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On this day …….. 7th of June 1825

Tasmania was first discovered by Abel Tasman on 24 November 1642. Tasman discovered the previously unknown island on his voyage past the “Great South Land”, or “New Holland”, as the Dutch called Australia. He named it “Antony Van Diemen’s Land” in honour of the High Magistrate, or Governor-General of Batavia.
When the First Fleet arrived in 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip claimed the entire eastern coast for the British Empire, including Tasmania, though it was not yet proven to be separate from the mainland. In January 1799 Bass and Flinders completed their circumnavigation of Tasmania, proving it to be an island. Tasmania was settled as a separate colony in 1803, but continued to be administered by the Governor of New South Wales. On 7 June 1825, Van Diemen’s Land was separated administratively from New South Wales, and Hobart Town was declared the capital of the colony. As the actual founding documents have not been located, there remains some conflict regarding the date, as some sources state this as occurring on 14 June 1825.

ON THIS DAY…… 24th November 1642

Dutch explorer Abel Tasman

On the 24th of November 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman discovered a previously unknown island on his voyage past the “Great South Land”, or “New Holland”, as the Dutch called Australia. He named it Van Diemen’s Land after the governor of Batavia. The Dutch, however, did not settle New Holland and Van Diemen’s Land. The First Fleet, which arrived in Port Jackson, New South Wales, in 1788 comprised eleven British ships carrying officers and convicts from England.

On this day …….. 25th of October 1616

Over 150 years before English explorer James Cook sighted eastern Australia, the Dutch landed in the far north and on the Western coast. In 1616, Dutch sea-captain Dirk Hartog sailed too far whilst trying out Henderik Brouwer’s recently discovered route from the Cape of Good Hope to Batavia, via the Roaring Forties. Reaching the western coast of Australia, he landed on what is now known as Dirk Hartog Island, at Cape Inscription, on 25 October 1616. Here he left a pewter plate with an inscription recording his landing. The translation of the inscription reads: ‘1616. On 25th October there arrived here the ship Eendraght of Amsterdam. Supercargo Gilles Miebais of Liege; skipper Dirck Hatichs of Amsterdam. On 27th do. she set sail again for Bantam. Subcargo Jan Stins; upper steersman Pieter Doores of Bil. In the year 1616.’ In 1697, Dutch sailor Willem de Vlamingh reached “New Holland”, as it was then called, and removed Hartog’s pewter plate, replacing it with another plate. The original was returned to Holland where it still is kept in the Rijksmuseum. The original inscription was copied onto a new plate, and Vlamingh added new information which listed the sailors on his own voyage and read: ‘Our fleet set sail from here to continue exploring the Southern Land, on the way to Batavia.’

 

On this day …….. 16th September 1770

Captain Cook, the first European to chart Australia’s eastern coast, was hired in 1766 by the Royal Society to travel to the Pacific Ocean to observe and record the transit of Venus across the Sun in mid-1769. Following this, Cook’s next orders were to search the south Pacific for Terra Australis Incognita, the great southern continent. Cook came across New Zealand, which Abel Tasman had discovered in 1642, and spent some months there, charting the coastline. Nearly a year later, Cook set sail west for New Holland, which was later to become Australia. Some time after beginning his journey up the eastern coast of the continent, Cook became the first European to note the appearance of the Aurora Australis. On 16 September 1770, Cook described a phenomenon which was similar in some ways to the Aurora Borealis, but different in other ways: they had “a dull reddish light” with other “rays of a brighter coloured light” passing between them, and “entirely without the trembling or vibratory motion” he had seen in the Aurora Borealis. By this time, Cook was as far north as Timor, and the Aurora Australis is not usually seen at that latitude. However, considerable solar activity in September 1770 is believed to have contributed to the appearance of the phenomenon.

 

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.

 

On this day …….. 22nd of August 1770

James Cook takes possession of the eastern coast of “New Holland”.

Captain James Cook was not the first to discover Australia, as he was preceded by numerous Portuguese and Dutch explorers. However, he was the first to sight and map the eastern coastline. Cook’s ship, the ‘Endeavour’, departed Plymouth, England, in August 1768. After completing the objective of his mission, which was to observe the transit of Venus from the vantage point of Tahiti, Cook continued on his mission to find out more about Terra Australis Incognita, the great unknown south land. He first came across New Zealand, which had already been discovered by Abel Tasman in 1642. He spent some months there, charting the coastline. Nearly a year later, he set sail east. In mid-April 1770, officer of the watch, Lieutenant Zachary Hicks, sighted land and alerted Captain Cook. Cook made out low sandhills which he named Point Hicks, although he did not yet know whether they formed part of an island or a continent. Point Hicks lies on the far southeastern corner of the Australian continent, and Cook chose to fly before unfavourable winds up the eastern coast. Cook went on to chart the east coast of what was then known as New Holland, mapping numerous inlets and bays as he headed north. On 22 August 1770, at Possession Island in Torres Strait, Cook claimed the eastern coast of the continent for Great Britain under the name of New South Wales. The territory he claimed included “the whole eastern coast, from latitude 38 degrees S to this place, latitude 10.5 degrees S, in right of His Majesty King George the Third”. This essentially meant just the eastern parts of what are now New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Cook recorded the following: “Notwithstand[ing] I had in the Name of His Majesty taken possession of several places upon this coast, I now once more hoisted English Coulers and in the Name of His Majesty King George the Third took possession of the whole Eastern Coast by the name New South Wales, together with all the Bays, Harbours Rivers and Islands situate upon the said coast, after which we fired three Volleys of small Arms which were Answered by the like number from the Ship.”

 

On this day …….. 18th of August 1786

The decision is made in England to colonise New South Wales with convicts from Britain’s overcrowded gaols.

Conditions in England in the 18th century were tough: the industrial revolution had removed many people’s opportunities to earn an honest wage as simpler tasks were replaced by machine labour. As unemployment rose, so did crime, especially the theft of basic necessities such as food and clothing. The British prison system was soon full to overflowing, and a new place had to be found to ship the prison inmates. The American colonies were no longer viable, following the American war of Independence. Following James Cook’s voyage to the South Pacific in 1770, the previously uncharted continent of New Holland proved to be suitable. Cook had claimed the eastern half of the continent for England, naming it “New South Wales”, and determined that a small bay in the south which he named “Botany Bay” would present the ideal conditions for a penal colony. On 18 August 1786 the decision was made to send a colonisation party of convicts, military and civilian personnel to Botany Bay, under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip, who was appointed Governor-designate. The First Fleet consisted of 775 convicts on board six transport ships, accompanied by officials, crew, marines and their families who together totalled 645. As well as the convict transports, there were two naval escorts and three storeships. The First Fleet assembled in Portsmouth, England, and set sail on 13 May 1787. They arrived in Botany Bay on 18 January 1788. Phillip immediately determined that there was insufficient fresh water, an absence of usable timber, poor quality soil and no safe harbour at Botany Bay. Thus the fleet was moved to Port Jackson, arriving on 26 January 1788. Australia Day, celebrated annually on January 26, commemorates the landing of the First Fleet at Port Jackson, and the raising of the Union Jack to claim the land as belonging to England.

 

On this day …….. 7th of June 1825

Tasmania was first discovered by Abel Tasman on 24 November 1642. Tasman discovered the previously unknown island on his voyage past the “Great South Land”, or “New Holland”, as the Dutch called Australia. He named it “Antony Van Diemen’s Land” in honour of the High Magistrate, or Governor-General of Batavia.
When the First Fleet arrived in 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip claimed the entire eastern coast for the British Empire, including Tasmania, though it was not yet proven to be separate from the mainland. In January 1799 Bass and Flinders completed their circumnavigation of Tasmania, proving it to be an island. Tasmania was settled as a separate colony in 1803, but continued to be administered by the Governor of New South Wales. On 7 June 1825, Van Diemen’s Land was separated administratively from New South Wales, and Hobart Town was declared the capital of the colony. As the actual founding documents have not been located, there remains some conflict regarding the date, as some sources state this as occurring on 14 June 1825.

On this day …….. 13th May 1787

Conditions in England in the 18th century were tough: the industrial revolution had removed many people’s opportunities to earn an honest wage as simpler tasks were replaced by machine labour. As unemployment rose, so did crime, especially the theft of basic necessities such as food and clothing. The British prison system was soon full to overflowing, and a new place had to be found to ship the prison inmates. The American colonies were no longer viable, following the American war of Independence. Following Captain Cook’s voyage to the South Pacific, the previously uncharted continent of New Holland proved to be suitable. On 18 August 1786 the decision was made to send a colonisation party of convicts, military and civilian personnel to Botany Bay, New South Wales, under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip, who was appointed Governor-designate. The First Fleet consisted of 775 convicts on board six transport ships, accompanied by officials, crew, marines and their families who together totalled 645. As well as the convict transports, there were two naval escorts and three storeships. The First Fleet assembled in Portsmouth, England, and set sail on 13 May 1787. They arrived in Botany Bay on 18 January 1788. Phillip immediately determined that there was insufficient fresh water, an absence of usable timber, poor quality soil and no safe harbour at Botany Bay. Thus the fleet was moved to Port Jackson, arriving on 26 January 1788. Australia Day, celebrated annually on January 26, commemorates the landing of the First Fleet at Port Jackson, and the raising of the Union Jack to claim the land as belonging to England. Governor Phillip was a practical man who suggested that convicts with experience in farming, building and crafts be included in the First Fleet, but his proposal had been rejected. He faced many obstacles in his attempts to establish the new colony. British farming methods, seeds and implements were unsuitable for use in the different climate and soil, and the colony faced near-starvation in its first two years. Phillip also worked to improve understanding with the local Aborigines. The colony finally succeeded in developing a solid foundation, agriculturally and economically, thanks to the perseverance of Captain Arthur Phillip.

On this day …….. 13th May 1792

The Tasmanian tiger, known also by its palaeontological nickname of Thylacine, was a carnivorous marsupial of Australia. It was once believed to roam the entire Australian mainland, as well as parts of New Guinea. Its disappearance from the mainland is believed to have been due to increased competition for food which resulted from the introduction of the dingo by the Aborigines. The Thylacine was up to 110cm in length, with a strong, stiff tail that was half the length of its body again. At its shoulder, it stood about 60cm tall. The Thylacine had tawny grey-brown fur, and around 16 black or brown stripes on its back, mainly at the tail end. The first evidence of the existence of such a creature came when Abel Tasman discovered Tasmania, which he named Van Diemen’s Land, in 1642. Upon the shores of the island, one of Tasman’s crewman, F. Jacobszoon, described seeing “footprints not ill-resembling the claws of a tiger”. French exploration provided confirmation of the Tasmanian tiger when French naturalist Jacques-Julien Houtou de Labillardière, who was on Rear Admiral Bruni d’Entrecasteaux’s expedition to “New Holland”, made what is considered to be the first definitive sighting of the Tasmanian tiger, on 13 May 1792. The last known Thylaicne died in the Hobart Zoo on 7 September 1936, a victim of exposure and starvation caused by lack of understanding of the animal’s needs. Since then, there have been numerous sightings of the Thylacine, but none have been confimed.

On this day …….. 2nd May 1829

The city of Fremantle lies just south of Perth, at the mouth of the Swan River. Dutch captain Willem de Vlamingh named the Swan River in 1697 because of the black swans he saw in abundance there. As the first city in Western Australia, Fremantle is steeped in rich and fascinating history. In 1829, Captain Charles Fremantle was sent to take formal possession of the remainder of New Holland which had not already been claimed for Britain under the territory of New South Wales. On the 2nd of May 1829, Captain Fremantle raised the Union Jack on the south head of the Swan River, thus claiming the territory for Britain. The colony of Western Australia was proclaimed on the 8th of June 1829, and two months later, Perth was also founded.

 

On this day ………… 25th February 1834

It is also generally accepted that the Dutch were disinclined to colonise Australia, and that the first European settlement occurred with the convicts, marines and officers of the First Fleet. This, however, is not entirely the case. The first prisoners in Australia were Dutch seamen Wouter Loos and Jan Pellegrimsz de Beye who were abandoned on the mainland for their part in the murders of the passengers of the wrecked ship ‘Batavia’ in June 1629. This was not the only time that Dutch made Australia their home. It is estimated that, between 1629 and 1727, around 300 Dutch passengers and crew linked to the Dutch East India company occupied parts of Western Australia as a result of the many shipwrecks which occurred off the coast of what was then known as “New Holland”. On 25 February 1834, English newspaper ‘The Leeds Mercury’ reported on the findings of a secret English expedition to Australia which had taken place in 1832. Led by Lieutenant Nixon, the expedition claimed to have discovered a settlement of several hundred Europeans who were descendants of Dutch survivors from shipwrecks between the mid 1600s and early 1700s, such as the Vergulde Draeck (1656), the Concordia (1708), the Zuytdorp (1712), and the Zeewijck (1727). The survivors were said to have established a colony some 1500 km from the coast, in central Australia’s Palm Valley. However, although Palm Valley exists as a desert oasis in the Red Centre, no evidence of, or artifacts from, such a colony have ever been located.