|VOC ship Zuytdorp|
What happened to survivors of VOC ship Zuytdorp?
The Zuytdorp was one of four VOC ships that wrecked on the coast of New Holland in 1712.
In 1955, a young geologist, Phillip Playford was shown the wreck site and was credited with its discovery. He managed to have the wreck identified by forwarding details to the National Archive in The Netherlands.
During my recent visit to the Murchison District I was able to look at the area like the survivors would have done 302 years ago. It was the beginning of winter the same as now. Daytime temperature around 240
The landscape was green and water could be found at various locations such as trapped in holes in the rocks. Further south is the Murchison River with potable water throughout the year. The sea provided lots of fish and the shelf at the bottom of the cliff provide good supplies of abalone.
From a research viewpoint this became quite a challenge as the Murchison District was not settled until 21 years after the Swan River Colony in 1829.
Many of the Nhunda elders and their families talked about the “Dutch” and many made a point of telling me that the Dutch should have stayed instead of the British. DNA would provide conclusive proof of whether or not there was a link with the Dutch ship. Leiden University Medical Centre took this on and funded the research - not the collecting of samples however.
The first report in 2010 showed that out of 45 males (Y chromosomes) three were pure Aboriginal and 42 had European profiles, including some from the Mediterranean. This included people from the British Isles, there being no method to separate the British from the Continentals.
What is of significance is the Mediterranean DNA, for 30% of the crew were of a mixed variety and likely some could have Spanish or Italian origin.
To date, 152 samples have been analysed with it being whittled down to three probables.
Soon there will be an outcome of the DNA research. It may provide a perspective of a history that has embraced some 60,000 years while the Anglo inhabitants have largely concentrated on their own history, thereby ignoring that which happened beforehand.
Editor: New Holland Bulletin
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