Portion of Emmanual Bowen’s map entitled: A complete map of...

Portion of Emmanual Bowen’s map entitled: A complete map of the Southern Continent : survey’d by Cap’t. Abel Tasman & depicted by order of the East India Company in Holland in the Stadt House at Amsterdam. (1744)

On this day, 2 December 1642, a party of Abel Tasman’s crew became the first Europeans to set foot on Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) at Storm Bay (now Adventure Bay).

Abel Janszoon Tasman was instructed to command expeditions to the southern and eastern seas in 1642-43 and 1644 by Anthony van Diemen, Governor General of the Dutch East Indies. On his first voyage to find new markets, travelling in the ships Heemskerck and Zeehaen, Tasman charted Tasmania, the west coast of New Zealand, the Tonga and Fiji island groups, and the north coast of New Guinea.

Tasman’s journal describes the events of the day: “That they had heard certain human sounds and also sounds nearly resembling the music of a trump or a small gong not far from them though they had seen no one.” The party also noticed dense smoke rising from the land and reported that they had seen notches in trees 5 feet apart, concluding that the place was inhabited by people of extraordinary stature.

The full journal of the first voyage was lost, but two abridged versions survived. The Huijdecoper manuscript, one of these versions, is an extract copy and is held in the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.