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Early European Exploration, Dutch Interest

Eendracht, pewter plate, Cape York Peninsula, southern oceans, Abel Tasman

During the 17th century The Netherlands established a string of trading centers from the Cape of Good Hope in Africa to the archipelago of present-day Indonesia. Stationed chiefly in the ports of Bantam and Batavia (now Jakarta, Indonesia), the Dutch quickly made the discovery of Australia a reality. Helped by better sailing ships and greater knowledge of global wind systems, they were able to overcome the challenges in the southern Pacific. In 1606, some months before Torresís voyage, Dutch seafarer Willem Jansz sighted the Cape York Peninsula on the continentís northern coast, calling the land he saw New Holland; however, he mistakenly believed that Australia was a southern extension of New Guinea. In 1616 Dutch sailor Dirk Hartog followed a new southern route across the Indian Ocean to Batavia. Winds blew his ship, the Eendracht, too far to the east, and Hartog landed on an offshore island of Western Australia. Before sailing north to Batavia, he left a pewter plate on the island inscribed with a record of his visit.

Encouraged by Janszís voyages, Dutch governors-general at Batavia commissioned expeditions into the southern oceans. The most successful was that of Abel Tasman, who in 1642 moved into the waters of southern Australia, discovering the island he named Van Diemenís Land (now Tasmania). Tasman then sailed farther east to explore New Zealand. Dutch ships sailing to the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) often sailed off course, and their crews landed on the western and northern coasts of Australia. Despite their increasing knowledge of the continent, known to them as New Holland, the Dutch did not follow up their oceanic discoveries with formal occupation; in their contacts, they found little of value for European trade. Thus, the way was open for the later arrival of the British.

Article key phrases:

Eendracht, pewter plate, Cape York Peninsula, southern oceans, Abel Tasman, Dutch East Indies, Cape of Good Hope, southern Pacific, discovery of Australia, European trade, Batavia, Tasmania, New Holland, Jakarta, expeditions, continent, Indian Ocean, crews, island, century, Netherlands, Indonesia, Winds, New Zealand, reality, challenges, course, value, east, Africa, record, way, months, contacts, visit


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