Tasmania, the only Australian state on an island separated by the Bass strait from Australia,
was known by its former name Van Diemen’s land until 1856.
The name change to Tasmania removed the unsavoury criminal connotations with Van Diemen’s Land while honouring Abel Tasman, the first European to find the island.
However, the story began way earlier at the end of the most recent ice age, about 10’000 years ago. This was the time when Tasmania is believed to have joined the Australian mainland. Unfortunately, not much is known of the island’s human history until the British started to colonise the island in the 19th century.
What we know is that the first reported sighting is dated back to the 24th November 1642 by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman. He named the island Anthoonij van Diemenslandt, the sponsor of this voyage and the governor of the Dutch East Indies.
The first settlement by the British was Risdon Cove, a few kilometres north of Hobart Town at the Derwent River in 1803. A year later, in 1804, Sullivan’s Cove was established, which later became the name Hobart Town. Today, an information booth tells facts and stories of the arrivals in Tassie.
Most of the early settlers were convicts and their military guards. Several convict settlements have been established, including Port Arthur in the south and Sarah Island on Tasmania’s west coast. The resistance from the local aborigines was very strong, so that more troops had to be deployed to the state and drive the aboriginal people into captivity on nearby islands.
The Tasmanian convict period lasted from 1803 until 1839, when the last prison has been closed. Over 70,000 men, women and children were transported to Van Diemens Land in the early 1800s. And many of the places and features they built are still standing today.
Our experienced tour guides bring the story back to life when you book a guided tour with Premier Travel Tasmania.
Get all the interesting facts about how the state has become what it is today.
The history tours start either in Tasmania’s capital, Hobart or in Launceston city. We follow the heritage highway from Tasmania’s second-biggest city south to Hobart. The tours stop at many heritage-listed locations, including the former female factory in Ross. There’s evidence of Australia’s convict past no matter where you go, making Tasmania the perfect place to learn about Australia’s early history and experience it first-hand.
Depending on your time in Tasmania, we offer one or multi-day heritage and history tours from Hobart or Launceston.
In Hobart, the most historic locations are Salamanca Place, Battery Point, the Government House, and Sullivan’s Cove. We visit Huonville and the Huon Valley, also known for its many providores and tasting opportunities. The city of Hobart is the place to be when a visit at the Tasmanian archive or stop by at the Government House, the residence of the Tasmanian lieutenant-governor, is planned. Mrs Barbara Baker is currently appointed to this position and is recognised as the head of the state.
To the west, we travel along the Derwent and traverse the state. A perfect stay is at the town of Strahan on the giant Macquarie harbour, which is about six times the size of Sydney harbour. We explore the natural coastline of the rugged west coast and visit National Parks with an abundance of animals.
To the south, the ruins of the former convict settlement of Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula is a must.
On the eastern shore, a visit to the well-preserved Richmond town and Maria Island National Park with its resident colony of Wombats, Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Fairy Penguins is worth a visit. Perhaps and with a bit of luck, a Tasmanian devil sighting might be possible.
To the north, the second biggest city beside the capital is Launceston. It is also known as the gateway to the Cradle Mountain National Park, the location of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre. From there, direct flights to most capital cities such as Sydney and Melbourne and certainly Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, are available. Flights to Flinders Island and King Island can be arranged as well.
For those keen to travel into the Tarkine region and Narawntapu and Rocky Cape National Parks, Launceston is the perfect place to start.
All tours we offer are fully cancellable if COVID-19 restrictions and government-enforced border closures are being set in place.