The discovery of the VOC Vergulde Draeck
from the Belgian Shiplovers - Compiled by P.Kainic
Many stories have been written about the Vergulde Draeck since her discovery. We will give here some additionnal information and the origin of her discovery.
Late 1957 - News reached us that two Perth divers believe they have found a sunken Dutch treasure ship near Fremantle, off the Western Australian coast. The wreck is believed to contain silver coins worth 185,000 guilders
The skin divers are 18-years-old university student Bruce Phillips and 30-years-old fisherman Alan Robinson. They will use special diving equipment when they probe the wreck. They have applied for an 80% share of the treasure if it exists.
Both have lodged a claim for possession of the wreck with the Receiver of Wrecks, Captain H.N. Head, and have also applied to the Dutch Government for salvage rights They have offered 20%.
Phillips and Robinson accidentally stumbled on the wreck at Lancelin Island, 50 miles north of Perth, while looking for jewfish.
They believe the wreck, lying on its side in 30 feet of water, is that of the Vergulde Draeck (Gilt Dragon) which foundered off the Western Australian coast in 1656. Thousands of pounds have since been spent by expeditions searching for the wreck and its sunken treasure of silver.
The Vergulde Draeck was owned by the Dutch East India Company and equipped by the Chamber of Amsterdam. She sailed from Texel, Holland on October 4, 1655. Besides the eight boxes of guilders, she carried an unspecified but rich cargo.
At the beginning of the middle watch on April 28, 1656, she foundered on a reef 1,5 miles from the shore off Ledge Point, at a position logged by the captain as latitude 30°, 40' South. The ship slipped back off the reef and sank quickly, taking with her 117 of the crew of 194. Because of the suddenness with which the ship sank, Robinson and Philipps consider it unlikely that the 78 survivors salvaged the eight boxes of treasure. Among those who got ashore were the master, Captain Pieter Aberts, and a senior steersman.
News of the wreck was taken back to Batavia by a party of seven, who ser out in a ship's boat and arrived on June 7. These seven men reported that the 68 members of the crew who had remained behind were trying to patch up a wrecked boat. Several ships were sent from Batavia to search for the men, but no trace of them was ever found.
In 1931, some bones and Dutch coins were found in a cave near the mouth of the river, near the site of the wreck...