Growing up in the Netherlands, a nation famed for its maritime heritage, Wendy Van Duivenvoorde became fixated on the sea. Drawn to archaeology at university, she jumped at the opportunity to volunteer on dives at maritime archaeological sites, sealing her fate as a scholar captivated by the histories of the deep.
Dr Van Duivenvoorde came to Australia to be involved in the study of the Batavia, a Dutch East India Company vessel built in Amsterdam that was wrecked on its maiden voyage on the West Australian coast, at a time when the waters of the southern hemisphere were largely uncharted – and 150 years before Captain Cook mapped Australia’s eastern coastline. The loss of the Batavia and the trail of mutiny and murder that followed the disaster fostered huge interest in the excavation of the wreck after it was rediscovered in 1963.
“When you fly into Australia with Qantas the Batavia is on your TV screen – which shows how valid maritime archaeology is as a part of our culture,” Dr Van Duivenvoorde said.
Dr Van Duivenvoorde’s working environment is a little different to most of us, and the perks of the job are not lost on her.
“The opportunity to scuba dive at picturesque locations all over the world is a side benefit of the work,” she said.
“To me diving is just another vehicle to go to work, just like you would take the bus to commute.
“It can be a really nice way to spend the day, especially in a beautiful location on the Australian coast or in the Mediterranean, with clear water and artefacts to discover below.”