The Wilderness Years (1698 - 1826)

For the next 130 years, Perth remained a natural bushland wilderness.  Activity on the coastline mainly involved people who did not wish to land deliberately. 

The Brouwer Route including the Shipwreck Deviation.

Many shipwrecks occurred, as vessels were blown eastward under the Cape of Good Hope by powerful trade winds known as the "Roaring Forties".  These ships were actually trying to follow trade routes to South East Asia, though were smashed on the Western Australian coastline.

Following the shipwreck route to Perth.

 

PERTH ALERT:  Sailing the early trade routes was a risky business.  Just ask the Dutch.  They landed nearly 200 unprepared settlers on the Western Australian coast before any other country even considered starting a colony.  Many great survival stories emerged from these shipwrecks.  In fact, the Willem de Vlamingh expedition of 1696 was organised to search for the survivors, and wreckage of missing Dutch trading ships.   So just why did the Dutch lose all those ships?  A Dutch trading body called the Dutch East India Company made over 5000 ocean trips to Asia, to buy spices to sell on the European markets.  This all happened between 1602 and 1800.  Prior to 1611, the preferred route was to stay fairly close to the East African coastline.   However in 1611 , Henrik Brouwer followed the westerly winds at high latitudes (Roaring Forties),  crossing much of the Indian Ocean before heading north to Asia.   This was a brilliant idea because it shortened the journey, and everybody arrived feeling more healthy.  The down side to this new route was that navigational instruments were still rather primitive, and many ships sailed too far east.   As a consequence, many were shipwrecked on the desolate Western Australian coastline.  Today you can check out many of these Dutch ships in the Shipwreck Galleries in Fremantle.  Discover more interesting stories on the Dutch Shipwreck Page.

 

Things would have probably been quiet for a lot longer had the French expedition of Nicholas Baudin not visited the Swan River in 1801.  Like Willem de Vlamingh, they ultimately decided the river had little potential.  However at this point in time the British were busy fighting the French in the Napoleonic Wars.  The British were quite concerned that the French were keen to establish a colony on the Swan River, and claim possession of the region. 

Bold Park Bushland

 

Perth - During The Wilderness Years.

The clock was ticking once again for Perth.  Though we had to wait another 25 years before any serious action started.

   
NEXT:  The Foundation Of Perth

Copyright 2007 LifeOnPerth.com