A freelance writer living in Perth, WA. My blog is coming soon. Watch this space!
Published June 29th 2011
The Western Australian Museum Shipwreck Galleries is the principal maritime archaeology museum. View the artifacts and relics recovered from the ocean floor, gaze down on the shipwreck from the elevated viewing deck and discover the stories behind these ill fated voyages and the well documented horrors, from mutiny to murder.
The Shipwreck Gallery is housed in an 1850s-era Commissariat building that has since been restored to its original glory. Steeped in history, the gallery houses hundreds of relics from ships wrecked along WA's treacherous coastline, including the original timbers from the Batavia (wrecked in 1629), the de Vlamingh plate, and also countless artefacts from the Dutch shipwrecks Zuytdorp, Zeewijk and Vergulde Draeck.
The Batavia is the centerpiece of the shipwreck display. This exhibit features the remnants of the Batavia, the skeleton of a person that was murdered, a reconstruction of the captain's cabin, numerous artifacts recovered from the wreck and a Portico Fašade (entrance to the city of Batavia) which was cargo on the ship.
When you enter the room containing the wreckage of the Batavia, you are greeted with the remains of the ship. By going up onto the viewing deck, you can really see the size and scale of the ship, and the scale of the disaster.
Also featured in the same room is a skeleton (with some of their bones missing) that is one of the crew that was murdered on their last voyage, as well as the guard's entrance to the city of Batavia- a beautiful and impressive arc. While this is a replica, it is no less an amazing part of the display.
In other parts of the gallery, you can see coins, maps and pottery from other wrecks. There are impressive anchors and even a steam engine from the SS Xantho. In the front entrance gallery are artefacts from Australia's first shipwreck, the Trial, as well as stories from wrecks off of Ningaloo Reef.
The Museum is open seven days a week, from 9-5. Entry is technically free- although they do ask for a donation (preferrably $5), but they don't force you to pay.
To remember your visit, make sure to visit their gift shop. From gifts, information books, pens, coins and commemorative teddies, you are sure to find something to love and remind you of your visit to the Maritime Museum Shipwreck Gallery.