Tasmania (November 2019)

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The Europeans first called this island Van Diemen's Land after the Governer of the Dutch East Indies Company. It was officially renamed Tasmania on 1st January 1856, in honour of its first European discoverer Tasman. The history of Tasmania does not make for pleasant reading. When the British arrived in 1803 they wanted land for raising sheep and grain crops to feed the free settlers and the convict labour, but this was the same land cleared and used by the Tasmanian Aborigines. While the Aborigines put up a good fight, they were no match for the fire power of the British during the so-called Black War which reduced their population from 3,000 - 10,000 down to merely 300. In 1832, these remaining Aboriginals were persuaded to moved to Flinders Island where most died in terrible conditions. Officially, the last Tasmanian Aboriginal, named Truganini, died in 1876 and with her died a community that had lived in Tasmania for over 42,000 years.

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But were all the Aboriginals killed? Today’s debate questions this assertion and causes many disputes. Those Aboriginals which remain would likely have been the offspring of British settlers/convicts and Aboriginal women. In addition, Europeans and Americans had been working as sealers before the colony was established, settling in islands in the Bass Strait, and their interaction with Aboriginal women has left descendants who now decide to declare or hide their heritage. While there appears to be some pride today in having a convict ancestor, having an Aboriginal ancestor is another matter.

In total, some 75,000 convicts were sent to Van Diemen's Land before transportation ceased in 1853. For more information on the History of Tasmania, I would recommend reading the folowing books: 'A History of Tasmania' by Henry Reynolds, and 'In Tasmania' by Nicholas Shakespeare. Tasmania has many museums recalling the convict history of Tasmania, but one has to positively search for information on the original inhabitants of this island.

On 8th November 2019, Lawrence and I embarked on a road trip around Tasmania, covering 1400 miles and lasting 23 days. Here is a rough diagram of our main destinations.

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We finished our holiday in Sydney, so here are summaries of what we got up to:


TRAVEL TIPS

Do spend time in the small local museums to get an idea of the lives of the people who started new lifes in Tasmania.

Always take a guided tour as the guides are well-informed, enthusiastic, and you will learn so much more.

Travel with basic food stuffs as you cant always find somewhere to eat when hungry.

Drink tap water, it is delicious!

Remember that Tasmanian working days are short, and many towns and facilities close down on Mondays, or Tuesdays, or Wednesdays!!! Be prepared.


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© Helen Gray 2020