Sometimes we forget that this country could quite easily have been claimed by another nation and perhaps it was a quirk of fate that the English desperate for land and riches chose to stake a claim. We know that of the Europeans the Portuguese, Dutch, French, Spanish and English were active in these waters for hundreds of years. The south coast and Tasmania is peppered with French names, D’Entrecasteaux and Freycinet to name a few. To the north there’s evidence of earlier visitation the Dutch named Arnhem Land and the narrow Torres Strait separating us from New Guinea which was discovered by the Spanish explorer Torres in 1606. Of course, in the west there are many reminders. You’ll find the Zuytdorp Cliffs named after the Dutch East India Company ship which was wrecked near today’s Kalbarri in 1712. It is believed that survivors from this wreck lived with the indigenous people, though they were probably not the first to settle on these shores. It is well documented that two Dutchmen were put ashore to be exiled here after the Batavia sank on the Abrolhos Islands in 1629*. Rupert Gerritsen’s article** suggests that at the least several hundred Europeans unwittingly found themselves cast ashore on the west coast of Australia.
Not to mention the visits from the trading peoples of India and Asia. It has long been thought that the Aboriginal peoples of the north survived European diseases because of an immunity built up by their trading with their northern neighbours. Whereas those in the south who had been more isolated died from seemingly innocuous diseases.
The folks from Ancestry.com would have a field day processing the DNA of our mob.
*Batavia by Peter Fitzsimons, a gripping page turner of history at its ugliest.
**They will offer all friendship by Rupert Gerritsen http://rupertgerritsen.tripod.com/pdf/published/Evidence_of_Cohabitation_-_Book_Chapter.pdf