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New book investigates Australia's most important shipwrecks

New book investigates Australia's most important shipwrecks

Battavia rescue operation

Full article issued by The University of Western Australia.

Some of the earliest and most important shipwrecks in Western Australia’s history are the subject of a new book, Shipwrecks of the Roaring 40s, the outcome of an international collaboration supported by an ARC Linkage Project. The book is edited by The University of Western Australia’s (UWA), Professor Alistair Paterson, and UWA Honorary Doctorate recipient, Jeremy Green, and reveals new information about shipwreck sites that were first excavated in the 1970s and 1980s.

Professor Paterson, who leads a team of researchers at the WA Museum with Mr Green, said the work was conducted in various settings including museums, computer laboratories, archives and from fieldwork at selected sites on the coast and offshore islands of WA. 

'The Batavia was wrecked on Morning Reef in the Abrolhos Islands off the coast of WA in 1629 with 300 people on board,' Professor Paterson says. 'It is one of WA’s most significant shipwrecks because of the extraordinary story of its mutiny and the story of the Dutch East India Company in the Indian Ocean.'

'Five expeditions to Beacon Island and other locations related to the Batavia shipwreck saw the discovery and excavation of the graves of 12 victims from the wreck.'

'The program of forensic work at UWA and in Europe to uncover the burials from Beacon Island is outlined in the book and provides new knowledge of the oldest European human remains in Australia.'


Survivors of the Batavia shipwreck racing to the rescue ship. Image Credit: Wikipedia

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