Duyfken (also Duifken or Duijfken) ("little dove" in
English, "duifje" in modern Dutch) was a small Dutch ship
built in the Netherlands. In 1596, Duyfken sailed from the
Indonesian island of Banda in search of gold and trade
opportunities on the fabled island of Nova Guinea.
Under the command of Willem Janszoon, Duyfken and her crew
ventured south-east. They sailed beyond Os Papuas (Papua New
Guinea)and explored and chartered part of the coast of Nova
Guinea. They did not find gold - but they did find the
northern coast of a huge continent: Australia. Captain
Janszoon was the first European to map and record Australia
in history so Duyfken's voyage marks the beginning of
Australia's recorded history.
In 1596, Duyfken sailed in the first
expedition to Bantam, the crew was captured by the islanders
on Pulau Enggano. On 23 April 1601 Duyfken sailed from Texel
as the jacht, or scout, under skipper Willem Cornelisz
Schouten to the Spice Islands. After reaching Bantam the "Moluccan
Fleet" existing of five ships, including the Duyfken, under
admiral Wolphert Harmensz, encountered a blockading fleet of
Portuguese ships totaling eight galleons and twenty-two
galleys. They engaged this fleet in intermittent battle,
driving them away on New Years day 1602. Thus the undisputed
dominance of the Iberians (Portuguese and Spanish) in the
Spice trade to Europe was ended.
The fleet received a warm welcome in Bantam, repairs were
carried out to damage caused in the battle, and a survey of
Jakarta Bay was undertaken, where the Dutch would later
build Batavia, their capital in the Indies. Then, sailing by
way of Tuban, East Java to the Spice Island of Ternate,
cloves were loaded on board and the ship returned to Banda
for a cargo of nutmeg.
The Duyfken was then sent on a voyage of exploration to the
east when the newly-formed United Dutch East India Company
(VOC) was granted a monopoly on trade to the Spice Islands
by the Dutch government. On the voyage home from the Indies
the Duyfken was separated from the larger ships in a storm
off Cape Agulhas, southern Africa and reached Flushing in
April 1603, two months ahead of the larger ships.
On 18 December 1603 the Duyfken, with Willem Janszoon as
skipper, set out on a second voyage to the Indies in the VOC
fleet of Steven van der Haghen. The VOC fleet captured a
Portuguese ship in Mozambique Channel and sailed to the
Spice Islands via Goa, Calicut, Pegu and finally reaching
Bantam, Java on New Years Eve 1604.
In 1605 the Duyfken was in the fleet that recaptured the
fort of Van Verre at Ambon in the Spice Islands, from the
Portuguese. She was then sent to Bantam, Java for urgently
In 1605 the Dutch East India Company (VOC) sent the Duyfken,
captained by Willem Janszoon, to search for trade
opportunities in the "south and east lands" beyond the
furthest reaches of their known world. Willem Janszoon took
the ship southeast from Banda to the Kei Islands, then along
the south coast of New Guinea, skirting south of the shallow
waters around False Cape (Irian Jaya) and then continuing
In early 1606 Janszoon encountered and then charted the
shores of Australia's Cape York Peninsula. The ship made
landfall at the Pennefather River in the Gulf of
Carpentaria. This was the first authenticated landing on
Australian soil and for the first time all the inhabited
continents of the world were known to the European science
of geography. Janszoon is thus credited with the first
authenticated European discovery of Australia. The ship
sailed back to Bantam.
In 1607 the Duyfken may have made a second voyage east to
Australia. Later in the year she was sent to Java to get
supplies for the beleaguered Dutch fortress on Ternate. In
February or March 1608 the Duyfken was involved in hunting
at Chinese junks north of Ternate.
In May 1608 the ship was engaged in a five hour battle with
three Spanish galleys. In June she was sent with larger
ships to capture the fortress of Taffaso on Makian Island. A
month later she was brought inside the reef at Ternate for
repairs. It seems that she was hauled on her side to repair
the bottom but this caused further damage.
A full size replica of the Duyfken was built by the "Duyfken
1606 Replica Foundation" jointly with the Maritime Museum of
Western Australia and launched on January 24, 1999 in
Fremantle. After goodwill tours to Sydney, Queensland,
Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, South Africa, and finally
Texel in Netherlands. While in the Netherlands, the floor of
the hold was replaced by antique Dutch bricks.
For a period in 2005, The Duyfken was berthed alongside the
Old Swan Brewery on the Swan River in Perth, Western
Australia. The replica was open for visits by the public.
In 2006, Western Australia played a big role in the 400th
anniversary of the original Duyfken’s visit to Australia and
a national group has begun planning to commemorate the
arrival of the Duyfken and to mark this important milestone
in Australia's history by also giving recognition to all who
followed her and contributed to the mapping of the
The Duyfken is currently berthed at the Queensland Maritime
Museum in the Brisbane River.