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Memento : Issue 28
16 MEMENTO News from the National Archives The arrival of the Dutch Dr Nonja Peters is Director of the Migration, Ethnicity, Refugees and Citizenship Research Unit, Curtin University of Technology, Western Australia. Dr Peters has published widely on issues relating to migration. Her book Milk and Honey but No Gold: Postwar Migration to Western Australia from 1945-64 was short-listed for a number of literary and history awards. Using the extensive archival material she has uncovered in the National Archives collection, Dr Peters is currently researching Dutch migration and the evacuations of the Dutch out of the Netherlands East Indies. Below Dr Peters shares some of her findings. In 2006 Australia will celebrate 400 years of Dutch contact. The mariners, merchants and passengers on ships belonging to the Dutch East Indies Company (Verenigde Oost Indische Compagnie) were the first recorded Europeans to set foot on Australian soil. Their arrival in Australia happened mainly by chance at a time when the instruments used to determine longitude were still in their infancy. It was not uncommon for ships that left Cape Town for the East Indies to travel too far east before turning north-east to Batavia (present day Jakarta), the capital of the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia). Many ships came to grief on the Western Australian coast. Some survivors were rescued but many were not. Aboriginal oral history has it that the fortunate ones cohabited with Aborigines. Dutch East Indies Company ships stopped visiting Western Australian shores in 1796 after the collapse of the company. Over a century later, there were only 600 Dutch-born people living in Australia. It was not until 1942--45 that Dutch numbers increased significantly when Dutch military personnel arrived in Australia to help with its defence and the evacuation of Dutch residents of the Netherlands East Indies. These evacuees had fled to Broome because it was one of the closest points to Java on the Australian coast and could