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BBC’s Correspondent + Aussie Rock Legend + Dutch Ancestor + São Paulo’s Fire Art = Shark Bay’s Epic 400 Year Celebration

October 4, 2016 Destination Global No Comments Print Print Email Email

A celebratory cultural festival, the Dirk Hartog Voyage of Discovery: Shark Bay 1616 will take place from 21-25 October 2016 and will include a five-day program of arts, music, food and historical event.


Dutch sea captain, Dirk Hartog, placed an engraved flattened pewter dish at Cape Inscription on what is now known as Dirk Hartog Island, on 25 October 1616, representing the oldest such evidence of European contact with Australia.

The unique festival performance-art centrepiece, the Pyrophone Juggernaut is the latest addition to the festival line-up and is the largest hand-operated, multi-octave fire organ in the world, direct from the São Paulo’s Virada Cultural.  Fuelled by fire, the instrument is made entirely of reclaimed metal and resembles an unearthly ship. This thrilling outdoor performance will erupt with furnace-driven Mad Max-esque hypnotic rhythms as an exhilarating sonic feast, free to the public and will take place at the Shark Bay Speedway each day of the festival as the sun goes down.

BBC’s Coast presenter, archaeologist and historian, Neil Oliver, will visit Shark Bay to experience unspoilt beaches, incredible wildlife and history first-hand as well as promoting the region in a series of print, radio and broadcast interviews with UK and Australian media about this important anniversary.

Sebastian Hartog is a first generation Australian, born of Dutch parents who has been tracing his family history to this unique part of the world. In 2008, Sebastian hatched a plan to re-trace Dirk Hartog’s voyage that landed him on the west coast of Australia (the then named Terra Australis Incognita) in 1616. This year’s anniversary spurred the homage to his Hartog heritage that inspired Sebastian to follow his ancestors steps and explore one of the more mysterious and spectacular regions of the Australian coastline.

A highlight of the 2016 commemorative program is the mooring and public viewing of the replica VOC vessel The Duyfken in Denham following its WA coastline voyage. Additionally the tall ships of the STS Leeuwin II, the STS Young Endeavour and Batavia Longboat will be making the journey to Shark Bay, mooring in the bay.


Other Festival highlights include:
– official opening ceremony on Denham’s beach with the Malgana people and sea shanty songs from The Lost Quays
– a free community concert with headline Aussie rock legend, Joe Camilleri, and the Black Sorrows.
– a masquerade Golden Age Ball to honour the Dutch period of golden achievements full of fun, food and fancy dress.
– families will love the collaborative project between national cardboard masters BoxWars and the wider Shark Bay community.
– art history buffs will enjoy the MODA 1616 Exhibition showing costumes and period dress of the time with an interactive ‘Portrait Corner’.
 drone enthusiasts will love the ND5 exhibit, showcasing Shark Bay from above through the lens of WA’s best photographers plus Navigating the West a large scale projection project exploring the nautical history and wrecks of Western Australia.
– roaming local performers will become characters inspired by historical figures from the 1600’s through to today.

The Aurora Spiegeltent, one of the largest Spiegeltents in the world, makes its way to Shark Bay from The Netherlands with a specialist team of Dutch builders. The tent takes three days to erect and will remain for the duration of the five-day festival, housing up to 650 guests.

The festival will conclude on Tuesday 25 October with the unveiling of a striking new sculpture unveiled by the Western Australia’s Premier and Tourism Minister, Colin Barnett, and the Minister for Regional Development, Terry Redman, on new Denham foreshore development and a replica pewter plate being installed on the Island by Minister for Arts & Culture, John Day, and Minister for Heritage & Environment, Albert Jacob.

The Dirk Hartog Voyage of Discovery is expected to draw a large number of visitors to the beautiful Shark Bay World Heritage area. Learn more about the event program, tours running during festivities and book your accommodation via www.sharkbay1616.com.au

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