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The mutiny that followed the wreck of the Batavia on Western Australia's coast in 1629 is one of the State’s most infamous maritime stories.

WA’s rugged coastline is littered with more than 1,600 known shipwrecks, including Australia’s oldest.

Some are now well-known WA dive sites, many have remained untouched since they were wrecked and all provide a fascinating glimpse of life at sea many centuries ago.

1. Xantho, 1872

Xantho, the first steamship to ply WA's coast, was used as transport for pearling operations in WA's north.

The ship, in poor condition and overloaded, was sailing from Port Gregory to Fremantle when it began to take on water. Returning to Port Gregory it struck a sandbar and sank.

The wreck was found by local fisherman in 1979.

2. Zuytdorp, 1712

In 1711 Dutch ship Zuytdorp left the Netherlands bound for Batavia (Jakarta). It never arrived, and with no idea of where it was lost, there was no search.

In 1927, coins and other items were found on a beach near Kalbarri along with signs that survivors had made it to shore. The wreck site was first explored in 1964.

3. Batavia, 1629

The Dutch ship was on its way to Batavia (Jakarta) laden with gold and silver when it struck a reef in the Abrolhos off the coast of Geraldton. Most on board made it to shore.

The commander and some crew took a longboat to Batavia for help but when they returned, a mutiny had taken place, with more than 100 of the survivors killed.

RELATED: Your guide to Geraldton and the Abrolhos Islands »

4. Zeewijk, 1727

After being wrecked on the Abrolhos reefs near Geraldton, a small rescue group took the Zeewijk's longboat to get help but were never seen again.

The remaining survivors used local timber to build another boat, and with more than 80 survivors on board, sailed to Batavia (Jakarta).

5. Trial, 1622

British ship Trial, Australia's oldest known shipwreck, struck a reef near the Montebello Islands in WA's north. Two separate parties of survivors took longboats to Batavia (Jakarta).

The location of the Trial wreck remained a mystery until 1969 when it was found by Fremantle's Underwater Explorers Club.

6. Cervantes, 1844

US whaling ship Cervantes made its first voyage to WA in 1841, visiting Albany.

During its second WA visit in 1844, it was extensively damaged during a storm while anchored at Jurien Bay.

With the ship unable to sail, it was sold for salvage. It fetched 155 pounds.

7. Vergulde Draeck, 1656

The Vergulde Draeck was the first Dutch and English East India shipwreck found on WA's coast. Wrecked in 1656, it took until 1963 before local spear-fishermen rediscovered it near Ledge Point.

While 75 of the 193 people on board are believed to have made it to shore, searches after the initial shipwreck could not find them.

8. Georgette, 1876

Steamship Georgette was used to transport cargo and passengers along the WA coast.

In 1876 on a voyage from Fremantle to Adelaide it started taking on water. After two recovery attempts it capsized near Margaret River.

Charges were later brought against the captain over the ship's condition.

9. Macedon, 1883 and Denton Holme, 1890

Though wrecked seven years apart, cargo ships the Macedon and the Denton Holme both ran aground on the same reef off Rottnest.

The wrecks now lie adjacent to each other between Transit Reef and Kingston Spit.

10. James Matthews, 1841

Bound for Fremantle from London, the James Matthews was carrying general cargo when it struck rocks just offshore at Woodman Point after anchoring there.

The wreck site was located in 1973 by the Underwater Explorers Club.

Image credit: WA Museum
Last updated: December 2020