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Discovery of the Western Coast

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Dampier's Ship
HMS Roebuck - William Dampier (1699) Landing in Shark Bay. Courtesy of West Australian Newspapers uncredited images from archival and contemporary sources.

Time line for contact:

  • 1616 - Dutchman Dirk Hartog
  • 1629 - Dutch ship Batavia went aground at the Abrolhos islands
  • 1658 - Dutch commander Samuel Volkersen reached Rottnest Island - but did not give it a name
  • 1659 - Dutch flute Elburgh recorded the first brief description of Aboriginal culture on the west coast
  • 1688 - the English pirate and naturalist William Dampier visited the west coast
  • 1696 / 1697 - Arriving in December, Dutch navigator, Willem De Vlamingh, names Rottnest and explores the Swan River
  • 1791 - Commander George Vancouver lands on the shores of King George Sound and lays claim to the territory for England
  • 1801 - French captain Hamelin reaches Dirk Hartog Island in the Naturaliste
  • 1801 - Matthew Flinders visits the southwest coast
  • 1803 - Nicholas Baudin anchors in King George Sound
  • 1818 and 1821 - Captain Phillip King visited King George Sound
  • 1826 - Dumont d'Urville arrived at King George Sound
  • 1826 December 25th - Major Edmund Lockyer arrived on the Amity at Princess Royal Harbour, later to become Albany
  • 1827 - Captain James Stirling explores the Swan River
  • 1829 - Stirling arrives with three ships, the Challenger, Parmelia and Sulphur carrying the first settlers

175th TRIVIA

Nicolas Baudin took live swans to Europe after the French expedition to WA in 1801. Baudin's crew surveyed the Swan River on that voyage but they did not see any birds until they had passed Heirisson Island. Some swans and other native fauna were taken to Paris where they were placed in a private zoo kept by Napoleon Bonaparte's wife, Josephine.

Maritime Museum


Acknowledgement of Country

The Government of Western Australia acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.