Australian History? – Start With Tasmania.

tasman-portraitTasmania was originally known as Van Diemen’s Land, discovered by Dutch explorer Able Tasman in 1642 and named for the Governor General of the Dutch East Indies. It was not known to be an island until circumnavigated by Bass and Flinders in the Norfolk in 1798-99.

The British colonised the island in 1803, naming it Van Diemen’s Land and establishing a Penal Colony at Port Arthur as part of the colony of New South Wales. It was attained self government status in 1856 and renamed Tasmania in honour of Able Tasman it’s discoverer.

Evidence still remains today of Tasmania’s colonial past and indigenous history, preserved and heritage listed for future generations to visit and wonder at the early beginnings.

The state is full of wondrous natural and historical areas to visit and is today one of Australia’s favourite tourist destinations.

Below is a comprehensive narrative of what you can do and see in wonderful Tasmania. courtesy of Tourism Australia.

PortArthurTasmaniaSoak up history on Hobart’s riverfront cobblestone streets and wind through the Coal Valley’s cool-climate wineries. Lose your breath at Wineglass Bay and discover shipwrecks and diamonds on Flinders Island. Walk over Cataract Gorge, a dramatic wilderness in the heart of Launceston, or head to the World Heritage-listed wilderness that makes up 20 per cent of the island. See your face in Dove Lake and trek the Overland Track in Cradle-Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, wander through dark Gondwanan rainforest Southwest National Park and watch two wild rivers tumble through valleys as one in Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. As well as rugged and ancient natural beauty, Tasmania has a thriving creative culture, a rich history of convicts, piners, miners and whalers and fabulous food and wine.

Hobart and surrounds

CoastLineCruise or kayak the Derwent river, sip coffee under the sun umbrellas of Salamanca Square or soak up the seafaring vibe of Hobart’s first suburb, Battery Point. Just 20 minutes from Hobart’s 19th century sandstone warehouses lies windswept Mount Wellington. A little further to the south-east, wind past the Coal Valley’s cool-climate wineries to the historic towns of Huonville and Richmond. In the coastal hamlet of Kettering, you can take a car ferry to Bruny Island or a wildlife cruise past crags, caves and sea cliffs. From crescent-shaped Cockle Creek, you can sense the World Heritage-listed wilderness of Southwest National Park even if you never step beyond the beach. Learn about life as a mid-19th century prisoner at the Port Arthur Historic Site on the Tasman Peninsula. Then stay in Woodbridge, walk the sweeping beaches of Tasman National Park and dine in luxury at Peppermint Bay. See 200-year-old oaks and sandstone cottages in Oatlands or follow the path of pioneers on the Heritage Highway from Launceston to Hobart. Visit the antique-loving town of New Norfolk and pretty Hamilton on the Clyde River. For a taste of high country and malt whiskey, visit Bothwell at the southern edge of the Central Plateau.

East Coast

Meadowbank-Winery-206c8f1From Triabunna, you can take a ferry to history-rich and car-free Maria Island, also a bushwalking and sea kayaking paradise. Stay in the holiday haven of Coles Bay overlooking crystal-clear Oyster Bay at the entrance to Freycinet National Park. Walk to breathtaking Wineglass Bay, then swim, boat, fish, snorkel and scuba dive from the dreamy white beach. In nearby Mount William National Park, you can follow the Bay of Fires walk past forrester kangaroos, Aboriginal middens, woodlands and white beaches. Go game fishing or diving from the picturesque port of St Helens, on the shores of Georges Bay. Taste farm cheese at nearby Pyengana or visit vineyards and berry farms around the seaside towns of Bicheno and Swansea. Then head to Douglas-Apsley National Park, where you can walk and camp amongst quiet rivers, waterfalls, rainforest and tall eucalypts and pines. At the northern end of the coast you’ll find Flinders Island, the place to dive shipwrecks, climb to the top of the pink and grey cliffs of Mount Strzelecki and fossick for diamonds at Killiecrankie.

Launceston, Tamar and the North

launcestonIn Launceston, you’ll discover elegant Edwardian buildings and the magical wilderness of Cataract Gorge. Stroll through the ferny glade or abseil, rock climb or hang glide on and around the gorge’s dramatic walls. You can also take the chairlift to cross the gorge. Nearby, see birds in their own habitat in the Tamar Island wetlands or meet kangaroos, wallabies and wombats in Narawntapu National Park. To the north east you’ll find the neat croplands and Forest EcoCentre of Scottsdale. Next door in Bridport, you can fish, play golf overlooking Bass Strait at Barnbougle Dunes and wander through the tidy lavender fields of Nabowla. See little penguins at Low Head and take a boat trip to the fur seal colony of Tenth Island. Then ski, walk or rock climb the rugged summits of Ben Lomond National Park. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, eat and drink your way through the Tamar Valley’s cool-climate wineries, such as Ninth Island, Pipers Brook and Jansz, on the Tamar Valley Touring Route. You can stop at the gold mining museum of Beaconsfield and pan for sapphires near the tin mining town of Derby on the way. South of Launceston, soak up the ambience of a 19th century village in Longford and see Australia’s biggest working craft fair in the charming riverside village of Deloraine. Browse antique galleries, craft shops and markets in the Georgian village of Evandale and cross the Ross River on a cobblestone bridge in Ross.

North West Coast

image.adapt.1663.mediumArrive in Devonport on one of the Spirit of Tasmania ships that have become landmarks in this pretty port.  From here you can walk or cycle along Devonport’s coastline, see murals in Sheffield and enjoy antique shops in LaTrobe. Go water-skiing, sea-kayaking or fish from a floating pontoon in Port Sorrel. Stroll the vibrant markets and scenic beach of Penguin. Explore the limestone caves of Mole Creek Karst National Park, which sit beneath the Great Western Tiers, known to the Aboriginal people as Kooparoona Niara. Stay in the busy port of Burnie or in the historic town of Stanley, where you can look out over the steep volcanic plug known as ‘The Nut’. See carpets of colourful spring tulips in Table Cape and walk along the sea cliffs of Rocky Cape. In the far north-west, stay on the historic 22,000 hectare property of Woolnorth on Cape Grim. Cruise down the Arthur River past sea eagles to the temperate rainforest, sand dunes and Aboriginal sites of the Tarkine wilderness. Even more remote is King Island, where you can go game fishing, taste cheese from the famous King Island Dairies and dive more than 70 shipwreck sites.

Western wilderness

hellyergorgeCruise down the majestic Gordon River from the west coast fishing village of Strahan. Watch it meet the wild Franklin River and tumble through forested valleys as one in the World Heritage-listed Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. Back in Strahan, you can kayak on Macquarie Harbour, walk Ocean Beach and explore pine and myrtle forests by four wheel drive. Search for thousand-year-old Huon Pine from the window of a sea plane or relax and indulge in great food and wine. Take a scenic rack-and-pinion railway from here to the historic town of Queenstown, once the world’s richest gold and copper mine, or enter it on a road that spirals for more than 90 bends. Explore the rollicking mining past of Zeehan, once a wealthy silver town. Then jump on a barge to Corinna and stay in a restored miner’s cottage on the banks of the majestic Pieman River. From the peaceful town of Rosebery, you can do a tour of Pasminco Mine or walk to Montezuma Falls, Tasmania’s tallest waterfall. Then explore the rugged peaks and mirrored lakes of World Heritage listed Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. Do all or some of the famous 65-kilometre Overland Track and see Mount Ossa, Tasmania’s highest mountain.