Governor King of the British settlement at New South Wales became increasingly nervous about the intentions of French explorers in the region. In March 1803 he commissioned Lt John Bowen to form a settlement at the River Derwent to ward off French interests, to establish another base for convicts and to exploit the island’s timber getting, agricultural and sealing resources. Lt David Collins took charge of the settlement at Risdon but found the site unsuitable. He removed the settlement to the Sullivan's Cove site in 1804. Also in 1804, a further settlement (Port Dalrymple) was commenced on the north of the island, under the command of Lt Col William Paterson.
The fledgling settlement at Sullivan's Cove was plagued by food shortages, convict unrest and internal conflicts. The food supply became so desperately low in 1806, that Lt David Collins had six whalers from the Ferret flogged for refusing to hand over two casks of biscuits and three casks of flour for the relief of the settlement.
By 1853, however, as Tasmanians were celebrating the end of convict transportation to the colony, the population had reached over 70,000, whaling and wool exports had become the mainstay of the colony, and ship-building was also showing great potential. Over 127,000 acres were under cultivation. Tasmania had been made a separate colony in 1825, and in 1856 was granted responsible self-government.
The expansion of settlement, however, had caused the Aboriginal population to suffer both dispossession and depopulation. Prolonged conflict with settlers and sealers over resources, the abduction of Aboriginal women, and exposure to disease whilst held in captivity severely reduced their numbers. In the 1830s the remnants of the Aboriginal population living in the bush were removed to Wybalenna, Flinders Island where they were housed in ‘gaol-like’ conditions. Children were routinely removed to the Orphan School, Hobart. In 1847 Wybalenna was abandoned and the 47 Aborigines left there were transferred to Oyster Cove Aboriginal Station, south of Hobart.
September 8 and 11
Lady Nelson and Albion arrive at Risdon Cove on the River Derwent, to establish the first European settlement on the island under the command of Lt John Bowen.
An attack on Aborigines at Risdon Cove occurs. Eye-witness accounts of the massacre vary greatly with estimates of the dead ranging from three or four to fifty.
Lt David Collins takes charge of the Risdon settlement, and subsequently removes it to Sullivan’s Cove site.
Hobart Town adopted as name for new settlement.
A party under the charge of Lt Col William Paterson arrives in the Buffalo, Lady Nelson and 2 schooners at Outer Cove (George Town) under instruction from Governor King to begin a settlement on the north of the island.
An Aborigine killed, another wounded at Paterson’s Camp.
William Collins establishes a whaling station at Droughty Point on the Derwent.
Lt David Collins informs Governor King of an extreme shortage of food at settlement.
Paterson moves northern settlement to present site of Launceston.
Thomas Laycock and party embarks on first overland expedition from Port Dalrymple (in north) to Hobart (in south).
First settlers from Norfolk Island arrive.
The name ‘Launceston’ is first used to refer to the northern settlement in official correspondence.
Deposed Governor of NSW, William Bligh, arrives at Hobart Town and temporarily disrupts Lt. David Collins’ power of authority over the settlement.
The first newspaper The Derwent Star and Van Diemens Land Intelligencer is printed in colony.
Governor Lachlan Macquarie (NSW) arrives and begins tour of inspection of island. He names Elizabeth Town (New Norfolk), lays a geometrical plan for Hobart streets and issues instructions for the building of barracks, hospital, gaol, signal station and a new Government House there.
Northern settlements made subordinate to Hobart.
Indefatigable, the first direct convict transport from Britain arrives.
Ports of Van Diemen’s Land open to commerce.
First horse races held at New Town.
First issue of Van Diemens Land Gazette and General Advertiser.
Lt Governor’s Court established to deal with personal disputes under the value of 50 pounds.
Lt Gov Davey declares Martial law against bushrangers.
Capt. James Kelly sets out on circumnavigation of island, during which important observations are made on the resources of the west coast.
Hobart Town Gazette and Southern Reporter begins regular publication.
Foundation stone of old St David’s Church, Hobart laid.
A regular weekly mail service established between Hobart and Launceston.
Hobart Town gaol nearly completed.
A government flour mill installed at Hobart Town Rivulet.
Reverend John Youl (Assistant Chaplain to Port Dalrymple), arrives in colony.
Northern settlement headquarters moved to George Town.
Hobart-New Norfolk road completed.
J. T. Bigge, undertaking a British inquiry into colonial administration, arrives in Van Diemen’s Land.
Merino sheep introduced from Macarthur stud, NSW.
First Methodist meeting held in colony.
Rev. Phillip Conolly, first Roman Catholic clergyman, arrives.
Governor Macquarie, on his second tour of the island, selects a site for township of Perth, and later Campbell Town, Ross, Oatlands and Brighton.
A party of officials and convicts depart Port Dalrymple to form a penal settlement at Macquarie Harbour.
First meeting of an agricultural society held, Hobart.
The first official ministry of the Presbyterian Church in Australia begins in Hobart under Rev. Archibald McArthur.
Bank of Van Diemen’s Land established.
Northern settlement headquarters returned to Launceston site.
Opening of Supreme Court in Tasmania.
Aborigines Musquito (from NSW) and Black-Jack sentenced to hang for a resistance campaign against pastoralists which began at Grindstone Bay in November 1823.
Foundation stone of St. John’s Church laid, Launceston.
Richmond Bridge opened.
The Tasmanian and Port Dalrymple Advertiser becomes first northern newspaper.
Party of soldiers and convicts leave Hobart to establish a penal settlement on Maria Island.
Van Diemen’s Land proclaimed a separate colony from New South Wales, with its own judicial establishment and Legislative Council.
Tasmanian Turf Club first established.
Legislative Council meets formally for first time.
Van Diemen’s Land Company settlers and stock arrive at Circular Head to begin pastoral and agricultural settlement of the north-west region.
Van Diemen’s Land Company begins settlement at Emu Bay (now Burnie).
Van Diemen’s Land Mechanic’s Institute founded, becoming the first of its type in Australia.
First boat regatta held on River Derwent.
Reduction of English duty on whale oil opens way for expansion of local whaling industry.
Van Diemen’s Land Company shepherds massacre 30 Aborigines at Cape Grim.
Derwent Bank opens for business.
Martial law proclaimed against Aborigines in settled areas.
Women’s convict gaol or ‘female factory’ at Cascades, Hobart opened.
Aboriginal mission on Bruny Island opened by George Augustus Robinson.
Bridgewater convict chain gang commences work on the causeway across the River Derwent.
G. A. Robinson sets off on the first of six ‘conciliatory’ expeditions to inquire into the state of the Aboriginal population.
Port Arthur penal settlement established.
The ‘Black Line’ against Aborigines begins in an attempt to capture them all. The campaign lasts 7 weeks and only succeeds in bringing two Aborigines to the authorities.
Publication of Australia’s first novel Quintus Servinton by Henry Savery, Hobart.
System of disposing of land by free grants abolished.
Foundation stone of New Town Orphan School laid.
Erection of Cascade Brewery, Hobart commences.
Martial law against Aborigines revoked.
Maria Island penal settlement closed.
Wybalenna chosen as site for an Aboriginal Establishment, Flinders Island.
Derwent Light (‘Iron Pot’) first lit.
Cornwall Agricultural Society, Launceston formed.
Macquarie Harbour penal station closed and convicts transferred to Port Arthur.
First professional theatrical performance takes place in Hobart.
Low Head lighthouse first lit.
Convict ‘female factory’, Launceston completed.
Point Puer boys convict establishment opened.
First shipment of coal leaves the convict mines, Tasman Peninsula.
Foundation stone of Theatre Royal, Hobart, laid.
Trial by jury in all civil cases adopted.
Edward Henty and party, of Launceston, occupy land at Portland Bay, marking the beginnings of white settlement in Victoria.
Colonial artist, John Glover, sends 35 paintings of Van Diemen’s Land to an exhibition in London.
First meeting held to establish a Launceston Savings Bank.
Convict transport George III sinks in D’Entrecasteaux Channel claiming lives of 139 male convicts.
John Batman of Launceston sails to Port Phillip as agent for the Port Phillip Association.
Charles Darwin visits Van Diemen’s Land in the Beagle.
Formal list of counties, hundreds and parishes of Van Diemen’s Land gazetted.
British Government begins Molesworth Committee Inquiry into Transportation.
State aid granted for construction of church buildings (all denominations).
Bruny Island lighthouse completed.
Government printery established by Act of Parliament.
Midland Agricultural Association forms.
First annual Hobart Regatta held.
A registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages appointed.
First regatta held on Tamar River.
Economic depression begins.
Capt. Ross arrives with Antarctic expedition of the Erebus and Terror.
Rossbank meteorological observatory site established near Government House.
End of transportation to NSW leads to convict influx to Van Diemen’s Land.
Probation system of convict management introduced, leading to the establishment of over 70 government work gang stations throughout the island.
First official census of Van Diemen’s Land.
Sir John and Lady Jane Franklin undertake an overland journey to Macquarie Harbour.
Launceston Examiner first published.
Hobart Town proclaimed a city.
Rev. Francis Russell Nixon, first Bishop of Tasmania (Church of England), arrives in Hobart.
First Catholic Bishop, Rev. Robert William Willson arrives in Hobart.
Royal Society of Tasmania formed, being the first branch of the Society established outside Britain.
Norfolk Island annexed to Van Diemen’s Land.
Royal Victoria Theatre, Launceston opens.
Hobart Savings Bank established.
Hobart Synagogue dedicated.
Emigrant ship, Cataraqui, wrecked off King Island and 406 lives lost.
Legislative Council left without a quorum as the ‘Patriotic Six’ resign over what they considered unconstitutional means taken by the Governor to impose added duties on various goods.
Swan Island and Goose Island lighthouses commence operations.
Aborigines at Flinders Island send a petition to Queen Victoria, being the first petition to a reigning monarch from an Aboriginal group in Australia.
‘Patriotic Six’ reinstated to Legislative Council by new Lt. Governor Sir William Denison.
Forty-seven Flinders Island Aborigines removed to Oyster Cove station.
Deal Island Lighthouse erected.
An anti-transportation league formed after public meeting at Launceston.
Tasmanian Public Library officially opened.
Irish political prisoners, including William Smith O’Brien, arrive in Van Diemen’s Land.
A British Act of Parliament allows the introduction of a partly elected Legislative Council in Van Diemen’s Land.
Discovery of gold in Victoria prompts large scale emigration from Tasmania.
First inter-colonial cricket match held, Launceston (Tasmania vs Victoria).
First ever polling day for Tasmanian members of Parliament.
First meeting of the newly formed and partly elected Legislative Council.
Hobart City Mission established.
Payable gold first discovered at Fingal.
Elections held for first municipal councils in Hobart and Launceston.
The last convict transport St Vincent docks at Hobart.
Jubilee Festival held in Hobart to mark the cessation of convict transportation to the colony.
Regular Launceston-Emu Bay-Circular Head steamer begins.
Select Committee appointed to draft constitution for Bicameral Parliament.
First issue of the Mercury newspaper appears.
Norfolk Island evacuated, convicts having been transferred to Port Arthur.
First regional hospital established at Campbell Town.
Constitution Act proclaimed establishing Responsible Government in Tasmania.
Official change of name from Van Diemen’s Land to Tasmania takes effect.
An Order in Council issued by Queen Victoria separates Norfolk Island from Tasmania and makes it 'a distinct and separate settlement', the affairs of which are to be administered by the Governor of New South Wales.
First elections held to establish new Parliament under Responsible Government.
W.T.N. Champ becomes Tasmania’s first Premier, and first ministry takes office.
First session of new Bicameral Parliament.
Launceston’s water supply scheme from St Patrick’s River completed.
Hobart and Launceston Marine Boards established.
Telegraph line opens between Hobart and Launceston.
Hobart is incorporated.
Municipal police forces established in Hobart and Launceston.
Voting by secret ballot adopted.
Launceston becomes incorporated.
Hobart Town Council appoints a health officer due to concerns about public health.
First attempt made to lay a submarine telegraph cable across Bass Strait.
Governor Henry Fox Young moves into new Government House, Hobart.
Charles Gould undertakes a geological expedition to the Western Ranges.
This page last updated 3 January 2007