Gilt Dragon Marooned Vergulde Draeck

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“MAROONED” The wreck of the Vergulde Draeck and the abandonment and escape from the southland of Abraham Leeman in 1658 by JAMES A . HENDERSON St George Books Perth WA 1982

For many years/centuries the coast of Western Australia (Nieuw Holland) was an unwanted dangerous lee shore to be shunned by sailing ships. However in the 17th Century a growing trade between Europe and the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) forced ships to travel up this dangerous and unexplored coastline.

Developments in 2nd half 16th Century in navigation & mapping. 1541 Flemish cartographer Gerard Mercator produced a globe showing the parallels of latitude and the meridians of longitude, and compass roses. In 1569 Mercator’s world map was published making allowance for the convergence of the meridians towards the poles while showing parallels and meridians in proper proportion on a flat surface.

The sailing ship Gilt Dragon was wrecked off the WA coast in April 1656 on her voyage from Amsterdam in the Netherlands to Batavia (now Jakarta) in Indonesia. She carried 118 people – two months later a boat with 7 men arrived in Batavia and said that 68 survivors were onshore in the Southland.

The Gilt Dragon wrecksite lies off the coast south of Lancelin between what are now Ledge Point and Seabird.

Ships were sent as soon as possible to try to rescue the survivors but the ships arrived in the bad weather of winter months and suffered all sorts of problems including losing a party of sailors sent ashore.

Another ship the Waeckende Boey (translated Watching Buoy or Watchman’s Buoy) skippered by Samuel Volkersen with a crew of 40 was sent from Batavia on 1st January 1658 nearly two years after the shipwreck to search for survivors of the Gilt Dragon. The Emeloordt skippered by Aucke Pieters Jonck with a crew of 25 accompanied the Waeckende Boey.

The Waeckende Boey was a small fluyt a freightcarrying vessel designed by shipbuilders in Hoorn around 1594. It was designed as long & narrow with an extreme incline from the waterline to give it a narrow deck thus reducing the taxes levied on it in the Baltic where deck measurements were the critical measure. As well as the salt trade in the Baltic the design was useful in the East India trade about to develop. The Waeckende Boey was 30 metres long 6.6 metres wide and 3.3 metres depth in the hold. The Emeloordt was a galliot a fishing vessel design used for whaling and as a merchantman. The Emeloordt was probably around 22 metres long and of beam 5 metres with a cargo capacity of about 60 tonnes. Each carried 6 months provisions for the voyage.

The captain of the Waeckende Boey seems to have been a difficult personality.

Abraham Leeman van Santwits was the first officer and navigator of Waeckend Boey and he and 13 sailors were marooned on an island off the coast while trying to find survivors of the Gilt Dragon. They ate seabirds and seals to survive and dug a small well from which surprisingly they obtained reasonably fresh water to drink. This island is believed to be the Green Islets.

28th March 1658 6th day since the boat had been sent ashore with 14 crew before a storm and the ship had sailed away. They sighted a sail, lit a fire and thought they were saved but next morning the ship had gone. Leeman urged his men to make repairs to the boat including a make shift sail of seal skins. On 8th April 1658 they began their voyage home to Batavia. About 11th April they were off the northern tip of Dirk Hartog Island having covered some 30 mile but the Java coast lay another 1000 miles or more north and Batavia at least 1500 sea miles away. The story is one of extreme thirst and deprivation weakness and death. On 19th April one man died – the same day that the Waeckende Boey and the Emeloordt anchored safely at Batavia 22 days after the Waeckende Boey had sailed away from the men who had lit their signal fires on Green Islets. On 28th April they made landfall in Java on a hostile coast. 7 crew deserted here after a good drink of fresh water leaving Leeman with 3 men. The boat was wrecked and and they had to walk around the coast. However with fresh water and food a plenty they gathered strength as they went for about 5 weeks. Then conditions became more difficult and food scarce. Around end of June they were assisted by some Javanese natives and then held hostage for a time before the VOC (Dutch East India Co) negotiated their release and return to Batavia on 23rd September almost 6 months after being left by their captain.

Gilt Dragon
Gilt Dragon

Election 2008

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WA State Election 6th September 2008

Impact on the Future of Wedge & Grey

Your vote next Saturday could influence our future at Wedge and Grey. Potentially, there are 10,000 votes associated with Wedge and 3,500 with Grey. Read the information below, inform your network of family and friends who have an interest in Wedge/Grey and cast your votes accordingly.

Political Commitment Sought

WIPA and GCCA jointly sought the following commitment from the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal Party for the next term of government.

“The (ALP/LibP) is committed to continuing the role of the Wedge & Grey Task Force created to ‘… examine policies, legislation and associated resolution practices regarding shack communities in other states and jurisdictions, in order to determine the best way forward…’ in implementing management plans for the two reserves.

Further, the purpose of the Wedge & Grey Task Force is to investigate and make recommendations on how the shack communities could be integrated into such plans for the provision of upgraded recreation and tourist facilities, prior to any future EOI process being implemented.”

– The Liberal Party fully endorsed the above commitment via email on Friday 29th August 08.

– The Australian Labor Party committed via email on Wednesday 3rd September 08 to extend its 2005 promise and will continue the Task Force regarding the shack communities and the future of Wedge and Grey. They have not included the second paragraph (above).

History of Previous Political Commitments

2001 Election
– The WA Liberal government, through Cheryl Edwardes, declined to commit to a transition lease after the 30th June 2001 expiry, pending the outcome of CALM’s EOI process for development at Wedge & Grey
– The Australian Labor Party committed to extending leases pending completion of the Lancelin – Cervantes Road or commencement of development on site
– The ALP won the election and leases were extended till 30th June 2011
2005 Election
– The ALP committed to creating a Task Force involving Ministers for Environment, Planning & Infrastructure, Heritage and Tourism to examine what happened in other states before any future EOI was commenced
– The ALP won the election but the Task Force only met 28th July 2008 and no outcomes produced. Was due to meet again mid-late September 08

Exercise your vote wisely – Wedge and Grey depend on you

Grey Community Newsletter December 2007

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The Christmas Season

Has begun and with it an increase in activity at Grey. This newsletter contains excellent and timely information concerning fire and bush safety. Plus a report on the fabulous work that Peter Sheppard has planned, sourced and executed on rehabilitating the southern dune. If you can access the web, check out the progress made on the Southern Dune page and more detailed safety information on our web site: The committee of Grey would like to extend seasons greetings and wish all a prosperous new year in 2008. Happy shacking.

21 Year Lease? Do not be fooled!

A very persistent rumor has been circulating that we are to be given a 21 year lease. The rumor reached the point of belief that a proposal is sitting on Mr Myercourts desk. We regret having to tell you that THIS IS NOT TRUE. The man himself when questioned by one of our committee stated that:  “he has NOT told people we are getting a 21 year lease but that we are pushing for a 21 year lease based on the leases granted in Tasmania”. He claims “people hear what they want to hear and that it is just wishful thinking at this stage but we and Wedge Island have proven we can be quite persuasive in the past and it is expected we will be lobbying strongly in 2010 to get extensions to the existing
lease which expires in 2011”.

However, you can rest assured that DEC will fight to the bitter end to ensure that we are eradicated and without political command to allow us to stay, we will be demolished. Your committee remains dedicated to ensuring the settlements continued existence and will pursue every avenue open to us. The current aim of your committee is not as Mr Myer court states. We are still looking at a number of proposals and a 21 year lease is amongst them. Politicians hold the key to our survival. It is they (Everyone Henderson in particular ) who created the six year plan so many years ago.
It is they who have amended it to create our current lease arrangements. Throughout the whole negations DEC has steadfastly resisted any proposal for any extension of our stay. There is no indication that they will not continue to do so.

Grey Conservation and Community Association
Grey Conservation and Community Association

Grey Community Newsletter March 2007

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It is proposed to erect a monument to those who have had their ashes spread at sea around Grey. There is little more that can show the deep love of a place than requesting your ashes be spread in the area. There have been several of our community leave this way and we believe that a form of recognition is worth while.
It is proposed to erect the monument close to the boat launching site and have individual plaques for each person. If you are aware of a person who requested his/her ashes be cast in the sea or on the land at Grey would you please send me the following details: The full name of the person, their date of birth and death, any other comment. Even if we are eventually demolished, the spirit of those who loved their shack and its community will live on as it would be very difficult for for the Authorities to destroy a monument of this type.

Marine Park Boundaries

The political fight to stay is similar to the fight against the current position of the Exclusion Zone created around Green Island. We simply did not make enough noise when it was fi rst proposed and once in place it will be very difficult to change. I attended a meeting where the marine park was discussed and was enlightened to hear the authorities say that they took whatever area they could get away with. Even if it was not what they wanted, it did not matter as at the next review they would expand the zones further if given the opportunity.

There will eventually be a review of the marine park and I have absolutely no doubt, they will attempt to expand it.
In the last newsletter it was asked that you write to Calm expressing reasons why the current zone should be changed. Please make the effort and write. If you don’t they will simply leave it as it is and expand it if they can. An element of public displeasure over the current zoning may help your committee argue against further expansion when the time comes.
Do nothing and we will all lose.

Beach Fishing

For many years, beaches around the settlement were subject to netting. This had a nasty effect on the number of mulloway and tailor available for the beach fishermen*.
In recent years, this has stopped and both the numbers of fi sh caught and the number of months in the year they are caught seem to be increasing. However, with the ever increasing restrictions on the beaches South and further North of our settlement, the beach immediately
South of the bay is coming under greater fishing pressure than ever. More fishermen forced into a smaller area will take its toll even if fisheries rules are obeyed.
Overall, the bulk of the beach fishermen at Grey are either shack owners or their guests.

Tip Clean Up
Tip Clean Up

Obey the fisheries rules and take your litter home with you.
Look after our resource and our beach.
We can do this.
*Fisher women,  fisher children and fisher persons, please do not be offended by the use.

The Tip

The tip has not been burnt this year, due to a number of reasons it has not been possible. Please take extra care when putting your rubbish in the tip. If you get Children to do it, please instruct them carefully to do as any signage directs. The tip can get out of hand very quickly and it takes a lot of effort to deal with rubbish which is not dealt with properly.
If necessary, a busy bee will be organized over the Easter period.
Watch the notice board for details.

Please look after your tip.

Grey Conservation and Community Association
Grey Conservation and Community Association