From the sea: The ill-fated ‘Batavia’

A replica of the Batavia in 2007
A replica of the Batavia in 2007 (© Wikimedia Commons)

In 1629, the newly built ‘Batavia’ was sailing to the Dutch East Indies on her maiden voyage, laden with silver coins for the purchase of spices, when she became the centre of a criminal plot that ended in the torture and murder or execution of most of the men, women and children she was carrying. Seven months after sailing from the Netherlands, with more than 300 people on board, one of the officers organised a gang of mutineers in order to hijack the ship and its wealth, but she struck a reef just off the western coast of Australia.

This is the story of the dramatic fate of these people, a story that did not end in 1629. Today a replica of this beautiful ship is moored in Lelystad, just north of Amsterdam, and she sailed to Australia as the flag ship of the Dutch team to the 2000 Olympic Games.

Producer: Hal Crawford

Broadcast: February 1, 2006