Tasmania History

"Tasmania history - find out more about colonial Van Diemens Land"

Tasmania certainly has an interesting past and for me this is probably brought to life best at its no.1 tourist attraction - Port Arthur Tasmania.

Here you can discover more about the history of Tasmania and see what a prison in the 19th century was all about.

Key Facts About Tasmania History

  • Did you know that in the ice age Tasmania was joined to the Australian mainland?
  • The first settlers in Tasmania were Aboriginals. It's likely that they had been there for over 35,000 years
  • The first official siting of Tasmania by a European was made in 1642 by a Dutch explorer Abel Tasman who actually named the island "Anthoonij van Diemenslandt" after a Dutch governer.
  • This was quickly shortened to Van Diemens Land which is what it was known as for a very long time
  • The first European settlement was by the British in 1803 at Risdon Cove
  • The settlers were predominantly convicts and their guards, sent to establish agriculture and other industries
  • Several penal colonies were set up in Tasmania, the most famous being Port Arthur Tasmania

  • It was run as part of the state of NSW until 1825 when Hobart became the official head of the state of Tasmania
  • Much has been written about the destruction of the aboriginal settlers and the fights that occurred as they attempted to defend their land. This has been known as "The Black War" and spans a period between 1828 and 1832.
  • The Black War wiped and the introduction of western diseases, to which the aboriginals had no immunity, lead to the total devastation of the Tasmanian aboriginals
  • I actually read a fabulous book called the English Passengers by Matthew Kneale, which is a story about a set of smugglers on a journey to the Garden of Eden which they believe to be Tasmania.

    It certainly gives a great account of the Aboriginal and colonial clashes and what colonial life was like at the time. It's a thick book but well worth the read!

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