The Part Borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia 1606-1765 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 213 pages of information about The Part Borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia 1606-1765.

In answering this question we shall have to distinguish between two different categories of voyages:  among the voyages undertaken by Netherlanders that have led to discoveries on the coasts of Australia, there are some which were not begun with the express purpose of going in search of unknown lands; but there are others also that were undertaken expressly with this end in view.  Of course the second class only can be called exploratory expeditions in a more restricted sense—­the voyages of the first category became voyages of discovery through accidental circumstances.

The discoveries on the west- and south-west coasts of Australia down to Tasman’s time all bore an accidental character.  Eendrachtsland was discovered by accident in the year 1616, and after that time a number of Dutch ships unexpectedly touched at those shores, thus continually shedding additional, though always imperfect light on the question of the conformation of the coast-line.  How was it, we may ask, that it was especially after 1616 that this coast was so often touched at, whereas there had never been question of this before that time?  The question thus put admits of avery positive answer.

When the Netherlanders set sail for India for the first time, they naturally took the route which they knew to be followed by the Portuguese.  After doubling the Cape of Good Hope, they directly continued their voyage on a north-eastern course, along the west-coast, or close by the east-coast, of Madagascar, and then tried to reach India coming from the west.  To this route there were grave objections both as regards the winds prevailing in those latitudes, the intense heat soon encountered, the great number of “shallows or foul islands,” etc.  Besides, the voyage was apt to last very long.  In 1611, however, certain ships going from the Netherlands to India followed another route:  directly after leaving the Cape they ran on an eastern course (in about 36 deg.  S. Lat.) for a considerable time, after which they tried to navigate to Java on a northerly course.  The commander of these ships, the subsequent Governor-General {Page xiv} Hendrik Brouwer, wrote to the Managers of the E.I.C. about “this fairway” in highly laudatory terms.  They adopted the idea suggested by Brouwer, of henceforth prescribing this route in the instructions for the commanders and skippers sailing for the Indies, leaving them a certain scope certainly as regards the latitude in which the said easterly course was to be followed, and the degree of longitude up to which it was to be kept.  As early as the beginning of 1613 such a route was enjoined on the ships’ captains by the Managers of the E.I.C.  The ship Eendracht also was directed to follow this course:  she ran so far to eastward as to come upon the west-coast of Australia, and the same thing happened to subsequent vessels.

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The Part Borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia 1606-1765 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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