Among the most important Dutch explorers were:
- Willem Barentsz (1550-1597). Searched for the northeast passage above Siberia. Discovered Bear Island (1594).
- Henry Hudson (1565-1611). Explored Chesapeake Bay and discovered the Hudson River (1609) and claimed New Amsterdam (Manhattan Island) for the Dutch.
- Willem Janszoon (1571-1638). First European to set foot on Australia (1606).
- Abel Tasman (1603-1659). Discovered the island of Tasmania (1642) and was the first European to sight New Zealand. He visited the Fiji Islands and mapped areas of Australia.
- Dirck Hartog. The first explorer to map areas of Western Australia (1616).
During the 1500s in the Age of Exploration, when strong European countries with powerful ships began exploring the world, the British and the Dutch began trading with Asian countries.
In the late 1500s the Dutch (Holland) or the newly formed Republic of the Netherlands built trade routes with the islands of Indonesia which was called the Dutch East Indies back then. By early 1600s Portugal was losing power in South-East Asia. Holland on the other hand was becoming more powerful and controlled the Dutch East Indies. After the Portugese and Spanish had reported that there were new lands in the South Pacific Ocean, the Dutch sent ships to investigate. Willem Jansz, and Dirck Hartog were some of the captains who lead these ships and explored the new area and coastlines of Australia.
Batavia, on the island of Java was the main Dutch base and Dutch traders sailed to the East Indies to take spices, gold and precious metals back to Holland. The route to Java took the Dutch sailors around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa and then they would head south where the Roaring Forties would provide such strong winds that they would travel very quickly across the Indian Ocean before heading north for Java.Sometimes the Roaring Forties blew the sailing ships further east than the captain intended and sometimes, the captain made mistakes in navigation. This led to some Dutch ships being shipwrecked along Australia’s west coast. When this happened, ships were sent from Java to search for the wrecked ships, and through their voyages, more knowledge about Australia’s western coastline was charted.
Dutch explorers were: