How to Build and Sail a 16th Century Sailing Ship Around the World

The cover of the book “Through Darkest Seas”

Duyfken sailing ship at Fremantle

Duyfken sailing near Fremantle

Portrait of Graeme Cocks, the author of the Duyfken Book

Graeme Cocks, Historian and Author

The dramatic story of the Duyfken (Little Dove) replica sailing ship from Australia is told in a new book.

Through Darkest Seas” is a story of great ocean adventures and the realisation that the history of Australia and Indonesia was not quite as simple as we were taught at school.”

— Graeme Cocks

PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIA, September 6, 2023/ — A new book entitled “Through Darkest Seas” by Australian author Graeme Cocks recounts the events of the day in the year 2000 when a replica of the first ship in Australia’s history, the Dutch vessel Duyfken (Little Dove), arrived at the Pennefather River in Cape York, Queensland and her Master, Peter Manthorpe, asked for permission from the Traditional Owners for his crew to come ashore.

The simple gesture was seen as acknowledging a past historical wrong that European explorers did not ask for permission to set foot on Australian soil.

“Through Darkest Seas” documents the original voyage of exploration of Captain Willem Jansz and Duyfken in 1606, and the story of the construction of the Duyfken replica sailing ship in Fremantle, Western Australia and her two major voyages to Indonesia and Europe between 2000 and 2002.

In 1606, Jansz sailed the ship Duyfken from Banda in Indonesia to the Pennefather River in Queensland. The visit marked the first time that Australia appeared on a map and the first time recorded in history that Aboriginal Australians met people from the outside world.

In May 2000, an estimated 250,000 Australians walked across Sydney Harbour Bridge to voice their support for reconciliation. Three months later, on 9 August 2000, the small crew of the Duyfken replica set foot on the beach at the mouth of the Pennefather River and made their own gesture of reconciliation.

““Through Darkest Seas” is a story of great ocean adventures and the realisation that the history of Australia and Indonesia was not quite as simple as we were taught,” said author Graeme Cocks.


The book spans the development of the United Dutch East India Company (VOC), the world’s first transnational company, and the events surrounding the 1606 voyage. Then the contemporary story begins in 1994 when the idea of building a replica gained momentum in Fremantle.

The book follows the story of the fund-raising and construction of the replica, setbacks and triumphs. In 2000, Duyfken and her modern crew sailed to Indonesia during the Timor Crisis and the exploding civil war in the outlying islands of the archipelago.

The author offers a behind-the-scenes insight into the perseverance required to bring the project to fruition and the crazy idea of sailing the ship to Indonesia during a civil war and then across four oceans from Sydney to Europe in 2001/2002.

Graeme Cocks had a 20 year association with the Duyfken Project. He was a founding member of the Duyfken 1606 Replica Foundation in 1994 and Project Director of the Foundation for four years from 1999. He also served as Chair of the Foundation for a number of years.

“Through Darkest Seas” is on sale in Australia in paperback, hardcover and ebook on Amazon and at your favourite bookstore. The book is 546 pages with 60 black and white photographs. Details at

Graeme Cocks
Motoring Past Vintage Publishing
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