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nettime-nl: When the Dutch blew in (by Kevin Murray)
geert on Sun, 22 Mar 1998 10:45:53 +0100 (MET)

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nettime-nl: When the Dutch blew in (by Kevin Murray)

Date: Sun, 22 Mar 1998 12:30:52 +1100
From: Kevin Murray <kmurray {AT} mira.net>
Subject: When the Dutch blew in

The following initial story was constructed in Morwell, Australia, on 20th
March, 1998. You are welcome to read it for your own interest, but keep in
mind that it is a first draft. If you have anything to contribute to this
story, it would be most welcome. These comments might either be in the
form of corrections or imaginative extensions of the current narrative.
Such responses will be incorporated into the final version. For an online
version of this story, and to examine others, please look at

Yours. Kevin Marray (Melbourne, Australia)

The Dutch blow in

This story follows one of history's unexplored paths. What if Australia
hadn't been colonised by the English, but by those Europeans who had
preceded them, the Dutch? This path begins at a subtle historical juncture
in the early seventeenth century. Well before the English set their minds
on colonising the antipodes, the Dutch had begun harvesting the riches of
the East Indies. Why, given the success of this trading venture, didn't
the Dutch pursue the possibilities of the fabled southern continent? For
centuries, such a land was the stuff of dreams about mountains of gold and
precious jewels. Why was their contact with the continent so incidental? 
The first mistake occurs in 1605, when Captain Willem Jansz sailed the
Dufken to explore territory south of New Guinea. An encounter with hostile
natives decimated his crew and the ship was unable to explore any further
the coast of northern Australia. What if Jansz had tread a little more
carefully in this area, he may have returned with a fuller account of the
southern continent?  Early in the seventeenth century, the Dutchman Isaac
Lemaire founded the Australia Company, with a mission to reap the wealth
of this new continent and establish a venture to rival the Dutch East
Indies Company.  Unfortunately, this competitor scuttled his plans by
commandeering his ship while it was docked in Batavia. What if Lemaire has
chosen a friendlier port, and uncovered some of the richer lands of
western Australia?  Going off the beaten track... 

>> The prospectus for Lemaire's Australia Company heralds the untold
wealth offered by the fabled Southern Continent. These promises attract
much investment, particularly from those traders who disapprove of the
monopoly imposed by the Dutch East Indies Company. With this money,
Lemaire launches a fleet of ships to claim the fertile fields of the
continent's southwest.  The first settlement is blessed with rich farming
land. The Dutch, however, are reluctant colonists. The thought of ending
their days in a far-flung corner of the world had no romantic appeal.
Lemaire returns to The Netherlands with the hope of inspiring more to join
his 'Nieuw Hollanders'.  Fortunately, political circumstances are in his
favour.  In the Twelve Year Truce between successive wars with the
Spanish, anti-Catholic feeling is high. The majority opinion favours
suppression of all religions apart from the dominant Calvinist belief.
There are many Protestants, however, who support religious toleration.
Their leader, Oldenbarnevelt, had been charged with treason and is about
to be hung.  Fearing riots, the government had commuted his sentence to
exile. Seizing the opportunity, Lemaire offers Oldenbarnevelt a promised
land of religious toleration for him and his supporters. With little
choice, Oldenbarnevelt agrees and leads a large contingent of settlers,
including some Catholics, some moderate Protestants, but mostly Flemish
who have fled north during the wars and fear the onset of more bloodshed. 
Oldenbarnevelt settles in a large river port on the west coast of Nieuw
Holland. This village is called Harpert, after his old home town. Though
suffering greatly from homesickness, the settlers embrace the challenge to
establish a community of free thinking far from the troubles of Europe.
The original inhabitants of this area, the Nunga people, do not accept
these noble sentiments. Oldenbarnevelt attempts to negotiate a sale of
land with the Aboriginal people, but this is fraught with
misunderstandings. The settlers are horrified when they are forced to
repel an attack with force, but find themselves with nowhere else to turn.
The local tribes eventually move on to land of neighbouring tribes, and
war breaks out between Aboriginal populations.  Harpert locates itself at
the end of the trade winds that sweep across the Indian Ocean, connecting
the west coast of Nieuw Holland with the Cape of Good Hope. This route
soon extends to van Diemen's land, a large island off the north west of
Nieuw Holland. This island develops a quite cosmopolitan culture,
providing a meeting point for Dutch, French, English and even Japanese
cultures. The northern port of Jansz is a haven for the finer arts.  Rich
sumptuous oil paintings of the island remarkable landscape inspire a
romantic turn in Dutch painting. Travellers from all corners of the world
are attracted by its exotic location at the end of the world, its
'primitive' peoples and strange fauna, including the fabled tiger. When
the Dutch lose New Amsterdam to the English, who rename it New York, this
title is granted to the young southern port of van Diemen's land. 
Enterprising Dutch merchants and traders quickly locate the main sources
of wealth in Nieuw Holland. Mines for gold and other minerals are
established throughout the west, particularly the northwest. Unscrupulous
merchants import slaves from southern Africa to supply the manpower needed
to run these operations. For many years, these workers are explained away
as a peculiar tribe of Aborigines. Yet with so much open land surrounding
the mines, the operators have difficulty keeping their slaves.  Many
escaped slaves are harboured by Aboriginal communities displaced by
European occupation. The Zulu tribesmen in particular teach indigenous
Australians how to wage war on the settlers. This leads eventually to a
bloody confrontation between black and white populations. Luckily, the
presence of Tembu slaves provides the black peoples with a good stock of
negotiators. The colonists eventually agree upon the establishment of
several homelands for different Aboriginal groupings.  This contract is
called the 'Balanda Treaty' after the Aboriginal pronunciation of
Hollander. While appeasing the majority of parties, there is nonetheless
continuing conflict over its details. Occasionally a strict Calvinist sect
arises to claim a homeland of its own.  While the Australian Company
concentrates on the broad sweep of the southern seaboard, the Dutch East
India Company begins to establish an outpost on the north of Australia.
The company also allows the establishment of a French penal colony on the
northeast coast of the country. There is fierce resentment of this
invasion, but little the Nieuw Hollanders could do to prevent it given the
limited resources of their military and huge expanse of land to be
protected. Instead, they concentrate on the technological challenges of a
dry continent. A series of windmills along the central coast provides
artesian water for agriculture. This eventually leads to the 'greening' of
the dry centre.  The foremost wonder of their nation is the Tasman Bridge
that links the island of Tasmania to the mainland. Nieuw Holland becomes a
republic after the First World War, when the new country is anxious to
extricate itself fully from the horrors of European battles. Defence of
the motherland was never a powerful motive in Balanda life. The country is
divided into sixty nine separate provinces, each with their own level of
government. Nieuw Hollanders take to self-government very seriously, with
high participation in local councils at ground level, and intense interest
in the parlement at a national level.  Today, Nieuw Holland is famous for
its technological advances and engineering feats. Their currency is the
florin and their motto is fortiter in re, suaviter in modo. Despite their
successes, the republic is fraught with many problems, including a
thriving drug trade, a range of righteous interest groups and pockets of
severe pollution. In an attempt to rise above these problems, Nieuw
Holland is about to launch the world's first virtual democracy, allowing
for popular participation in government decision-making. 

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