On 4 June 1629, the Batavia wrecked on the Houtman Abrolhos, a chain of small islands off the coast of Western Australia. As the ship broke apart, 40 of the 341 passengers drowned in their attempts to reach land.
Associated today with “one of the worst horror stories in maritime history”, Batavia has been the subject of numerous published histories, the earliest dating from 1647. Due to its unique place in the history of European contact with Australia, the story of the Batavia is sometimes offered as an alternative founding myth to the landing of British convicts in Sydney. Many Batavia artefacts, including the ship’s stern and skeletal remains from the massacre, are housed at the Shipwreck Galleries in Fremantle, Western Australia, while a replica of the ship is moored as a museum ship in Lelystad.