The Huijdecoper journal | State Library of New South Wales

The Huijdecoper Journal

Abel Janszoon Tasman was instructed to command expeditions to the southern and eastern seas in 1642-1643 and 1644 by Anthony van Diemen, Governor General of the Dutch East Indies.

Tasman kept journals on board ship during both these voyages. The full journal of the first voyage was lost, but two abridged versions survived. The Huijdecoper manuscript, one of these versions, is an extract copy. The journal of the second voyage was also lost. No copies are known to exist. The Huijdecoper journal takes its name from the Dutch family from whom the journal was purchased in the 1920s.

The Huijdecoper journal is written in a clerk's hand, with annotations possibly in the hand of Isaac Gilsemans, the merchant aboard Tasman's ship the Zeehaen. The journal includes two manuscript charts and a rare printed map by Hessel Gerritsz titled Chart of the Malay Archipelago and the Dutch Discoveries in Australia, 1816, which is one of only three known copies in existance. Six coastal drawings of land sighted on 4 and 5 December 1642 are also inserted in the volume.

 > View the complete Huijdecoper journal via the Library's catalogue 

The other version of this journal, known as the Sweers journal, is held in the collection of the Nationaal Archief, The Hague.

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Today 23 do:
Good weather and the wind southwest, that with a steady breeze. In the morning we found that our rudder was broken at the top in the helm port, on account of which we hauled to the wind under reduced sail and fitted a ledge on either side. At noon observed latitude 42 degrees 50 minutes and longitude 162 degr: 51 m: Course kept east and sailed 25 miles, we found here a declination of one degree northwesterly, which shows a very abrupt decrease here, by our estimation we have the west side of Nova Guinea north of us.

Today 24th do:
Good weather and a clear sky. At noon observed latitude 42 degr. 25 mi. and Longitude 165 degr. 31 mi./ Course kept east by north/ and sailed 30 miles/ the wind from the Southwest and afterwards South with a light Top-gallant breeze/ in the afternoon about 4 o'clock we saw Land had it east by north of us/ by estimation 10 miles was very high Land/ towards the evening we saw in the east Southeast also three high mountains/ and in the Northeast two more mountains/ less high than those in the South/ we had here the compass pointing due / In the evening in the first glass after the watch had been set/ we proposed to our Ship's Council and the Second Mates whether it would not be best/ to clear the shore/ and to sail farther out to sea/ and asked their advice as to the best time to do so whereupon we unanimously resolved/ to turn away from shore at the end of three glasses/ and so to run out for ten glasses/ after which we shall make for the Land again/all of which in extenso appears in today's Resolution, to which we refer. At night at the end of three glasses the wind being southeast, we held off from the shore and sounded in 100 Fathom clean white fine sandy bottom, with small shells, afterwards sounded once more and found black coarse sand with pebbles. During the night had the wind south-east with a light breeze.

Today 25 do:
In the morning it was calm, we floated the white flag and top-pendant from our stern, whereupon the officers of the Zeehaen and their mates came on board of us, when we convened the Council and in the same resolved upon what may be seen from today's Resolution where it is extended at length, to which we here refer. Towards noon we got the wind southeast and afterwards south south east and south, we then held to the shore again.

In the evening about 5 o'clock we closed the shore, three miles off shore we had 60 fathom coral bottom a mile off shore we found clean fine white sand. We found this coast to bear south by east and north by west, a level coast, and we had reached latitude 42 degr: 30 m: and average longitude 163 degr: 50 m: We again held off from shore, the wind turned south south-east top-gallant breeze. If one comes from the west and one finds to have a declination of 4 degr: north westerly, one may well look out for land, as the declination decreases very abruptly here. Or if one happened to get rough weather from westerly direction, one had better heave to and not run on. Here near the coast the compass points due north, we also took the average of our longitudes and resolved that we found this land to be in the longitude of 163 degr: 50 minutes.

This land the First Land in the South sea that we have encountered and not yet known to any European nation, so have we given this Land the name of Anthony van Dymens Land, in honor of the Hon. Governor General our high Superior, who has sent us out to make this discovery. The Islands circumjacent we have named after the Hon Councillors of India, as may be seen from the little chart made of them.

Today 26 do:
Had the wind east, light breeze, hazy weather, so that we could not see land, estimated to be at about 9 ½ miles distance from the coast. Towards noon we hoisted the top-pendant whereupon the Zeehaen forthwith passed astern of us, when we have hailed him saying that Mr. Gissemans was desired on our board, whereupon he the said Gissemans without delay came on board of us, and we declared to him the Reasons mentioned in the subjoined letter, which he took with him on board of them, to show the same to the Skipper Gerrit Jans, and to give orders to their mates accordingly.

The Officers of the Flute Zeehaen will describe in their daily journals this land which we saw and approached yesterday to be in the Longitude of 163 degr: 50 m: since by counting the average we found and fixed this to be its Longitude, and to count henceforth the Longitudes from this established one. He who before this had got a

Longitude of 160 degr: or more will now make his calculations from this Land. This is done so as to prevent any errors as much as is at all possible. The Officers of the Zeehaen will give orders to the same effect to their steersmen and see to it that they act upon them, as we deem this to be right and meet, and the Charts that by any one might be made thereof will lay down this Land in the average longitude heretofore stated - of 163 degrees 50 minutes.

Actum Heemskercke datum Utt Supra
Signed - Abel Janssen Tasman

At noon estimated to be in the Southern latitude of 43 degr: 36 m: and longitude of 163 degr. 2 mi. Course made south south-west and sailed 18 miles. Had a variation of ½ degree northwesterly. In the evening got the wind north east. Shaped our course east south-east.

Today 28 do: [27]
In the morning we again saw the coast, our course was still east south-east. At noon we estimated to be in the southern latitude of 44 degr. 4 mi. and Longitude 164 degr. 2 mi. Course made southeast by east and sailed 13 miles. It was drizzly, foggy, hazy, rainy weather, the wind northeast and north north-east, with light breeze. At night at the end of 7 glasses in the first watch we lay to with one sail, dared not sail on by reason that it was so dark.

Today 28 do:
In the morning still dark, foggy, rainy weather, made sail again Shaped our course east and afterwards northeast by north. Saw northeast and north north-east of us Land made straight for it. The coast here bears southeast by east and northwest by west. This land falls off to the north east as far as I can see. At noon by estimation in the latitude of 44 degr. 12 mi. and longitude 165 degr. 2 mi. and course made east by south and sailed 11 mile, the wind from the north west with a light breeze. In the evening we closed the shore. Near the shore here are a few small islands, one of which appears like a Lion. This one lies about 3 miles off the largest land out into sea. In the evening we got the wind east, lay to at night under small sail.

Today 29th do:
In the morning we were still near the Rock, which appears like a Lion's Head. Had the wind westerly with a top-gallant breeze. Sailed along the coast which here bears east and west. Towards noon passed 2 rocks, the western most appeared like Pedra Blanca which lies on the Coast of China. The easternmost appears like a High Obtuse tower, lying at abut 4 miles distance from the mainland. Sailed between the Rocks and the Mainland. At noon estimated to be in the Latitude of 43 degr: 53 m: Longitude 166 degr: 3 m: Course kept east north-east and sailed 12 miles. Still sailed along the coast. In the evening about 5 o'clock we came before a Bay which seemed likely to provide a good Roadstead upon which we resolved with our Ship's Council to run into it, as appears from the ditto Resolution we had fairly got into the bay when suddenly such a strong wind arose that we were forced to take in sail and to run out to sea again under reduced sail, as it were impossible to come to anchor in such a gale. In the evening we resolved to stand out to sea during the night under reduced sail to avoid falling on a leeshore in such a storm, all of which may be seen at length from the Resolution abovementioned, to which we here, to avoid prolixity, refer.

Today Ulmo: do:
In the morning at daybreak we again made for shore. We had been driven so far from the coast by wind and current that we could hardly see the land. Did our best to come near to it again. At noon we had the land north-west of us, we turned to the west, the wind northerly, inconvenient to us for getting to this land. At noon observed Latitude 43 degr: 41 m: Longitude 168 degr: 3: Course made East by North and sailed 20 miles, that with storm and unsettled weather, here the Compass points correctly. A little after noon turned to the west. At night at the end of the First watch we got the wind west with a stiff variable gale, turned to the north with reduced sail.

Today pmo: December.
In the morning the weather was a little better, we set our topsails, the wind west south-west with a top-gallant breeze. Shaped our course to the coast. At noon observed latitude 43 degrees 10 m: and longitude 167 degr: 55 M: Course made north north-west and sailed 8 miles, and fall in calm. At noon hoisted the white flag, whereupon our friends of the Zeehaen came on board, when we have Resolved together that it would be best and most expedient, if wind and weather only permitted, to make land the soon the better, both to become better acquainted with its situation and to try to obtain some refreshments, all of which the Resolution of this day shows at greater length. Afterwards we got the breeze from the east, made for the coast to see whether we might not find a good bottom, say Roadstead here. About one hour after Sunset we dropped anchor in a good harbour in 22 fathom, between white and grey fine sand, a naturally drying bottom, for which we must show grateful Hearts to the Almighty God.

Today 2 do:
Early in the morning sent the Pilot Major Francoys Jacobs with our Pinnace, in which 4 musketeers 6 Rowers, each armed with pike and sword, together with the little boat of the Zeehaen, in which one of their Second Mates and 6 musketeers, to a bay which was situated northwest of us at a good mile's distance, in order to find out what utilities in the way of fresh water refreshments, timber and the like might be had there. At about 3 hours before nightfall our boats returned, bringing several samples of Vegetables (which they had seen growing in abundance), some not unlike certain vegetables growing at the Cabo de bonne Esperance and fit to be used as pot-herbs, another which was long and brackish and showed a great resemblance to Parsley du Mair. The Pilot Major and the Second Mate of the Zeehaen gave the following report -

That they had rowed more than a mile around said Point, where they found high but level land with vegetation, but cultivated, but growing by God and nature; abundance of excellent Timber and a sloping watering place; many empty valleys. Said water was of good quality, but rather difficult to procure because the desired water-course was so shallow that the water could be scooped up in bowls only.

That they had heard certain human sounds, also Music resembling that of a Drum or a small Gong, which was not far from them, but they had seen nobody.

That they have seen 2 trees about 2 or 2 ½ fathom in thickness, 60 or 65 feet high, under the branches, in which trees had been cut with flint axes and the bark had been peeled off in order to climb up and rob the birds' nests in the way of stairs. Each well measured 5 feet from the other, so that they presumed that the people here must be very tall or that they must by some device know how to climb the said trees. In one of the trees these carved steps appeared so fresh and green as if it had not been four days since the same had been cut.

That they had observed footprints or traces of some animals in the earth, resembling considerably those of a tiger's claws. They also brought on board some excrements of (as far as they could presume and observe) quadrupeds, together with a little (apparently very fine) gum which had exuded from trees and smells like gum-lac that around the east corner of this bay they had sounded - in high water 13 or 14 feet at low tide there, about 3 feet that at the foremost part of said corner they had seen great numbers of Gulls/wild ducks and geese, but none farther inward, though they heard their cries. Have found no fish except some muscles, in several places stuck together in clusters

That the Land is generally covered with trees, standing so far apart that one can easily pass through everywhere and look far ahead, so that in landing one could always get the natives or wild animals in view, unhindered by dense thick shrubbery or underwood, which would give encouragement to exploration

That they had seen at several places in the interior many trees, which just above the foot of the same were deeply burned in, the earth had been dug out here and there with the fist, and by the burning of the fire had become as hard as stone.

A little before our boats (which returned to board again) came in sight, we saw on the land (which lay about west by north of us) occasionally a thick smoke rising up, so that we presumed that our men did this as a signal, because they were so long coming back, for we had ordered them to return speedily hither, partly in order to hear about their experiences and partly, if they found nothing useful there) to the end that they might go and look at other places, so that no time should be uselessly wasted. Our men having come aboard, we asked them whether they had been thereabouts and made a fire, to which they replied No, but that at various times and places in the wood they had also seen some smoke, so that there are here without any doubt men who must be of extraordinary stature. Today we had many variable winds from the eastern side but for the greater part of the day a stiff steady breeze from the south-east.

To-day 3 Ditto.
Went to the South east side of this Bay in our boats like Yesterday with Supercargo Gissemans/ the musketeers/ and the Rowers armed with Pikes and Swords/ There we found Water but the Land is so low that the fresh water was made brackish and salt by the surf/ and for digging wells the same land was too rocky therefore we returned on board and convened the Council of our two Ships/ with which we resolved and determined what the resolution of today showing may there be seen extended at Length/to which we here for briefness sake Refer In the afternoon we went to the Southeast side of this bay in the said boats/ having with us the Pilot major Franchoys Jacobs: the Skipper Gerrit Jans/Isack Gissemans Supercargo of the Zeehaen the Subcargo Abraham Coomans and our chief carpenter Pieter Jacobs/having with us a pole with the Company's mark carried therein/and the prince-flag to be set up there/ so that to those who shall come after us it may be clear that we have been here and have taken in (to possession and Property) the said Land. Having rowed about half-way with out boats/ it began to blow stiffly and the sea ran so high/that the cock-boat of the Zeehaen/ in which the Pilot-major and Mr. Gissemans were/ had to return to board again/ we ran on with our pinnace close to the shore coming into a small cove which bore West South West of the Ships/the surf ran so high that/ without danger of having the boat dashed to pieces we might not get near the Land/ We then ordered the carpenter aforesaid to swim to the shore alone, with the pole and the flag and kept by the wind with our pinnace; we made him erect the pole with the flag in top into the earth at the center of this little cove/ near four high trees, easily recognizable, standing in the form of a crescent/ and just before the one standing lowest/This tree/ is/ just above the foot, burnt in/ and is amply the taller of the other three/ but appears Lower because it stands on the slope of that place/ at the top it has two long dry branches projecting above the crown/ so symmetrically set with dead sprigs and twigs/ that they look like large antlers of a stag/ next to these a little lower there is another bough, quite Green and Round and leafy, the twigs of which by their regular proportion/ make the said Boughs look very Graceful and like the upper part of

a larding pin/ after the chief carpenter, in sight of myself Abel Jans Tasman/ the Skipper Gerrit Jans/ and the subcargo Abraham Coomans/ had performed what has just been related/ we rowed the Boat as close to the shore as we dared go/ and the aforementioned Carpenter swam back again through the surf to the Pinnace/ after which, this Work having been duly executed, we rowed back to our ships/Leaving the above-mentioned as a memorial for Posterity and for the Natives of this Land/ who did not show themselves/ though we suspect some of them were not far from there, watching our movements and doings with keen eyes/ we did not bother about vegetables/ because the sea ran so high that nobody could get near the Land except by swimming/ so that it was impossible to get anything into the pinnace. This whole day we had the wind chiefly north. In the evening we took the sun's azimuth and found a variation of 3 degrees northeasterly. At sunset we got a stiff northerly wind/which gradually increased to such a gale from the northwest/ that we were compelled to lower both our Yards and to drop our second bower-anchor -

To-day 4 do.
At daybreak the storm had abated the weather was gentle and the wind from the land/ being west by north/ we hove our small bower-anchor again/having weighed the said Anchor/and got it above water/ we saw that both the flukes were broken off so far that we hauled home nothing but the bare shank/ we weighed our other Anchor too/ and set sail in order to run to the north passing landward of the northern-most Islands/ and to seek a good watering place/ here we have been lying at anchor in the Southern latitude of 43 Longitude 167½ Ditto. Before noon the wind westerly/ At noon observed latitude 42 degrees 40 minutes longitude 168 degr. Course made northeast/ and sailed 8 miles in the afternoon the wind north-west the whole day and had very variable winds/ in the evening again west northwest/ with a stiff gale. We turned to the north while sailing out of this Bay/ and all through the day/

1. Thus the Land appears on December 4th. 1642 in the southern Latitude of 43 degrs. 38 Minutes when it is 2 Miles away from you N.W. by W. N. by W.

2. Thus the Land appears on Xber 4th. 1642 in the Southern Latitude of 42 degrees 40 Minutes as the main. S.W. by S. Maria Island W.S.W.

3. Land 4 a 4½ miles and the Islands 2½ a 3 miles away from you, - W.N.W. N.W. by W.

4. N.W. by N. the Hon. Sir Schoutens Island N. by W. and N.N.W. N. and N. by West.

5. Appearance on Xber 5th. 1642 When it is 8 miles away from you S.W. by S.S.W. and S.W. by S.S.W S.W. by W.

6. W. the Hon. Sir Van der Lijns Island W. by N. and W.N.W.

we saw along the coast many columns of smoke ascending from Fires/ here we should like to describe the bearings of the Coast and these islands lying nearby but for briefness' sake we beg to be excused from doing so/we refer to the little chart that has been made of these and is appended here

To-day 5 Ditto
In the morning the wind northwest by west/ we still made our Course as before/ the high Round Mountains/ which we had seen the day before/ lay now due West of us 6 miles from there the Land falls off to the northwest/So that here we could no Longer keep close to the Land/ the wind being almost dead against us Therefore we convened the Council with the second mates with whom after due deliberation we resolved and called out to the Officers of the Zeehaen to shape the Course due East in accordance with the Resolution of the 11th ultimo/ and to run on with that Course to the full Longitude of 195 degrees or the Salomanis Islands/ all of which may be seen at length in to-days Resolution/ At noon estimated latitude 41 degrees 34 ms. Longitude 169 degr. Course made Northeast by North/ and sailed 20 miles: Shaped our Course Due East/ in order to make further discoveries/ and also in order to avoid falling amidst the variable winds between the trade-wind and the anti-tradewind/ the win northwest steady Breeze/ At night the wind west Stiff steady gale and good clear weather -

Today 6th Ditto
In the morning the wind Southwest/ but with a slack Breeze/ at noon we had reached the latitude of 41 degr./5 mi. Longitude 172 degr:35 mi./ Course made east and sailed 40 miles/ all afternoon it was very calm and still the sea ran high from all sides/but most from the Southwest/ In the evening while the watch was being set/ we got a steady Breeze/ from the East northeast and north east.

Today 7th Ditto.
The northeast wind continued blowing as strongly as during the night/ At noon estimated to have the latitude of 42 degrees 12 min: and 174 degr:31 mi:/ Course made Southeast by east and sailed 26 miles/ variation increasing Northeasterly 5.degr: 45 minutes.

Today 8 Ditto.
At night calm and the wind turned to the west and northwest. At noon had the estimated latitude of 42 degr: 29 mi: and Longitude 176 degr: 17 min. Course made east by south/ and sailed 20 miles.

Today 9 Ditto.
Drifted into a calm so that by estimation we were carried 3 miles Southeastward/At noon observed latitude 42 degr:37 minutes and Longitude 176 degr:29 minutes/variation 5 degrees/ towards the Evening we got a light Breeze from the west northwest.

Today 10 Ditto.
Now and then a Rainshower/ mixed with Hail/ we had the wind westerly Top-Gallant Breeze/ At noon observed latitude 42 degrees 45 mi: and Longitude 178 degr:40 minutes/ Course made East and sailed 24 miles.

Today 11 Ditto.
Good weather with a clear sky/ and the wind westerly top-gallant Breeze/ At non observed latitude 42 degr:48 minutes Longitude 181 degr: 51 mi . Course made East and sailed 38 miles had variation 7 degr: increasing northeasterly.

Today 12 do.
Good weather/ and the wind Southsouthwest/ and Southwest/ that with a steady Breeze/ At noon observed latitude 42 degr:38 min: and Longitude 185 degr:17 mi: Course made East & sailed 38 miles/ the heavy swell continuing still from the Southwest/ so tat South of here no big Land should be expected - Variation 7 degrees northeasterly.

Today 13 do.
Observed latitude 42 degr: 10 min: Longitude 1188 degr:28 mi: Course made East by North/ and sailed 36 miles the wind Southsouthwest that with a top-gallant breeze/ towards noon we saw a Large and Highly elevated Land/ we had it Southeast of us at about 15 miles distance/ shaped our Course Southeast/making straight for the Land/ Fired a gun/ and in the afternoon floated the while Flag/ whereupon the Officers of the Zeehaen came on board of us/ When we resolved with each other to make the said Land as soon as possible/ all such for Reasons as this day's Resolution explains at length.

In the evening we deemed it advisable/ and ordered our makes/ to maintain the Southeast Course/ as long as it remains quiet/ but to run due East if the Breeze should freshen/in order not to fall ashore/ and to prevent any accidents as far as we can/ for we sustain that this Land cannot be made from this side/ and that on account of the High open sea/ which is running into it with huge hollow waves and a heavy swell: unless there should happen to be some land-locked bays on side/ in the first watch four glasses having run out we shaped our Course Due East/ variation 7 degr:30 minutes/ northeasterly -

Today 14 do.
At noon observed latitude 42 degr:10 mi: and Longitude 189 degr:3 mi: Course made East/ and sailed 12 miles we were about 2 miles off the Coast/ it was a very high double Land/ but on account of the thick clouds we could not see the summits of the mountains/ we now made our Course along to the north so close to it that we could constantly see the surf break against the the afternoon at about 2 miles distance from the Land we sounded in 55 fathom, sticky sandy bottom/ it was quite calm/ towards the evening we saw a Low Point north-east by north of us/ about 3 miles away. We were drifting - the greater part of the time in a calm - to said point/ in the middle of the afternoon we sounded in 45 fathom sticky Bottom/ further we were all during the night drifting in a calm/ the sea running from the west north west, so that we got near the land, in 28 fathom Anchoring ground/ where on account of the calm/ and for fear of drifting nearer to the shore/we cast our kedge-anchor during the day-watch, waiting for the Land-wind -

Today 15 Ditto.
In the morning a light breeze from the Land/ we weighed our anchor/and did our best to get a little further away from shore out into the sea/ Course Northwest by north/ WE now had the northernmost low point of the day before north northeast and northeast by north of us/ This Land consists of a high double mountain-range/ not lower than Illa Formosa/ At noon observed latitude 41 degr: 40mi: and Longitude 189 degr: 49mi: Course made northnortheast and sailed 8 miles/ then the point of the day before lay South-east of us 2½ mile away from this point northward extends a large rocky reef projecting above the water/ on the Reef are standing some high steep cliffs/