This map illustrates the track of Abel Tasman’s first (1642-43) and the discoveries of the second (1644) voyages to Australia. The discoveries of Jan Carstensz (1623) are also noted. It was compiled from the archives of the VOC The map was published in the third volume of five volumes by Francois Valentyn published in 1726. The work is entitled “Oud en Nieuw Oost Indien” and was issued between 1724 and 1726. It was a history of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and as such Valentyn had unprecedented access to archives.
Francois Valentyn (1666-1727) was a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church and served in the East India Company at Amboina from 1684 aged just 19 years old, to 1694, and again from 1705 to 1713. Returning to his native Dordrecht he began writing this work. He is best known for his extensive account of the Dutch explorations and settlements in the East entitled ‘Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën’, ‘illustrated with views, portraits and prints of local scenes and fauna and flora as well as maps’ (Shirley). There are over 1000 overall illustrations in the work, a remarkable composition. To this day it is considered one of the most important sources of contemporary information about the Company. Many of the maps are drawn from contemporary manuscript documents, now lost, including those on Australia.
Founded in 1602, the Dutch East India Company would be a powerful force in the East Indies for two centuries. Although based in Amsterdam its headquarters in the region were set up in Batavia (Jakarta) on the island of Java. The most significant content illustrated is the route of Abel Tasman (1603-59) discovering Tasmania and New Zealand. Born in Lutjegast in the Netherlands, he entered the merchant navy and became skilled at navigation. Instructed by the governor of the VOC Anthony Van Diemen, he sailed in the hope of confirming the great southern continent. Tasman left Batavia in August 1642 for Mauritius. After refitting he headed south and then east at southerly latitudes eventually becoming the first European to set foot on present day Tasmania in December. They then sailed due east searching for the Solomon Islands and instead came across the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand on 13 December 1642 somewhere near the present day town of Greymouth. This new land was incorrectly identified as Staten landt, that at first sighted by Schouten and Le Maire off Tierra del Fuego in South America.
Tasman continued to the north at one point losing four crew to the Maoris. Passing along the southern shore of present day Cook Strait (‘Zeehaens Bocht’) beleiving it to be an inlet, he headed due north to the North Island and sailed to its most northerly point ‘Maria Van Diemens Kaap’. He reached ‘Eyl. Amsterdam’ (Tongatapu) on 19 January where he took on much needed provisions. Sailing to the east of the Fiji Islands he eventually made his way to Batavia arriving 15 June 1643. The remarkable point of his voyage was that he had virtually circumnavigated Australia without ever having seen the mainland. It proved that it was not part of any great southern continent.
His second voyage the following year was intended to better understand the relationship between New Guinea, the east coast of New Holland (Australia), Van Dieman’s Land and the unknown southern continent. His track is not recorded on the map but he travelled along the south coast of New Guinea and mistaking the Torres Strait for a bay headed south along the western shore of Cape York. Thereby not reaching the intended east coast. It was left to Captain James Cook 126 years later to claim that honour. Tasman was to be the first to traverse the length of the northern coastline of Australia travelling along it as far as the North West Cape in present day Western Australia. The first portion around present day Queensland had been visited by Willem Janszoon in the ‘Duyfken’ in 1605-06, the first European to land on Australian soil.
Tasman arrived back in Batavia just before Christmas in the same year 1644. Although not depicted the results of his traversing the northern coast of New Holland are illustrated. The map falls short of actually connecting New Guinea to New Holland leaving the question of a strait open. From a financial point of view both voyages were disappointing for the Dutch East India Company, but for exploration they proved successful. Note the peninsula is named after Pieter Carpentier, governor-general of the East India Company. It would later be applied to the Gulf. An earlier Dutch voyage to the Cape occurred under Jan Cartensz in 1623.
The map also draws upon VOC sources relating to other voyages. The first was Dirk Hartog in the ‘Eendracht’ in 1616 which was the first European sighting of western Australia. It is recorded on the map as is that of Jan Fransz in the ‘Leeuwin’ in 1622 who visited the south west corner of western Australia. Chronologically the next is Pieter Nuyts in the ‘Gulden Zeepaert’, 1626-27, who travelled much of the southern coast. The voyage of Gerrit Frederikszoon De Witt is chiefly remembered for running aground and only being freed by unloading the cargo. The remaining notable European discovery is that of Pedro Fernandes de Queiros who in 1605-06 crossed the Pacific and discovered New Hebrides or present day Vanuatu. He became separated from a second vessel which under Luis Vaez de Torres sailed to Manila through the strait which bears his name to this day. Howgego (2003) C51 & T10 & T11; Landwehr VOC, 467.3B, Map 22 p.253; Nordenskiold 701 vol. 3 no. 5; Schilder (1976) pl. xxxii; Shirley (2004) G.Valn 1a no. 17; Tooley (1979) 1270, ill. pl. 95, p. 212 no. 69, p. 288 no. 47.