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Dirk Hartog (baptized 30 October 1580, Amsterdam – buried 11 October 1621, Amsterdam) was a 17th-century Dutch sailor and explorer. Dirk Hartog's expedition was the second European group to land on Australian soil, He was the first to leave behind an artifact to record his visit, the Hartog plate. His name is sometimes alternatively spelled Dirck Hartog or Dierick Hartochsz. Ernest Giles referred to him as Theodoric Hertoge. Born into a seafaring family, at the age of 30 he received his first ship's command, and spent several years engaged in successful trading ventures in the Baltic and Mediterranean seas.
He then gained employment with the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in 1616, and was appointed master of a ship (the Eendracht, meaning "Concord" or "Unity") in a fleet voyaging from the Netherlands to the Dutch East Indies. Setting sail in January 1616 in the company of several other VOC ships, Hartog and the Eendracht became separated from the others in a storm, and arrived independently at the Cape of Good Hope (later to become the site of Cape Town, South Africa).
Leaving there, Hartog set off across the Indian Ocean for Batavia (present-day Jakarta), utilising (or perhaps blown on to a small island on his sail to java during a spice trade) the strong westerly winds known as the "Roaring Forties" which had been earlier noted by the Dutch navigator Henderik Brouwer as a quicker route to Java. On 25 October 1616, at approximately 26° latitude south, Hartog and crew came unexpectedly upon "various islands, which were, however, found uninhabited." He made landfall at an island off the coast of Shark Bay, Western Australia, which is now called Dirk Hartog Island after him. His was the second recorded European expedition to land on the Australian continent (having been preceded by Willem Janszoon), but the first to do so on the western coastline.
Hartog spent three days examining the coast and nearby islands. The area was named Eendrachtsland after his ship, but this name has not endured. When he left he affixed a pewter plate to a post, now known as the Hartog plate. On the plate he had etched a record of his visit to the island. Its inscription (translated from the original Dutch) read:
- 1616 On 25 October arrived the ship Eendracht, of Amsterdam: Supercargo Gilles Miebais of Liege, skipper Dirch Hatichs of Amsterdam. on 27 d[itt]o. she set sail again for Bantam. Deputy supercargo Jan Stins, upper steersman Pieter Doores of Bil. In the year 1616.
Finding nothing of interest, Hartog continued sailing northwards along this previously undiscovered coastline of Western Australia, making nautical charts up to about 22° lat. south. He then left the coast and continued onwards to Batavia, eventually arriving safely in December 1616, some five months after his expected arrival.
In 1619 Frederik de Houtman, in the VOC ship Dordrecht, and Jacob d'Edel, in another VOC ship Amsterdam, sighted land on the Australian coast near present day Perth which they called d'Edelsland. After sailing northwards along the coast they made landfall in Eendrachtsland. In his journal, Houtman identified these coasts with Marco Polo's land of Beach, or Locach, as shown on maps of the time such as that of Petrus Plancius and Jan Huyghen van Linschoten.
Eighty years later in 1696 the Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh landed on the island and by chance found the plate, which now lay half-buried in sand. He replaced it with a new plate which reproduced Hartog's original inscription and added notes of his own, and took Hartog's original back to Amsterdam, where it may now be seen in the Rijksmuseum.
In 2000 the Hartog plate was temporarily brought to Australia as part of an exhibition at the Sydney Maritime Museum. This led to suggestions that the plate, considered important as the oldest-known written artefact from Australia's European history, should be acquired for an Australian museum, but the Dutch authorities have made it clear that the plate is not for sale.
Dirk Hartog left the employ of the VOC upon his return to Amsterdam in 1617, resuming private trading ventures in the Baltic.
- Phillip E. Playford, Hartog, Dirk (1580 - 1621) in the Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.
- Australia Twice Traversed, by Ernest Giles see the introduction where Dirk Hartog is called Theodoric Hertoge.
- Letter of Commandeur Frederik de Houtman to the Chamber Amsterdam, 7 October 1620, Algemeen Rijksarchief, The Hague, 982, 1620 II, fol147-151, fol.148r; quoted in P. A. Leupe, De Reizen der Nederlanders naar het Zuidland of Nieuw-Holland in de 17e en 18e eeuw, Amsterdam, G. Hulst van Keulen, 1868, p.29, 32; cited in Frederik Willem Stapel, De Oostindische Compagnie en Australië, Amsterdam, P.N. van Kampen, 1937, pp.11 en 28.
- King, Robert ”Dirk Hartog's landing on Beach, the Gold-bearing province," Map Matters, (the newsletter of the Australia on the Map Division of the Australasian Hydrographic Society), no.10, Autumn, 2010, pp. 6–8. at: http://www.australiaonthemap.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/MapMatters10.pdf
- "History of Dirk Hartog Island". DIRK HARTOG ISLAND - History. Archived from the original on June 24, 2005. Retrieved July 6, 2005.
- "The Eendracht". Ships of the World: An Historical Encyclopaedia. Retrieved July 6, 2005.
- "Captain Dirck Hartogh". VOC Historical Society. Retrieved July 8, 2005.