It was devised by the Dutch sea explorer Hendrik Brouwer in 1611, and found to halve the duration of the journey from Europe to Java, compared to the previous route, which involved following the coast of East Africa northwards, sailing through the Mozambique Channel and then across the Indian Ocean, sometimes via India. By 1616 the Brouwer Route was compulsory for Dutch sailors. The English trialled it in 1621, and initially thought it a great success, but the second English ship to use the route, the Tryall, sailed too far east before turning north, and was wrecked on the Tryal Rocks off the coast of Australia. The English then avoided the route for the next two decades.
The Brouwer Route played a major role in the discovery of the west coast of Australia, and the very large numbers of ships that were wrecked along that coast. Ships wrecked on the west coast of Australia en route from the Cape of Good Hope to Java on the Brouwer Route include Tryall, Batavia, Vergulde Draeck, Zuytdorp and Zeewijk.