The Coast of Lost Treasure

W. Charnley describes how, on their route to the East Indies in the seventeenth century, the Dutch first came into dramatic contact with the mysterious Great South Land that is now Australia.

In these days, when the Netherlands stand stripped of nearly all their colonial possessions, it is curious to recall that, not so long ago, as the tale of centuries runs, the Indian Ocean was practically a Dutch lake.

Cape Colony, Mauritius, Ceylon, the Spice Islands were all in Dutch hands; and, for two thousand miles down its eastern rim, the coast of the Great South Land was within their grasp. The western half, at least, of the vast island that came to be called Australia might readily have become a Dutch colony.

The first Dutch contact with the Great South Land came in March 1606. Entrenched in their Spice Islands, the Dutch were aware of the existence of West New Guinea. That it might display vast potentialities of wealth was the dream of Fredrick de Houtman, Governor of Amboyna in the Moluccas. Therefore he equipped the yacht Duyfkin (Little Dove) and, in November 1605, dispatched her on a voyage of exploration; her commander, Willem Jansz.

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