The fishing and holiday town of Cervantes got its name from Cervantes Island two kilometres offshore to the south-west which in turn got its name from an American whaling ship of the same name that was wrecked here.

It is often erroneously stated that the name ‘Cervantes’ was applied to the island by Nicolas Baudin in 1801, after a Spanish writer. As a result of this misconception by the State Archivist many of the streets in the town received Spanish names. Why a French explorer would name an island after a Spanish writer only a few years after the War of the Pyrenees is an incongruity not satisfactorily explained. The real derivation of the name does, however, have a connection with Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote.

The name for Cervantes Island first appeared after a survey of the WA coast in the schooner Thetis by J.W. Gregory in 1847-48. It was named after an American whaler named Cervantes, which in turn was named after author Miguel de Cervantes. The ship was wrecked just north of the island on the 20 July 1844, at the time under the command of Captain Gibson. The survivors walked about 185 kilometres south along the coast to Fremantle.

REERENCE: Landgate, Geonoma.

© Kim Epton 2021
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