A replica of the first recorded European ship to visit Australia, the Duyfken, is moving to Sydney permanently after eight years in Western Australia.
- The replica is modelled on a Dutch ship that explored Australia in 1606
- The foundation was unable to secure funding the keep the ship in Fremantle
- Duyfken is expected to sail into Sydney Harbour on January 1, 2021
The ship, whose name means “little dove” in Dutch, was built in Fremantle in the late 1990s by a group of historic sailing enthusiasts who formed a foundation to recreate the vessel.
It is a replica of the Dutch East India Company vessel which sailed from Indonesia (then called the Spice Islands) and made landfall in the Gulf of Carpentaria in 1606.
The ship’s captain, Willem Janszoon, and his crew were believed to be the first Europeans to walk on Australian soil and the first to encounter Aboriginal people.
Janszoon also became the first European to start mapping Australia’s coastline, recording about 300 kilometres of the west coast of Cape York Peninsula.
The replica was launched in 1999 in Fremantle and returned to a permanent base there in 2012.
However, funding has run out and the ship is moving on to the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) in Sydney Harbour.
Chief executive Peter Bowman said while it was emotional for the Duyfken foundation to see it go, the transfer was the best option to preserve the ship and continue public access.
“Duyfken was built in Fremantle and it was launched back in 1999, but it was always built with expectation that would do more than just reside in Fremantle,” Mr Bowman said.
‘It needed to find a new home’
When the Duyfken moved back to WA in 2012, it was under an eight-year funding agreement worth $2.8 million.
In 2017, the State Government advised the foundation that it would not be able to renew its support in 2020.
“We needed basically $300,000 a year for the next 20 years, you’re talking $6 million.
“We are a little not-for-profit foundation, 100 members, we don’t have the capacity to raise $300,000 every year from lamington drives and raffle tickets.”
A year ago the foundation began looking at the options to keep Duyfken on the water and open to the public.
“One option was sending it internationally, to the Netherlands,” Mr Bowman said.
“The Australian National Maritime Museum weren’t keen on that because they could see the value of the ship to the Australian maritime story.
“They did an exercise to determine the useful life of the ship, and it was determined that it had another 50 years of useful life, for exhibition and sailing.”
‘Deterioration would be a tragedy’
The decision, earlier this year, to give the ship to the ANMM is one the foundation and its volunteers feel happy with, Mr Bowman said.
“You have to make some decisions sometimes that are in the best interests of the ship and that’s what we did,” he said.
COVID restrictions mean it won’t sail all the way
The Duyfken will be transported to Newcastle on board a larger ship, then rerigged and sailed into Sydney, hopefully arriving on January 1, 2021.
Mr Bowman said the original plan was to sail the ship all the way from Fremantle to Sydney, however coronavirus restrictions meant the experienced crew needed to sail it could not travel from New South Wales to Perth.
“It will be owned by the Australian National Maritime Museum, so effectively the community of Australia will now own the ship which we think is a good thing,” Mr Bowman said.
“My sense is they will use it very effectively along the east coast of Australia.”
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