One of the most fascinating and unpleasant tales in human history took place on this small West Australian Island. In 1629 a merchant vessel called the Batavia, owned by the Dutch East India Company, ran aground not far from the shore and the commander Francisco Pelsaert left on the only boat with the Captain and a handful of men. The survivors (believed to be around 280) were left on the island under the charge of a man named Jeronimus Cornelisz but little did the commander know that this man had been plotting a mutiny in alliance with the captain and that they had deliberately steered the ship into danger. Cornelisz collected all weapons and sent the cache of soldiers to a nearby island under the guise of searching for water but he believed that the soldiers would become trapped and die allowing him to take full command of the survivors. A small band of murderous mutineers sided with Jeronimus and began to kill any man, woman or child who opposed them or often for no reason at all. The cache of soldiers didn’t die as was expected and instead found water and food. Cornelisz and his men battled them and lost with Cornelisz being captured and tried after the eventual return of the commander.
Today, the island is famous as a dive sight for the Batavia wreck and because a nearby islet is home to the first European building in Australia. There are a number of graves remaining on the islands and there are archaeological sites of interest to explore. It is possible to arrange boat trips here from the mainland.
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