de Vlamingh’s Journey Education Resources

These resources are tailored to the WA Shipwrecks Museum facilitated education program de Vlamingh’s Journey: Exploring the Evidence. Visit the de Vlamingh’s Journey: Exploring the Evidence webpage to learn more about the program and make a booking enquiry.


In Fremantle

While in Fremantle you might like to extend your excursion with the following suggestions:

  • If you are spending the day in Fremantle you might like to add on the precinct walking trail A Trek Through Time. This trail takes you between the WA Shipwrecks Museum and WA Maritime Museum. Bookings are essential for this trail by clicking on the button below.

Find out more and book A Trek Through Time

  • If you are visiting the WA Maritime Museum, be sure to explore the spice trade market display on the ground floor (Indian Ocean Gallery), as this will provide additional context for today’s lesson. Also find examples of early navigational tools nearby.
  • The area of the Western Australian coast, around the Swan River has been an area of significance for thousands of years before the arrival of Willem de Vlamingh. Explore the area around Bathers Beach called Manjaree by the Whadjuk Noongar people.
    • Manjaree was an important meeting and trading place for the Whadjuk people. The path through the bush by the beach follows the original shoreline, and the vegetation is being restored to represent the landscape before settlement.  There are several signs around the Bather’s Beach area, near the railway on the grass and near the beach paths, that explain the significance of the Manjaree, Aboriginal trade items, the appearance of the original coast line, the local/native vegetation and uses of these plants, Noongar seasons and two paintings showing Noongar and a British perspectives of the area. Challenge students to find all these signs to find out more about the Whadjuk Noongar perspective of this area.
  • Stand outside the WA Shipwrecks Museum and reflect on the significance of the site and its changes over time:

    • The line of bricks on the ground is where the original shoreline used to be. The animals etched in the brick are the sea life that Whadjuk Noongar people fished for. The area around the building, including restaurants near Bathers Beach and the Esplanade Park across the road is reclaimed land that has been developed since 1829 settlement.
    • The WA Shipwrecks Museum was built by convicts in the 1850s, and has been used as a government storehouse (Commissariat) for holding building materials and food supplies, until it became a Museum in 1970s. Look closely on the bars of the lower windows (to the right of the entrance to the Museum) and you might see a ‘broad-arrow’ stamp (symbol of Government property – which convicts were considered to be) in the metal, just like convicts used to have on their uniforms. 


At School – Classroom Activities

Following are some suggested activities for exploring the topic of Dutch, French and English exploration of the WA coast:

  • Spice It Up: Play a ‘guess the spice’ smelling game to introduce students to the different spices. Research the history of spices, what types there are, why they were so important, where they were gown in the past and where they are grown today (mark these locations on a map). Create some recipes using spices, experiment with various spices in preserving food (taking care with food safety precautions). 

  • Trade Fair: Research all of the things that were traded in the 17th Century such as spices, textiles, ceramics, foods, jewellery, etc. Source these items from home or make models of them in class and set up a spice market. Create copies of coins to trade the items.

  • Finding Your Way: Learn about the history of navigational tools. For some of the more simple ones, get students to make their own (for example a simple magnetic compass, lead line, log line, etc). Use these tools to learn more about the difference between latitude and longitude.

  • On the Map: Look at all the names along the WA coast that were given by Dutch, French and English explorer.s Mark each one on a map with a small symbol of a flag  or initials from that country (if possible, find a copy of an older map to write on). Next to each one, find out the Aboriginal name for that area and write that in larger text as the original name for that place. On this map, mark areas where significant encounters between Aboriginal people and explorers took place. As an extension, find out about all the different names that Western Australia has been called, who used these names and what they meant (eg Terra Nullis Incognita, Southland, New Holland, Eendracht’s Land, etc).

  • Impact of Exploration: Review each of the events of de Vlamingh’s exploration of the WA coast. Although de Vlamingh was instructed to find Aboriginal people there was not direct contact between de Vlamingh’s fleet and the Aboriginal people. However, there still would have been impacts made. As a class, discuss and brainstorm all of the possible impacts, for example, what the Aboriginal peoples may have felt when they saw the ships arriving (please note that we can only made guesses here, we will never know the actual answer); anything that might have been left behind such as fires and campsites set up by explorers, remnants of shipwrecks, etc, as well as the longer-term impacts of the mapping and naming of the area on Aboriginal peoples.

  • Dear Diary: Find out more about ships logs and journals. What is the difference? Based on your experience today, pick a significant event in Willem de Vlamingh’s journey and write a journal entry from the perspective of the character that you or one of your classmates ‘played’.

  • Make a Meal: Find out about foods eaten by early Dutch explorers and compare to the local food eaten by Noongar people. Make a meal plan or menu for both.

  • Sick of Scurvy: Research scurvy symptoms and cures and make up a ship surgeon’s information booklet on this, complete with illustrations.

  • Ship’s Artist: Imagine you are the ship’s artist, tasked with drawing all of the exotic plants and animals you encounter. After examining a local animal or a picture, use only your memory to create an accurate scientific drawing with pencil or watercolours. Host an exhibition in your classroom.

  • I Sea Monsters: In the past, the loss of ships were sometimes blamed on sea monsters. Find out more about this and draw your own sea monster creation.

  • Find Out More: Use the following WA Museum sites and resources to find out more information or classroom activity ideas:

  • Voyages of Grand Discovery (previous exhibition)

  • French Explorers in WA (previous exhibition)

  • Dirk Hartog 400th Anniversary (WA Museum)

  • Dirk Harog 400th Anniversary (HTAWA)

  • Scootle: Search the Scootle website by the Australian Curriculum descriptor codes for more ideas: ACHASSK084