History of Tasmania

The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first European to land on the shores of Tasmania in 1642. Landing at Blackman Bay and later having the Dutch flag flown at North Bay, Tasman named the island Anthoonij van Diemenslandt, in honour of Anthony van Diemen, the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, who had sent Tasman on his voyage of discovery.

From the 1800s to the 1853 abolition of penal transportation (known simply as “transportation”), Van Diemen’s Land was the primary penal colony in Australia. Following the suspension of transportation to New South Wales, all transported convicts were sent to Van Diemen’s Land. In total, some 73,000 convicts were transported to Van Diemen’s Land or about 40% of all convicts sent to Australia

In 1856, Van Diemen’s Land was renamed Tasmania. This removed the unsavoury criminal connotations with the name Van Diemen’s Land (and the “demon” connotation) while honouring Abel Tasman, the first European to find the island. The last penal settlement in Tasmania at Port Arthur closed in 1877.