Roaring 40's

Beacon Island is the scene where a dramatic piece of Dutch history took place. In 1629 the Batavia stranded on a nearby reef. The majority of the 330 men on board stayed on Beacon Island. Within a few months there was a mutiny and this group overpowered and terrorized the rest of the people. In the end, only one third of the people on board of the Batavia survived. 

Beacon Island was the closest large island to the wreck and was reasonably easy to access. Importantly, much of the material that could float over the reef would end up close to the island. The island had no water, but as it was winter, the survivors appeared to have no difficulty surviving on rainwater.

Research in the 70's

From 1971–1981, seven European shipwrecks off the Western Australian coast were investigated by a group of archaeologists and conservators at the Western Australian Museum in Fremantle. These events placed Australia at the forefront of maritime archaeology globally, and led to Western Australia enacting the world’s first underwater heritage legislation, an example followed by the Commonwealth in 1976.

Research Australian Research Council from 2014 - 2016

From 2014 until 2016 the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project titled "Shipwrecks of the Roaring 40s" aimed to make a significant contribution to our understanding of Europeans active in the Indian Ocean and our region during the 17th and 18th centuries through the unique window into the past provided by these maritime archaeological sites.

New research RCE in 2017

To accomplish this we returned to shipwreck sites excavated over 40 years ago to examine how approaches to maritime archaeological sites have changed over time in terms of both new research questions and new technologies.

Read the blog about this latest research in 2017: 


  • Western Australian Museum (Department of Maritime Archaeology)
  • University of Western Australia (Archaeology, Geophysics, Forensics, iVEC @ UWA)
  • Australian Research Council
  • British Museum
  • Flinders University, East Carolina University, and Curtin University
  • The Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology, Tasmania Parks & Wildlife Service
  • Cultural Heritage Agency and National Archives of the Netherlands
  • Prospero Productions