Saw your light on, thought we’d drop in

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 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

Eagle Gorge, south of Kalbarri, WA. After visiting here we dropped into the local pub for a cold beer. Imagine finding yourself here with no skills for finding water or food and no hope of returning home.
A fisherman’s paradise now. Entrance to Murchison River at Kalbarri. The Zuytdorp Cliffs are to the north.

11 thoughts on “Saw your light on, thought we’d drop in

  1. The influence of people from what is now Indonesia is quite discernable in the appearance of some of the Tiwi Islanders. To my eye, also in their art work style.
    And then there is the theory that the Portuguese actually sailed and mapped the east coast of Australia, many years before Captain Cook – and that he was in possession of a copy of that on his voyage!


  2. This reminds me of the many early sailing ships that ran aground along the South African coastline. There is a group of Xhosa people who occasionally turn up with blue eyes – said to be part of the incorporation of white survivors along the Transkei coast with the black inhabitants of the area. Many heart-rending stories abound of survivors travelling for hundreds of kilometers along the uninhabited coast line seeking help. Our shores are littered with the skeletal remains of such ships and several bronze canons have appeared … what a hard life that must have been, which make our current problems / difficulties pale by comparison.


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