Tasmania 1642 to 1772

Blackman Bay and East Coast of Tasmania 1642

Tasman’s Voyage of 1642

Journal – Abel Tasman

Tasman, A J 1898
Abel Janszoon Tasman’s Journal, J E Heeres (comp. and trans.),
Amsterdam: Frederick Muller.

p.15 [Report of Pilot-Major and Second Mate, 2 December 1642]
They [shore party] had heard certain human sounds, and also sounds nearly resembling the music of a trump or a small gong, not far from them, though they had seen no one That they had seen two trees about 2 or 2 ½ fathoms in thickness, … … which trees bore notches made with flint implements … … forming a kind of steps to enable persons to get up the trees … … in one of the trees these notched steps were so fresh and new that they seemed to have been cut less than four days ago.

p.15 [Tasman, 2 December 1642]
A short time before we got sight of our boats returning to the ships, we now and then
saw clouds of dense smoke rising up from the land, which was nearly west by north of us

p.15 [Tasman, 2 December 1642]
When our men came had come on board again, we enquired of them whether they had been there and made a fire [where smoke had been seen], to which they returned a negative answer, adding, however, that at various times and points in the woods they also had seen clouds of smoke ascending

p.16 [3 December 1642]
we pulled back to the ships, leaving the above mentioned as a memorial [pole with flag] for those who shall come after us, and for the natives of this country who did not show themselves, though we suspect some of them were at no great distance and closely watching our proceedings

p.16 [Blackman Bay and south east coast of Tasmania, 4 December 1642]
While sailing out of this bay and all through the day, we saw several columns of smoke ascend along the coast

Marion Bay 1772

Expedition Lead by Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne at Marion Bay, south east Tasmania, March 1772

Eyewitness Account – A B M L J Du Clesmeur [Captain, Marquis de Castries]

“Account of a voyage in the South Seas and the Pacific beginning in 1771 ..”
M. Duyker (trans.).

in E. Duyker (ed.) 1992
The Discovery of Tasmania: Journal Extracts from the Expeditions of Abel Janszoon Tasman and Marc-Joseph Marion Dufresne,
Hobart: St David’s Park Publishing, pp.20-2.

Marion Bay

I accompanied M. Marion in his boat, which we steered towards the spot where we had seen the natives, and we saw them again. As we approached, the women, who were not to be seen again, ran into the woods with their children … The men, naked and armed with one or several small hatchets, gathered together and came towards us. We showed them cloth of different colours and some glass objects. One of them separated himself from the group and took to the water, but after walking a few steps, he stopped and signalled us to come to him. M. Marion sent two sailors swimming towards him. One of the old Diemanslander advanced towards them, and presented them with a torch – which is really a sign of peace for these people. Our people accepted it and presented a mirror to the old man … … … … The colour of the sailors did not surprise them less. After staring at hard at them they threw away their hatchets and began to dance. This reception made M. Marion very optimistic and he ordered a landing at once.
Several of them came down, however, and presented us with fire, which we accepted, exchanging in turn several pieces of cloth and some knives. They were offered bread, and we even ate some in front of them, but thet accepted only to throw it back in our faces. What appeared to affect them most were our weapons and our clothes, especially the scarlet ones. M Marion, attempting to ask for water, showed them some in a bottle; they took and carried away [the bottle], after pouring out the water it contained. In all probability, our small crowd had not caused them any anxiety, but they seem to become alarmed at the arrival of a third longboat, and they made threats to prevent it landing. In order not to upset them, M. Marion ordered the longboat to raise anchor, but having come close to the shore the savages showered us with a hail of hatchets and stones, one of which hit M. Marion on the shoulder, and another one bruised my leg. We fired a few shots, and they quickly took flight, uttering horrible screams.

M. Marion ordered that we should row to this spot [a possible river mouth further around the bay]. The natives followed us along the shore and, so as to prevent our landing, hurled their hatchets, one of which wounded a man in a boat. This second attack resulted in several wounded natives, who were nevertheless still strong enough to run into the woods. … [but, later] we found one of the natives, who had just expired… He had been pierced by three bullets


Eyewitness Account – Julien Crozet

“New voyage to the South Sea commenced under the orders of M. Marion….”
E. Duyker (trans.).

in E. Duyker (ed.) 1992
The Discovery of Tasmania: Journal Extracts from the Expeditions of Abel Janszoon Tasman and Marc-Joseph Marion Dufresne,
Hobart: St David’s Park Publishing, pp.24-28.

Marion Bay

The fires and the smoke which we had seen day and night, heralded a very densely populated country.

The following day the yawls and longboats were sent ashore armed. Some of the officers, soldiers and sailors landed on the shore without any opposition. The natives showed themselves gracious, gathered wood and made a kind of pile. They then presented the new arrivals with some dry lighted branches and appeared to invite them to set fire to the pile. We were ignorant of the meaning of this ceremony, and we lit the pile. The savages did not appear at all astonished; they remained around us without making either any friendly or hostile demonstrations. They had with them their women and children. The men as well as the women were of an ordinary height, black, with woolly hair, and all were equally naked, men and women.

We had examined these savages for about an hour when M. Marion landed. One savage left the group and presented him, as the others had, with a firebrand to light a small pile of wood. The captain, imagining this was a ceremony necessary to prove he had come with pacific intentions, did not hesitate to light the pile, but immediately it seemed that it was quite the contrary, and that the acceptance of the brand was an acceptance of defiance, or a declaration of war. [n5] As soon as the pile was lighted, the savages withdrew hastily onto a hillock, from which they threw a shower of stones, by which M. Marion, as well as an officer who was with him, was wounded. We immediately fired several shots and everyone re-embarked. The yawls and the longboats coasted a distance with the intention of disembarking in the middle of the bay … … When we wished to disembark they opposed our landing

[n5] The other journals indicate it was the approach of the longboat which changed the demeanour of the Tasmanians


Journal – Recorded by Lt. Le Dez

“Extract of a voyage to Australasia in 1772”
E. Duyker (trans.)

in E. Duyker (ed.) 1992
The Discovery of Tasmania: Journal Extracts from the Expeditions of Abel Janszoon Tasman and Marc-Joseph Marion Dufresne,
Hobart: St David’s Park Publishing, pp.29-36.

Forestier Peninsula

p.30 [5 March 1772]
To judge by the amount of smoke of smoke we saw in several places, this bay must be well populated.

Marion Bay

p.31 [entered Marion Bay, 6 March 1772]
We saw smoke in several places.

p.31 [7 March]
This morning we manned three boats to go and reconnoitre the country and M. Marion wanted to go ashore himself in his boat with M. Duclesmeur. He had given orders to the officers who commanded the two longboats that one was to take the right and the other the left in a very beautiful sandy cove where we had seen men the day before; they were to make for the shore about a league away from him and then running along it closely as they could, they were to come and meet him in the middle of the cove … … The Diemanlanders, seeing us coming, came to the waters edge, where they lit a fire and gathered round it to wait for us. When the first boat was in ear shot (it was the boat with the two captains in it), they said a lot of things to us as if we could understand them, adding several gestures which did not appear to invite us ashore
They followed the boat on several turns, waiting for the two other boats and looking for the place where the undertow was least strong. There were about 40 of them, completely naked, and the only weapons they had were several long spears and a few stones which they held in their hands. At that moment one of the longboats arrived. They watched it come without showing the least sign of fright.
M. Marion, seeing that they did not appear very dangerous and very much wanting to commence, made two sailors undress and go ashore, unarmed, carrying with them some small presents such as motors, necklaces etc. The Diemanlanders, seeing them approaching thus, put their spears on the ground and with several gestures which marked their joy and contentment, came leaping to meet them, singing and clapping their hands. Our sailors reached the shore; they
[the Aborigines] presented them with fire and then, as if to recognise the good welcome, [the sailors] handed out the trinkets they had brought. The thing that impressed them the most was the mirror. They did not cease looking at themselves in it and grabbing it from one another. After these first impulses, they gestured to the boats to go towards the end of the cove and they themselves followed on land. Our sailors made their way with them – they [p32] were two big boys, well-built and very white. The Diemanlanders could not leave looking at them and touching them; often they stopped to do this and on each occasion there were new expressions of astonishment and a lot of talk between them.
At the end of the cove … … … Messrs Marion, Duclesmeur and a few other people went towards them. They distributed a few more small presents, many caresses and tried to make them understand that they wanted to be friends. We seemed very pleased with each other. M. Marion even gave a signal, which had been prearranged, to let those on board know that these people were gentle and sociable. They were envious of everything they saw, particularly anything brilliant or of a striking colour and if we had let them have their way we would soon have been dressed Diemansland-style, just like them. They seem quite prepared to trade but they had nothing but their spears, which did not interest us at all.

Our third boat arrived and, whether they had already made the decision to attack us or whether they did not want to let any more people approach them, they made signs for it not ot come nearer, threatening them with their spears and talking very excitedly among themselves. The people in the boat then took up their muskets; their bayonets were fixed and the sight of them increased the Diemanlanders’ mistrust and pushed them to attack us. We could see them getting more and more excited, so M. Marion began to withdraw quietly with the people who were with him.
Up until them the Diemanlanders had been content to shout at us and threaten us with their spears. M. Marion who did not want to hurt or frighten them, went to re-embark with his men. They seized this moment to hurl spears and a hail of stones, one of which fell on M. Marion’s shoulder and another on M. Duclesmeur’s leg. We responded with a volley fired into the air so to speak. Terror made them withdraw, but a moment later they reappeared without showing the least fear. As this place was in no way advantageous for us, we all re-embarked to go to the other end of the cove … … They followed us along the beach; some of them even came knee-deep into the water to threaten us … … When we arrived at the place we intended to land, they prepared to oppose us without seeming afraid of our muskets which they [p33] believed only made a noise. They threw a lot of spears at us, but always very clumsily. One man was wounded … so we fired a more serious volley. Several fell down instantly …

We spent the follwing two days visiting the bay.
We found a few miserable inhabitants there, more like animals than men. They ran away from us.

I do not think they have other ways of fending off the cold than by lighting fires. Thus they appreciate fire very much and when I saw them come to meet our sailors and offer them fire it occurred to me that this element was the one they found most useful; it was a sign of friendship to offer it to us.

we were unable to distinguish any sounds other than these: la-ga – la-ga.


Journal – Jean Roux

“Journal of the voyage made on the King’s ship, the Mascarin, commanded by M. Marion … … accompanied by the flute the Marquis de Castries”
M. Duyker (trans.)

in E. Duyker (ed.) 1992
The Discovery of Tasmania: Journal Extracts from the Expeditions of Abel Janszoon Tasman and Marc-Joseph Marion Dufresne,
Hobart: St David’s Park Publishing, pp.38-43.

Tasman and Forestier Peninsulas, south of Point Frederick Hendrick and Marion Bay

p.39 [4 March 1772]
Various fires that we saw at night proved to us that the coast was well inhabited.

p.39 [5 March 1772]
more populated in that area: more fires were seen.

Marion Bay

p.39 [6 March 1772]
at one o’clock we anchored … A moment later, on a cove, natives appeared and stopped to examine us. We presume that our vessels must have seemed extraordinary because we have no knowledge of any navigators, since Tasman, to have frequented these waters.

p.40 [7 March]
I accompanied M. Marion in his yawl in which we had six blunderbusses and a detachment of eight soldiers. We were right at the end of the bay and arrived a long time before the longboats which were investigating the coast of the bay; the natives were in groups along the shore.
We anchored the grapnel close to the breakers; the natives came to see us. We made several signs to which they seemed to respond and even to question us. M. Marion, seeing the longboats were nearly back, decided to land; but the sea did not allow the yawl to come closer to shore. He sent only two men of goodwill who were naked like these natives and carried some trifles to give them and to evidence that we wanted to be friends. As soon as these men were ashore, the natives offered loud cries, obviously of joy as they put down their weapons and approached our two men. An old man came forward first. Holding a torch in his hand he presented it to them saying a few words, after which all the others came and surrounded our men. They looked with astonishment while communicating their joy after some kind of remark. They seem to doubt that we were the same species as them; our colour was so strange that they could not stop staring and inspecting.
They showed little interest in what was given to them, but appeared surprised when shown a mirror – looking at it from all directions with admiration.

We [Marion and Roux and soldiers] landed.
It seemed what they wanted most were our clothes and our weapons, which they never ceased to admire – especially the bayonets, the use of which they seemed to understand.
One group was located on a small mountain, which I mentioned, and was making a lot of noise – especially with the arrival of the longboat which was about to join us. The natives made gestures to those who were in the longboat not to approach. Eventually, witnessing the increasing uproar and threats, I asked M. Marion to take shelter by boarding his yawl.
M. Marion and I were the only ones left to board when one of the natives insulted us openly. We were then menaced with arms they had picked up.
p. 41 [back on yawl]
they threw large stones at us, one which hit M. Marion on the arm. They all shouted: gola gola. This cry was repeated by all and at that moment they let go their shafts. Only one domestic was wounded.
Seeing that the savages were so insulting, we fired our muskets at them. This apprantly had no effect other than to persuade them our weapons only made noise as they did not move and stood firm in front of us.

[Attempt to land further round the bay] The savages watching us land, came ot oppose us and again threw shafts at us. As they were very numerous and very close to us, we discharged a volley which made them utter frightened cries. There were several dead and many wounded. Some wanted to charge us again; we fired upon them again. They soon fled uttering loud cries

p.42 [9 March]
the woolly hair is dyed with an ugly red colouring.


Journal – Paul Chevillard de Montesson

“Extract from the journal of the voyage made of M. Marion Dufresne … … commanding the King’s flute the Mascarin … ”
E. Duyker (trans.)

in E. Duyker (ed.) 1992
The Discovery of Tasmania: Journal Extracts from the Expeditions of Abel Janszoon Tasman and Marc-Joseph Marion Dufresne,
Hobart: St David’s Park Publishing, pp.45-48.

p.45 [late afternoon – land first sighted, 4 March]
This coast appeared densely populated to judge by the fires we saw there.

p.46 [7 March]
The men in our longboat, going along the coast, were not long in observing some men who, not doubt astonished to see us so close to them, let out a cry at the sight of us although they did not move from their place. They signalled to us, and there were even some who came down as far as the shore … … they induced these islanders to follow them … …
they came alongside M. Marion’s boat. We then showed them trifles, which appeared to please them; this persuaded M. Marion to send them some by way of two men who immediately jumped into the water. One of the islanders, keen to profit sooner from our generosity, wished to go to meet them, but was forced to retrace his steps, the surf being too strong for him. Once ashore, our people were surrounded by savages who caressed them and touched them all over the body, and they seemed to be very surprised to see that we were the same shape as they were themselves, yet of different colour. Their astonishment and their joy were inexpressible when the sailors let them see the mirrors. They snatched them enviously from each other, to look at themselves.
Five or six of us went ashore with M. Marion and M. Duclesmeur … … The man who we perceived to be chief offered M. Marion fire and gave him his hand
He presented them with a bottle of water which he drank before he gave it to them; they poured out the water and kept the bottle. Our clothes were the articles that seemed to please them the most; consequently they did not cease admiring them and touching them. We were at ease when the “Castries” longboat came to join us. The officer in command (M. Peigne) had not, as we had, taken the precaution of concealing his arms and the islanders who saw these were anxious and did not want to let them come ashore. As their fears increased those on the high ground above us let out great cries which induced the other to leave us and go join them; once together, they redoubled their shouting and gnashed their teeth and immediately threw spears and stones on us.

p.47 [Marion and Duclesmeur hit by stones]
We immediately fired into the air to make them run away and give our gentlemen time to re-embark. We pushed off
[try to land again] when they realised our intention they ran in front of us to oppose our landing

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