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Western Australian Museum - Shipwreck Galleries

Home > Perth > Exhibitions | Galleries | Museums
by Sarah Says (subscribe)
I am a marketing and communications consultant and freelance writer. Living on the Gold Coast in Australia. Check out my website or follow on Twitter @WENGoldCoast
Published August 21st 2012
Ahoy Matey
One of the surprise highlights of my recent travels all over Australia was when I visited Perth, in particular Fremantle when I went to stay with a friend.

She had some child related activities to attend to, so I had a few hours to kill in Fremantle on my own. Wondering around the harbour I decided to visit the Western Australian Museum Shipwreck Galleries – not really having any expectation, except that it would waste an hour, I was delighted to find it to be one of the most fascinating places I have been to so far.

Shipwreck Galleries
Western Australian Shipwreck Galleries

It's great when that happens – often I feel the unplanned experiences in life are usually that much sweeter than the planned – and lets face it when you really look forward to or want to do something, quite often it never lives up to the idea we get in our heads during the build up.

Located right by the harbour on Cliff Street, this cute museum details the fascinating story of the famous Batavia mutiny, a Dutch ship which was wrecked in 1629 on her maiden voyage, it includes a display of original timbers and artefacts that survived the 343 years of immersion.

This was my favourite by far – seeing the reassembled original timbers from that ship knowing that it had been under water all this time and learning how it was salvaged was fascinating.

Batavia Timbers

Batavia Timbers

I loved the story of the divers who raised 137 shaped sandstone building blocks from the Batavia wreck (weighing a total of 37 tonnes) and their efforts to work out what they were for and how like a giant jigsaw they came to fit them together to form a wonderful portico façade shown in the photo below. I can't imagine the immense satisfaction that must have bought when they eventually pieced them together.

Batavia Portico Façade
Batavia Portico Façade

Batavia Portico Façade
Batavia Portico Façade

Based over a number of floors and rooms, in total the gallery features artefacts from four local shipwrecks (Batavia, Zuytdorp, Zeewijk and Vergulde Draeck), including items such as clay pipes, silver coins, cannons and numerous other relics.

Also featured is the story of the Zeewijk survivors plus the fates of other European shipwreck survivors stranded on Western Australian shores.


It has videos and detailed plaques and information and displays, which tell you about each ships journey, the background of each of the four wrecks, how they were discovered and how the artefacts and timbers were recovered.

Entry fee is by donation (suggested $5) and it is open daily from 9.30-5.00, except Wednesdays.

A wonderful museum and a marvelous way to spend some time in lovely Fremantle.
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Why? Because it is fascinating!
When: Open daily from 9.30-5.00, except Wednesdays
Phone: (08) 9431 8444
Where: Cliff Street, Fremantle, WA, 6160
Cost: Suggested $5 dontation
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