Shipwreck Launches a Book - The Fremantle Gazette


WHEN the Zuytdorp sank off Shark Bay in 1712, it became one of seven Dutch East India ships lost off the WA coast. No survivors from the wreck reached the European settlement in Indonesia. What happened is still a mystery for researchers, with only a few days a year suitable to explore the wreckage.

Willetton author Peter Purchase takes this mystery and transforms it into a compelling two-part book The Albatross Necklace, providing a fictional account of what could have happened to the survivors through the eyes of a part-indigenous glass sculptor who believes he is a descendant of one of the survivors.

Purchase said the idea for the book, which includes the new settlement at Fremantle, came after reading Philip Playford’s book Carpet of Silver in the 1990s. “The book provided a factual account of the discovery of the wreck on the cliffs north of Kalbarri and I realised there was an interesting story yet to be told concerning the survivors and their interaction with the Malgana tribesmen of Shark Bay,” he said.

“At the same time the national movement for Aboriginal reconciliation during the 1990s gave the book a contemporary background.”

He said there were many reasons why the book would interest people today. “2012 was the tri-centenary of the 1712 wreck and The Albatross Necklace celebrates that event, with close attention to life during the period,” he said.

“At the same time the book explores the aftermath of the settlement of Perth in 1829-1840 and ongoing related contemporary issues around Aboriginal reconciliation. These historical events and periods are relevant to all Australians.”

- The Fremantle Gazette (Jessica Nico, Fremantle, Western Australia)