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Weibbie Hayes Forts

West Wallabi Island - Wallabi group, Abrolhos Islands

They are recognised as the oldest European structures in Australian history. The two stone forts at the Abrolhos on West Wallabi Island were used for defence by the VOC soldiers who were survivours from the Batavia wreck in 1629.

Soon after the wreck of the Batavia in June 1629, survivors gathered on the island of Batavia's Graveyard. One of the last to come ashore was the Upper Merchant Jeronimus Cornelisz. Jeronimus, who was the leader of the mutineers, struggled ashore and took charge. He was faced with overwhelming numbers to feed and opposition to his plans of seizing a rescue ship and stealing the VOC's valuable cargo of silver. Jeronimus spread the survivours amongst the nearby islands and the soldiers, led by Weibbie Hayes, were sent to one of the farthest islands and told to search for water. The soldiers were marooned on East Wallabi island far from Batavia's Graveyard where the mutineers were able to rape, murder and further plan their mutiny without opposition. The mutineers had no expectations of the soldiers finding water on nearby West Wallabi island and ignored their smoke signals days later indicating that water had been found. In the following months the soldiers were able to survive off the Tamar Wallabies found on the island and collected water from wells found in a natural catchment near the inland fort. 

When they received word of the mutiny from an escaped survivour of Jeronimus' henchmen, they began preparations to defend themselves and awaited the first attack that came in August. Each time they repelled the advances of the mutineers and they successfully captured Jerominus Cornelisz during the third attack in September. From West Wallabi during the final battle between the mutineers and soldiers, the sails of the rescue ship Sardam were seen on the horizon which led to the men dropping their arms and engaging in a mad race to reach the ship first. The mutineers sought to seize the ship and the soldiers raced to warn the Sardam of the mutineers' plans. Luckily, the soldiers won the race and after a process of torture and interrogation all but two of the mutineers were put to death with their right hands severed and hanged on gallows made of Batavia's timbers on Long Island.

It was from these two forts in September that year, that the VOC soldiers led by Weibbie Hayes, repelled a number of attacks from the Beacon Island mutineers and finally captured the mutineers' leader, Jeronimus Cornelisz.

Included is a picture published in the 1649 edition of "Ongeluckige Voyagie" by Lucas de Vries showing the Long Island Hangings.

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