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The Wreck of the Batavia (1973)


A dramatised documentary tracing the story of the Dutch ship Batavia. The ship was sailing from Holland to Batavia (Jakarta) when it was shipwrecked 50 miles off the coast of Western Australia in 1629. Two-hundred-and-fifty people were stranded on the Abrolhos Islands. One of the crew, Commandant Pelsaert, sailed an open boat 1,200 miles to Batavia seeking help. Meanwhile Jeronimus Cornelisz seized power over the remaining survivors. He conducted a reign of terror and murdered 125 of them. Pelsaert returned with a rescue boat and Cornelisz was tried and hanged. The survivors were rescued.

Curator’s notes

An early film by Bruce Beresford who went on to have an international career as a film director. Australian composer Richard Mills has created a grand opera titled Batavia, which is performed by Opera Australia.