2017 media releases

Museum welcomes first European artefact to appear on Australian soil -

the Dirk Hartog Plate - to Sydney

Dirk Hartog Plate, on display from 5 May 2017

Just over four hundred years ago Dutch mariner Dirk Hartog (1580–1621) sailed into history when, on 25 October 1616, he made the first documented European landing on the west coast of Australia. And this week the Australian National Maritime Museum is excited to welcome the first European artefact to appear on Australian soil, the Dirk Hartog Plate, to Sydney on special loan from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Dirk Hartog Plate, on display from 5 May 2017

Just over four hundred years ago Dutch mariner Dirk Hartog (1580–1621) sailed into history when, on 25 October 1616, he made the first documented European landing on the west coast of Australia. And this week the Australian National Maritime Museum is excited to welcome the first European artefact to appear on Australian soil, the Dirk Hartog Plate, to Sydney on special loan from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Part of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), Hartog and his vessel Eendracht were on a trading mission when they encountered fierce weather and deviated from their course, eventually arriving at the northern end of Dirk Hartog Island in Shark Bay, Western Australia.  Having happened upon this new and distant land, Dirk Hartog raised an inscribed pewter plate – the Dirk Hartog Plate - as a testimony of his arrival and departure. 

The Dirk Hartog Plate was recovered more than 80 years later by Willem de Vlamingh in 1697 and taken to Amsterdam. Typical of the large pewter serving plates that were used in the great cabins of the VOC ships, the plate endured decades of exposure to the elements during its time in Western Australia. It now consists of 17 separate fragments which the Rijksmuseum conservators have aimed to preserve in its most complete and authentic state so that it remains legible and accessible for future generations.

The Dirk Hartog Plate is on display at the Australian National Maritime Museum, for what is likely to be its last appearance outside of the Netherlands, 5 May – 29 October 2017. Entry is FREE.
It is presented in association with exhibition partners the Dutch Diplomatic Missions in Australia, Singapore Airlines, Singapore Airlines Cargo and Damen.

The Hartog Plate: A Conservator’s Perspective talk – 4 May, 6pm

To celebrate the arrival of the Dirk Hartog Plate the museum will host a lecture – The Hartog Plate: A Conservator’s Perspective - by Tamar Davidowitz, metals conservator at the Rijksmuseum, on Thursday 4 May at 6pm.

Hosted in conjunction with the Consul General of the Netherlands in Sydney, the talk will feture Tamar Davidowitz, who has spent about 1000 hours treating the Dirk Hartog Plate, will talk about its history, conservation and transport as well as her visit to Cape Inscription on Dirk Hartog Island.

Tickets for the talk are $35 (members $20) which includes refreshments, the opportunity to view the Dirk Hartog Plate and the Dirk Hartog anniversary rooftop projection. For more information and to book visit - http://www.anmm.gov.au/whats-on/events/members-maritime-series.

As Australia’s national institution for maritime history the Australian National Maritime Museum is proud to be a participant in the Dirk Hartog 2016 anniversary activities, highlighting the continued friendship between Australia and the Netherlands. The museum, in Darling Harbour, is open from 9.30am to 5pm daily. All enquiries (02) 9298 3777.



Media contact - Jude Timms (02) 9298 3645; 0418 219 841; jtimms@anmm.gov.au