The first documented and undisputed European sighting of and landing in Australia was in late February 1606, by the Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon aboard the Duyfken. Janszoon charted some 300 kms of the northern parts of the Australian coast and met with Aboriginal people. Janszoon followed the coast of New Guinea, missed Torres Strait, and explored and then charted part of the western side of Cape York, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, believing the land was still part of New Guinea.  

On 26 February 1606, Janszoon and his party made landfall near the modern town of Weipa and the Pennefather River but were promptly attacked by the Indigenous people. Janszoon proceeded down the coast for some 350 km. He stopped in some places but was met by hostile natives and some of his men were killed.

Detail of Murriland! #1 at HOTA Gold Coast – Aboriginals defending their lands against the Duyfken

At the final location, he initially fostered friendly relations with the natives. However, after coercing them into hunting for him and seizing some of their women, violence erupted, resulting in numerous casualties on both sides. These events lingered in their collective memory, passed down through generations as tales retold time and again. It was at this juncture that Janszoon opted to retreat, leading to the area later being named Kaap (Cape) Keerweer, Dutch for “return”. From here he went back to Batavia (now Jakarta).

Duyfken the replica

In the late 1990s an enthusiastic group of volunteers started to built a replica of the Duyfken and this boat has been sailing along the Australian coast and recently did find its permanent home at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney.

In 2006 when it was moored in the harbour of Freemantle they needed people who during the night would stay on the Duyfken. Together with my Dutch friend Fred Kappetijn we stayed the night on the ship. I still remember the cracking of the ship while floating on slight swell of the water as well as smell of ropes and tar.

1606-2006 Celebration – Daily Telegraph
1606-2006 Inside of the Daily Telegraph
Western Australia 21/1/2003
The Duyfken at the Maritime Museum Sydney – March 2022
Sailing on the Duyken – March 2022
Paul Budde and Fred Kappetijn on the Duyfken – 2006
Sailing on the Duyfken 2022
Roland Spuy Former Chair DACC
The Duyfken has its own beer.

The large VOC flag on the Duyfken was donated by the DACC when she arrived in Sydney in 2022. 

7Plus aired a story on the Duyfken as part of the Travel Oz Coastal Classics program. 

Duyfken Replica 25 anniversary

In January 2024 the Duyfken celebrated her 25th anniversary. She was launched in Fremantle in 1999. This joyful fact was celebrated with volunteers and ANMM staff. Ms Daryl Karp, the CEO of the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney – where the Duyfken is moored – fired the canon.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the launch of the Duyfken replica, the Australian National Maritime Museum has announced a new curriculum aligned education program for primary school children.