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.



Dutch Fine Art Master Jos Kivits Exhibition in Tamborine Mountain, Queensland, Australia


Painter of magnificent Neo-Classical Romantic landscapes and sumptuous Still Life’s in the manner of sixteenth and seventeenth century Dutch and Flemish Masters.


We welcome your interest in the Exhibition of ‘Dutch Fine Art Master Jos Kivits’.  The Grand Opening will be held on Thursday 12th April at Heritage Wines Bartle Rd Tamborine Mountain Qld 4272, Australia.

Jos, currently living a reclusive life on Tamborine Mountain with his family, has decided that it is now time to show a number of his latest works, and some from his private collection. Tamborine Mountain is proud and honoured to have Jos living in our Community.

Born in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, September 1945, Jos (Jozef) was the youngest of five children, a descendant of a well-established Dutch family. The roots of which can be traced back to the early thirteenth Century.  Needing to escape the harsh winters of Europe, Jos immigrated to New Zealand in 1973 where his life as a professional artist can be said to have truly begun.

In late 1986, along with his wife Lydia and their four children, Jos moved to Australia: first establishing a reputable name in Sydney before heading further North in 2004 to settle in Queensland where he now enjoys a much quieter life in semi-retirement.

A student pf the Dutch “Kunstnijverheid’’ school in Eindhoven in the early 1960s Jos continued his in-depth studies throughout the 1970’s & 1980’s under the tutelage of renowned Dutch artist Cornelis Le-Mair. This association led to Jos receiving the highly coveted diploma of “Master Artist in Still Life” in 1989 from the Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Belgium.

A lifetime of training, study, experience and the creation of exquisite Masterpieces has earned Jos an international reputation. His works can be found hanging in public and private collections in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, North and South America, the United Kingdom, several European Countries & South Africa. 

For more information, please contact Teresa Skirving of Emala Fine Arts Gallery.

New Consul-General of the Netherlands to Australia

A warm welcome to Australia to Frank van Beuningen, the new Consul-General of the Netherlands in Sydney. Frank arrived in Sydney last month. Before his posting Down Under, he worked as a diplomat on special assignments and had several postings, among others in Afghanistan, Germany, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe. Besides working on economic diplomacy and trade promotion, Frank has dealt extensively with security policy, counter-terrorism and human rights issues.

In the Netherlands Frank was the co-founder and later director (1998 – 2002) of the Advisory Council on International Affairs, a think tank that advises the Dutch government on a regular basis on all aspects of foreign and security policy. He has a degree in international affairs from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Frank is married to Jennie and together they have two adult children.

After having been in Sydney for nearly two weeks, Frank says “he feels like a dog with two tails”. He states: “I am looking forward to working with the team on the optimising of consular services and the potential for Dutch companies to partner with Australian counterparts to achieve sustainable trade and investment for both our countries. I cannot wait to get to know the Dutch community. I am very interested in its history”.

More information can be found here:

Dutch: www.nederlandwereldwijd.nl/landen/australie

English: www.netherlandsworldwide.nl/countries/australia

Attentie Nederlanders: stemmen vanuit het buitenland….

Stemmen vanuit het buitenland

Woensdag 15 maart 2017 vindt de verkiezing plaats van de leden van de Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal. Om vanuit het buitenland te kunnen stemmen voor deze verkiezing moet u zich eerst registreren. Dat kan tot en met 1 februari 2017. Op deze website vindt u informatie over de registratie en over het stemmen vanuit het buitenland.

Presentation of Dirk Hartog Tulip in Australia

Dirk Hartog Tulip

To mark the Dirk Hartog 2016 anniversary year, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Canberra is proud to present the official Dirk Hartog tulip.

The Dirk Hartog tulip was presented to His Excellency General, the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia and Her Excellency Lady Cosgrove, by Her Excellency the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Australia, Erica Schouten, to show gratitude for the warm relationship with the people of Australia.

Dirk Hartog anniversary year

This year is significant because it marks the 400th anniversary of the first European contact with Western Australia. On 25 October 1616, Dutch Sailor Dirk Hartog made landfall at Dirk Hartog Island in the Shark Bay area, where he left an inscribed pewter plate. To mark this anniversary, many celebrations and commemorations are taking place throughout the year across Australia and the Netherlands.

Dirk Hartog tulip

The Dirk Hartog tulip was cultivated in the Netherlands by Frank Timmerman, owner of plant nursery ‘Goede Tulpen’, which translates as Good Tulips. The tulip, especially selected for its dual shade of orange, has travelled over 16,500 kilometres to be at Floriade in Canberra, which is roughly the same route as Dirk Hartog took to Australia.

Dutch traditions

Floriade was the brainchild of Christiaan Slotemaker de Bruine, a Dutch Landscape Architect in Canberra. He commenced the design of Floriade in 1986 and based it on the world famous ‘Keukenhof’ garden in The Netherlands.

For the celebratory event, the tulip was baptised by the Governor-General, Lady Cosgrove and the Ambassador with special Dirk Hartog wine per Dutch tradition.

Tulips from the Netherlands

Tulips came to the Netherlands in the beginning of the 17th century. A few years after Dirk Hartog died, there was a real ‘tulip mania’ in the Netherlands. Tulips and tulip bulbs were very rare and expensive – some had the same value as a house.

Nowadays, the Netherlands is famous for its horticulture, including leading the export of tulips and tulip bulbs. Horticulture will be one of the topics of conversation during the parallel trade mission later this year, coinciding with the Royal Visit of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima.

Source: Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Canberra

Bridging the Distance website: over 300,000 Australians have Dutch roots – are you one?

I was just on Twitter and discovered this fabulous new website called “Bridging the Distance”.  It opens with the fact that over 300,00 Australians have Dutch roots.  Are you one?

This beautifully-designed site is part of the 2016 Dirk Hartog celebrations this year.  You can find some earlier posts I’ve already published so far about that here:

The official Dirk Hartog website is here:

I still need to take a better look through the site, but it’s lovely – lots of interesting information, beautiful images and stories of those with a connection between the two countries.  I’ve long been fascinated with this topic, which was one of the inspirations to start this website with my own first post in 2010:

Over the last few years, I’ve also collected and shared stories of Dutch Australians, which you can find here:

Share your story as part of the official Dirk Hartog project here (and read some others that are already there)

Let’s continue to celebrate our Dutch Australian relationship and connections, in this Dirk Hartog year, and beyond!  After all, I’m currently raising two little Dutch Australians who have dual nationality and have experienced life in both countries.

I have also noticed that much of the information for these celebrations are in English, no doubt to include all of those who have Dutch roots but have not (yet) learned the language.  Also, the Dutch are renowned for also mastering English well along with Nederlands.  However, personally, I feel it’s important to continue to raise children bilingually where possible and you can read more about that here:

Ik leer ook het Nederlands en kan het vrij goed spreken, verstaan en lezen maar (nog) niet zo goed schrijven!  Dus schrijf ik zelf in het Engles, maar comments en artikelen zijn altijd welkom op deze website in beide talen!


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Dutch TV episode and lesson plan – Becoming a mum in Melbourne

Dutch TV is a weekly television program on community TV Channel 31 in Melbourne and Geelong (Australia) and Foxtel Aurora. (Australia wide) We have been broadcasting for 4 years.  The program is about Dutch people living in Australia and is presented mostly in Dutch with English subtitles so that we can connect to everyone who has a link with the Netherlands.  We cover topics such as Dutch culture in Australia, shared heritage and new topics from Holland.

8 May 2016 episode

Becoming a mum overseas is a series of profiles of mums who live in different suburbs in Melbourne. They tell their stories having a baby overseas in their suburb. This is the first interview with lots of tips in this segment; mothergroup, baby cinema, coffeeshops etc.   Later in the video, Watblief teaches up what a particular Dutch expressions means, and there is a Tedx talk from TEDxAmsterdam.

You can find out more about Dutch TV and watch plenty of previous episodes here:

Website: http://www.dutchtvonline.com/

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Dutchtvonline/

Watching Dutch TV is an excellent opportunity to work on improving your Nederlands.  For this episode, Carole has also created a lesson plan which you can work through.  You can download a copy of the Word Document by clicking on the image below:

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We’d love to know if you find that useful, and can create more to correspond with future or even past episodes of Dutch TV.