A recent report by the Bureau Of Statistics has found that conversational use of the Dutch language, and several variations of it, is just as prevalent in Western Australia in 2021 as it has been in decades past.

A combination of historic ties to the Holland during the arrival of Dutch seafarers in the early 1600s, as well as a recent wave of South African migration has only strengthened the Holland-centric sentiments held by Western Australians.

The name New Holland was first applied to western and north coast of Australia in 1644 by the Dutch aristicocrat Abel Tasman, best known for being the first white man to visit Tasmania (which he named Van Diemen’s Land). The English Captain William Dampier used the name in his account of his two voyages there: the first arriving on 5 January 1688 and staying until March 12, his second voyage of exploration to the region was made in 1699.

Both the Netherlands and the Dutch East India Company fought long and hard over who was going to be able to claimed the Western Australian coastline as its own. Although many Dutch expeditions visited the coast during the 200 years after the first Dutch visit in 1606, the hostilities between the two seperate colonial Dutch forces in the Southern Hemisphere at the time meant that any form of a permanent settlement ended up being absorbed into the British Commonwealth.

However, the 2016 census results have found that the Dutch language, Afrikaans and the once-thought extinct dialect of Western Australian Dutch Creole are still very prevalent throughout the state, particularly in regional areas.

Many prominent Western Australians, such as Alan Bond, Bob Hawke and Gina Rhinehart have in the past alluded to having spent their childhoods speaking Dutch. In 2017, Perth Band Tame Impala’s lead singer Kevin Parker expressed interest to release a collaboration Afrikaans-language album with South African AltDM duo Die Antwoord.

Over two centuries since federation, many revisionist Australian history books still steer away from mentioning the fact the first non-Indigenous settlers were non-English speaking, 170 years before Captain Cook’s arrival on the east coast.

This recent finding is believed to have added momentum to the growing calls for a WAXIT.


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