Zuytdorp

Zuytdorp

The 700 ton ship Zuytdorp (village of the South) was wrecked off the West Australian coast crashing into the cliffs south of Shark Island. In 1927 a stockman discovered the survivor’s campsite. The wreck and some gold coins was soon discovered at the base of the cliffs. Although some relics were recovered, no human remains were found. However, it was another 30 years before it was realised that this was indeed the wreck of the Zuytdorp. The coins were shown to an historian Tom Pepper who found that they were minted in 1711. 

Some time in June 1712, the 700 ton VOC ship  Zuytdorp, Captained by Marinus Wijsvliet, was wrecked on the Western Australian coast, called New Holland at that time, crashing onto rocks at the bottom of cliffs just south of Shark Bay. The cliffs are now called the Zuytdorp Cliffs. 

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The Crew

It had 286 people on board when it left its home port Wielingen in Zeeland (Netherlands) on 1 August 1711. It was also carrying a cargo of trade goods and silver including some 250,000 guilders in newly minted coins for the VOC in Batavia.

It lost 112 persons on the way to the Cape where it arrived on 23 March 1712.Another 22 left the ship there. About 130 new crew members (replacing those that died and left the ship) may have been brought on board for the trip to Batavia. They left Cape Town on 22 April 1712. 

Unlike the three other Dutch and English East India Company vessels known to have wrecked on or off the WA coast, no survivors from the Zuytdorp ever reached Batavia to report the disaster. Hence there is no precise date of the wrecking.

But there were survivors, their numbers unknown. It is quite possible, however, that as many as 200 could have survived, considering the ship wrecked on the shore.

What happened to these survivors? It is speculated that many of these New Holland castaways were probably accepted into the indigenous communities surrounding the wreck site (see map) and that this acceptance extended to intermarriage and the production of offspring. There is much work to be done to prove this. Go to Castaways website.

In 1927 a stockman discovered the survivor's campsite at the top of the cliffs. He found silver coins and some artifacts but no signs of human remains. It was another 30 years before it was realised that this was indeed the wreck site of the Zuytdorp.

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