The surveying of the lines of the west-coast was finally brought to a close by the exploratory voyage of Willem De Vlamingh in 1696-7 with the ships Geelvink, Nijptang, and het Wezeltje. A remarkable chart referring to this voyage, here reproduced [*], as well as the ISAAC DE GRAAFF chart [**] of circa 1700, give an excellent survey of the expedition. The whole coast-line from the so-called Willemsrivier (N.W. Cape) to a point south of Rottenest, Garden-island and Perth, was now mapped out. And that, too, with great accuracy. Thus, for instance, the true situation of the belt of islands enclosing Shark Bay was this time observed with unerring exactitude, and Shark Bay itself actually discovered, though its discovery is usually credited to Dampier (August, 1699).
[* No. 13.]
[* No. 14.]
THE NETHERLANDERS TO EASTWARD OF PIETER NUYTS-LAND.
The south-east- and east-coasts of Australia have never been visited by the ships of the East India Company. Tasman and Visscher [*] discovered Tasmania (Van Diemen’s land) in 1642, but were unaware of the existence of what is now known as Bass Strait; they discovered the west-coast of New Zealand (Staten-land) and certain island-groups east of Australia, but did not touch at or sight the east-coast of Australia. Of course, after the discovery of the west-coast of New Zealand and of the island-groups east of Australia [**], the existence of an east-coast of Australia to westward of the regions thus discovered, was an indubitable fact, but this east-coast itself was never visited by the Netherlanders.
[* See the journal of this voyage and the discussion of it in my Tasman Folio.]
[** In the year 1616 Lemaire and Schouten (No. V), and in 1722 Roggeveen (No. XXXIV), also touched at various island-groups east of Australia, but these voyages fall outside the plan of the present work.]
OBJECT OF THE DUTCH VOYAGES FOR THE DISCOVERY OF THE
Although it is quite true that the south-east- and east-coasts of the Australian continent were not discovered by Dutch ships, still it is an undoubted fact that, so far as is known up to now, the whole of the Australian coast-line from Prince of Wales Island and York Peninsula and along the Gulf of Carpentaria, the north- and north-west-coast of Australia then following, the whole of the west-coast, and the south-coast down to the islands of St. Francois and St. Pieter (133 deg. 30’ E. L. Greenwich) were in the 17th century discovered by vessels belonging to the Netherlands [*].
[* It is true that Dampier touched at the north-west coast in 1688, but at that time this coast had already been surveyed by Dutch skippers.]
We now come to the question of the object which the Dutch authorities had in view in arranging for the expeditions that ultimately led to these discoveries.