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The Discovery & Exploration of Tasmania

Simply click on any of the photos of the explorers below to find out more.

Abel tasman
marion du Fresne
Tobias Furneax
James Cook
William Bligh
Abel Tasman
Marion du Fresne
Tobias Furneaux
James Cook
William Bligh
d'Entrecastreaux
John Hayes
Gearoge Bass
Matthew Flinders
Nicolas Baudin
d'Entrecastreaux
John Hayes
George Bass
Matthew Flinders
Nicolas Baudin

Able Janzsoon Tasman 1603 - 1659 Dutch Explorer
Anthony Van Diemen, Governor General of the Dutch East Indies, had appointed Abel Janszoon Tasman as Commander and commissioned the expedition to the south sea's in the search of the great southland and the riches and trade opportunities that may exist there.

Tasman sailed from Batavia (Jakarta) 14th August 1642 to the island of Mauritius, here the crew plugged leaks, repaired the ship's rigging and equipment and loaded ample supplies of water, wood, vegetables and livestock onboard for an eighteen month voyage of discovery.
Tasman's flag ship "Heemskerck"( Home Church ) and "Zeehaen" ( Sea Cock ) left Mauritius October 8th 1642. Battling heavy seas, fog, hail and snow before sighting the rugged south - west coast of Van Diemen's Land on the 24th of November at 4 PM, they anchored in Tasman Bay on the Forestier Peninsula and the following day Abel Tasman and his crew became the first Europeans to set foot on the newly discovered southern land and named it Anthony Van Diemenslandt in honour of Anthony Van Diemen.

On December 3rd. After finding a suitable site Abel Tasman sent the ships carpenter, Pieter Jacobszoon, to raise a pole with the Dutch East Indies company mark carved into it and the Princes flag atop. The natives although not seen they were heard and smoke was seen coming from the bush. Tasman also noted the first evidence of a Thylacine.

On sailing from Van Diemen's Land Tasman would discover and name Staten Landt ( New Zealand ).

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Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne 1724 - 1772 French Explorer
After having served in the Seven Years War, Marion du Fresne in 1771, found himself without work. In search of employment and finance, du Fresne presented a project to Pierre Poivre, Civil Administrator of the Ile de France, (Mauritius) to explore the South Pacific, he hoped to locate Terra Australis. Du Fresne's proposal was accepted, two ships were prepared for the voyage. Marion du Fresne's ship "Mascarin", and the "Marquis de Castries" with Julien Crozet aboard, sailed from the Cape of Good Hope where they took on fresh supplies for the voyage to the Great Southern Land. Marion du Fresne, sailing the same route as Abel Tasman, sighted the rugged west coast of Van Diemen's Land, on March 3rd 1772, the French ships anchoring in Frederick Henry Bay. The coastline had not been fully explored and is now believed it may have been Blackman's Bay where the French anchored.

The following day a landing party was sent ashore. The first French explorers to make contact with the natives of Van Diemen's Land, were greeted with hostility and attacked with spears and stones the Frenchman fired a volley of shots at the natives in defence, killing one Aborigine and wounding others. Sailing from Van Diemen's Land they headed for Staten Landt ( New Zealand ). The Frenchman had a much friendlier relationship with the natives of New Zealand, however after an hospitable three months they were suddenly ambushed by a large number of the Maori natives. Marion Du Fresne and many of his crewmen were killed mutilated and eaten.

Captain Julien Crozet, second in command, reportedly killed 250 Maori villagers in revenge.

Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne 1724 - 1772 French Explorer Marion du Fresne's ship "Mascarin"

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Tobias Furneaux 1735 -1781 Explorer and Navigator
Tobias Furneaux, accompanied James Cook, on his second voyage to the Pacific. Furneaux commander of the "Adventure" and Cook, aboard the "Resolution" were separated in rough seas off Kerguelen Island February 8th 1773. Furneaux sailed to explore the Van Diemen's Land coast and establish if it was an island or part of the continent of New Holland. Furneaux, with Tasman's charts, explored and charted much of the coastline and concluded there was no strait separating New Holland and Van Diemen's Land. Furneaux, discovered the small Bass Strait Islands "The Furneaux Group" he continued his exploration of the coast and anchored in a bay he named after his ship. Impressed with the location Furneaux anchored in Adventure Bay for five days, the ships rigging was overhauled and supplies of wood and water collected. Leptospermum lanigerum and Eucalyptus obliqua seeds were collected along with other botanic specimens.

Furneaux, sailed to rendezvous with Cook at a prearranged location, Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand. Furneaux missed Cook by five days but remained there with half the crew ill with scurvy. Cook returned on the May 18th 1773, "Adventure" and "Resolution" sailed for Tahiti June 7th arriving on August 16th. On returning to New Zealand the ships were separated once again, Furneaux sailed to Queen Charlotte Sound, there nine of Furneaux's crew were killed and eaten by the Maoris, Furneaux returned to England in 1774, twelve months ahead of Cook, he was promoted to captain In 1775.

Tobias Furneaux died September 19th.1781, in Swilly, Plymouth, Devon on the place of his birth.

Tobias Furneaux 1735 -1781
Adventure Bay, Bruny Island
James Cook

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Captain James Cook 1728 - 1779 Explorer and Astronomer
Captain James Cook, on his third voyage of the Pacific on the "Resolution" and Charles Clerke in command of the "Discovery", anchored in Furneaux's Adventure Bay on the 26th January 1777. William Bligh was also aboard the "Resolution", impressed with his cartography skills and navigational ability, Cook assigned him as Master.

Needing fresh water, wood and grass for the cattle, a party went ashore, ships repairs were also carried out. The following day Cook, and the crewmen busy cutting wood, were surprised by a group of natives, eight men and a boy all totally naked, the natives had walked up to them without weapons or any sign of fear or hostility.

"Resolution" and "Discovery" weighed anchor and sailed from Adventure Bay at eight o'clock in the morning on the 30th of January 1777. Cook sailed for New Zealand, and explored north discovering the Sandwich Islands ( Hawaii ) in February 1778.

Exploring and charting America's north west coast in March 1778, Cook, returned to the Sandwich Islands. Cook, was attacked on the beach with a party of Marines attempting to take the local chief hostage, the natives had stolen a sailboat and Cook had taken this unusual measure to have the sailboat returned. The natives became hostile and surrounded Cook and his party. Cook was struck heavily on the head, native warriors mutilating his body with a knife they passed around. In the sudden attack four of Cook's marines were also killed. Charles Clerke, negotiated with the natives to have the few remains of Cook's body returned.

Captain James Cook died at Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii on the 14th of February 1779

Captain James Cook 1728 - 1779
Resolution and Discovery
HMS Bark Endeavour

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William Bligh, 1754 - 1814 Explorer and Navigator
William Bligh, had visited Van Diemen's Land in 1777, with James Cook on the "Resolution". Bligh, a young navigational officer, had a great sense of location and navigational ability.

In 1788, charting the south-east coast of Van Diemen's Land, Bligh aboard the "H.M.S. Bounty" sailed into Adventure Bay and dropped anchor on the 19th of August 1788, needing fresh water supplies and wood for the ship's fires. Bligh, found fresh clean water in a gully that was dry on his previous visit with Cook. Bligh planted seven apple trees a short distance from the shore. The Bounty sailed from Adventure Bay September 4th.1788, headed for Tahiti to take delivery of Bread Fruit plants.

The Bounty mutiny occurred April 28th, 1789, set adrift in a longboat with eighteen others, Bligh, navigated a remarkable 6,400 km to Timor. On returning to England, he was found not guilty of any wrong doing regarding the Bounty mutiny and was promoted to captain of the HMS Providence.

Captain Bligh, returned to Van Diemen's Land anchoring once again in Adventure Bay in February 1792. William Bligh, remarked, " I saw no signs of any ships having been here, and the trees I marked remained the same as I had left them in 1788". Bligh, with two botanists onboard, planted cress's, celery, acorn and various fruit trees at Adventure Bay.

Bligh, was appointed Governor of New South Wales in 1806, and ordered to break the power of the Rum Corps.

In January 1808 a mutiny took place and Bligh, was arrested, imprisoned and was deposed as Governor.

In 1809, Captain William Bligh, returned to Van Diemen's Land, seeking support to restore him to power.

The Rum Rebellion

The Rum Rebellion

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Bruni d'Entrecasteaux 1739 - 1793
Rear Admiral, Bruni d'Entrecasteaux, was given orders to search for the La Perouse expedition that had disappeared in the south seas. d'Entrecastreaux was to proceed to New Holland, follow the coastline closely all the way to Van Diemen's Land, and inspect every possible harbour in a rowing boat, for the lost expedition. Bruni d'Entrecastreaux was then to sail for Staten Landt ( New Zealand ) and the Friendly Islands ( Tonga ). French naturalist Jacques - Julien Houtou de laBillardière, a botanist and artist was also on the voyage.

Charting the west coast of New Holland, in the ships "Le Recherche" and "Le Esperance" in 1792, Rear Admiral Bruni d'Entrecastreaux, sailed south-east to Van Diemen's Land. Needing fresh water, and to rest the crew the ships dropped anchor in a bay d'Entrecastreaux, named Recherche Bay April 23rd 1792.

The French explorers carried out detailed explorations for five weeks, finding beautiful waterways and estuaries in the area. Discovering Furneaux's, Adventure Bay was part of an island and separated from the mainland by a channel (d'Entrecatreaux Channel) they also discovered Port Espearance and the Huon River.

Sailing for Staten Landt May 28th.1792, to continue the search for La Perouse, they returned to Van Diemen's Land after a violent storm damaged the ships. On returning to Recherche Bay. d'Entrecastreaux, explored and named the Riviere du Nord, (River Derwent) February 28th.1793.

Sailing from Van Diemen's Land in March 1793, they continued their search for La Perouse without success. Bruni d'Entrecastreaux died of dysentery and scurvy July 21st,1793.

Bruni d'Entrecasteaux 1739 - 1793 "Le Recherche" and "Le Esperance" French naturalist Jacques - Julien Houtou de laBillardière La Perouse

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Lieutenant Sir John Hayes Naval Commander and Explorer
Lieutenant John Hayes, on an exploring expedition to Van Diemen's Land for the British East India Company, explored the d'Entrecastreaux Channel and the River Derwent between April and June 1793. Hayes in command of the vessels the "Duke of Clarence" and the "Duchess of Bengal", landed at Oyster Cove and apparently got on quite well with the local tribe of natives. Hayes explored the lower reaches of the Derwent, as far up river as New Norfolk. Impressed with Risdon Cove, he named it after William Bellamy Risdon, second officer of the ship "Duke of Clarence".

Lieutenant John Hayes, named geological features that still retain the names today, being Risdon Cove, Cornelian Bay and Mount Direction. He also named Clarence Plains after one of his ships the "Duke of Clarence". Clarence Plains is today known as Rokeby.

Hayes was unaware he was not the actual discoverer of the River Derwent. He later learned that French explorer Admiral Bruni d'Entrecasteaux had discovered the river shortly before him in February, while searching for the lost La Perouse expedition. Bruni d'Entrecasteux named the river "Riviere du Nord" (as the river flowed from the north).

John Hayes, named the River Derwent after the geographical features of Derwentwater and the Derwent River, in the Lakes District of his native Cumberland in England.

Lieutenant Sir John Hayes

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George Bass 1771 - 1803? Explorer and Adventurer
Born in Aswarby, Lincolnshire, George Bass joined the Company of Surgeons in 1789,
George Bass, was aboard the "Reliance", travelling to Port Jackson in 1795, Bass was the ships surgeon. Also aboard "Reliance" was Matthew Flinders, he was Second Lieutenant, and the two became close friends on the voyage to Australia.

George Bass had brought with him a small dinghy he nicknamed "Tom Thumb". Bass and Flinders, with the help of Bass' servant William Martin, and "Tom Thumb", explored Botany Bay and the nearby George's river. Bass in a whaling vessel sailed to Cape Howe in 1797, the south-eastern most point of Australia. From here he sailed to Bass Strait, and the length of the southern coast as far as where Melbourne is today. Although not sure that the strait connected with the Pacific and Indian oceans, his belief that a strait separated Van Diemen's Land, was backed up by the rapid tide and the long south-western swell at Wilson's Promontory.

George Bass's theory was proven correct when Bass and Flinders, in a small sailing boat named the "Norfolk", circumnavigated Van Diemen's Land, in 1798. Charting the River Derwent, George Bass, decided to ascended Mount Table ( Mt. Wellington ) on December 24th.1798, leaving Matthew Flinders, to chart the rest of the River Derwent.

In 1803, George Bass, set off from Sydney Town in the "Venus" a commercial cargo ship sailing for South America, the ship and all aboard were never seen again. Reports George Bass, was captured by the Spanish and forced to work as a slave in the silver mines of Peru were never verified.

George Bass
Tom Thumb
Norfolk
Matthew Flinders

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Matthew Flinders, 1774 - 1814 Navigator and Explorer
Matthew Flinders, had wanted to become a sailor and explorer since first reading the book "Robinson Crusoe". Flinders signed on as Lieutenant's Servant aboard the "HMS Alert", he also sailed with Bligh, as a midshipman on "HMS Providence" and as Second Lieutenant aboard the "HMS Reliance", on her way to Australia in 1795.

Matthew Flinders, and George Bass, the Ship's Surgeon on the "Reliance" had much in common and they soon became good friends. On their voyages they would make many explorations and new discoveries together. Matthew Flinders, was to become one of the most highly accomplished navigators and chart makers of all time.

In 1798, Flinders and Bass, sailing south from Sydney Town in the "Norfolk", sailed through Bass Strait and circumnavigated Van Diemen's Land, proving it an island.

Flinders, circumnavigated the Australian mainland in the " HMS Investigator", 1801 - 1803, this voyage would depict Flinders, as one of Australia's great explorers. Matthew Flinders, had suggested the name "Australia" for the island continent, the name was adopted in 1824.

On returning to England in 1803, the "Porpoise" was wrecked on a reef, Flinders continued the voyage on the "Cumberland". The Cumberland, in need of repairs sailed for Mauritius, Flinders was captured and imprisoned by the French, claiming he was a spy. Flinders was imprisoned in Mauritius until 1810.

Returning to London, he was in very poor health, although very ill he managed to complete a book on his explorations and named it, "A Voyage to Terra Australis".

Matthew Flinders died aged 40 years on the day his book was published.

Matthew Flinders, 1774 - 1814
The Norfolk
George Bass
Terra Australis Chart

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Nicolas Baudin 1754 - 1803 Scientist and Naval Officer
Nicolas Baudin, in 1800 proposed a scientific expedition to the south of New Holland and Van Diemen's Land. Napoleon Bonaparte and the Institute of France, supported the scientific voyage. The gunship "Le Geographe" and the storeship "Le Naturaliste" sailed for New Holland.

Baudin, is best remembered for his encounter with Matthew Flinders in 1802, at Encounter Bay, both men were charting the New Holland coastline from opposite directions. Baudin, known also for safely transporting live plants and animals back to Europe.

In November 1801, with most of Baudin's, crew becoming ill, he sailed directly for Van Diemen's Land, entering d'Entrecasteaux Channel on January 13th 1802. The following day Port Cygnet was explored during their search for fresh water and wood for the ships fires.

From their first encounter they were accepted well by the natives, the natives were fascinated by the pale white skin of the Frenchmen and their longboat. The Frenchman ate with natives, traded gifts and also entertained them. Baudin then sailed for Port Jackson, reports the French were going to establish a settlement on the Derwent, had reached Governor King, "HMS Cumberland" was sent to watch them. Baudin's ships, were anchored in Sea Elephant Bay ( King Island ), a British party went ashore raising the British flag from a tree and claimed the island for King George. Lieutenant John Bowen, was soon sent to establish a small settlement at Risdon Cove on the River Derwent averting the French from claiming Van Diemen's Land.

Nicolas Baudin died in Mauritius of Tuberculosis September 16th 1803.

It was revealed more than a century later that Francois Peron and Henri deFreycinet, also on Nicolas Baudin's voyage of exploration were acting as intelligence agents, and had provided to the French authorities a dossier of top secret information on the British colony.

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