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The Vergulde Draeck wreck, 1656

The Vergulde Draeck wreck, 1656

A jug, silver coins, cannon ball and ballast brick.

Photos: George Serras.

This jug, ballast brick, cannon ball and silver coinage were excavated from the wreck of the Dutch trading ship, Vergulde Draeck (Gilt Dragon), which struck a reef off the coast of western Australia in 1656.

On its second spice-trading voyage to Batavia (Jakarta) in 1656 the Draeck sailed too far east and struck a reef off the coast of western Australia. Seventy three survivors (from a crew of 193 people) reached the shore in two small boats. Seven men made the voyage to Java nearly 2600 km to the north and raised the alarm, but numerous rescue missions could find no trace of the castaways.

The wreck of the Vergulde Draeck was eventually found in 1963 by 16-year-old Graeme Henderson who was accompanied at the time by his father Jim, brother Alan, John Cowan and Ellis Alan Robinson. When the contents of the ship were finally raised, the items shown were given as a gift to Prime Minister Robert Menzies.

A diver under water holding an astrolabe.

Diver Geoff Kimpton with an astrolabe from the Vergulde Draeck shipwreck during the Western Australian Museum's investigation of the site.
Courtesy: Western Australian Museum.