Ancient Aboriginal handprints stencilled on the rocks of a cave, colonial convicts’ chisel marks in the stones of a cottage wall - Tasmanians treasure their heritage and wherever you go you’ll find evidence of times past but not forgotten.
Walk along a beach and come upon a midden of shells left by Aborigines thousands of years ago. Look down from your window under the eaves to a courtyard where colonial stagecoaches changed their weary horses. Step into a colonial prison cell and experience a few terrible moments of pitchdark solitary confinement. Comfort yourself in a country tavern that’s been welcoming travellers for 150 years or more. There’s history wherever you look - the buildings and boats, the tales and traditions that form our heritage.
Some important dates in Tasmanian History
1642 - Abel Janszoon Tasman, the Dutch explorer, sailed passed the west coast of our island. He named it Van Diemen’s Land after the governor of Batavia.
1772 - The first Europeans to land on the island, the company from the expedition of the French explorer Marion du Fresne, came ashore at Marion Bay on the east coast.
1803 - Lieutenant John Bowen, a British soldier, chose Risdon Cove on the eastern shore of the River Derwent in the south-east for the first settlement of Europeans. In 1804 Lieutenant-governor David Collins moved the settlement across the river and Hobart was founded.
1804 - Europeans settled near the mouth of the River Tamar on the north coast. In 1806 the settlement was moved upriver and Launceston was founded.
1815 - Governor Davey proclaimed martial law against bushrangers - criminals who lived ’rough’ in the bush, terrorised settlers, stole farm stock and held up travellers.
1822 - The Sarah Island penal settlement was established in Macquarie Harbour on the west coast.
1825 - Van Diemen’s Land, which had been part of the colony of New South Wales, became a colony in its own right.
1829 - Europeans settled what later became Burnie, on the north coast.
1830 - The Black Line, a military plan to round up Aborigines, was started. George Augustus Robinson started his mission to protect Aborigines and take them to a settlement on Flinders Island. Both plans failed miserably. Henry Savery’s ’Quintus Servinton’, Australia’s first novel, was published in Hobart.
1833 - The Sarah Island penal settlement (see 1822) was closed.
1834 - John Batman sailed from Launceston to Port Phillip in Victoria - he and his associates founded the city of Melbourne.
1842 - Hobart Town became a city. Convict transportation reached its peak - 5,329 in one year.
1852 - Payable gold was found near Fingal, near the east coast. Elections were held for the first municipal councils in Hobart and Launceston.
1853 - The last shipment of convicts arrived.
1854 - The two houses of Parliament (upper and lower) were established.
1856 - Van Diemen’s Land’s name was changed to Tasmania. The title ’governor’ was conferred on the representative of the English crown.
1864 - Salmon and trout eggs brought from Europe were successfully hatched.
1868 - Primary education became compulsory.
1871 - Tin was discovered at Mount Bischoff near the west coast.
1876 - The Elwick racecourse opened north of Hobart.
1877 - The penal settlement at Port Arthur was closed.
1880 - The first telephone was installed, with a line from Hobart to the Mount Nelson Signal Station, just south of the city.
1883 - The ’Iron Blow’ was discovered at Mount Lyell, near Queenstown in the west.
1884 - Fears of a Russian invasion led to the island’s defences being strengthened.
1890 - The University of Tasmania was founded.
1900 - Tasmanian forces left to fight in the Boer War in South Africa.
1901 - The Commonwealth of Australia was proclaimed - Tasmania became a state of Australia.
1907 - The public library, previously in temporary accommodation, moved into the Carnegie Building (Hobart) - a gift of Andrew Carnegie of New York, USA.
1914 - The first aeroplane flight in Tasmania. Tasmanian forces left to fight in the first world war.
1920 - The chocolate factory north of Hobart was built for Cadbury’s, an English company.
1940 - Tasmanians forces left to fight in the second world war.
1973 - The first legal casino in Australia opened at Wrest Point, Hobart.
1974 - Tasmania’s State Wages Board awarded women equal pay.
1975 - The ’Lake Illawarra’, a bulk ore carrier, crashed into the Tasman Bridge in Hobart,causing part of it to collapse. Twelve people, from the bridge and the ship, died. The ship sank and has never been raised. The bridge was rebuilt and reopened in 1977.
1978 - Passenger train services stopped in Tasmania.
1979 - Tasmania’s first ombudsman was appointed.
1983 - The High Court of Australia ruled against the building of the Gordon-below-Franklin dam, planned for the Gordon River in the south-west.
1986 - Archaeologists working in the south-west discovered Aboriginal rock paintings thought to be 20,000 years old. In 1987 they found Aboriginal stencils of handprints dating back to the last Ice Age.
1993 - The $53 million Henty Gold Mine opened near the west coast. Speed cameras were introduced on Tasmania’s roads.
1994 - Freedom-of-information legislation came into force.
1995 - The Aboriginal Land Act was passed and 12 significant historic and cultural sites were returned to Aboriginal Tasmanians.
1996 - David Boon’s 12-year career in first-class cricket ended. He had played in 107 matches and scored 7,422 runs