On this day …….. 3rd May 1804
For many years, Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) was thought to be part of the mainland of Australia. In January 1799 Bass and Flinders completed their circumnavigation of Tasmania, proving it to be an island. As an island, Tasmania enjoyed the uniqueness of its own fauna and flora, and its own indigenous peoples, but all of these were severely disrupted by the arrival of Europeans. Van Diemen’s Land was settled as a separate colony in 1803. 3 May 1804 marks the first of the major hostilities between whites and Aborigines which ultimately led to the decimation of pure-blooded Tasmanian Aborigines. What became known as The Battle of Risdon began when a large group of about 300 aboriginal men on a kangaroo hunt inadvertently wandered into the British settlement. Thinking they were being attacked, the soldiers fired upon the party, killing three of the hunters. Debate has continued over the number of hunters actually killed. While early accounts said that two or three were killed, later the figure was expanded to fifty, and then upwards to 100.