The Batavia and recent discoveries

Researchers carefully excavating a burial site at Beacon Island, 2015.Photo courtesy Dr Paul Bourke, ARC Linkage Grant: Shipwrecks of the Roaring Forties

Researchers carefully excavating a burial site at Beacon Island, 2015.Photo courtesy Dr Paul Bourke, ARC Linkage Grant: Shipwrecks of the Roaring Forties

The story of the infamous Batavia shipwreck continues to unfold with new perspectives and discoveries.

Members of the public are invited to join local historian Dr Howard Gray and WA Museum Maritime Archaeology Curator Corioli Souter for an afternoon of back-to-back lectures about the Batavia and recent findings at the Western Australian Museum – Geraldton next week.

WA Museum – Geraldton Regional Manager Catherine Belcher said the lectures are part of the 2016 WA Heritage Festival.

“The WA Heritage Festival theme of ‘Discovery and Rediscoveries’ is a great opportunity to explore new theories and research about the Batavia,” Ms Belcher said.

“Although it was wrecked 387 years ago, interest in this brutal chapter in Western Australia’s maritime history continues to grow. Dr Gray and Ms Souter’s research reveals even more of this incredible story than was previously known.”

The Batavia wrecked on Morning Reef near Beacon Island in the Houtman Abrolhos in June 1629.

Of about 341 people on board, most made it to nearby islands; 196 people died, most during a mutiny among the survivors, including women and children.

During the first lecture, Dr Gray will explore the fascinating journey of the rescue ship Sardam, sent to recover the treasures and survivors of the Batavia wreck.
 
Ms Souter will present an overview of the Australian Research Council funded project called Shipwrecks of the Roaring Forties: a maritime archaeological reassessment of some of Australia's earliest shipwrecks, with a focus on the 2015 archaeological excavations of the Batavia related sites at Beacon Island.
 
The lectures will be held on Saturday 14 May in the Museum’s Wedge building and will run from 2pm – 4pm. Entry is free but bookings are essential for each lecture via 9431 8393. Light refreshments will be provided.