Batavia shipwreck mass murder

Wreck of the Batavia

By Sarah Taillier - ABC News

A new grave has been discovered almost four centuries after the Batavia was wrecked on Morning Reef, within the Abrolhos Islands.

The Dutch East India vessel was on its maiden voyage when it wrecked with more than 300 people on board.

The survivors managed to swim to the nearby Beacon Island, but about 40 people drowned.

What then played out on the tiny coral outcrop was a 17th-century tale of mutiny and systematic murders of those aboard that inspired movies, books and plays and remained one of the darkest chapters of Australia's maritime history.

Some of the evidence of the bloodthirsty episode has only now been uncovered, with experts revealing on Tuesday they have found another skeleton, the 11th found on Beacon Island since the 60s.

Two musket balls were found near the body, which was about 1.5 metres underground.

A forensic team was examining the remains and said they were believed to be that of an adolescent.

The WA Museum's head of maritime archaeology, Jeremy Green, said the find was a major step forward in better understanding what was an internationally significant chapter in history.

"This was the first time that Europeans lived in Australia — albeit it wasn't in the mainland but it was here — so it's the oldest known European habitation in Australia," he said.

"So it's got to be important."

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