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Dirk Hartog Island

Dirk Hartog Island, an island off the coast of Western Australia, was discovered in October 1616 by the Dutch sea captain Dirk Hartog, who was blown off course while sailing from Cape Town to Batavia (Jakarta). The island was later named in his honour.

In 1697 the Dutch captain Willem de Vlamingh landed on the island and discovered Hartog's plate. He replaced it with one of his own which included Hartog's inscription and took the original plate home to Amsterdam, where it may be seen in the Rijksmuseum.

In 1801 the island was again visited, this time by a French expedition aboard the Naturaliste led by Captain Hamelin. This expedition found de Vlamingh's plate almost buried in the sand, its post having rotted away. The Captain ordered that it be re-erected in its original position.

Recently, two French coins were found in Turtle Bay by an archaeological expedition. These coins are thought to have been left by the French captain François Alense de St Allouarn, who landed ashore in 1772 and claimed the Island in the name of the French King. As proof of his presence the captain buried a parchment in a bottle and two French coins.

Neither the Dutch nor the French ever made good their claims to Western Australia and eventually it was the English who took possession and settled it, beginning with the founding of Perth in 1826. It was many years, however, before the arid lands around Dirk Hartog Island were opened up for sheep and cattle grazing.

Dirk Hartog Island is about 80 km long and 15 km wide at its widest point. It consists mostly of scrub-covered sand dunes. At times it has been used as a sheep station and supported 20,000 head of sheep. Today it is owned by the Wardle family who run it as an eco-tourism destination. [1] The island is regarded as one of the world's finest fishing destinations.