Coastal Exploration

The following are the major pre and early colonial maritime explorers of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). Others, like Captain John Henry Cox (July 1789), Captain William Reed (1798), Captain William Douglas Campbell (1798) and Captain John Black (1801) made sightings and went ashore - some even named coastal features - but did not significantly contribute towards the exploration and charting of the coast of Tasmania, and for that reason their exploits are not detailed here.




Abel Tasman (1642)


Dutch seafarer, explorer and merchant, Abel Tasman, was the first recorded European to sight and sail along the shores of Tasmania. The first two mountains he sighted were named Mount Zeehan and Mount Heemskirk, after the expedition's ships.

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Marion du Fresne (1772)


In 1769, a French expedition set out for the Pacific led by Marion du Fresne. He followed Tasman's route along the coast before taking possession of Van Diemen's Land for France on 5 March 1772.

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Tobias Furneaux (1773; 1777)


Commander of HMS Adventure on James Cook's second voyage of discovery in the Pacific, Tobias Furneaux explored the east coast of Tasmania after becoming separated from Cook off the coast of Tasmania.

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James Cook (1777)


Noted British navigaor and explorer James Cook visited Adventure Bay on Bruny Island in 1777 during his third voyage into the Pacific aboard HMS Resolution with William Bligh as sailing master.

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William Bligh (1788; 1792)


William Bligh revisited Adventure Bay in 1788 aboard HMS Bounty and planted a number of fruit trees on the east side of the bay which he brought from the Cape of Good Hope.

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Bruni d'Entrecasteaux (1792)


William Bligh revisited Adventure Bay in 1788 aboard HMS Bounty and planted a number of fruit trees on the east side of the bay which he brought from the Cape of Good Hope.

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John Hayes (1794)



With the ships Duke of Clarence and Duchess of Bengal, Lieut. John Hayes visited Tasmania, re-naming the discoveries of D'Entrecasteaux. Some of these we again re-named by Baudin in 1802.

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Matthew Flinders (1798)


Accompanied by Georges Bass, Lieut. Matthew Flinders became the first person to circumnavigate, sailing from Sydney on a voyage of exploration aboard HMS Norfolk.

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John Murray (1802)


John Murray explored the coast of Kind Island in 1802 during an expedition of exploration of the southern coastline on HMS Lady Nelson, mainly around Port Phillip Bay in Victoria.

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Charles Robbins (1802)


Fearing Nicolas Baudin was about to establish a colony there, Gov. King despatched Lieut. Charles Collins from Sydney to King Island to claim Van Diemen's Land for Britain.

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Nicolas Baudin (1802)


Nicolas Baudin led a substantial French expedition to explore the coast of Australia, a voyage that would shadow Matthew Flinders' similar journey around Australia.

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James Kelly (1815)


In December 1815 mariner, explorer and port official James Kelly left Hobart in command of an expedition to circumnavigate Tasmania using the whaleboat Elizabeth.

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European Maritime Exploration of Tasmania





1.black - 1642, Abel Janszoon Tasman, Dutch

2. Red - 1772, Nicholas Marion du Fresne, French

3. Light blue - 1773, Tobias Furneaux, British

4. blue - 1777, James Cook, British

5a and 5b. orange - 1792 and 1793, Antoine Raymond Joseph Bruni d'Entrecasteaux, French

6. green - 1798, George Bass, British (alone)

7. dark green - 1798, Matthew Flinders and George Bass, British





Main anchorages of the first explorers



1.black - 1642, Abel Janszoon Tasman, Dutch

2. Red - 1772, Nicholas Marion du Fresne, French

4. blue - 1777, James Cook, British

5. orange - Antoine Raymond Joseph Bruni d'Entrecasteaux, French
5a. 1792, d'Entrecasteaux Channel
5b. 1793, Recherche Bay

7. dark green - 1798, Matthew Flinders (British) and George Bass (together)

a - c. grey - 1801, Nicholas Baudin, French
a. Huon River, b. Maria Island, c. Great Oyster Bay