Image: Dirk Hartog

Dirk Hartog (lived in the 16th and early

Dirk Hartog (lived in the 16th and early 17th centuries), Dutch explorer who made the first recorded exploration of the western coast of Australia. In 1616 Hartog set sail for Java, in what is now Indonesia, in the service of the Dutch East India Company. After rounding the Cape of Good Hope, Africa, he followed a new route to Java. A few years before Hartog`s voyage, a belt of westerly winds had been discovered south of the normal sailing route to Java. This wind belt, known as the Roaring Forties because it lay between the latitudes of 40 and 50 south, cut the sailing time from the Netherlands to Java from 16 months to 6 months. The Dutch East India Company instructed its captains to use the Roaring Forties, and when Hartog sailed in 1616 for Java, he instead reached an island of sandstone cliffs and white sand off the central western coast of Australia.

The island

The island, which he named Dirk Hartog Island, sits on the western side of Shark Bay, southwest of present-day Carnarvon. Hartog spent three days exploring the island and inscribed the details of his visit on a flattened pewter plate, which he nailed to a tree. Hartog then sailed north along the coast which, until the 19th century, bore the name he gave it, Eendrachtsland (named for his ship the "Eendracht"). In 1696 another Dutch explorer, Willem de Vlamingh, landed on Dirk Hartog Island and replaced Hartog`s plaque with his own. The original plaque is in the Rijksmuseum, in Amsterdam.

Recommended for you

Read more about the full history of the world

Vonetta Flowers

Vonetta Flowers, born in 1973, American bobsledder and track-and-field athlete. Flowers became the first black athlete to win a gold medal at the W...


Hughes Sarah

Hughes, Sarah, born in 1985, American figure skater ( `see `Ice Skating) who won the women`s gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. A flawles...


Reinhard Selten

Reinhard Selten, born in 1930, German mathematician and economist, who shared the 1994 Nobel Prize in economics with John F. Nash and John C. Harsa...