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“We simply asked for permission to land.” New book tells the story of a remarkable act of reconciliation in Australia two decades before The Voice.

Graeme Cocks, Author 4 mins read

A new book entitled “Through Darkest Seas” by West 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”, which will be launched in East Fremantle on Sunday 2 July, 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 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” will be on sale in Australia from 2 July 2023 in paperback, hardcover and ebook. The book is 546 pages with 60 black and white photographs. Details at



Graeme Cocks was born in Perth, Western Australia. A child of the sixties, he grew up near the banks of the Swan River and on the beaches and islands along the coast first explored by Dutch seafarers in 1616. Fremantle was his home town, and rowing at the Fremantle Rowing Club was his sporting passion.
He studied journalism at the WA Institute of Technology (now Curtin University) and after a brief foray into journalism and newspaper management, he spent a year backpacking through South America. It changed his life. The wanderlust never left him and he returned to write and edit travel magazines so he could keep travelling. He later ran the communications section of the WA Tourism Commission during the heady years of the post America’s Cup tourism boom in the State. 
An opportunity to work at the Endeavour replica sailing ship project connected him with the world of wooden shipbuilding. A casual conversation over breakfast aboard Cook’s ship, led him to meet the originator of the idea to build a replica of the first ship to chart Australian shores. Soon, he was enthralled by the idea and he became one of the founding members of the Friends of the Duyfken Project, later taking over the whole team as Project Director. He arranged the launch and final fit-out of the ship. He was responsible for the history-making Chevron 2000 Duyfken Expedition to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Queensland; and the VOC 2002 Duyfken Voyagie (sic) from Sydney to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, South Africa, Namibia, the Azores and The Netherlands. It remains the longest ‘Age of Discovery’ replica ship voyage ever undertaken. 
After 20 years involvement with Duyfken, including a number of years as Chair of the Duyfken 1606 Replica Foundation, he left to pursue another passion — historic racing cars.  He has contributed to maritime books and is the author of many books on motoring history. Twice shortlisted for Book of the Year at the International Historic Motoring Awards in London (2015 and 2016), he’s the only Australian writer to have achieved this honour. His book ‘Red Dust Racers’ also won the Gold Medal in the Transportation category of the International Independent Publishers Awards in New York in May 2017. His book, ‘Claude Deane. Western Australia's Motor Dealer Extraordinaire’ was short-listed for the Royal Automobile Club of the United Kingdom’s Motoring Book of the Year Awards in 2020. It was also runner-up in the Royal WA Historical Society AE Williams Lee Steere 2020 Publication Prize. He was curator of the Fremantle and York motor museums.  Today, he writes motoring history and assists owners to unearth the history of their early motor cars. He still gazes to the west at sunset in the hope of seeing square sails on the horizon.


Key Facts:

New Book to be launched on Sunday 2 July

The Story of the Duyfken Replica Sailing Ship and the ship's major adventures

Book raises contemporary issues of reconciliation and colonialism 

About us:

"Through Darkest Seas" is published by Motoring Past Vintage Publishing based in Western Australia.

Contact details:

For more information, interviews or review copies please contact the author Graeme Cocks 0438 980 859, email


More at or the Duyfken Book “Through Darkest Seas” Facebook page:



Author interview at:




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