Buried treasure stories of wrecked Dutch ship Gilt Dragon recorded

Buried treasure stories of wrecked Dutch ship Gilt Dragon recorded

Buried treasure stories of wrecked Dutch ship Gilt Dragon recorded

Updated 8 October 2017, 0:15 AEDT

In the last century, treasure hunters have been up and down the WA coast searching for buried treasure from a shipwreck that happened almost 400 years ago, and now those stories are being collated into a book.

For some, there's nothing more exciting than hunting and searching for buried treasure from a shipwreck that happened almost four centuries ago off the coast of Western Australia.

But for archaeologist, author and historian Bob Sheppard, the real treasure is discovering the tales associated with the legend of the wrecked Dutch ship — the Gilt Dragon.

But he's reaching out to the public in the hope that someone, somewhere may be able to shed more light on the stories, particularly the event that happened at Dynamite Bay in Green Head in 1964 — so he can include the stories in a book.

"Following the discovery of the [Gilt Dragon] wreck in 1963 there was another party who believed that there was a treasure buried at Green Head which was also related to the Gilt Dragon," Mr Sheppard said.

"They said that the wreck that was found at Ledge Point was not the Gilt Dragon but another ship and the Gilt Dragon was actually wrecked in Dynamite Bay at Green Head.

"This was a story put around by a Dutch man who had a map of where the treasure was buried."

Treasure map lost with mysterious Dutchman's death

The story goes that Frank Moore helped out this Dutchman who was quite ill.

As a sign of goodwill the Dutchman, named only as Harry, later showed Frank a piece of old yellow parchment and told him it was a map that indicated where chests of coins from the Gilt Dragon were buried.

He claimed to be a direct descendent of one of the survivors of the Gilt Dragon. After showing Frank the map, he then burnt the parchment, saying no-one else has ever seen this and no-one will. The Dutchman later died.

It sounds like a scene from a treasure hunt movie, and although Mr Sheppard thinks there are no buried coins anywhere from the ship, it still remains a very curious story.

"Why would these guys have dug such a huge hole? The hole at Dynamite Bay was big enough to put a department store in," Mr Sheppard said.

"You're talking about thousands and thousands of cubic metres and hundreds of thousands of gallons of water being pumped out and divers, dredging systems, and all sorts of things.

"Why would they have dug that if they weren't convinced that there was something there?

"And they also had to convince their sponsors, the guys who supported them and provided machinery for them. So they must've been pretty convincing."

Mr Sheppard said he had tried speaking to farmers, fishermen and locals from the area of Green Head, but nobody seems to be able to shed any more light on the story.

"In Norm Fuller's book, The Gilt Dragon at Green Head, it said that Frank Moore had died and that he did have a couple of sons, but I haven't been able to track down any of those guys," he said.

More excavation was carried out at Green Head in the 1970s.

"On the museum's files, there's a letter from the Shire of Coorow to the museum asking for their advice in relation to a permit to excavate at another location away from Dynamite Bay but within Green Head town site," Mr Sheppard.

Stories are the real treasure

Other mysterious stories have come out relating to the Dutch ship and the hidden treasure, including the ring of stones. That story was referred to in a 'magazine for men', The Wide World, in 1934.

"This ring of stones was this pointer or marker to mark the way to the treasure," Mr Sheppard said.

"Over the years plenty of people have gone looking for it — including myself — and I'd really like to find it. I'd like to see it and photograph it because nobody has really seen it since the 1940s, I think."

There are lots of other little stories that seem to have a connection to the wrecked ship, and it's these stories that Mr Sheppard calls the real treasures.

"It's about the social history that is related to the wreck and to all those people involved in the discovery, all the treasure hunters that have been following since then," he said.

"All the pastoralists and farmers along the coast who have had interactions with it, all the cray fishermen, I have tried to collect their stories and tried to sort through the legend to try and determine what the truth is.

"Trying to work out where these stories originate, where they end up, how they've changed along the way and all the people who are involved and wonderful personalities, they're just great."