Palawah - History - Early European Contact

Early European Contact

Abel Jansen Tasman, credited as the first European to discover Tasmania (in 1642) and who named it Van Diemen’s Land, did not encounter any of the Aboriginal Tasmanians when he landed. In 1772, a French exploratory expedition under Marion Dufresne visited Tasmania. At first, contact with the Aboriginal people was friendly; however the Aboriginal Tasmanians became alarmed when another boat was dispatched towards the shore. It was reported that spears and stones were thrown and the French responded with musket fire, killing at least one Aboriginal person and wounding several others. Two later French expeditions led by Bruni d'Entrecasteaux in 1792-93 and Nicolas Baudin in 1802 made friendly contact with the Aboriginal Tasmanians; the d'Entrecasteaux expedition doing so over an extended period of time. The Resolution under Captain Tobias Furneaux (part of an expedition led by Captain James Cook) had visited in 1773 but made no contact with the Aboriginal Tasmanians although gifts were left for them in unoccupied shelters found on Bruny Island. The first known British contact with the Aboriginal Tasmanians was on Bruny Island by Captain Cook in 1777. The contact was peaceful. Captain William Bligh also visited Bruny Island in 1788 and made peaceful contact with the Aboriginal Tasmanians.

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