Wessel Islands (NT Australia)

Cruise Port schedule, map, terminals, news


Australia - New Zealand - Pacific Ocean Islands

-11.54660 S, 136.21300 E

  Port Map

Wessel Islands (Northern Territory, Australia) extend in an almost straight line from Buckingham Bay and Napier Peninsula (Arnhem Land), and the Elcho Island to northeast.

  • Marchinbar is the largest island of the group, which also includes Elcho, Rimbija, Guluwuru, Raragala, Stevens, Burgunngura, Djeergaree, Yargara, Drysdale, Jirrgari, Graham, Alger, Abbott and Howard. The islands Bumaga and Warnawi are part of Wessel Islands but also part of Cunningham Islands.
  • Wessel Islands were mapped and named by an expedition from Netherlands that sailed out of Banda Neira to explore the New Guinea and South Land coasts following up on 1623 discoveries by Willem van Colster and Jan Carstensz. The expedition used a couple of small yachts, prefabricated in the Netherlands and assembled on Banda Islands, Klein Amsterdam and Klein Wesel.
  • The vessels sailed on April 17, 1736 under Gerrit Thomas Pool's command (killed on New Guinea 11 days later). Pieter Pietersen continued the voyage and returned to Banda. Besides Wesel Eilanden, Pietersen described Melville Island, Dundas Strait and Cobourg Peninsula. After 170 years Matthew Flinders retained the name of the islands, but slightly modified it to "Wessel". Arnhem and Wesel cities, ultimate sources of Arnhem Land and Wessel Islands' names, are themselves just 60 km (37 ml) separated.
  • In 1944, Morry Isenberg, who was an Australian soldier, found 9 coins buried in the sand while fishing on Marchinbar Island. He sent the coins to be authenticated in 1979 and 4 of them were found to have come from Dutch East India Company. The other 5 were determined to be from Kilwa Sultanate, Tanzania.
  • Only one such coin had ever been found outside east Africa. The inscriptions on Jensen Bay coins identify ruling Sultan of Kilwa, though it's unclear if the ruler was from the 10th or the 14th century. The discovery has been of interest to historians who believe it likely non-aboriginal people had made landfall in Australia or the offshore islands prior to the first generally accepted discovery, by the Dutch sailor Willem Janszoon (1570–1630) in 1606. 

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