Leeman - Culture and History

Leeman is named after the intrepid Dutch upper steersman and navigator Abraham Leeman van Santwits who, in 1658, was shipwrecked on the Fishermen Islands to the southwest of the tiny settlement.

Leeman was a member of the crew of the Waeckende Boey (it means the Watch Buoy) which was searching the Western Australian coast looking for survivors of the Vergulde Draeck which had disappeared two years earlier.

Leeman had been in charge of the landing parties which had scoured the shores for signs of survivors. One evening, with a storm looming, he had been ordered by his captain to head towards the shore. Leeman and his crew were caught in the storm and found themselves unable to either land or return to the Waeckende Boey. They drifted north until they crashed into a ledge of rocks and coral on Fisherman Island midway between the current sites of Leeman and Jurien. They managed to survive on seals and seabirds until their boat was repaired. Once the boat was made seaworthy they headed south searching for the Waeckende Boey. They spent a night on Lancelin Island (just off the coast from the modern day site of Lancelin) but did not sight the boat. Despairing of ever being found they started to sail north and landed on the Green Islets south of Cervantes. From here they sighted the vessel and duly lighted fires which were acknowledged by a cannon blast from the ship. However the seas were still rough and, to the horror of Leeman and his men, the Waeckende Boey proceeded to sail north leaving them marooned. Leeman refused to accept the impossibility of his situation and, after killing a number of seals and doing his best to collect adequate provisions, he sailed north eventually reaching Batavia. It is appropriate that the village of Leeman is named after this remarkable and resourceful sailor and navigator.