Nearly 400 years after the shipwreck of a Dutch sailing ship on a tiny Western Australian island, the story of what happened to those who swam ashore remains largely untold.
Beacon Island, later named Batavia’s Graveyard for the atrocity that would occur, was the sight of Australia’s first and biggest massacre.
Scientists are still uncovering the bodies of 125 men, women and children who made it to the tiny stretch of land, part of the Abrolhos Islands in the Indian Ocean.
In a 60 Minutes segment on Sunday night, the story of the Batavia and her slaughtered crew was finally revealed.
In 1629, the Dutch ship was sailing south when she struck a coral reef 40km off the coast of Western Australia.
The ship was carrying 300 passengers and mutiny and violence was believed to have broken out on board.
Around 40 people drowned trying to make it to land, but those to did were soon to be slaughtered by surviving mutineers.
As they waited to be rescued for over three months, men, women and children were massacred on the island in what archaeologists have since dubbed ‘a real life Lord of the Flies’.
Many of the women were raped repeatedly as the mutineers slaughtered all across the island.
Dr Al Patterson told the program the stranded passengers would have had ‘no where to go’.
‘Once the story got out, it would have been an intense experience to be here as those events were going on,’ Dr Patterson said.
Scientists from both Australia and the Netherlands don’t know just how many bodies are buried under the sand on the island.
As the 60 Minutes crew filmed the segment, another skeleton was unearthed, making it the fifteenth body to be found.
Those responsible for the bloody massacre were eventually discovered and hanged.