Leeuwin (Lioness) was a Dutch galleon that discovered and mapped some of the southwest corner of Australia in March 1622. It was the seventh European ship to sight the continent.

Leeuwin’s logbook has been lost, so very little is known of the voyage. For example, it is not known who captained the ship. However, VOC letters indicate that the voyage from Texel to Batavia took more than a year, whereas other vessels had made the same voyage in less than four months; this suggests that poor navigation may have been responsible for the discovery.The same is suggested by the 1644 instructions to Abel Tasman, which states that

“[I]n the years 1616, 1618, 1619 and 1622, the west coast of the great unknown South-land from 35 to 22 degrees was unexpectedly and accidentally discovered by the ships d’Eendracht, Mauritius, Amsterdam, Dordrecht and Leeuwin, coming from the Netherlands.”

The land discovered by Leeuwin is recorded in Hessel Gerritsz’ 1627 Caert van’t Landt van d’Eendracht (Chart of the Land of Eendracht). This map includes a section of coastline labelled ‘t Landt van de Leeuwin beseylt A° 1622 in Maert (“Land made by the ship Leeuwin in March 1622”), which is thought to represent the coast between present-day Hamelin Bay and Point D’Entrecasteaux. Portions of this coastline are labelled Duynich landt boven met boomen ende boseage (“Dunes with trees and underwood at top”), Laegh ghelijck verdroncken landt (“Low land seemingly submerged”) and Laegh duynich landt (“Low land with dunes”).

The south-west corner of Australia was subsequently referred to by the Dutch as ‘t Landt van de Leeuwin (“The Land of the Leeuwin”) for a time, subsequently shortened to “Leeuwin’s Land” by the English. This name Leeuwin still survives in the name of Cape Leeuwin, the most south-westerly point of the Australian mainland, so named by Matthew Flinders in December 1801.

One of the earliest maps of Australia, the Caert van’t Landt van d’Eendracht (The Chart of the Land of Eendracht) is a map by Hessel Gerritsz covering the extent of Dutch discoveries on the Western Australian coastline from 1616 to 1622.

Caert van’t Landt van d’Eendracht uyt de Iournalen ende afteykeningen der Stierluyden t’samengestelt, Ao. 1627 [cartographic material] / Bij Hessel Gerritsz
Courtesy of the National Library of Australia
Detail – Caert van’t Landt van d’Eendracht uyt de Iournalen ende afteykeningen der Stierluyden t’samengestelt, Ao. 1627 [cartographic material] / Bij Hessel Gerritsz
Courtesy of the National Library of Australia.

In 1801, in recognition of this early Dutch exploration, Captain Matthew Flinders named the south-western tip of the continent Cape Leeuwin. Today, Cape Leeuwin is a popular gem of the south-west, where the iconic Cape Leeuwin lighthouse overlooks the meeting place of the Southern and Indian Oceans. With thanks to WA Museum Boola Bardip

Read more about the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse ?https://bit.ly/WAM_CapeLeeuwinLighthouse

On top of Cape Leeuwin lighthouse
Cape Leeuwin lighthouse

The pictures above were taken by Paul Budde in 2003. See: Following the Dutch Seafarers

400 years ago Dutch ship Leeuwin encountered WA Coast – 1622 – Free journal

Four-hundred years ago, in March 1622, the Dutch ship Leeuwin encountered the south-west coast of Western Australia—the first recorded sighting of the area by Europeans. Known to the Wadandi Noongar people as Doogalup, the Dutch named it ‘t’Leeuwin’s Landt’, or ‘Leeuwin’s Land’.

On Sunday 30 October 2022, the Ambassador H.E. Mrs Marion Derckx together with Wadandi-Pibulum cultural custodian Iszaac Webb officially unveiled the plaque to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of the passing of the VOC Ship the Leeuwin on Cape Leeuwin in Western Australia marking an important milestone in Australia’s mapping history. The weekend of festivities brought the whole community together with highlights that included music, an exhibition to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of the passing of the Leeuwin presented by the Dutch Australian Foundation with Elly Spillekom as curator; a curated talk fest featuring Professor Martijn Manders from Leiden University, Professor Jeremy Green and an important contribution from Dr Nonja Peters who brought to light her research on finding the name of the captain of the VOC ship. In a weekend of exclamation points to mark the 400th anniversary, a special sister city relationship was signed by the Leeuwin Lions Club in Augusta and the Lions club in Texel in the Netherlands.

Skipper of the Leeuwin no longer a mystery

By Nonja Peters

Abstract In March 1622, the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC), or in English, the United East-Indies Company vessel Leeuwinne (Dutch for “lioness” and pronounced “Laywin,” I spell it “Leeuwin” in this article), happened upon the coast now known as Western Australia (WA) in the region where the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse, named in its honour, now stands. In Australia Unveiled: The share of the Dutch navigators in the discovery of Australia, (Amsterdam, 1976), eminent historian of cartography Günter Schilder laments the dearth of knowledge of Leeuwin’s 1621-22 voyage. Before moving on to Batavia (modern-day Jakarta) on the island of Java, it charted around 150 km of the coastline of Wadandi Land from present day Cliffy Head to near Rottnest Island. In this article I solve the mystery of the Leeuwin’s skipper with reference to the minutes of the meetings for the Amsterdam Chamber of the VOC 1620-1621 and of Fort Batavia, 1620-1623 and the resolutions reached and incoming and outgoing letters as detailed in the digitised copy of Dr H.T. Colenbrander’s publication, Jan Pietersz. Coen, Beschieden omtrent zijn Bedrijf in Indië, Vol I -V (1919-1923) and the other newly digitised material by University of Utrecht archivists Kees Smit and Bart Jaski.

More information

Special Edition of the Journal celebrates the VOC Ship Leeuwin’s first recorded European visit to the South West corner in March 1622. Download your copy of this Journal at http://www.maritimeheritage.org.au/?page=journal

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse Facebook

See also:

First Dutch contacts in Australia – Lower west coast – cape Leeuwin to Swan river 1658 – 1697

A Song of Cape Leewin. By Ernest Favenc

Dutch Place Names in Australia