Shipwreck Databases Western Australian Museum


This wreck possibly occurred sometime during 17th century. There are no contemporary accounts of this particular wreck and it has not been found. It is not certain if there was a wreck at all. An Aboriginal legend exists of a ship wrecked many years ago either at Victoria Harbour or at Duke of Orleans Bay, east of Esperance . A number of ships have been suggested, eg Batoe Bassi, Kibra, Countess Sulkaat, but only one, the Batoe Bassi, is known to have been wrecked in this area. A flurry of interest in the 1930’s brought the legend to attention of the public. A local historian, Malcolm Uren, mentioned a rock engraving in connection with a ‘high-pooped Dutch ship’which was published in the West Australian. This caught the eye of Captain Alfred Douglas, who had seen the engraving. A follow up report in the Sunday Times tells his story. A friend of his, Campbell Taylor, was a sheep farmer in the Esperance area and was friendly with the Aboriginals there and they had passed many of their legends on to him. One of these legends was about a shipwreck that had occurred many years before. Captain Douglas took a schooner out into Victoria Harbour, and along with the crew, (which included a Netherlander) he took Mr Taylor. They anchored during a severe squall and then were unable to lift the anchor and had to slip it. It was the Captain’s opinion that it must have caught in an old wreck. Campbell Taylor then took the Captain and ship’s crew to a rock on the eastern side of the harbour. After removing shellfish encrustation, the party could see ‘1600’ engraved on the rock, and an inscription that the Netherland crew member said was the name of a Dutch ship. The original report of Uren’s address mentions the letters M-I-S were found on the engraving, but this was denied by Captain Douglas. A wreck was located in the area at Inshore Island in 1977 and an article about this wreck in the Sunday Times resulted in a letter to the Museum from Mr Angus McKail of Lower Kalgan. He mentioned he had a cutting of the 1937 newspaper article and his father had been a close friend of Campbell Taylor. It was his belief that they could be trusted to have seen what they said they had seen and therefore it was highly likely that the inscription existed. The rock itself has been examined by the WA Museum and results are inconclusive as to whether the marks are from human or natural origin.

Associated Tribe Wudjari

Contact Evidence Anecdotal

Type of contact Unknown

Year 1600s

Nationality ? Dutch

Location Victoria Harbour near Esperance

Source Aboriginal