Moored at the main marina in Cairns was a beautiful old sailing ship. We walked out to have a look and discovered it was a replica of a Dutch ship called the Duyfken. It was the first European ship to see Australia, and mapped part of the West coast of Cape York in the 1600’s.


The original ship belonged to the Dutch East India Company and traded spices between Indonesia and Europe. The replica was built in Perth from identical materials to the original – even the sails were made from Scottish flax canvas.


Bilge pumps made from timber and leather, just as they were in the original. I imagine, down in the bowels of the ship somewhere, would be some electric bilge pumps. If not, they must have a very sympathetic insurance company.


The Captain’s cabin is about as luxurious as it gets onboard. Even he had to put up with a huge pole right in the middle of his room.

The crew got to sleep in the hold on the voyage from Europe but on the return journey, they had to make do with the open deck! Not much fun if you were seasick, under nourished, and constantly hounded by marauding pirates.

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