Project Gutenberg Australia
a treasure-trove of literature
treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership

Title:      The Discovery of Van Diemen's Land in 1642
Author:     James Backhouse Walker
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.:  0600551.txt
Edition:    1
Language:   English
Character set encoding:     Latin-1(ISO-8859-1)--8 bit
Date first posted:          May 2006
Date most recently updated: May 2006

This eBook was produced by: Col Choat and Bob Forsyth

Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions
which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice
is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular
paper edition.

Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the
copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this

This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions
whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms
of the Project Gutenberg of Australia License which may be viewed online at

To contact Project Gutenberg of Australia go to

Title:      The Discovery of Van Diemen's Land in 1642
Author:     James Backhouse Walker



is the only article included in this ebook. The other items are
detailed in the Contents for information only.


[Biographical Sketch (by the Rev. George Clarke)

The French in Van Diemen's Land, and the First Settlement at the Derwent

The English at the Derwent, and the Risdon Settlement The Founding of
Hobart by Lieutenant-Governor The Expedition under Lieutenant-Governor
Collins in The Discovery and Occupation of Port Dalrymple]


[The Deportation of the Norfolk Islanders to the Derwent in 1808

Abel Janszoon Tasman: His Life and Voyages

Notes on the Aborigines of Tasmania extracted from the Manuscript
Journals of George Washington Walker, with an Introduction by James
Backhouse Walker F.R.G.S.

Some Notes on the Tribal Divisions of the Aborigines of Tasmania

The Tasmanian Aborigines

The Cartography of the Terra Australis and New Holland


{Page 128}



Abel Janszoon Tasman was unquestionably one of the greatest, if not the
greatest, of the navigators between Magellan, who in the early years of
the 16th century first crossed the Pacific Ocean, and Cook, who in the
latter years of the 18th practically opened Oceania and Australia to

Little is known of Tasman's personal history, except that he was born
about the year 1602, at Hoorn on the Zuyder Zee, a seaport which produced
many another hardy navigator. Tasman has made familiar in our seas the
name of one of these fellow townsmen, the Corneliszoon Schouten, who in
1616 doubled the Cape, afterwards called the Horn in honour of the
birthplace of its discoverer.

That Tasman's merit has not received due recognition, and that his fame
has not been as wide as his achievements deserved, is the fault of his
own countrymen. In the 16th and 17th centuries the persistent policy of
the Dutch was to conceal the discoveries of their navigators, and
suppress their charts, for fear other nations should reap advantage from
the knowledge and rival them in the eastern seas. In later times when
this motive had lost its force, Tasman's countrymen were strangely
indifferent to the honour which their great sailor had won for his native
land. Of his second voyage in 1644--in which he explored the northern
coast of Australia, and laid down with painstaking accuracy the shores of
the Gulf of Carpentaria--we have to this day only meagre hints and the
record contained in a sketch map. Of his more

{Page 128}

famous voyage to the Great Southland in 1642--in which he discovered
Tasmania and New Zealand, and made a great step towards solving the vexed
problem of the fancied Terra Australis--the journal remained unpublished
for more than two centuries. It is true that a short abstract of this
voyage was published in Holland late in the 17th century, and was shortly
afterwards translated into English, and included in several collections
of voyages made by English and French editors, and that Valentyn, in his
great work on the Dutch East Indies published in 1726, gave a more
extended account, illustrated by copies of Tasman's maps and sketches.
But the journal itself remained practically unknown until a copy of it
and of the original sketches and charts was discovered in London in 1776
and purchased for half a guinea. This MS. afterwards came into the
possession of Sir Joseph Banks, and he employed the Rev. C. G. Woide, a
Dutch clergyman living in London, to make a translation of it. Thirty
years later the substance of this translation was printed by Dr. Burney
in his "History of Discovery in the South Sea," published in 1814.
Woide's MS. is now in the British Museum, and a verbatim copy of the part
relating to our island has lately been made by Mr. Bonwick for the
Tasmanian Government. In Tasman's own country his original journal
remained neglected for more than two centuries, until in the year 1860 it
was printed in extenso at Amsterdam, under the editorship of Mr. Jacob

Tasman's expedition was probably the first systematic attempt made by the
Dutch to explore the Great South Land. In the early years of the 17th
century the Western Coast of Australia had been several times sighted by
Dutch Captains. Ships, bound for the Dutch settlements at Batavia, had
been driven to the southward by storms, and the resulting discoveries
had, therefore, been to a large extent involuntary, or at least
accidental. In the year 1642, however, the Governor-General Anthony Van
Diemen, and the Council of Netherlands-India, determined to despatch from
Batavia a properly equipped expedition, having for its sole object the
discovery of the Great Southern Continent. The instructions

(1)Journaal van de reis naar het onbekende Zuidland in den Jare 1642,
door Abel Jansz, Tasman; medegedeeld door Jacob Swart. Amsterdam. 1860.

{Page 129}

to the commander, prepared by their direction, have been preserved. They
contain a detailed statement of all that was then known by the Dutch of
the geography of those parts, and they prescribe the course that the
ships were to pursue. The command of the expedition was entrusted to
Tasman, then 40 years old, and the ship Heemskerk was assigned to him for
the service, with the little fly-boat Zeehan as tender. Tasman sailed
from Batavia on August 14; reached Mauritius (then a Dutch settlement) on
September 5, and sailed thence for the South on October 5. He held a S.E.
course until on November 6 he had reached 100 deg. E. long. in lat. 49
deg. S., without finding any signs of the supposed continent. A council
of officers was held, and the chief pilot, Francis Jacobsen, advised that
the course should be altered, and that the ships should make for lat. 44
deg. S. until 130 deg. E. Long. was reached, when, if no mainland was met
with, they should sail into 40 deg. E. lat., and steer on that parallel
until they reached 200 deg. E. long. By this course he thought they would
be sure to fall in with islands, and having so far solved the problem of
the great southern continent, he advised that they should stand north for
the Solomon Islands, whence they might shape their course for home. By
the middle of November they came to the conclusion that they had passed
the extreme limits of the supposed continent, but on the 24th of the
month land was seen bearing east by north, distant 10 Dutch miles (40
miles English). Unlike the invariable low sandy shore which former
captains had described as characteristic of the Great Southland, the
country before them was mountainous, and clothed with dark forest. Tasman
says: "This is the furthest land in the South Sea we met with, and as
it has not yet been known to any European we called it Anthony Van
Diemen's Land, in honour of the Governor-General, our master, who sent us
out to make discoveries. The islands round about, as many as were known
to us, we named in honour of the Council of India." They skirted the
newly discovered land, and on December 1 came to an anchor in a bay on
the east coast. On December 3 they weighed anchor and sailed north until
they reached a point about St. Patrick's Head, from whence they stood
away eastward to make new discoveries. After eight days they sighted
land, which Tasman called Staten Land, thinking that

{Page 130}

it might be part of the Southern continent and joined to Staten Land,
east of Tierra del Fuego. (When this supposition was shortly afterwards
shown to be an error,(2) the name was changed to that of New Zealand.)
After a fatal encounter with the Maoris, Tasman sailed along the west
coast of New Zealand to Cape Maria Van Diemen, and thence took a
north-east course, discovering Amsterdam and other islands, and after
skirting the north coast of New Guinea, he returned to Batavia. In his
second voyage in 1644, Tasman again sailed from Batavia and explored the
west, north-west, and north coasts of Australia, the Gulf of Carpentaria,
and the south coast of New Guinea. Thus in the two voyages, though he
left the question of the existence of a southern continent still
unsolved, he had made the first complete circumnavigation of Australia
and New Guinea.

We may now turn our attention to identifying the parts of the coast of
our island which were sighted by Tasman. The difficulty is that his
longitudes are very uncertain, and his latitudes, though less variable,
do not agree with modern observations, being in general some 9 or 10
miles too southerly.(3) His longitudes are quite hopeless. Their
uncertainty is shown by the fact that he makes a difference of 3 deg. 40
min. between the west coast and Frederick Henry Bay, while the true
difference is only 2 deg. 48 min.--an error of 52, or nearly a degree in
that short distance. Many of his positions are stated to have been
estimated by reckoning, and we know that in those days the ascertainment
of longitude by observation was always very uncertain.

It is generally stated that the first land sighted by Tasman was near
Point Hibbs, and his little chart of Van Diemen's Land appears to favour
this opinion, but an examination of his journal leads us to a different
conclusion. From the entries in the journal it is evident that his
position on November 24, when he first saw the land, is not laid down on
the chart at all. The latitude

(2) By the voyage of Brouwer round Cape Horn in 1643.

(3)This conclusion is reached by a comparison of the latitudes shown on
his chart for his anchorage on the east coast, for Maria Island, the
Friars, and Maatsuyker Island. On the other hand, he gives the latitude
of the point where he approached close to shore as 42 deg. 30 min., the
true latitude of Point Hibbs being 42 deg. 38 min.

{Page 131}

entered for noon that day is 42 deg. 25 min. As the weather was clear
this was probably the observed latitude, and making allowance for the
usual error we may place it some miles more to the north, say 42 deg. 20
min. or 42 deg. 15 min. From noon he sailed four hours E. by N. before he
sighted land bearing E. by N. 40 English miles distant. When evening fell
some three hours later this course would have brought him to a latitude a
little to the northward of Cape Sorell (42 deg. 12 min.) This position
would agree very well with his description of the land as he saw it on
that evening, and which he describes as "very high." "Towards evening we
saw three high mountains to the E.S.E. and to the N.E. We also saw two
mountains, but not so high as those to the southward."

Flinders in his circumnavigation of the island identified the two
mountains to the N.E. as those named by him Heemskirk and Zeehan, after
Tasman's ships. They are visible at about 30 miles distance. Now, with
Heemskirk and Zeehan bearing N.E. at a distance of say 20 miles, Mount
Sorell, the southern peaks of the West Coast Range, and the Frenchman's
Cap, would be nearly E.S.E., while the centre of the West Coast Range,
seen over the low sandy foreshore north of Macquarie Harbour, would fit
Tasman's description of the very high land in front of him. If the land
near Point Hibbs had been first sighted, Mount Heemskirk would have been
at least 50 miles distant, and not visible. It is therefore probable that
the first land seen by the Dutch navigator was the mountainous country to
the north of Macquarie Harbour. Without further observation the point
must remain doubtful, but when we get the much-needed and long-expected
Admiralty survey of the West Coast it will doubtless be possible to fix
precisely the spot of Taman's landfall.

When the shades of evening fell over the strange shore they had just
discovered it was deemed prudent to run out to sea during the night, and
when morning broke the land was far distant. The breeze had died away,
and it was noon before they had enough wind to run in again towards the
shore. By 5 in the evening they were within 12 miles of the land, and
they kept on their course until within one Dutch mile (4 English miles)
of what was without doubt Point Hibbs.

{Page 132}

This was the opinion of Flinders, than whom there could be no higher
authority on such a question, and Tasman's sketch, rough as it is, seems
conclusive. Point Hibbs is there laid down as an island, but its
distinctive form unlike any point lying to the northward--is correctly
shown. (4)

The ships stood out to sea again and sailed south-east in thick, foggy
weather, in which only glimpses of the coast were obtained. Tasman took
some of the high headlands and mountains about Port Davey for islands,
calling them De Witt and Sweers Islands. Then he rounded the South-West
Cape, and named the Maatsuyker Islands, passing close to a small island
about 12 miles from the mainland which looked like a lion, and which was
identified afterwards by Flinders as the rock named by Furneaux the
Mewstone. Thence he passed between the mainland and a rock which he named
Pedra Branca(5) (White Rock) from its resemblance to Pedra Branca off the
coast of China, and sailed past the entrance of D'Entrecasteaux Channel
without entering it, though in his chart he marks an opening in the
coast. Rounding the Friars (which he called Boreels Isles) on November 29
he bore up for a large bay, intending to anchor there. When he had almost
reached his intended anchorage(6) a heavy storm arose, and he was driven
out so far to sea that next morning he could hardly discern the land. It
was from this incident that Storm Bay got its name. When the wind
moderated he continued his easterly course, and rounding Tasman's Island
(the Pillar) he turned northward along the east coast of Tasman's and
Forestier's Peninsulas until, on December 1, an hour after sunset, he
came to anchor in a good port in 22 fathoms, the bottom fine, light-grey,
sand. "Wherefore," says Tasman piously. "we ought to lift up thankful
hearts to Almighty God." The position of this anchorage,

(4)The only difficulty in reconciling the positions of the two days (Nov.
24 and 25) lies in the fact that the difference of latitude given in the
journal is 5 min. only. The difference of latitude between Cape Sorell,
where we suppose him to have been on the first evening, and Point Hibbs,
where he certainly was on the second, is 26 miles. The discrepancy may,
however, be accounted for. On the second day they had southerly wind and
thick weather, and probably got no observation. They had been standing
off and on for 24 hours, and currents unknown to them would probably lead
to error in estimating their position. The probability of error in
Tasman's latitude is increased by the fact that he makes the latitude 42
deg. 30 min. instead of 42 deg. 38 min., the error being too northerly
instead of too southerly, as usual.

(5)Known to our fishermen as "Peter's Bank."

(6)The anchorage he aimed at was the same where Furneaux anchored in
1773, and which he named Adventure Bay.

{Page 133}

as shown in Tasman's chart, is north-west of the rocky islet now
called Green Island, just north of the basaltic cliffs of Cape Frederick

On December 2, early in the morning, the boat was sent to explore, and
entered a bay a good 4 miles to the north-west (Blackman's Bay). The boat
was absent all day, and returned in the evening with a quantity of
green-stuff which was found fit to cook for vegetables. The crew reported
that they had rowed some miles after passing through the entrance to the
bay (now known as the Narrows). They had heard human voices, and a sound
like a trumpet or small gong (probably a cooey), but had seen no one.
They saw trees from 12 to 15 feet round, and 60 to 65 feet up to the
first branch. In the bark of these trees steps had been hacked with a
flint for the purpose of climbing to the birds' nests. From the steps
being five feet apart they inferred that the natives were either very
tall,(7) or had some unknown method of climbing. The forest was thin and
unencumbered by scrub, and many of the tree trunks were deeply burnt by
fire. In the bay were great numbers of gulls, ducks, and geese. At
various times during the day both the boat's crews and the people on
board the ships had seen smoke rising from different points on shore,
"so that without doubt in this place must be men, and these of uncommon

The next day (Dec. 3) the boats went to the southeast corner of the bay
in which the ships were anchored, in order to get fresh water, but,
though they found a lagoon, the shore was so low that the waves had
broken through, and the water was too brackish for use. The wind blew
strongly from the east and south-east, and in the afternoon, when they
again tried to effect a landing with the boats, the sea ran so high that
one boat was obliged to return to the ship. The other larger boat, under
the command of Tasman himself, made for a little bay to the W.S.W. of the
ships, but the sea was too rough to allow of a landing. The carpenter,
Peter Jacobsen, volunteered to swim ashore with a pole on which was the
Prince's flag. He planted the flag-pole in the ground on the shore of the
bay, and thus Tasman took possession of our island for the Dutch.

(7)The early navigators had a fixed idea that these southern lands were
inhabited by giants. At the Three Kings, north of New Zealand, Tasman
describes the men they saw walking on the shore as being of gigantic

{Page 134}

Next morning at daybreak (Dec. 4), the storm having subsided, and the
wind blowing off shore, they weighed anchor and stood to the northward,
passing Maria Island and Schouten Island, so named by Tasman after his
fellow-townsman of the good port of Hoorn.

On the following morning (Dec. 5), he took his departure from a high
round mountain (St. Patrick's Head) and stood away to the eastward to
make fresh discoveries.

Of the localities associated with the discovery of this island, the one
round which the chief interest centres is Frederick Henry Bay and its
neighbourhood. The name has been dislocated from its rightful position on
the map, and has been transferred to another part of the coast, where it
is now fixed by long usage. Tasman never saw what is now popularly known
as Frederick Henry Bay. The bay to which he gave the name of the
Stradtholder of Holland was in the immediate vicinity of his anchorage on
the north-east coast of Forestier's Peninsular. Its exact locality the
records of the voyage leave a little doubtful. The journal contains no
names of places, but the account of the planting of the flag would lead
to the inference that he gave the Prince's(8) name to the bay in which
his ships lay at anchor, on the shore of which the Prince's flag was set
up, and which is now known as Marion Bay. The charts, however, lead
rather to the conclusion that it is the inner port or arm of the sea (now
Blackman's Bay) which is the true Bay of Frederik Hendrik. The copy of
the map in Burney leaves the point doubtful, the name being written on
the land between the two ports. But in the chart as reproduced by
Vallentyn, and stated to have been copied by him from the original
journal, the name is distinctly written in Blackman's Bay. On the whole,
therefore, it seems probable that this is the Frederik Hendrik Bay of

The eastern shore of Forestier's Peninsular is wild and rugged, and
scarcely known except to the hardy fishermen, who, in their trips
northward along the coast, fish in its quiet nooks, or run for shelter
into the beautiful inlet of Wilmot Harbour. With the exception of a
solitary shepherd's dwelling on the shore of this harbour

(8)Prince Frederik Hendrik of Orange was Stadtholder of Holland from 1625
to 1647. He was the grandfather of William of Orange, afterwards William
III. of England.

{Page 135}

locally known as Lagoon Bay--the eastern part of the Peninsula is
uninhabited, and so difficult of access that it is seldom visited. In the
early part of 1889 I had an opportunity of thoroughly exploring a
locality which must always be of interest as the spot where the sailors
of the great Dutchman first set foot on the island which bears his name.

Our party--which included my friend Mr. R. M. Johnston--left East Bay Neck
in a fishing-boat to camp at Chinaman's Point just within "The Narrows."
or entrance of Blackman's Bay. During the time of our ten days' camping
we cruised in our boat over the great bay outside, seeing the coast from
the point of view which Tasman occupied when the Heemskerk lay at anchor
off rocky little Green Island. We could thus realise the scene, unaltered
after two centuries and a half, which presented itself to the old
navigator when he caught his first near view of the picturesque shores of
this outpost of the Great South Land, the mysterious continent of his
search. To the south stood the jutting basaltic columns of Cape Frederick
Henry--a lesser Cape Raoul--backed by the high round of Humper's Bluff.
Thence his eye travelled northward round twenty miles of curving shore,
its white beaches broken here and there by dark cliffs and rocky points.
On the north, beyond the long stretch of white sand barring Blackman's
Bay, rose steep-wooded hills, buttressed at their eastern end by the
abrupt mass of Cape Bernier, thrusting its almost precipitous slope into
the ocean, and flanked by the hills of Maria Island, shutting in the
great bay on the north-east. The coast view from the offing is fine, but
if the visitor wishes to appreciate fully the picturesqueness of the
shore and to identify the spots mentioned in the quaint old Dutch
journal, he must be prepared for some rough scrambling on the Peninsula
itself. The country inland is poor, almost without water, covered with
thin gum forest, scrub, and meagre grass. It is only the shore that is
interesting. The rocky headlands, cliffs, and islands, against which the
ocean dashes, are rent and scarred by sudden fissures and chasms, into
which the waves rush roaring and tumbling. Between the points lie a
variety of lovely bays; now a broad white beach with long rollers of
breaking surf, now a rocky nook, now a quiet and sheltered cove.

{Page 136}

Our centre of observation was the camping ground within "The Narrows."
from whence we looked out over the broad expanse of Blackman's Bay. This
extensive inlet or arm of the sea is shallow and full of shoals and
sandbanks, which make the navigation even of a boat dangerous to the
inexperienced. It is shut in from the sea by a long tongue of land and by
shoals, leaving only a small outlet, very appropriately called "The
Narrows," through which the tide rushes with great force. Early on the
first morning after the ships had come to an anchor the two boats, under
the command of Pilot Francis Jacobszoon, rowed through this narrow inlet
to explore the new-found country. The Pilot's description of the watering
places, where the water trickled so slowly that they could with
difficulty fill a bowl, is thoroughly characteristic of the eastern
shores of Blackman's Bay. In the evening Pilot Jacabszoon returned on
board with his collection of strange vegetables, and his report of the
well-wooded country, the great trees scarred by fire, with marks on their
bark of the steps of gigantic climbers, whom they had not seen, but whose
mysterious voices they had heard.

The various localities mentioned in Tasman's journal were easily reached
from our camp. Outside "The Narrows" the shore rises in high cliffs, at
the foot of which a broad rocky shelf affords access to little nooks,
which in the early days of the colony, were the sites of stations for bay
whaling, and are still known as Gardiner's and Watson's Fisheries, Some
two miles from "The Narrows" is Cape Paul Lamanon. A fishing excursion
to the neighbourhood gave me an opportunity of landing on the Cape. It is
a low point, the soil of which is stony and arid, covered with small
timber and rough scrub. From the Cape a short walk took me to the little
cove marked on the maps as Prince of Wales Bay. It was on the shore of
this little cove (cleene bochtien), situated to the west-south-west of
Tasman's anchorage, that the Dutch flag was planted two centuries and a
half ago, The shores of the bay on each side of the entrance are rocky
and broken, but further in the rocks give place to a beach of large grey
shingle. As you advance along the shore up the bay the banks of shingle
on each side

{Page 137}

curve into two horns shelving out towards the centre of the bay, and
forming a bar extending nearly the whole way across the entrance to the
inner cove. Within the bar of shingle lies enclosed a lovely cove, its
quiet waters fringed by a curved beach of great smooth stones. On either
hand it is shut in by steep banks crowned with dark forest, and from the
steep grey beach at the bottom of the cove a wooded valley runs inland.
Standing just outside the shingle bar at the entrance to this inner
harbour it needs no great effort of the imagination to call up the scene
on that 3rd December, 1642. Away out in the offing, near yonder
grotesquely shaped Green Island, the high-pooped old Dutch ships lie at
anchor. The wind is blowing fresh from the eastward, and two boats put
off from the ships and stand for the shore. The wind increases to half a
gale, and while the smaller boat runs back to the ships the larger boat
changes her course and heads for this bay. As she approaches we can see
on board of her Tasman himself; and some of the Heemskerk's officers;
Gerrit Janszoon, the master; Abraham Coomans, the supercargo; and Peter
Jacobszoon, the carpenter. The surf breaks violently on the shingle, and
Tasman finds that to land in such a sea is impossible without great
danger of wrecking the boat. Must he, then, after all, sail away without
taking formal possession of the newly-discovered land? There is a short
deliberation as the rowers rest on their oars, and then the carpenter,
Jacobszoon, hastily throws off his clothes, plunges into the sea, and,
pushing his flag-pole before him, strikes out for the shore. Making his
way through the breaking surf he lands on the shingle beach, and there,
at the foot of the steep slope, where four stately gums stand in a
crescent on the hill side, he plants the flag of the Prince Stadtholder.
We can imagine the cheer which greeted the raising of the flag as the
carpenter, in the name of the States-General, thus took possession of the
new territory of the Great South Land. Then the boat is brought as close
in to the shore as possible, the carpenter swims out to her again through
the surf, and they return on board the Heemskerk. "Leaving the flag,"
says Tasman, "as a memento to posterity and to the inhabitants of the
country, who, though they did not show themselves, we thought were not
far off, carefully watching the proceedings of the invaders of their

{Page 138}

Another place of interest on this coast to which we paid a visit is
Wilmot Harbour, locally known as Lagoon Bay, a deep cove to the south of
the basaltic promontory of Cape Frederick Henry. Here is the one solitary
dwelling on this part of the Peninsula. It is probably the only locality
which has altered much in appearance since the time of Tasman. Everywhere
else the wild bush remains untouched, but here is green pasture, and even
a small cornfield or two. The southern headland of the harbour is one of
the wildest and most picturesque of spots. Standing on the grassy surface
of its narrow extremity, which is rent into chasms and fissures, you look
down upon the sea breaking tumultuously into a deep gulf below. On the
other side of the gulf, to the south, there rises abruptly out of the
water the grassy and wooded steep of the headland, with bold outline like
Mount Direction. Turning to the north you see at your feet two rocky
islands, their precipices crowned with wood and scrub, the waves heaving
and swirling round their bases. Across the mouth of the harbour stand the
basaltic columns of Cape Frederick Henry--a lesser Cape Raoul. Beyond,
over outlying rocks and islets, is the place of Tasman's anchorage;
while in the distance, twelve or fifteen miles off across the sea, loom
the peaks of Maria Island.

On our return we took the way of the Two Mile Beach (the North Bay of the
maps). Behind the sandhills at the back of the beach lies a large
lagoon, which discharges its brackish waters by a narrow sandy channel at
the south corner of the beach. This is the spot where Tasman's boat's
crew landed--on the morning after their exploration of Blackman's Bay--to
search for water, and where they found that the sea breaking through into
the lagoon had made the water too brackish for use. The spot is easily
identified from Tasman's description, and is probably hardly altered in
appearance by the lapse of two centuries and a half. The beach is a fine
stretch of broad white sand two miles long, on which the great ocean
rollers break splendidly, and is backed by a line of low sand hills,
behind which lies the lagoon.

For more than a century after Tasman anchored off Green Island no
navigator ventured to follow him into the stormy seas that wash the dark
cliffs of the Great South Land. The first of the moderns who sighted the
coast of Van Diemen's Land was the French captain

{Page 139}

Marion du Fresne in 1772. Marion made the West Coast a little to the
south of Tasman's landfall, and, following almost the same course as the
earlier navigator, his ships, the Mascarin and Marquis de Castries, on
the 5th March, 1772, anchored at a spot somewhat to the north-west of the
Heemskerk's anchorage in 1642. Marion took this to be the Frederick Henry
Bay of Tasmania but, as we have already seen, this was almost certainly
an error, and since the visit of the Mascarin the outer bay, as
distinguished from the inner, has borne on the charts the more
appropriate designation of Marion Bay. The description in the narrative
of the voyage(9) is not sufficiently exact to enable us to determine the
precise spot where the French landed, but it appears to have been on the
Two Mile Beach (North Bay of our present maps). On this beach it was
that the aborigines of Tasmania first came into contact with Europeans.
The meeting was an ill-omened one. The blacks resisted the landing, and
attacked Marion's party with stones and spears. The French, in
retaliation, fired upon them, killing one man and wounding others. The
ships lay at anchor in the bay for six days, during which the French
explored the country for a considerable distance, searching for fresh
water, and timber for spars, but they saw nothing more of the natives
after this first fatal encounter. Being unable to find either good water
or timber suitable for his needs, Marion sailed on March 10 for New
Zealand, where he met his death in a treacherous attack on his people by
the Maoris.

The next navigator who visited the Tasmanian coast was Captain Tobias
Furneaux, Cook's second in command on his second voyage of discovery.. It
is to Furneaux's blunders that the confusion respecting Frederick Henry
Bay is due. The two ships, the Resolution and the Adventure, were
separated by a storm in latitude 50 south, between the Cape and
Australia. Cook, in the Resolution, kept on his course for New Zealand;
Furneaux, in the Adventure, being short of water, bore up for the land
laid down by Tasman as Van Diemen's Land. On March 9, 1773, Furneaux
sighted the land at a point which he took to be Tasman's South Cape. The
point was, in fact, South West Cape, and from this

(9)Nouveau voyage a la mer du Sud, commence sous les ordres de M. Marion
Redige d'apres les journaux de M. Crozet (Paris, 1783). Through the
exertions of Mr. McClymont and Mr. A. Mault, Marion's charts of Van
Diemen's Land have been discovered in Paris, and fac similes of them
obtained. See the Society's Papers and Proceedings for 1889.

{Page 140}

initial error the whole course of subsequent blunders arose. From South
West Cape he sailed eastward intending to make Tasman's anchorage in
Frederick Henry Bay. Reaching the South Cape, he mistook it for the
Boreel Islands, south of Bruny, and mistook the entrance to
D'Entrecasteaux Channel for Tasman's Storm Bay. The south point of Bruny
he mistook for Tasman's Island (the Pillar), and called it Tasman's
Head. Rounding Bruny Island he stood north, under the impression that he
was sailing along the east coast of Van Diemen's Land, and in the evening
came to an anchor in a bay of which he says--"We at first took this bay
to be that which Tasman called Frederick Henry Bay, but afterwards found
that his is laid down five leagues to the northward of this." Furneaux
named his anchorage Adventure Bay, the point to the north he called Cape
Frederick Henry--believing that Tasman's Frederick Henry Bay lay to the
north of this cape--and the opposite shore of Tasman's Peninsula he laid
down on his chart as Maria's Isles. After five days' stay in Adventure
Bay, he sailed out and rounded the Pillar, under the impression that he
was rounding the south point of Maria Island. Thence he proceeded north
as far as the Furneaux Group, and then bore away for New Zealand to
rejoin Cook.

Cook, on his third voyage, cast anchor in Adventure Bay on January 24,
1777, without detecting Furneaux's mistake or correcting his charts.

In 1789, Captain J. H. Cox, in the brig Mercury, anchored in the strait
between Maria Island and the mainland, but, misled by the charts of
Furneaux and Cook never suspected that he was within a few miles of
Tasman's Frederick Henry Bay.

In April, 1792 Admiral D'Entrecasteaux, with the ships Recherche and
Esperance, sighted the Mewstone, and bore up for the mainland, intending
to make Cook's anchorage in Adventure Bay. Through an error of his pilot,
instead of rounding Bruny Island, he stood to the west of it, and found
that he was not in Adventure Bay, but in the entrance of the channel,
which he (like Cook) believed to be the Storm Bay of Tasman.
D'Entrecasteaux explored the channel which bears his name, ascended our
river, which he named Rivire du Nord, and explored the wide bay to the
north-east, which he named Baie du Nord.. This bay, he thought,
communicated with Tasman's Frederick Henry Bay on the east coast, and

{Page 141}

under this impression the land which Cook had erroneously laid down as
Maria Island he named Ile d'Abel Tasman.

In 1794, Capt. John Hayes, in the ships Duke of Clarence and Duchess,
visited Storm Bay--although the name does not appear on his charts.(10).
He evidently had only Cook's chart, since he places Adventure Bay,
Tasman's Head, and Maria's Isle as they are laid down by Cook. Capt.
Hayes re-named all the other localities in Storm Bay, and it is to him
that we owe the name of the River Derwent. The Baie du Nord of
D'Entrecasteaux he called Henshaw's Bay.

In December, 1798, Flinders and Bass, in their first circumnavigation of
the Island in the Norfolk, sailed up Storm Bay and explored and surveyed
the Baie du Nord of D'Entrecasteaux. Flinders says that he was at the
time quite ignorant that this bay had ever been entered before, and,
misled by the errors of Furneaux and Cook, he laid it down on his first
sketch chart(11) as Frederick Henry Bay.

In January, 1802, the French discovery expedition under Admiral Baudin,
in the ships Geographe and Naturaliste, arrived in D'Entrecasteaux
Channel. During a stay of some weeks they completed the surveys of
Admiral D'Entrecasteaux, and explored and surveyed the Baie du Nord. They
then sailed for the east coast and anchored their ships in the passage
between Maria Island and the mainland. From this point Freycinet,
Baudin's lieutenant, made the first thorough examination of Tasman's
Frederik Hendrik Bay. He explored it as far as East Bay Neck, and was
thus enabled to correct the mistakes of former navigators. He found that
D'Entrecasteaux had been mistaken in supposing that there was a channel
between Frederick Henry Bay and the Baie du Nord, and that the supposed
Ile d'Abel Tasman was a double peninsula, to which he gave the names of
Forrestier's and Tasman's Peninsula (Presqu'ile d'Abel Tasman). He also
proved that Flinders(12) had been in error in applying the name Frederick
Henry to the Baie du Nord. The charts of Baudin's expedition, constructed
by Faure, were the first to show this

(10)See Mr. A. Mault's paper, with fac simile of Hay's chart, in the
Society's Papers and Proceedings for 1889.

(11)See Mr. Mault's paper and f ac simile of chart, cited above.

(12)Pron's narrative of Baudin's voyage was published in 1807. The author
had, therefore, the opportunity of comparing Flinders' charts which were
seized at the Mauritius in 1803.

{Page 142}

coast accurately: in them for the first time the outer port was laid
down as Baie Marion, and the inner one as Baie Frederick Hendrick.

Many years later, after his liberation from his long Mauritius captivity,
Flinders came to write his "Voyage to Terra Australis." He had then had
the opportunity of comparing his own surveys of fifteen years before with
the French charts, and correcting his errors. In his atlas, therefore,
the Baie du Nord is correctly named North Bay, and the name of Frederick
Henry Bay is restored to its proper place on the east coast; though
Flinders applies it to the outer port and not to the inner, which bears
the name on Tasman's map.

The original error of Furneaux, perpetuated as it was by the high
authority of Cook and of Flinders' first chart, had obtained too firm a
hold to be displaced. On all the early English charts the Baie du Nord
was laid down as Frederick Henry Bay, and by this name it is alluded to
in all the early records; in Collins' despatches;(13) in Knopwood's
diary; (14) as such it continued to be known to the early settlers, and
so it is universally known to the present day.

After the publication of Flinders' atlas some of the early map-makers
endeavoured to restore the names to their proper localities. Thus in a
chart of Van Diemen's Land compiled by G.. W. Evans. Surveyor-General and
published in London in 1821. and also in a chart published in London by
Cross in 1826, North Bay is correctly placed, and the name of Frederick
Henry is in the first map applied to the outer bay, and in the second
more correctly to the inner one. In Assistant Surveyor-General Scott's
map published in Hobart by Ross in 1830, the name Frederick Henry appears
in North Bay, but in Arrowsmith's map published in London in 1842, the
alternative names are given, viz.--Frederick Henry Bay or North Bay;
while the name Frederick Henry also appears correctly in the inner bay to
which it was originally applied by Tasman. In all modern maps, however,
D'Entrecasteaux's name of North Bay has been most inappropriately
transferred to what I have described as the Two Mile Beach, on the east
coast of Forestier's Peninsula.

The Fredrik Henrik Bay of Tasman is now known as Blackman's Bay. On early
maps the name of Blackman's

(13)King to Collins, January 8, 1806; Collins to King, June 24, 1805.

(14)Knopwood's diary, February 12, 1804.

{Page 143}

Bay is applied sometimes to the Two Miles Beach, and some times to
Wilmot Harbour. By what freak of the map-makers of our Survey Department
these names have been shuffled about so oddly I am quite at a loss to

The names as they stand are perhaps now too firmly established to be
changed at once. But I would venture to offer to the Lands Office two

(1.) As there is already a Cape Frederick Henry on the east coast of
Forestier's Peninsula, which rightly marks Tasman's anchorage, a more
appropriate name should be given to the other Cape Frederick Henry,
forming the north point of Adventure Bay on Bruny Island. Let the
last-mentioned Cape bear the name of its discoverer, and be re-christened
"Cape Furneaux." This would remove one source of misapprehension.

(2.) Though it may not be possible at once to restore the correct names
of the bays, yet they may be indicated without causing confusion, and
indeed with distinct advantage to the popular apprehension of our
history. In all future maps let the names originally given be added in
brackets. D'Entrecasteaux's Baie du Nord would then appear as "Frederick
Henry Bay or North Bay," and in Blackman's Bay would also be added
"Fredrik Hendrik's Bay of Tasman."

Thus to perpetuate the remembrance of the landing-place of Tasman would
be a graceful act of justice to the memory of the great seaman who, two
centuries and a half ago, first circumnavigated Australia, and has given
his illustrious name to this fair island of Tasmania.

End of this Project Gutenberg of Australia ebook

This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia