This model represents the Dutch ship DUYFKEN, the earliest known European vessel to have landed in Australia. It sailed down the west coast of Cape York in 1606 under the command of Willem Janszoon. This model is only partly planked to expose the ribs, framework and tile carpentry.
SignificanceThis model represents the famous Dutch ship DUYFKEN, the first recorded European vessel to have landed in Australia during its voyage of exploration in 1606 to discover what lay 'East of Banda'.
HistoryDUYFKEN (Dutch for Little Dove) was a Dutch ship built around 1598 to carry small loads of valuable cargo. It was part of the Dutch fleet that set out for the Spice Islands (Moluccas) in 1601. DUYFKEN acted as the scout ship under Willem Cornelisz Schouten and while stationed in Java was involved in the New Year's Day battle with a Spanish and Portuguese fleet in 1602. The successful victory gave the Dutch government control of the spice trade in Java. DUYFKEN returned to Holland in 1603 and after separating from the rest of a returning fleet made the voyage home two months ahead of the other vessels.
In 1602 the recently formed United Dutch East India Company or Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) was given control of the spice trade by the Dutch government. The VOC held a powerful monopoly in the Spice Islands and many ships were sent to East Asia to bring back exotic spices, rare textiles and trade goods for Europe. The VOC continued to be an expanding merchant company and their presence in the South Pacific and Indian oceans during the 17th century resulted in the first European exploration and charts of the region. By 1619 the VOC had captured Jakarta and renamed it Batavia as their centre for trade.
In 1606 DUYFKEN was adopted into the VOC fleet and under command of Captain Willem Janszoon (abbreviated Jansz.) it set out in March to explore the unknown islands 'East of Banda' ("Be-oosten Banda") and to discover more opportunities for trade.
With a crew of about twenty, DUYFKEN left Bantam in Java and headed along the south coast of Papua New Guinea and the western coast of Cape York, Queensland. They landed on the Australian coast at the Pennefather River and spent six weeks exploring the area. Janszoon was to become the first known European to map a part of the Australian coastline, charting some 320 kilometres of its shore.
The Duyfken sailed down the west coast of Cape York as far south as Cape Keerweer. 'Keerweer' is a Dutch word and translates as 'turn back again'; thus Cape Keerweer, designating the geographical feature where the Duyfken expedition turned around and went back in the direction it had come from.
Although Jansz' journal, logbook and notes from the voyage did not survive, a chart outlining the DUYFKEN's route did. Initially a secret map, this chart was later used by explorers such as the British navigator Matthew Flinders.
Some later historic charts and maps, based on Jansz' lost charts, depict the Cape York coast as a continuous coast with Papua New Guinea, indicating that the crew of the DUYFKEN was unaware of the existence of Torres Strait, although they had reported a large, shallow bight ("Vuijle Bocht")(Foul Bight) in that latitude.
Later VOC explorers -notably Jan Cartensz. in the ARNHEM and PERA in 1623 and Abel Tasman in 1642 and 1644 - were especially tasked to investigate this bight but did not carry out the work, in spite of Tasman's 1644 expedition being especially equipped with a shallow draft, flat-bottomed vessel (the BRACQ) to conduct a survey of the waters beyond "Vuijle Bocht".
The reports on the resources and environment of the Australian continent were also less than favourable, with most Dutch captains and supercargoes describing what they perceived was an inhospitable and barren land whose 'primitive' population was not interested in trade.
In 1608 DUYFKEN was part of the Dutch fleet that engaged Spanish ships in battle and helped capture the fortress of Taffaso on Makian Island. This battle combined with DUYFKEN's many sea voyages took a toll on the ship's structure and it was deemed unseaworthy and not repaired.
Primary title: DUIJFKEN
Web title: Model of DUYFKEN (Little Dove)