In 1642 Abel Tasman’s voyage set out to chart the coast of the mysterious South Land.
2017 marks 375 years since Dutch explorers aboard the ships Zeehaen and Heemskerck were the first known Eurpoeans to set foot on our island state.
On 3 December 1642 as the two Dutch ships lay at anchor off the coast near modern day Dunalley and Marion Bay, the master carpenter swam ashore and planted the Dutch East India Company (VOC) flag.
Tasman named the land they had first seen on 24th November Van Diemen’s Land in honour of the governor-general of the VOC in Batavia (now Jakarta in Indonesia).
The Dutch explorers charted the Van Diemens Land coast until the 6th of December, then headed east where they were repelled by Maori but charted the west coast of New Zealand, then parts of Tonga and Fiji, and the north coast of New Guinea. In 1644, Tasman charted the south west coast of New Guinea and much of Australia’s northern coastline.
The commemorative website tasman1642.com.au offers an engaging description of the 1642 voyage, along with the crew’s maps and drawings, Tasman’s background, the VOC and links to a detailed interactive map and translated excerpts from Tasman’s journal published on the blog sixboats.co.nz by Dave Hory.
One of only two original versions of the Tasman Map is in the collection of the State Library of New South Wales. One of the Library’s most valued possessions, the Tasman Map, displays the results of Dutch explorer Abel Tasman’s two voyages to the southern ocean between 1642 and 1644.
Other Australian commemorations of the Tasman legacy include:
1923 A stone monument to the Dutch explorers was erected by the Royal Society of Tasmania on the foreshore at the edge of the Bangor property on the Forestier Peninsula “as a memorial to posterity and to the inhabitants of this country.”
1942 The Tasman Memorial at the end of Imlay Street, Dunalley was erected to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Dutch voyage.
1943 A stunning marble version of the Tasman Map with inlays of brass and coloured marble granules was created at the State Library of New South Wales on the floor of the Mitchell vestibule.
1988 The Abel Tasman Fountain, an elaborate bronze sculpture by Stephen Walker paying tribute to Tasman’s voyage, was installed between Parliament Gardens and Salamanca Place in Hobart.
Events in 2017
The Tasman1642 project is collating a modern day view of the coastline mapped and drawn by the crew of the Dutch ships 375 years ago. Take a look at the 1642 maps and drawings online, try to recognise and identify the mountains and coastline, then share recent photos of the same views. The library of photographs will help to determine which parts of the Tasmanian coastline Tasman was looking at so that modern Internet explorers can see our island ‘Through Tasman’s Eyes’. If you think you can help, take a look at the website and submit your photos to the collection.
28 January 2017
Low Head History Symposium featuring the Dutch exploration.
until 6 February 2017 (daily 9am-4pm)
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery display ’Through Tasman’s Eyes’ in the Henry Hunter staircase.
9 February 2017 to 5 March 2017 (daily 9am-4pm)
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery exhibit ‘The Early Dutch Explorers’ at TMAG Bond Store Basement re-creates life aboard a 17th century Dutch East India Company ship.
10-13 February 2017
The MyState Australian Wooden Boat Festival is taking on a Dutch theme in 2017 with beautiful examples of Dutch wooden boats on display and a team of student boat-builders from the Netherlands using Tasmanian timbers to construct a traditional Dutch sailing dinghy.
19 May 2017
The Historical Society of the Municipality of Sorell’s journal Pitt Water Chronicles Vol 2 was launched by Rebecca White MP at the Dunalley Hall. PWC2 includes an article on Tasman’s 1642 voyage and features a Haughton Forrest painting of the ships Heemskirk and Zeehan on the cover.
Later in 2017
An academic conference on the Dutch exploration in Tasmanian waters is being planned for mid 2017.
In November 2017 the Sorell Regional Art Prize Exhibition, hosted by Southern Beaches Regional Arts with Sorell Council, will include a special Tasman 375 category sponsored by the Historical Society of the Municipality of Sorell. Call Saakia on 0428 125 919 for details.
1 December marks the anniversary of the first Hobart Regatta hosted by Governor John Franklin in Tasman’s honour. The Royal Hobart Regatta Pavillion is officially named after Tasman. A members event has been suggested (details yet to be advised).
A Dutch themed choral concert at St Davids Cathedral, Hobart is in the planning for 3 December.
The annual readings from the Tasman voyage journals hosted by members of the Historical Society of the Municipality of Sorell bring the events of 1642 to life on days the ships were in Tasmanian waters: 24 November, 2 and 3 December. This year the readings will be combined with special celebrations to mark the 375th anniversary.
Email us for more details and how to get involved.