What can the Netherlands offer Australia?  Discussing a possible additional function for DACC

Photo: Klaas Woldring: King Willem Alexander in Sydney November 2016 with a group of Dutch organisations representatives.

In this guest post by Klaas Woldring, Ph. D. who is secretary of the Dutch Australian Cultural Centre Ltd. (DACC) in Smithfield, Sydney, Australia, he discusses a possible additional function for the DACC and what the Netherlands could mean for Australia.

In recent commemorations about the Netherlands in Australia, in 2006 and 2016, understandably there was a heavy concentration on the several landings by VOC ships on the Australian coast and the extensive mapping of that coast during the entire 17th century.

The DACC contributed actively to these activities by means of map and heritage item exhibitions, adding thereby to its initial functions of establishing and maintaining an archive, reference library and attractive, educational heritage centre at the back – Holland House, also known as ’t Winkeltje, Smithfield. We also distributed much promotional information much of it provided by the Dutch Embassy and the Australia on the Map Committee. These tasks have been undertaken almost exclusively by volunteers, supported by fairly small numbers of members and, financially, by small donations.

It has occurred to me recently that we could add a new function to this by purchasing, collecting and possibly selling new books about the Netherlands today concentrating on services, expertise and products that would be of interest to Australians generally.

In other words we may consider becoming an Information Centre for that particular purpose as well, a function that is actually covered by our original Mission Statement. Our request for providing some initial funding for this purpose to the Embassy could not be met because the Embassy is of the view that the rules of Shared Heritage, Grants projects do not provide for such funding. Hopefully, this may change in the future.

Such literature, all in English of course and to be targeted very carefully, would provide up to date relevant information about the Netherlands rather than just Dutch/Australian historic interests in the region, mostly relating to the 17th century. As an example:

  • Dutch business interests in Australia and South East Asian region
  • Dutch products and services in demand or to be promoted in Australia
  • Special Dutch expertise and services, private and public, that would be of interest to Australians
  • Dutch expertise in water management such as the Delta Project, river flows and management, also harbour management
  • The threat of drought or urban water shortages in Australia, always present of course, could be reduced considerably by more effective water conservation and/or transport.
  • Dutch experiences with earth gas exploration are conceivably useful for irresponsible fracking exercises
  • Dutch expertise in solar energy is demonstrated here in car races year after year
  • Great advances in climate change approaches which the Dutch Professor Rob Roggema (UTS) recently very well explained in the Cleveringa lecture in Sydney.  The clever management of heavy city traffic in the Netherlands (Randstad) was demonstrated also by him as well.
  • The showmanship and entertainment professionalism of Andre Rieu, also widely acclaimed elsewhere in the world, e.g. the US, UK, Brazil and Australia
  • The fantastic variety of tulips developed and exported to many places in the world, including Canberra
  • Dutch soccer coaches that could be of vital interest to Australian soccer, already proven earlier.
  • There is considerable interest here in the Dutch prison system, e.g. Professor Tony Vinson.
  • There is also great interest here in the Dutch approach to euthanasia. Andrew Denton, a great supporter, has recently studied that in the Netherlands.
  • Books in English about the use of marihuana in the Netherlands would be a real bonus for a Dutch Information Centre in Australia.
  • When it comes to politics the Dutch could provide tremendously important input in Australian society by informing them about a much better electoral system than the single-member-electoral district system inherited from the British, the basic cause of Australia’s adversarial parliamentary system that so many people now rightly complain about.
  • The writings of the celebrated Dutch-American political science Professor Arendt Lijphart would be particularly useful for the locals here. Dutch (and European) alternatives to the Westminster system of recruiting Ministerial competence would be another benefit in the area of governance.
  • The Dutch tripartite system of industrial relations and the Dutch Workplace Relations and Participation system as well the New Act on Work and Security (2014) would be particularly useful information for Australia.
  • When it come to cycling, the Dutch have a wealth of  experience, models, cycles paths, their role in traffic, etc.
  • Even as regards the history of the 17th century we could mention e.g. Simon Schama’s exhaustive study, in English, of the Golden Age and Amsterdam.

Such books should also be available for both lending and selling.

We are not just talking about Sharing Cultural History but also about the business interests that the Dutch Government and Dutch corporations are certainly entirely familiar with – and wish to promote. Australia could use more of that information here, in English, and we could supply that.

Our Centre could be further developed into an Information Centre about the Netherlands preferably positioned in the centre of Sydney. I would think that while providing information of this kind is perhaps a limited function of the Embassy and the Consulates, it could be promoted much more effectively and permanently by a Dutch Information and Heritage Centre. The members of Dutch Link would also be served by that expansion.

Australians are really MUCH more interested in what the Netherlands has to offer NOW than what happened in the 17th century.

While they politely participate in commemorations, like the one last year and in 2006, they don’t really like all that much that the Dutch were here 160 years before James Cook, and actually mapped much of the Coastline long before Matthew Flinders. They say, we developed the continent and you stuck to your interests in the Indies as there were no spices to be found here. We should reflect on that reality. Plugging that too much may not serve Dutch and Dutch Australian interests all that well.

Guest post by: Klaas Woldring, Ph. D., Secretary Dutch Australian Cultural Centre Ltd., Smithfield, Sydney.



10 things you probably didn’t know about the Rijksmuseum

Art historian Tea Gudek Snajdar offers special Saturday Art Tours for expats and internationals living in the Netherlands. ‘My idea is that art is here for all of us to enjoy. It shouldn’t be exclusive or understandable to only a small group of art critics. Everyone should be able to appreciate it. That’s why I started to organize these small intimate art tours in some of the famous museums in Amsterdam’.

In this video, Tea shares 10 things you probably didn’t know about the Rijksmuseum.  Are they all new to you?  Or maybe you knew some already? Join one of Tea’s tours to learn more



Museums in Amsterdam and special English language art tours

Amsterdam is home to some of the best museums in Europe. Rembrandt, Vermeer and Vincent van Gogh are just some of the very famous painters who lived there. Rijksmuseum, Hermitage or Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam are the places to go to see some of their very famous paintings.

However, visiting these large museums can often be overwhelming. It’s quite hard to understand the exhibits when you don’t know their context. And sometimes there are just so many rooms and paintings there, you can easily get lost.

Special intimate art tours for internationals living in the Netherlands

That’s why an art historian Tea Gudek Snajdar started organizing special Saturday Art Tours (LINK: http://culturetourist.com/tours/tours-workshops/art-tours/) for internationals living in the Netherlands. ‘My idea is that art is here for all of us to enjoy. It shouldn’t be exclusive or understandable to only a small group of art critics. Everyone should be able to appreciate it. That’s why I started to organize these small intimate art tours in some of the famous museums in Amsterdam’.

These tours are not an art lectures, they are quite interactive, as well. So, often visitors are drawing the details from the paintings in a museum, or listening what some of the painters wrote in their journals or letters. There is a maximum of five people in groups which allows you to ask all the questions you have.

Tea’s four favourite museums in Amsterdam


Rijksmuseum, the Royal Museum of the Netherlands is a home to some of the finest work of Dutch artists. The building was quiet controversial when it was built, because of the many elements that looked like they were taken from the Catholic church. However, today is one of the most beautiful buildings in Amsterdam and the best place to see some of the Dutch masters of the Golden Age. Paintings created for the rich middle class are truly reflecting every-day life of their commissioners: stroopwafels, pancakes, Sinterklaas, you can find all of them there.

Rijksmuseum photo (source: Culture Tourist)

Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is a home to the biggest collection of Vincent’s art work in the world. Painter who painted for only ten years made around 1,800 paintings and drawings. He developed a unique art style during that time and became one of the most influential painters for the generations of artist that came after him. Vincent’s life is exceptionally reflected in his paintings. And together with the letters he wrote to his brother Theo you’ll get to know one of the most touching stories in art history so well.

Van Gogh Museum (source: Culture Tourist)

Rembrandthuis Museum

Rembrandt van Rijn, the most famous Dutch Golden Age’s painter lived and worked almost his whole life in Amsterdam. He became very famous already in his 20’s as the most important portraitist in Amsterdam. The house he bought and in which he lived is now the Rembrandthuis Museum. It’s lovely to see his kitchen, living room or his studio as they looked while he was living there. The whole neighbourhood around the museum is filled with places important to Rembrandt during his life. De Waag is where he joined ‘The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp’ and made one of his most famous paintings after it. And Oude Kerk is where his loved wife Saskia was buried.

Rembrandthuis Museum (source: Culture Tourist)

There are so many more places in Amsterdam where you can learn about his life. If you would like to learn more about them, take a look here:


Hermitage Museum

The other museum with a great exhibitions dedicated to the Dutch Golden Ages is the Hermitage Museum. Its ‘Portrait gallery of the Golden Age’ is a place to learn about Amsterdam during the 17th century, life in the city and some famous buildings that are still standing in a city today. However, it’s also wonderful to see there that the international and liberal spirit of Amsterdam has its roots in the Golden Ages when Dutch people started to travel and foreigners started to come to the city.

Hermitage Museum (source: Culture Tourist)

Learning about art is a great way to understand Dutch culture and history. There are so many great museums in Amsterdam with some of the most famous world’s paintings. So, why not spend one of the following Saturday mornings exploring them?

Would you like to learn more about a special art tours for internationals Tea is organising? Take a look at the link here: http://culturetourist.com/tours/tours-workshops/

Behind the scenes of Heavenly Holland

I’d like to introduce Annie of the Heavenly Holland Facebook community and website.  With over 46,000 followers on Facebook and extensive information and beautiful images on her website, Annie loves to share her passion for the Netherlands.   She is Dutch but writes in English on her website so that people all around the world can learn more about “this amazing little country in Western Europe”.

Here’s an online interview:


Hi, I’m Annemarie Olde Daalhuis, but you can call me Annie.  I live in Enschede, the Netherlands and my connection with Australia is that a large part of the Heavenly Holland community is based there. After the Netherlands, the USA and Canada, the country with the most followers is Australia. From their comments I notice that many of them are of Dutch descent. This is confirmed by the results from a recent poll. Sadly I’ve never been to Australia myself, yet. Who knows that the future holds…

Other target readers of Heavenly Holland are international tourists who wish to visit the Netherlands, and expats who already live in the Netherlands. After extensive traveling to several countries in almost all regions, except the Pacific, and never getting bored answering questions about my homecountry, I decided to start a Facebook page about the Netherlands. This is nearly seven years ago. Since then, the Heavenly Holland community has grown to over 46,000. With this Facebook page I intended to put the positive aspects of the Netherlands in the spotlight as the media covers enough about negativity and misery in the world already.

Last year I launched the website www.heavenly-holland.com. The website boasts travel inspiration for tourists and expats as well as fun facts about the Netherlands’ past and presents.


Thanks for all the great information and gorgeous images you share Annie!  If you don’t already follow her Facebook page, here’s the link:



2017 Eurovision Song Contest

Tonight is the final of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, held this year in Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv.  There were 42 participating countries, with 26 making it through to the Grand Final, including both The Netherlands and Australia.

Since the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, Australia has somehow become an “honorary” European country.  This year Australia is competing with a song called “Don’t Come Easy” by Isaiah.

The Netherlands has a three-sister team called OG3NE with a song called Lights and Shadows:

The contest can be cheesy but always a lot of fun to watch.  I had hoped to join The Hague International Network to watch the final, with representatives from the various embassies based in The Hague, this would have been a great party!  However it’s also my 12th wedding anniversary today so we have plans.

You can find full information about the Eurovision Song Contest here:




Zijn algen de toekomst? ENGIE Algea team wint met duurzame innovatie Rotterdam100

(This article is in Dutch.  Scroll down for English information)

Op 20 april vond de Grand Final van de talentencompetitie Rotterdam100 plaats in het Timmerhuis te Rotterdam. Excellente studenten presenteerden hier volgens het Get in the Ring principe hun oplossingen voor Next Economy cases van bedrijven uit de regio aan een publiek van 200 innovatiemanagers, corporate partners en studenten. Het winnende team ontwikkelde voor ENGIE een high-tech manier om afval en uitstoot via algen om te zetten in energie. ​​ sprak zijn verwondering uit voor de talenten: “Rotterdam100 bewijst dat de stad Rotterdam geen toekijker is als het gaat om innovatie, maar hierin altijd de leiding heeft!”

Van vervuiling naar grondstof
Het winnende ENGIE Algea team streeft ernaar om vervuiling die containerschepen produceren tegen te gaan door hun emissies te gebruiken om algen aan boord te laten groeien. Het team wilt de algen laten fungeren als een natuurlijk filter, om zo niet alleen de CO2 die door de schepen wordt afgegeven om te zetten, maar ook gassen zoals stikstofdioxide en zwaveldioxide, waarvan aangetoond zijn dat  ze slecht zijn voor de menselijke gezondheid. De geteelde algen kunnen als biobrandstof worden gebruikt, maar het team ziet ook mogelijkheden om deze te gebruiken als grondstof, als een natuurlijke mest of zelfs voor kankerbehandeling.

Over de Rotterdam100
De Rotterdam100 is een talentencompetitie waarbij de meest excellente studenten en young professionals vanuit heel Nederland samenwerken met toonaangevende bedrijven. Hierin bedenken zij innovatieve oplossingen voor business cases die gericht zijn op de Next Economy. De finalisten  van de Rotterdam100 zijn geselecteerd uit meer dan 350 studenten uit heel Nederland, en werkten dit jaar aan cases van KPN, Engie, Port of Rotterdam & Gemeente Rotterdam, Soundies, CGI en ABN Amro. De Rotterdam100 is een initiatief van Stichting Maatschappij en Onderneming (SMO) en de Gemeente Rotterdam. De cases variëren van het zoeken naar creatieve oplossingen voor het bevechten van leegstand in de Rotterdamse haven tot het vinden van manieren om the Internet of Things ook voor een brede consumentenmarkt te bewerkstelligen. De jury bestaande uit captains of industry was erg te spreken over de oplossingen van de zes teams. De oplossingen van de teams varieerden van innovatieve apps tot technische oplossingen voor het tegengaan van klimaatverandering.

Gezamenlijk opschalen
Het team van ENGIE heeft de titel ‘Rotterdam’s Most Excellent’ bemachtigt en krijgt daarmee een aanbevelingsbrief van burgemeester Aboutaleb en voormalig premier Jan Peter Balkenende én een reis naar de internationale finale van de startup pitchcomeptitie Get in the Ring in Singapore. ‘’Onze eerste stap in dit project zou zijn om het lokaal te implementeren met de juiste partners. Er zijn veel organisaties in Rotterdam die kunnen bijdragen en profiteren van het ENGIE Algen idee, zoals de haven en de universiteit.’’ In de eerste drie jaar wil het team de Engie Algea-eenheden ontwikkelen en nationale en internationale partners en fondsen zoeken zodat in 2020 de containerunits kunnen worden verkocht.


English information:

The Rotterdam100 is a talent competition in which the most excellent students and young professionals work with leading companies and create innovative solutions for challenging business cases which are focused around the Next Economy.

Students and young professionals who participate in the Rotterdam100 will develop entrepreneurial skills and cross-sector insights, receive unique career opportunities and build a valuable network. The winners of the Rotterdam100 receive:

  • the title ‘Rotterdam’s Most Excellent’
  • A recommendation letter from the Mayor of Rotterdam
  • A allinclusive trip to the Global Final of Get in the Ring in Singapore, Boston or … ?!

The Rotterdam100 is an initiative of SMO in co-creation with the municipality of Rotterdam, CGI, ABN AMRO, Port of Rotterdam, Rotterdam Partners, KPN, ENGIE, Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship and Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences.

The article above (in Dutch) is about the winning team.

New to the Netherlands / Net in Nederland

In April of 2016 the New to the Netherlands website was launched. This is a website from the Dutch Public Broadcaster NPO where you can watch popular Dutch television programs and the daily Dutch NOS news all with Dutch, English and Arabic subtitles. By using a selection of on-demand media, New to the Netherlands wants to offer refugees and immigrants a guide to Dutch society and a unique way of learning Dutch.

New to the Netherlands is a so-called ‘experimental channel’ from the NPO and is financed with the own funding from the participating public broadcasters. An independent editorial staff selects videos from the existing programming from the participating public broadcasters. There are programs for all ages. One of our most popular programs is the NOS News which is posted on our website every weekday. The website is updated on a daily basis and we also offer a great Facebook page with lots of useful information including short original in-house clips and numerous interesting links in Dutch, English and Arabic.

In November of 2016 there were 5 internship positions created at New to the Netherlands for refugees with a media background. Since that time these five colleagues, who come from Syria, Iraq, Iran and Somalia, have been gaining practical work experience in the Netherlands which will help them secure other work later on. This group is very motivated and have proven themselves to be hard working and inquisitive. They often make short videos about their experiences here and other subjects of interest which are posted on the New to the Netherlands Facebook page.

New to the Netherlands is an initiative of the public broadcasters AVROTROS, BNN-VARA, KRO-NCRV, VPRO, EO, MAX and HUMAN and is supported by the NPO, NTR and the Dutch Institute for Image and Sound.
This platform has proven to be most successful and I wanted to share this information about our website with you are your readers. Being able to watch more than 25 shows for all ages with Dutch and English subtitles offers a rare opportunity to get a taste of home for the Dutch living abroad. The concept of our website has also had great success with Dutch people who want to learn English.