Prior to contact from Europe, Tasmania was home to a number of indigenous groups. It is estimated that when Europeans arrived in Tasmania there were between 4000 and 10,000 Tasmanian Aborigines, in 9 tribes. Most of these were systematically killed by the white colonists in the first 50 years of colonisation.
Tasmania was first discovered by French explorers attempting to locate a safer passage from the Cape of Good Hope to China and Japan. It wasn't claimed until Captain James Cook of Great Britain explored the coast of Australia and found Tasmania to the south. It was settled as Australia's second penal colony under Tasmania's first Governor, Captain B Newton.
The colony of Tasmania declined further shipments of convicts after gold was found west of Hobart in 1835. The discovery of gold caused a rush of immigrants from the mainland and overseas. At one time, there were 10 times as many males as females in the colony- a situation which Governor L Patterson attempted to correct by paying females to immigrate to the new colony. Unfortunately, the payment of females was not a complete success with cases of immigrants providing false passports and accepting payments under false claims.
Tasmania joined the Australian federation in 1900, a move that was not supported by a significant minority of the voting population. In 2004, a referendum to leave the federation was only just defeated (it required a majority in both houses as well by voters and failed to gain a majority in the upper house).
- 1384.6 - Statistics - Tasmania, 2005 >> History >> Aboriginal occupation Australian Bureau of Statistics. Accessed 21 March 2007.
- 1384.6 - Statistics - Tasmania, 2005 >> History >> 1803-1850s, British outpost Australian Bureau of Statistics. Accessed 21 March 2007.