cook charted the east coast of Australia, navigators linked to Holland’s famous spice trade were recording its west coast. 2019 marks 400 years since navigator Frederick de Houtman explored the Houtman Abrolhos islands off present day Geraldton in Western Australia.

Houtman was an experienced navigator, assisting Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser with astronomical observations during the very first Dutch expedition to the East Indies in 1595. In 1618, he set sail on another Dutch East Indies Company voyage on Dordrecht and Amsterdam with Jacob d’Edel, sighting the coast near present day Perth which they named d’Edelsland. Sailing northwards, Houtman encountered and narrowly avoided mishap on a cluster of shoals he named the Houtman Abrolhos. A decade later, the islands became notorious a decade later when Francis Pelseart’s Batavia came to grief there and a bloody slaughter ensued.

Join noted author Dr Howard Gray, author of a new biography Spice at any Price as he unpacks the story of this fascinating but overlooked figure in the charting of our continent. Associate Professor in Maritime Archaeology at Flinders University, Wendy Van Duivenvoorde, will also talk about her research into Dutch interactions with Australia prior to 1770 and the earliest known historic accounts and material remains of Dutch-Indigenous interactions on Australian soil.

In a nod to the ‘spirit’ of these Dutch voyages, gin cocktails will be served by our fabulous sponsors Kangaroo Island Spirits
Thursday 15 August 2019 Doors open at 6pm for 6.30pm start
This is a FREE event.


South Australian Maritime Museum
126 Lipson Street,  Port Adelaide, SA 5015

Contact Details

08 82076255