History of the DACC

The Centre was established in 1983 by the Federation of Dutch Associations and formed as a company limited by guarantee in 1984.

The Centre was formed to establish a central organization with the following two main aims:

  1. To preserve the rich history of Dutch contact with, and immigration to, Australia;
  2. To set up a resources facility for anyone wanting information regarding the Netherlands, its people and their traditions.

The DACC has been housed at the back of ’t Winkeltje, Holland House, 85 Market Street, Smithfield since 2006, following the request by the management of the Abel Tasman Village, Chester Hill to vacate the Annex originally built for the DACC. We were asked to leave as they needed the space and we were fortunate to have had the opportunity to move to Holland House in Smithfield through the generosity of Jan and Anita van Altena.

Undoubtedly, this proved to be a good move because we saw many more visitors there than in Chester Hill. Averaging about 20 visitors per week or 1000 per year, around 11,000 have had a look around there. Visitors to ’t Winkeltje do come from very far away in Australia. Even, after 11 years, every Sunday there are always several newcomers, people haven’t been there before or quite long ago. However, the space is limited and the DACC is actually growing and could grow still a lot more if space was available. The archives of several clubs have been maintained well and material is added to it regularly, thanks to Sr. Lia van Haren and Ms. Coby Black.

Apart from that the DACC has staged exhibitions elsewhere, like the “Echoes of the Past” in two venues and Dutch Maps of the 17th Century, also in two museum venues. The magnificent Mapping Australia exhibition was in the National Library, Canberra. About half of the old maps displayed there were of Dutch 17th century origin, the products of VOC cartographers and seafarers who circumnavigated the Australian continent and mapped most of it. The reality is that not even the grandparents of Cook were born by the time that the Groninger sea captain Abel Tasman had mapped some 70% of the Australian coastline in 1644.

Plans are in train for further possible exhibitions, about the Delta Project (2018) and the 100 year celebration of the KLM (2019). Smaller displays in the Centre have been initiated by President Paul Breedveld, such as of the painters Vermeer, van Gogh and others, KLM huisjes, several books by Dutch migrants, Dutch Embassy and AOTM publications about the Duyfken’s arrival in 1606, Hartog in 1616, and Dutch WWII refugees in Broome, 1942.

The history of the WWII itself is also reflected in the role of the Dutch as the “Fourth Ally” and in important tales of those who came as refugees in 1942 from the Dutch East Indies. And it is the story of several important individual contributions prior to WWII such as the Broken Hill Pty Ltd General Manager and pioneer Guillaume Delprat. Another example is the music shop operator Paling who started his business on the Victorian Gold Fields in the mid-1850s. The Dutch contribution to the history of this continent is both unique and significant.

The Reference Library has been well maintained and improved by Coby and Glen op de Brouw. Glen also services the Facebook page. We have a large number of posters of Dutch painters and also some from Karel Appel. We have a number of sjoelbakken (shuffle boards) and are considering to stage a tournament on a Sunday. New sjoelbakken can be bought from ’t Winkeltje. One can find a large number of typically Dutch memorabilia at Dutch heritage centre, some visitors have the feeling that they are back in the Netherlands for a short while when visiting DACC. The "piece de resistance" is of course the large maquette of a small historic section of Amsterdam around the Single canal produced professionally by the late carpenter Bram van Twist, a gift to the DACC.

In recent years several attempts have been made to find alternative accommodation for the DACC, e.g. as an extension of or addition to Neerlandia but this did not eventuate. The DACC has also been active in encouraging the establishment of a Migration Museum, such as exists in several other cities in Australia. Attempts in Sydney by the ALP were begun but have not been completed and were abandoned when they lost power in NSW. Only a website is still in existence. However, a possibility may now eventuate in North Parramatta. The DACC has registered its interest in such plans but the redevelopment of that area appears to be a seven year project.

The DACC was involved in the formation of Dutch Link, an organization set up by representatives of Dutch multinational companies to accommodate business and social interests of all people with a Dutch background, migrants and expatriates.

The current Board of DACC, of five members, is detailed on the Contact page. We would welcome more members or volunteers who could be available to assist as guides, on Sundays particularly.

Holland HousePicture of the facade of Holland House in Smithfield where we are currently situated in a fairly small space at the back of the shop and store. DACC entranceThis is our entrance. We are located at the back of the Holland House shop in Market Street, Smithfield. There is a coffeeshop, retail shop and also an adjacent wholesale section at Holland House.
Amsterdam maquetteThis photo shows a maquette from a section of Central Amsterdam with the Singel canal in the middle of it. It is very close to the Palace of the Dam, which was formerly Amsterdam’s town hall built in the Golden Age, in 1648. The maquette was made by the late Bram van Twist, a carpenter, in his retirement. The canal houses are a famous part of Amsterdam as are the (four) concentric canals which are visited by many tourists. Touring Amsterdam on the canals is a good start to a holiday there. The houses are narrow and deep, like Sydney’s terrace houses, well built on Scandinavian poles; there are no lifts but there are pulleys, to move heavy furniture in and out. The rather out of character higher building in the foreground is now a Social Sciences Library of the University of Amsterdam. It dates from 1932 while most houses are from the 18th and 19th centuries, some are even older. Dutch Heritage CentreAnother shot of the Dutch Heritage Centre.
Singel CanalAnother shot of the Singel canal and canal houses’ roofs (Dutch “grachten huizen”). Some of them have flat roofs. The advantage of them is that you can sun bake there. This is an advantage for your day-off because the sun doesn’t shine all that much in the Netherlands and the summers can be short and unpredictable. Dutch Heritage CentreAnd another one. All these houses are genuine miniatures of existing dwellings. The scene looks peaceful and quiet. In reality Amsterdam is very busy. Traffic along the canals in one-way. If you are in a hurry do not travel by car there. You could easily get stuck on account of lorries loading and unloading. In the canals there are many house boats and tourist boats as well.
DACC Reference LibraryPart of our Reference Library. DACC Reference LibraryRear view of the Reference Library
DACC archives cabinetsOur archives cabinets. We keep archives for many Dutch organisations and clubs in NSW. Part-time archivist Sr. Li van Haren and Librarian Coby Black have done and are doing an excellent job to keep the archive and our Reference Library up-to-date. Dutch Heritage CentreOverview of the Centre taken from the storage area.
DACC storage cornerStorage corner where we keep most of our 17th century replica maps of the Australian Coast made by cartographers in the service of the VOC. Many of the original maps are held by the National Library in Canberra. We have bought som 30 of these replicas in 2014, framed them and then displayed them in exhibitions in 2016/7 (Fairfield Museum and Gallery and Gosford Library, Erina Fair. What is not well known on the East Coast is that the Dutch mapped around 65% of the Australian Coast by 1644, the second journey of Abel Tasman. Our secretary has done Power Point presentations of digital images of these maps recently (two hours). UniformsA genuine uniform of a high-ranking Navy Officer and a uniform of a First Lieutenant military officer. Plus a banner of the Twilight singers.
Indonesia display cabinetThe Dutch were 350 years in Indonesia, which achieved independence in 1949. In 1602 the Verenigde Oost Indie (VOC) was formed to start the spice trade which the Portuguese had maintained for 100 years already. It was the first multi-national company and the first company financed by shares, in the world. The Dutch were the middlemen in that period who distributed the spices throughout Europe, from Lisbon. The 80-years war between the Netherlands and Spain (1568 - 1648) made the continuation of that role impossible and the Dutch then decided to venture out to the Indies themselves. The VOC lasted until around 1800 when the Dutch Government took over the colonial administration until after WWII. The history of that Dutch involvement is contained in the story the Duyfken's landing in 1606 on the West Coast of Cape York; Dirk Hartog’s landing in Shark Bay where he left the famous pewter plate in 1616; and the horrific story of the sinking of and the mutiny on the Batavia in 1629. Sinterklaas display cabinetThis picture of a display cabinet in the heritage centre shows the festivity of Sinterklaas en Zwarte Piet in the Netherlands. The celebration of the arrival of de Sint, a friend of children, by boat from Madrid, particularly those who or have behaved well, is celebrated on 5th and 6th December. He goes around on a white horse, even over the roofs on houses, together with his black helpers. There has been a lot of serious questioning by many Dutch people about the place and role of the Zwarte (black) Pieters. Is this a reflection of racism? White Piets have been seen in the Netherlands in recent years. In the middle is a model of the Oranje, one of the Dutch migrant ships of the late 1950s and 60s. It was made by one of our members. De Oranje was initially a hospital ship and later was sold to a Greek shipping company.