Fremantle Shipwreck Galleries

October 2, 2009 · 16 comments

The year 1629. Dutch ship The Batavia closes in on new found land now known as Australia, but never arrives at its destination.

Dutch ship the Batavia in Fremantle

Dutch ship the Batavia in Fremantle

It was shipwrecked after striking a reef in the Abrolhos Islands and almost 400years later it sits in the Fremantle ShipWreck Galleries Maritime Museum. The highlight of the museum is the remaining 1/4 of the Batavia lifted by divers in the 1970s. However the back of the museum contains something potentially more interesting: The steam engine.

380year old Steam engine of the Batavia

Steam Engine in the museum

Part of the $2 entrance by donation fee is going towards restoring the original engine, potentially producing a working model, so far the brass nuts have had to be replaced with new items due to the nature of nuts wearing out, but every other part of the engine found can be reused.

Skeleton from shipwreck

Skeleton from shipwreck

You can also meet a very unique man here too; one of the first Europeans to arrive in Australia. In 1963 an excavation of  Beacon Island (The Batavia’s graveyard) found 2 preserved skeletons in a coral reef. The man to your left here was in his late 30s and 1.8M (6feet) tall. He is missing his right foot and has his right shoulder blade broken and damage to the skull.

The rest of the museum is made up of relics from the Batavia and other Dutch shipwrecks ‘Zuytdorp, Zeewijk, and Vergulde Draeck’ and items from Australia’s first mariners.

Items include shoes, pottery, glass bottles (from newer ships when glass became cheaper to manufacture), coins (from many different countries), irons, chains, dice, cannons, a chessboard and many pieces that make a ship up.

Chess set found in a shipwreck

Chess set found in a shipwreck

Much like other parts of Fremantle, the Shipwreck Galleries was built by convicts as a commissariat building and is located on Cliff street, it is open daily except Wednesdays and public holidays.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy October 5, 2009 at 1:48 PM

that’s crazy cool! Great pics too.

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AdventureRob October 5, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Thanks Nancy :)

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Nick October 9, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Hey Rob, I’m really not into ships, but you managed to make this interesting! I like the photos you’ve used to illustrate the piece, too.

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Maree October 13, 2009 at 5:31 AM

Your post is so Fremantle; I’m going to this museum when I next visit.
.-= Maree´s last blog – Assignment 4: A Day in Ephesus =-.

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AdventureRob October 13, 2009 at 5:39 AM

Thanks Nick! It’s worth popping in Maree :)

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Blake October 13, 2009 at 5:33 PM

Very nice pics. Gritty arty ish. I like them. I’m usually not really fond of museums, but this one looks alright.

Blakesjourney / TBD
.-= Blake´s last blog – Costa Rica Video: Fortuna Tour and Tico Ninjas =-.

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Dave and Deb October 13, 2009 at 10:17 PM

Very well done. Lot’s of useful information on not only the museum itself, but the history. Great photos as well.
.-= Dave and Deb´s last blog – The Impact of NGO’s and Voluntourism =-.

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Josh October 14, 2009 at 3:45 AM

Wow, I didn’t realize skeletons could be preserved in coral reefs–that’s pretty amazing. One of our users created a guide to photographing old ships in Helsinki–perhaps one day you’ll find it useful :)

http://bit.ly/GORt

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Blake October 14, 2009 at 2:30 PM

Josh: AWWW yeah! That’s some serious pirate stuff right there! Lovin’ it!
.-= Blake´s last blog – Farewell to Film Part One =-.

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AdventureRob October 16, 2009 at 12:17 PM

Thanks for all the interesting comments! Will check that guide out Blake
.-= AdventureRob´s last blog – 10 Great Markets for your Travel Writing =-.

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Sophie October 22, 2009 at 1:27 PM

Good, informative piece. (Got one (more) reason to visit WA now.) Like the photos, too – esp. the embedded skeleton.

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Abbie November 1, 2009 at 7:36 PM

I too, like the pictures, and found the overall piece interesting :) The only thing I found was that the sentence starting with “Part of the $2…” was a bit difficult to read, maybe split it into a couple sentences?

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Alan November 9, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Nice photos :-)

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Renfield August 6, 2012 at 1:50 AM

The steam engine is from the SS Xantho. The first steam ship didn’t appear until 1776, about 150 years after the Batavia sank.

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David Graham Scott October 3, 2012 at 12:05 AM

I noticed that mistake too.

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AdventureRob October 3, 2012 at 2:07 PM

Thanks for the reminder, I changed it now.

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