Illuminating Dirk Hartog

Dirk Hartog’s plate envelops the museum’s rooftop in ‘A chance encounter’ roof projection, 2016. Photographer: Andrew Frolows/ANMM.

Kim Tao, Illuminating Dirk Hartog, Australian National Maritime Museum Blog, 25 October 2016

Last Thursday night saw the launch of the museum’s latest roof projection, A chance encounter, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Dutch mariner Dirk Hartog’s landing on the west coast of Australia in the VOC ship Eendracht. To mark his landfall on 25 October 1616, Hartog left behind an inscribed pewter plate in Shark Bay, Western Australia, which provides tangible evidence of one of the earliest European encounters with Australia.

The evening began with a fascinating talk about Dirk Hartog by Dr Wendy van Duivenvoorde, senior lecturer in Maritime Archaeology at Flinders University and deputy director of the Australian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres. While much has been written over the years about the landing that would earn Hartog his unforeseen prominence, Wendy delved deeper into Hartog’s background, examining his early family life in Amsterdam, his marriage to Meynsgen Abels in 1611, and initial seafaring activities in the Baltic and Mediterranean.

Wendy presented some examples of Hartog’s signature from documents in the Amsterdam City Archives, including his wedding certificate and freight contracts for his first ship Dolphyn, which added a personal touch to the man who otherwise remains a rather enigmatic figure in the early European history of Australia.

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