E is for Early Explorers

On the timeline for this blog is  a list of early explorers of the district. In this post I am going to look at those sea explorers who visited.

Abel Tasman 1642

He was a very well known sea explorer and in 2017, there were many celebrations held in the community relating to Abel Tasman and his voyage to Van Diemen’s Land. A post written on the Sorell History Society blog shows how his voyage affected the municipality of Sorell. Tasman’s voyage included setting foot on the land and seeing clouds of smoke, but no meeting of the Aboriginal tribes.

Marion du Fresne 1772

Many men on his voyage kept journals which included the first encounters Europeans had with Aboriginal people.  These can be found on the Australia on the map website. This site also includes information from Abel Tasman journals.

These two explorers dropped anchor in what we call Blackman Bay (Marion Bay) nowadays but was originally called Frederick Henrik Bay. Due to poor mapping of southern Van Diemen’s Land, many errors were made when naming bays in the municipality.

Bruni D’Entrecasteaux 1792-1793

He anchored in Storm Bay in 1792 and while the crew looked after the ship, he mapped much of the southern coast. On a second visit in 1793, he examined more of Storm Bay, particularly the northern section including what was to be known as Riviere du Nord or Derwent River in future years.

George Bass and Matthew Flinders 1798

As part of their circumnavigation of Van Diemen’s Land, Bass and Flinders mapped and named more of southern VDL including Storm Bay and the Derwent estuary. On Christmas Day, Bass climbed Mount Table now known as Mount Wellington. Norfolk Bay was given its name by Flinders after the boat they were using on their voyage.

Nicholas Baudin 1802

By January 1802, Baudin was mapping more of the coastline (see maps) that had already been done by Bass and Flinders. So this is where many places ended up with two different names. Pierre Faure was a French geographer who travelled with Baudin and charted and named Carlton River (Riviere Brue) and Pittwater (Basin Ransonnet).


Map of the municipality
Publisher: Hall, S. (Sidney) 1828

Image Credit: Click on map to go to original

“David Rumsey Map Collection, David Rumsey Map Center, Stanford Libraries”

4 thoughts on “E is for Early Explorers

  1. You list Marion Bay and Blackman Bay as the same place which they are not, Blackman Bay is south of Marion and divided by a headland, 2 entirely different places

  2. From Alan in a Facebook group

    Story told to (Sorell School) Culture Club Students on the Respecting the Past Creating The Future excursion to Marions Bay Beach.

    Taken from “Living with the land. Aborigines in Tasmania Book One :Invasion”
    Published 1989, Department of Education and Arts pp 23-24.

    This is the story of the first meeting between Tasmanian Aborigines and visitors.

    For many thousands of years, the Aborigines of Tasmania did not meet any strangers from other lands. No-one visited their island and the Aborigines themselves had no desire or reason to leave their homeland.

    During the spring of 1642 this changed. In late November the people of west, south, and east coasts saw something that startled and puzzled them. Coming toward their lands from across the sea were two large and disturbing objects. Not even the wisest elders could explain what they were. They could have been monsters, floating islands, huge birds or even, as some children thought, evil spirits come to punish them. Nothing in their experience had prepared them to recognise these objects as sailing spirits.

    The ships passed quickly along the coastline. The people watched their progress, and used smoke signals to warn others of what was happening. Everyone kept well hidden.

    The Pydairerme band of the Oyster Bay tribe, whose land included Forestier Peninsular, were able to observe these objects for longer than the other people and so found about more about them. The two ships anchored on Marion Bay off Forestier Peninsular for four or five days . During that time
    men with white skins came in small boats to the shore. The Pyedairerme remained hidden, but kept close watch over everything the strangers did. It seemed that they might be visitors from the spirit world who had come to see their homeland once more. No-one could tell whether they were good or bad spirits.

    For the next 130 years there were no more visits from the white men. But during that time it is quite likely that the knowledge of the unusual event was kept alive by the storytellers. The story, in dance and song, probably would have been shared with the other tribes. Over the years many people would
    have heard about the white men who came from beyond the horizon.
    Unexpectedly at he beginning of autumn in 1772, more white men and sailing ships came to the land of the Pydairrieme. On this occasion the Aboriginal men did not stay hidden. They came down to the beach to greet the men who came to shore in two long-boats. An elder of the tribe even waded into the sea. He presented the newcomers with a burning firebrand to show that they were welcome.

    Other gifts were given, and in return the Aborigines accepted mirrors, knives and pieces of cloth. However the meeting that began so well ended in tragedy. A third boatload of men came from the ship. This worried the Aborigines, for they were still uncertain about the identity of the strangers and what they planned to do. The Pydairerme did not want to risk having too many of them on the beach at any one time, so they made it clear that the boat was not to land. Despite their actions it kept coming, carried forward by the waves. This angered the Pydairereme. They threw spears and rocks at the men to leave. The strangers panicked and fired their guns. One Aboriginal was killed and several injured.

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