Australia and the Netherlands Concerning Old Dutch Shipwrecks
Batavia (1692) excavation.
source: Pat Baker, Western Australian Museum
The Agreement between the Netherlands and Australia Concerning Old Dutch Shipwrecks (ANCODS) found off the Western Australian coast was signed on 6 November 1972 and was a schedule to the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act, 1976. The Act protects all shipwrecks in Australian waters older than 75 years.
Four Dutch shipwrecks have been found off the coast of Western Australian. These ships in order of discovery are Zuytdorp (1712), Batavia (1629), Vergulde Draeck (more commonly known as the Gilt Dragon) (1656) and Zeewyk (1727). Three other old Dutch ships disappeared between the Cape of Good Hope and Batavia (currently known as Jakarta, Indonesia) and have not been located and could possibly be in Australian waters. These ships are Aagtekerke (1726), Fortuyn (1724) and Ridderschap van Holland (1694). All these ships were formally owned by the Dutch East India Company or Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC).
Artefacts from these shipwrecks include coins, bricks, objects of pottery, elephant tusks, cannon, cannon balls and anchors. They also include relatively rare and even unique artefacts, for example, objects possessed by crew members or passengers such as barber's instruments, navigational instruments, ornaments and more. The function of ANCODS is to determine the ownership and subsequent disposition between the Netherlands, Australia and the State of Western Australia of the artefacts recovered from Dutch shipwrecks off the coast of Western Australia. The artefacts covered by the agreement are currently housed in four main collecting institutions, the Western Australian Museum and the Australian National Maritime Museum in Australia and the Netherlands Maritime Museum in Amsterdam and the Geldmuseum (Money Museum) in Utrecht, Netherlands.
ANCODS has four members. The two Australian committee members, Dr John PS Bach OAM and Professor Geoffrey C Bolton AO have served in this role since the inception of ANCODS. The current ANCODS members representing the Netherlands are Ms Andrea Otte, representative of the Dutch Ministry of Culture and Mr Eric Strating, Councillor, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands. The Maritime Heritage Section of the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts undertakes Secretariat duties for the committee.
Further information including catalogues of artefacts recovered from the wrecks can be found on the Centre for International Heritage Activities website and the VOC Shipwrecks website. Information about the shipwrecks can be found on the Australian National Shipwreck Database.