Aboriginal bark huts, as depicted during the Baudin voyage
Aboriginals have been in Tasmania for at least 35,000 years. The first European explorer to discover Tasmania, and subsequently name it Van Diemen’s Land, was Abel Janszoon Tasman, in 1642. He did not record any encounters with Aboriginals. It is possible that his journey was noticed by many tribes as he passed through their ‘country’, but as there are no ethnographic records from an Aboriginal perspective for this time, it is impossible to know for sure. Imagine seeing something for the first time, especially something which was so foreign in its very nature.
Other visitors to ‘Tasmania’ prior to British settlement include Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne in 1772, Captain James Cook in 1777, Bruni d’Entrecasteaux 1792-93 and Nicolas Baudin in 1802. Some of these explorers recorded interactions with the Aboriginals and the exchange of ‘tokens’; others did not see any Aboriginals but witnessed fires burning along the coast. Of the interactions there was at least one incident which resulted in injury and fatality.