On this day …….. 9th September 1803
The first European to discover Tasmania was Dutch trader Abel Tasman in November 1642. Tasman discovered the previously unknown island on his voyage past the “Great South Land”, which he later called “New Holland”. He named the island “Antony Van Diemen’s Land” in honour of the High Magistrate, or Governor-General of Batavia. After the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip claimed the entire eastern coast for the British Empire, including Van Diemen’s Land, though it was not yet known to be separate from the mainland. Tasman believed Van Diemen’s Land to be part of New Holland, and it was not until 1798-99 that Matthew Flinders and George Bass proved Van Diemen’s Land to be an island. In order to offset continuing French interests in southern parts of Australia, Lieutenant John Gordon Bowen was sent to establish the first British settlement in Van Diemen’s Land. The ship “Lady Nelson” arrived at Risdon Cove on 9 September 1803, and Bowen arrived on “The Albion” three days later to establish a settlement on the Derwent River. There were 49 people in the initial settlement party. Lieutenant-Governor David Collins, who had abandoned the new settlement at Sorrento on Port Phillip Bay due to lack of fresh water, arrived at Risdon Cove a month later. Unimpressed with the site chosen by Bowen, Collins moved the settlement to Sullivans Cove on the Derwent River in 1804. This settlement was later renamed Hobart Town.