THE WESSEL ISLANDS
This is the front page for a cluster covering expeditions and key stories from these islands which were first thought to be a single island by Dutch mariners and named Wesel Island for the ship Wesel and subsequently visited by Mathew Flinders twice in 1803 when he charted the area and perpetuated the name on former charts which recall the City of Wesel on the Rhine.
In considering Dutch charts it is useful to remember that the voyages of the VOC were almost entirely commercial - there was no interest in exploration only exploitation. The focus of their voyages in the Gulf was to find a passage eastwards as a short-cut back to Europe - they sought the absence of land thus when masters of their vessels did encounter land it was the practice to notate it as an irregular line along which were listed the names of board members as a defence against retribution. The Wesel was prefabricated in the Netherlands & reconstructed in Batavia whilst the Arnhem & Pera were seized as prizes from the Portuguese. None of these craft was suited to in-shore survey work in the tropics and neither were their crews. Whilst there is good documentation for VOC activity there were earlier voyages by many vessels whose journeys are not documented and whose fate is not known - yet.