Timeline History of Western Australia
Below is a timeline of significant events from the 1616 landfall of Dirk Hartog until the eventual settlement of the Swan River Colony in 1829:
1616 – Dirk Hartog in the Eendracht arrived at Cape Inscription and left a pewter plate. Coastal region in the vicinity is shown on Hartog’s maps as Eendrachtsland. Believed to be first landfall on Western Australian soil by Europeans. (An earlier 1606 encounter on the northern coast of Australia near Papua New Guinea by Willem Janszoon on the Duyfken is credited as being the first Australian visit by European explorers.)
1618 – Dutch East India Company supercargo Willem Janszoon on Mauritius landed on North West Cape – although sighting footprints, they did not meet the natives.
1618 – The Zeewulf made landfall north of Eendrachtsland.
1619 – Frederick de Houtman in two ships bound for Batavia encountered dangerous shoals which were subsequently named Houtman Abrolhos. Following successful navigation of the Abrolhos, Houtman made landfall in the region Hartog had encountered.
1622 – Leeuwin landed south of Abrolhos.
1622 – English ship Tryall was wrecked on Tryal Rocks off the northwest coast; survivors spent a week on Monte Bello Islands before sailing to Batavia in a longboat.
1626 to 1627 – Gulden Zeepaert skippered by François Thijssen sailed along south coast towards Great Australian Bight.
1629 – Batavia struck a reef of the Abrolhos. Skipper Francisco Pelsaert sailed the ship’s small boat to Batavia for rescue. After returning 3 months later found evidence of mutiny and many previous survivors murdered.
1656 – The Vergulde Draeck (Gilt Dragon) en route to Batavia was shipwrecked only 107 km north of the Swan River near Ledge Point.
1658 – Three Dutch ships visited south coast searching for the Vergulde Draeck: Waekende Boey under Captain S. Volckertszoon, the Elburg under Captain J. Peereboom and the Emeloort under Captain A. Joncke.
1681 – English navigator John Daniel on the New London charted part of the west coast of Australia, including Rottnest Island and the Wallabi Group of Houtman Abrolhos.
1688 and 1699 – William Dampier in the Cygnet explored the northwest coastline and sailed down the coast.
1697 – Willem de Vlamingh found Hartog’s plate and replaced it with his own. He also explored the Swan River area.
1712 – The Zuytdorp with 286 on board was shipwrecked near Kalbarri. The Dutch did not send a search party probably because no survivors were able to report the disaster. The crew were never heard from again, though it is probable that many initially survived because a campsite was found near the wreck.
1714 – Jean Pierre Purry proposed a Dutch East India Company settlement of Nuyts, Leeuwin and Edels Lands.
1772 – On 30 March, Frenchman Louis Aleno de St Aloüarn landed at Turtle Bay at the northern end of Dirk Hartog Island and claimed the island for France.
1786 – King Gustav III of Sweden makes a contract with William Bolts to establish a colony at the Swan River.
1791 – George Vancouver made formal claim at Possession Point, King George Sound, Albany.
1792 – Frenchman Bruni d’Entrecasteaux in charge of the Recherche and L’Esperance reached Cape Leeuwin on 5 December and explored eastward along the southern coast.
1801 – The French ships Geographe and Naturaliste under Nicolas Baudin and Emmanuel Hamelin, explored much of the coast north from Cape Leeuwin, including the Swan River. They discovered de Vlamingh’s plate.
1801 – Matthew Flinders sighted Cape Leeuwin en route to charting of southern Australian coastline.
1803 – Matthew Flinders completed the first circumnavigation of Australia.
1803 – The Geographe and another French ship Casuarina followed much of the same coastline again on the way back to France.
1818 – Louis de Freycinet found de Vlamingh’s plate and removed it to France.
1826 – On 26 October, Frenchman Dumont d’Urville in the Astrolabe visited King George Sound before sailing along the south coast to Port Jackson.
1826 – On 26 December, a military garrison was established on behalf of New South Wales at King George Sound with the arrival of Major Edmund Lockyer on the Amity.
1827 – On 21 January, Lockyer formally annexed the western portion of Australia, now Western Australia, in a ceremony at King George Sound.
1829 – James Stirling explored the Swan River area. Captain Charles Fremantle again took possession of the western side of New Holland for the British crown on May 2.