Faces in Time

A tribute to some of the many people who made their mark in the history of Tasmania

Aboriginal Tasmanians

First arriving in Tasmania (then a peninsula of Australia) around 40,000 years ago, the ancestors of the Aboriginal Tasmanians were cut off from the Australian mainland by rising sea levels c.6000 BC. They were entirely isolated from the rest of the human race for 8,000 years until British contact. For much of the 20th century, the Tasmanian Aboriginal people were widely, and erroneously, thought of as being an extinct cultural and ethnic group. Contemporary figures (2016) for the number of people of Tasmanian Aboriginal descent vary according to the criteria used to determine this identity, ranging from 6,000 to over 23,000.

Tasmanian Aboriginal at Oyster Cove, 1868. Photo: courtesy National Library of Australia

Before British colonisation in 1803, there were an estimated 3,000 -15,000 Palawa. The Palawa population suffered a drastic drop in numbers within three decades, so that by 1835 only some 400 full-blooded Tasmanian aborigines survived, most of this remnant being incarcerated in camps where all but 47 died within the following 12 years. No consensus exists as to the cause, over which a major controversy arose, and it is still debated today.

Tasmanian Aboriginals

More information online

Aboriginal Tasmanians: Wikipedia
About Aboriginal Tasmanians: Encyclopaedia Britannica

Notable Aboriginal Tasmanians

Mathinna (1835-1856)

Most of the towns, properties, mountains and landmarks in Tasmania were given names by the early settlers that related to their homeland. Some have either retained their Aboriginal names or have been given names, such as the former mining town of Mathinna. The story of the person behind the name Mathinna is of more significance than the history of the town itself, as it is a reminder of a dark chapter in Tasmanian history that should never be forgotten or repeated.
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Truganini (1812-1876)

Trugernanner, often referred to as Truganini, was a woman widely considered to be the last "full blood" Palawa (Tasmanian Aborigine). There are a number of other transcriptions (or spellings) of her Palawa language name, including: Trugannini, Trucanini, Trucaminni, and Trucaninny. The man appointed to protect the Tasmanian Aboriginals during the Black Wars of the 1830s, George Augustus Robinson (1791-1866), gave European names to all the Tasmanians he brought to Flinders Island, believed by many to be part of an attempt to suppress their culture. Hers was Lalla Rooke, however she resisted using it and was only ever called it by Robinson.
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Tarenorerer (Walyer)

Tarenorerer, a young Van Diemen's Land Tomeginee woman, known as Walyer by the sealers, became a resistance fighter in 1828. She gathered an army of other disenchanted Aborigines in warfare. She 'hated the luta tawin [white man] as much as she did a black snake', for the injuries perpetrated against her people through massacre, torture, enslavement, incarceration, disease and the stealing of Aboriginal women by sealers.
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Fanny Cochrane Smith (1834-1905)

Fanny Cochrane is believed to have been the last speaker of a Tasmanian Aboriginal language. She was born in 1834 at Wybalenna on Flinders island. Her mother was Tanganutura of the North eastern tribe. As a young girl Tanganutura had been moved to Wybalenna on Flinders Island with others of her tribe and family by George Augustus Robinson, Protector of the Aborigines. She was abducted soon after her arrival by a sealer named James Parish. Upon her return to Wybalenna, Tanganutura took Nicermenic as her husband.
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Fictional Tasmanians

Taz, The Tasmanian Devil

The Tasmanian Devil, often referred to as Taz, is an animated cartoon character featured in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes series of cartoons. The character appeared in only five shorts before Warner Bros. Cartoons closed down in 1964, but marketing and television appearances later propelled the character to new popularity in the 1990s.
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Young Albert Einstein

Young Albert Einstein is a fictional character based loosely on the notable scientist Albert Einstein, as depicted in the 1988 Australian jmade comedy filom, Young Einstein, directed by and starring Yahoo Serious. In the film, the early life of the physicist Albert Einstein is relocated to Tasmania. Here, he is the son of an apple farmer in the early 1900s, who splits a beer atom with a chisel in order to add bubbles to beer, discovers the theory of relativity and travels to Sydney to patent it.
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Celebrity Tasmanians

Errol Flynn, actor

Once upon a time, when old movies travelled the crackling airwaves and before everything in black-and-white had been banished to TCM, Tasmanian born Errol Flynn was one of the kings of late-night TV. Countless hours of school-night sleep were sacrificed to "Captain Blood," "The Sea Hawk," "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and Flynn's cry of "Welcome to Sherwood!". His star may have faded since his heyday in the 1930s and 40s, but the dashing Flynn is regarded even now as one of the most beautiful men to ever work in Hollywood.
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Marjorie Blackwell, Housewife superstar

In the 1950s, Marjorie Blackwell was Tasmania's queen of the household scene. Often referred to as 'Marjorie Bligh', 'Australia's Mrs Beeton' or 'Tasmania's Mrs Beeton', in Marjorie Blackwell's self-styled career as a housewife superstar, she married three times and produced six books on cooking, home economics, craft, history and gardening. It has long been rumoured that Marjorie was an inspiration for Barry Humphries' Dame Edna Everage. Humphries has denied it, but admitted he was a fan. He has described her as "no slouch in the matrimonial department". "I don't think Edna has ever admired anybody as much as she admires Marjorie Bligh," he has said.


Her dream home, 'Climar', was built by her and her first husband Cliff Blackwell in Campbell Town in 1955. The name 'Climar' is made up from the first three letters of their christian names - It features a fence with the notes from 'The Melody of Love' and a gate with a piano accordion design motif.
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John Glover, artist

John Glover arrived in Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania) on his 64th birthday in 1831, two decades before the goldrush of the 1850s. He brought with him a strong reputation as a landscape painter. He acquired one of the largest grants of land in Van Diemen's Land at the time at Mills Plains, Deddington, near Evandale. He named his new property Patterdale after Blowick Farm, a property near Patterdale, at the foot of Ullswater in the English Lake District, which he had once owned.

Glover is best known now for his paintings of the Tasmanian landscape. He gave a fresh treatment to the effects of the Australian sunlight on the native bushland by depicting it bright and clear, a definite departure from the darker 'English country garden' paradigm. Note this example Patterdale Farm . His treatment of the local flora was also new because it was a more accurate depiction of the Australian trees and scrubland. Glover noted the "remarkable peculiarity of the trees in Australia and observed that "however numerous, they rarely prevent your tracing through them the whole distant country".
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Michael Howe


Bushranging began in Tasmania in the early years of settlement (then called Van Diemen's Land), when near starvation meant convicts were sent into the bush to hunt. Some remained there, living by stealing from or trading with settlers. Their numbers grew as more convicts escaped, and until the 1850s there were many bushrangers. Attempts made to suppress them included a proclamation in May 1814 promising a pardon if they came in. Below are the more notorious of the hundreds of convicts who escaped from custody and made a living off the land.

• Martin Cash
• Alexander Pearce
• William Timothy (alias Dido)
• Matthew Brady
• Michael Howe
• William Westwood (aka Jackey Jackey)
• John "Rocky" Whelan

George Arthur

George Arthur

Governors of Tasmania

The Governor of Tasmania is the representative in the Australian state of Tasmania of the reigning monarch (Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia). The Governor performs the same constitutional and ceremonial functions at the state level as the Governor-General of Australia does at the national level.

In accordance with the conventions of the Westminster system of parliamentary government, the Governor nearly always acts solely on the advice of the head of the elected government, the Premier of Tasmania. Nevertheless, the Governor retains the reserve powers of the Crown, and has the right to dismiss the Premier.

The official residence of the Governor is Government House located at the Queens Domain.

The first Australian-born Governor of Tasmania was Sir Stanley Burbury (appointed 1973). The first Tasmanian-born governor was Sir Guy Green (appointed 1995). Since Burbury, all Tasmanian governors have been Australian-born, except for Peter Underwood, who was born in Britain but emigrated to Australia when a teenager. The position was vacant for over five months in 2014, due to the unexpected death of the incumbent Peter Underwood on 7 July, with Chief Justice and Lieutenant-Governor Alan Blow acting as Administrator. The state's first female governor, Professor Kate Warner AC, was sworn in on 10 December 2014.

As from the appointment of Professor Kate Warner as governor, The Queen, upon the recommendation of the Premier, accorded Professor Warner, and all future Governors, the title 'The Honourable' for life.

The Governors of Tasmania

Political Tasmanians

Joseph Lyons, Prime Minister (1879-1939)

Joseph Aloysius Lyons CH was the tenth Prime Minister of Australia, serving from January 1932 until his death. He had earlier served as Premier of Tasmania from 1923 to 1928, and was the first, and to date only, prime minister from Tasmania. Lyons was born on 15 September 1879 at Stanley, Tasmania, son of Irish-born parents Michael Henry Lyons and his wife Ellen, nee Carroll. His early education was at St Joseph's Convent School, Ulverstone.
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Maritime Explorers


On 24th November 1642, Dutch navigator and explorer Abel Tasman became the first non Aboriginal to encounter the coast of Tasmania, naming the island after the governor of The Dutch East Indies, Antonio van Diemen. Its name would later be changed to Tasmania to honour Tasman himself and his achievement. The first two mountains he sighted on the island were named Mount Zeehan and Mount Heemskirk, after their ships, names which are still used today. Over the next 150 years, a pocession of French and English navigators followed in Tasman's footsteps, mapping the island's coastline and revealing its secrets to the world.

Maritime Explorers of Tasmania

Henry Hellyer

Henry Hellyer (1790–1832), explorer and surveyor, was one of the first officers of the Van Diemen's Land Company, the principal explorer of north-western Tasmania, and a major founder of Burnie. When the Van Dieman's Land Company was formed Hellyer was one of the first to sign on, utilising his skills to transform the land of north west Tasmania. He named Valentine`s Peak, designed the now-historic "Highfield House" in Stanley and, most importantly, under the most arduous of conditions, he made a road.
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Jørgen Jørgensen

The Convict King

Jørgen Jørgensen is one of the most fascinating characters in Tasmanian - indeed Australian - history. Jørgensen was an associate of the famous botanists Joseph Banks and William Jackson Hooker. He sailed to the colony of New South Wales (Sydney) in 1800 and promptly joined the crew of the survey vessel Lady Nelson. He was present at the establishment of Hobart he explored much of Tasmania including the North West and was employed by the Van Diemen's Land Council as a Constable. He took part in the 'Black Line' Aboriginal clearance exercise and had a hand in the construction of the famous Ross bridge, even managing to have his image engraved on one of the iconic illustrative panels on the bridge.
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Geographical Features Named By Explorers

Named by Abel Tasman (1642)

Van Diemen's Land • Antonio Van Diemen
Maria Island • Maria Van Diemen
Schouten Island • Justus Schouten
Maatsuyker Island • Joan Maatsuyker
Visscher Island • Frans Jacobszoon Visscher
Frederick Hendrick Bay • Prince Regent Frederick Henrijk
De Witt Island • Gerritt Frederikszoon de Witt
Sweers Island • Salomon Sweers
Boreel Head (renamed Cape Egmont by British explorer James Cook in 1769) • Pieter Boreel

Named after French Explorers

Freycinet Peninsula • Louis de Freycinet
Marion Bay • Marion Du Fresne
Bruny Island/D'Entrecasteaux Channel • Bruny D'Entrecasteaux
Huon River • Jean-Michel Huon de Kermadec
Cape Raoul • Joseph Francois Raoul
Maignon Bay • Pere Maignon
Cape Bernier • Pierre Francois Bernier, astronomer
Cape Peron • Francois Peron, naturalist
Riedle Bay • Anselme Riedle, gardener
Cape Boulanger • Charles Pierre Boullanger, midshipman
Pt Mauge • Rene Mauge, zoologist
Pt Lesueur • Charles Alexander Lesueur, artist
Cape Bougainville • Yves Phillippe Boughainville, midshipman, Geographe
Cape Bailly • Joseph Charles Bailly, mineralogist
Taillefer Rocks • Hubert Jules Taillefer, doctor
Cape Baudin • Nicolas Baudin
Ransonnet Bay • Jacques-Joseph Ransonnet, engineer

Named after British Explorers

Furneaux Islands • Tobias Furneaux
Bass Strait • George Bass
Flinders Bay • Matthew Flinders
Robbins Island • Charles Robbins
Stokes Point • John Lort Stokes
Robbins Island • Charles Robbins
Stokes Point • John Lort Stokes
Cape Wickham • John Clements Wickham
Point Hibbs • Peter Hibbs

Royal Tasmanians

Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark

Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, Countess of Monpezat, RE, was born Mary Elizabeth Donaldson on 5 February 1972 in Hobart, Tasmania. She is the wife of Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark. Frederik is the heir apparent to the throne of Denmark, which means that at the time Frederik inherits the throne, Mary will automatically assume the feminine form of his title and rank, becoming Queen consort of Denmark. The couple met at the Slip Inn, a pub in Sydney, when the prince was visiting Australia during the 2000 Summer Olympics.
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The Face Behind The Name

Down through the years, there have been many people from all walks of life whose names have been assigned to Tasmanian places, localities and geographical features, yet the knowledge of who they were and why their names are perpatuated on our maps and street signs has been lost in time. These people, many of whom never set foot on Tasmanian soil, are too numerous for all to be mentioned, so we have selected a few whose named are well known but often there stories are not.
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Architects and Builders

Few people in the history of a state or nation leave such a visible mark on the landascape as those who designed and built the roads, bridges and buildings that visually define a place. Though Tasmania began as a convict settlement, among its early ranks were many skilled designers and tradesmen who were employed and encouraged to to apply their skills in the creation of the historic landmarks that dot the towns, cities and countryside of Tasmania.

Working in arduous conditions with limited tools of trade, and utilising a workforce of unskilled and often unwilling convicts, they laid the foundations of the towns and cities of modern day Tasmania. Many examples of their workmanship survive and form the basis of Tasmania's built heritage.

William Wilson

Superintendent of Stone Masons

(Bonnie) William Wilson, Van Diemen's Land's Superintendent of Stone Masons 1820-1824 and Hobart's first Government Architect, is best known as the stonemason responsible for the construction of the bridge over the Coal River at Richmond, Tasmania, which is Australia's oldest bridge.
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John Lee Archer

Civil Engineer and Colonial Architect

John Lee Archer was the Civil Engineer and Colonial Architect in Van Diemen's Land, serving from 1827 to 1838. During his tenure, Archer was responsible for all Tasmanian government buildings including those for penal and military purposes.
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James Blackburn

Colonial Architect

According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, although the life of English born civil engineer, surveyor and architect James Blackburn "was predominantly one of unrealized potentialities, he has claims to be considered one of the greatest engineers of his period in Australia, and his architectural achievements established him as Tasmania's most advanced and original architect.
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Henry Hunter

Colonial Architect

Henry Hunter was a most prolific private architect of both ecclesiastical and lay buildings, dominating the architectural scene in Tasmania. He was much influenced by Augustus Pugin and followed his books extensively.
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Danial Herbert


Danial Herbert was the talented stomemason who is remembered for his exquisite stone carvings on Ross Bridge. Afer completing work on Ross bridge, Herbert was given a pardon. He had married in 1835 and he and his wife, Mary Witherington, remained in Ross, where he was prosperous as a stone mason until his death in 1868 at the age of 71.
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Pioneer Tasmanians

John "Red" Kelly

The Kelly homestead, Beveridge, Victoria

John 'Red' Kelly, father of the bushranger Ned Kelly, worked in the township of Evandle in the 1840s as a convict. The eldest of five sons from Clonbrogan in the county of Tipperary, Ireland, John was the first of the Kellys to go to Australia. The truth is, he was sent, because on 4th December 1840 he stole two pigs "value about six pounds" from a James Cooney of Ballysheehan, and then went and sold them at Cahir market about 14 miles further on. So the police records tell us anyway and the authorities seem to have trusted the police reports because on 7th January 1841, John Kelly was found guilty at Cashel Court and sentenced to 7 years transportation to Van Diemen's Land for pig stealing.

Kelly arrived in Hobart Town aboard the The Prince Regent on 2nd January 1842. By this time John Kelly had already served one year of his sentence and the next six years were spent at convict and labouring jobs in Tasmania. Towards the end of his sentence Kelly found himself on the road gang constructing the new road from Evandale to Longford. On 11th January 1848 he was granted his Certificate of Freedom. Sometime during 1848/49 John Kelly crossed the Bass Strait to the Port Philip Colony, now Melbourne, and he headed inland along the old Sydney Road and worked as a carpenter around Donnybrook and Kilmore, an area with many Irish settlers.

In 1850 he met Ellen Quinn, who had come out from Ballymena, County Antrim, with her family as a young girl. They were married in Melbourne on 18th November 1850. They purchased land at Beveridge, Victoria, then rented 40 acres near Avenel, and it was here that Ned and his seven siblings were born. John Kelly died of Dropsy on 27th December 1866, aged 46 years, when Ned was 11 years old.

James Cox, pastoralist, merchant

James Cox (1790-1866), landowner, was born on 1 November 1790 at Devizes, Wiltshire, England, the second son of Captain William Cox, later of Clarendon, Hawkesbury, New South Wales. His father supervised the building on the first road over the Blue Mountains.

Educated at King Edward's Grammar School, Salisbury, James went to sea to fit himself for colonial life, before joining his parents in New South Wales in 1806. In 1814 he moved to Van Diemen's Land, where he received a grant of 700 acres (283 ha), and successfully petitioned for another 6000 acres (2428 ha) at Morven. Next year, mainly through fear of bushrangers and Aboriginals, he moved to Launceston and became a wholesale merchant, also contracting with the government commissariat to supply meat to the settlements at Launceston and George Town. At the end of the year he was made a magistrate, and in 1820 reported on the establishments at Port Dalrymple to Commissioner John Thomas Bigge.
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John Batman, grazier

John Batman (21 January 1801 – 6 May 1839) was an Australian grazier, entrepreneur and explorer, best known for his role in the founding of Melbourne. Born and raised in the then-British colony of New South Wales, Batman settled in Van Diemen's Land (modern-day Tasmania) in the 1820s, where he rose to prominence for hunting bushrangers and as a participant in the Black War. He later co-founded the Port Phillip Association and led an expedition which explored the Port Phillip area on the Australian mainland with the goal of establishing a new settlement.
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