Eendracht (1615 ship)
|Owner:||Dutch East India Company|
|Maiden voyage:||23 January 1616|
|Fate:||Wrecked and lost, 1622|
|Tons burthen:||700 tonnes|
The Eendracht was an early 17th Century Dutch wooden-hulled sailing ship, launched in 1615 in the service of the Dutch East India Company. It was captained by Dirk Hartog when he made the second recorded landfall by a European on Australian soil, in 1616.
Its name in Dutch literally means "concord", but is also translated as "unity" or "union", and was a common name given to Dutch ships of the period, from the motto of the Republic: Concordia res parvae crescunt.
First voyage to the East Indies
Departure from Holland
Upon its commissioning, the Eendracht entered the service of the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or VOC).
For her maiden voyage on the open ocean, the Eendracht set sail on 23 January 1616 from the Dutch port of Texel in the company of several other VOC ships, on a trading venture bound for Batavia in the Dutch East Indies (the present-day Jakarta). Her captain was Dirk Hartog, a thirty-five year-old former private merchant now in the employ of the VOC.
Route to Indian Ocean
Sailing down the west African coastline, the Eendracht became separated from the others in a storm, and reached the Cape of Good Hope alone on 5 August 1616. She stayed there several weeks, until 27 August when Hartog decided to set out unaccompanied across the Indian Ocean towards their destination.
Hartog's course across the Indian Ocean was a much more southerly one than the route usually followed by such voyages in that time. It made use of the prevailing westerly winds at those latitudes known as the "Roaring Forties", a route which had been pioneered a few years earlier by the Dutch navigator Hendrik Brouwer, who had noted it to be a faster way to reach Java. By this time, the VOC had instructed its captains to take advantage of this route, which could reduce the overall travelling time from Europe by a good six months. However, usually the intention was to change heading northwards at a more westerly longitude than the Eendracht was to do. Whether Hartog had intended to maintain such a southerly course for so long via this route, or was perhaps blown a little off course, is not clear.
Landfall in Australia
After approximately two months at sea, on 25 October Hartog and the Eendracht unexpectedly sighted land — "various islands, which were, however, found uninhabited" —, at a latitude around 26° South. These islands and the nearby land were previously unknown to Europeans, and unwittingly the Eendracht had become the second recorded European ship to visit the continent of Australia, having been preceded (albeit, on the opposite side of the continent) 10 years earlier by Willem Janszoon and the Duyfken when they sailed along and (briefly) landed on the western shores of the Cape York Peninsula.
Hartog and crew made landfall on the island, now known as Dirk Hartog Island which lies off Shark Bay in Western Australia. This was to be the first recorded landing on the western coastline by a European. The island was uninhabited, and Hartog spent three days there, finding nothing of great interest or value to him or his company.
Before departing on 27 October, Hartog left behind a pewter plate affixed to a post set in a rock cleft (now called Cape Inscription), upon which he had inscribed the following brief account of his visit:
- 1616 On 25 October arrived the ship Eendracht, of Amsterdam: Supercargo Gilles Miebais of Liege, skipper Dirch Hatichs of Amsterdam. on 27 d[itt]o. she set sail again for Bantam. Deputy supercargo Jan Stins, upper steersman Pieter Doores of Bil. In the year 1616.
This object, now known as the Hartog Plate, is the oldest known written artefact from Australia's European history. It lay unmolested in situ for a further eighty years, until it was re-discovered half-buried (the post had rotted away) by a Dutch expedition of three ships under the command of the Flemish captain Willem de Vlamingh in 1697. De Vlamingh had earlier explored Rottnest Island and the Swan River (later to be the site of the city of Perth), and had been making his way up the western coast of Australia. He replaced the Hartog plate with one of his own, onto which he copied Hartog's original inscription and added an account of his own landing, installing it in the same spot nailed to a cypress-pine trunk taken from Rottnest. Hartog's original plate returned with De Vlamingh later to Amsterdam, where it has remained. It is currently on display in the Rijksmuseum.
Charting the coast of western Australia
After leaving the island, the Eendracht sailed northwards along the western Australian coastline, Hartog charting as he went. He gave this coast the name t'Landt van d'Eendracht or "Eendracht's Land", after his ship. When later on this name and information began to appear on subsequent charts, replacing the former mythical and postulated lands of Terra Australis (South Land) and Nova Hollandia (New Holland), considerable further interest by parties such as the VOC was aroused. This gave further impetus to explore this region in the hope of something notable or exploitable. Hartog himself did not note anything which might be of use, making no further landfalls or contact with the Australian Aborigine inhabitants of the land.
The Eendracht continued along the coast to about 22° South lat., thereafter heading northwards across the Timor Sea. She arrived safely at Batavia harbour on 14 December 1616.
Return voyage to Holland
The Eendracht remained in the East Indies for about a year, possibly engaging in local commercial ventures.
On 17 December 1617 she again set sail for the return voyage home, leaving the port of Bantam and bound for Zeeland in Holland, with Dirk Hartog again as her master. This voyage proved to be relatively uneventful, and she arrived back in Holland on 16 October 1618 after a period of some ten months at sea. Captain Hartog left the service of the VOC shortly after the return, to resume private trading ventures in the Baltic. He died a few years later.
Second voyage to the East Indies
On 13 May 1619 the Eendracht again left port at Texel, bound a second time for Batavia and the East Indies, this time under a different (unknown?) captain. She rounded the Cape of Good Hope on 26 November, and reached her destination on 22 March 1620 without recorded incident, a journey of some ten months.
She apparently remained in the East Indies, until 13 May 1622, where on a local trading voyage she is recorded as having been wrecked and lost off the western coast of Ambon Island in the central Moluccas. She had aboard a cargo of coins, and her wreck has not been recovered.
- "Captain Dirck Hartogh". VOC Historical Society. http://www.voc.iinet.net.au/hartog.htm. Retrieved 8 July 2005.
- "Eendracht". Ships of the World, an Historical Encyclopaedia. http://college.hmco.com/history/readerscomp/ships/html/sh_029800_eendracht1.htm. Retrieved 8 July 2005.
- "VOC-schip Eendracht 1615". VOCsite nl. http://www.vocsite.nl/schepen/detail.html?id=11551. Retrieved 8 July 2005. (in Dutch)