Wednesday 24 August 2016

The Duyfken visits Bunbury


In 1606, the Duyfken, a small Dutch ship, was the first European ship documented to find Australia. The crew were the first to chart the western side of the Cape York Peninsula. The Duyfken was part of the Dutch East India company and frequently journeyed into Asia, trading for one of the most valuable commodities of the time, spices.

In 1999 the replica was completed and embarked upon its maiden voyage. The replica is now based in Fremantle on the Swan River, where it operates as a tourist attraction. The ship also often embarks upon trips around Australia and occasionally internationally. Hearing it was appearing in Bunbury, Jeni and I decided to check out what it was all about. For a small boarding fee, you were given an audio guide along with plenty of interesting information about early pioneers and the discovery of Australia. Old European maps with a completely bare space of ocean where Australia is appears quite amusing. It is also good to know that the early pioneers believed the reason Australia was such a big continent, was to balance the weight of the northern hemisphere and stop it from turning upside down.

When you board the ship you instantly feel like you are stepping back through time. The replica is made as similar to the original as it could be crafted. A good portion of it was also designed by eye, rather than plans, this was how ships were made back in those early times. Despite it's small size, exploring the ship feels like an adventure on its own.

The captain was the only one to have a cabin of his own, his room had two small beds, and he would have shared his cabin with any merchant that was with them. Just outside the cabin is the whipstaff, a steering mechanism which is literally tree root used to control the rudder.

On display they have wooden bowls, spoons and mugs just as they would have had back in the 1600's. The crew would have also had a knife, and if any of their wooden utensils needed replacing, they would have hit up the cook for a piece of firewood and made the replacement. Below the deck the floor was fitted with Dutch bricks, these would have been used for trading for spices. A few spices, which are incredibly common in the modern world, were also on display. Back in the 1600's spices were ridiculously valuable and the crew was not allowed below deck on the return trip or they would be severely punished.

They also had a heap of extra ropes down below. The amount of ropes these old sailing ships used was phenomenal! Up the front of the ship you can check out the small cooking area. Right up the front you can feel like the "king of the world" and check out one of the massive anchors of the ship. It was really cool checking out the Duyfken and we really gained an insight into how things would have been 400 years ago.

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