|Slogan or nickname|
|Motto(s)||Ubertas et Fidelitas|
(Fertility and Faithfulness)
Other Australian states and territories
|• Governor||Kate Warner|
|• Premier||Will Hodgman (Lib)|
|• Established as Van Diemen's Land||1825|
| • Responsible govt.|
|• Became state||1901|
|• Australia Act||3 March 1986|
|• Total||68,401 km² (7th)|
26,410 sq mi
|• Land||67,031 km²|
25,881 sq mi
|• Water||1,370.42 km² (2%)|
529 sq mi
|• Population||531,529 (6th)|
|• Density||7.77/km² (4th)|
20.1 /sq mi
|• Highest point||Mount Ossa|
1,617 m (5,305 ft)
|Gross state product |
|• Product ($m)||$30,266 (7th)|
|• Product per capita||$57,686 (8th)|
|Time zone(s)||UTC+10 (AEST)|
|• House seats||5/151|
|• Senate seats||12/76|
|• ISO 3166-2||AU-TAS|
|• Floral||Tasmanian blue gum|
|• Animal||Tasmanian devil|
|• Bird||Yellow wattlebird (unofficial)|
|• Mineral or gemstone||Crocoite|
|• Colours||Dark green, red & gold|
Tasmania (//; abbreviated as TAS, nicknamed Tassie) is an island state of Australia. It is located 240 km (150 mi) to the south of the Australian mainland, separated by Bass Strait. The state encompasses the main island of Tasmania, the 26th-largest island in the world, and the surrounding 334 islands. The state has a population of around 531,500 as of December 2018[update]. Just over forty percent of the population resides in the Greater Hobart precinct, which forms the metropolitan area of the state capital and largest city, Hobart.
Tasmania's area is 68,401 km2 (26,410 sq mi), of which the main island covers 64,519 km2 (24,911 sq mi). It is promoted as a natural state, and protected areas of Tasmania cover about 42% of its land area, which includes national parks and World Heritage Sites. Tasmania was the founding place of the first environmental political party in the world.
The island is believed to have been occupied by indigenous peoples for 30,000 years before British colonisation. It is thought Aboriginal Tasmanians were separated from the mainland Aboriginal groups about 10,000 years ago when the sea rose to form Bass Strait. The Aboriginal population is estimated to have been between 3,000 and 7,000 at the time of colonisation, but was almost wiped out within 30 years by a combination of violent guerrilla conflict with settlers known as the "Black War", intertribal conflict, and from the late 1820s, the spread of infectious diseases to which they had no immunity. The conflict, which peaked between 1825 and 1831, and led to more than three years of martial law, cost the lives of almost 1,100 Aboriginals and settlers.
The island was permanently settled by Europeans in 1803 as a penal settlement of the British Empire to prevent claims to the land by the First French Empire during the Napoleonic Wars. The island was initially part of the Colony of New South Wales but became a separate, self-governing colony under the name Van Diemen's Land (named after Anthony van Diemen) in 1825. Approximately 75,000 convicts were sent to Van Diemen's Land before transportation ceased in 1853. In 1854 the present Constitution of Tasmania was passed, and the following year the colony received permission to change its name to Tasmania. In 1901 it became a state through the process of the Federation of Australia.
The state is named after Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who made the first reported European sighting of the island on 24 November 1642. Tasman named the island Anthony van Diemen's Land after his sponsor Anthony van Diemen, the Governor of the Dutch East Indies. The name was later shortened to Van Diemen's Land by the British. It was officially renamed Tasmania in honour of its first European discoverer on 1 January 1856.
Tasmania was sometimes referred to as "Dervon," as mentioned in the Jerilderie Letter written by the notorious Australian bushranger Ned Kelly in 1879. The colloquial expression for the state is "Tassie". Tasmania is also colloquially shortened to "Tas," mainly when used in business names and website addresses. TAS is also the Australia Post abbreviation for the state.
The aboriginal name of the island is Trowunna, Trowenna or Loetrouwitter. The name Lutruwita is also used for Tasmania in a reconstructed aboriginal language. Today, the name Trowunna, and variations of this, are sometimes used as the name of the island.
The island was adjoined to the mainland of Australia until the end of the last glacial period about 10,000 years ago. Much of the island is composed of Jurassic dolerite intrusions (the upwelling of magma) through other rock types, sometimes forming large columnar joints. Tasmania has the world's largest areas of dolerite, with many distinctive mountains and cliffs formed from this rock type. The central plateau and the southeast portions of the island are mostly dolerites. Mount Wellington above Hobart is a good example, showing distinct columns known as the Organ Pipes.
In the southern midlands as far south as Hobart, the dolerite is underlaid by sandstone and similar sedimentary stones. In the southwest, Precambrian quartzites were formed from very ancient sea sediments and form strikingly sharp ridges and ranges, such as Federation Peak or Frenchmans Cap.
In the northeast and east, continental granites can be seen, such as at Freycinet, similar to coastal granites on mainland Australia. In the northwest and west, mineral-rich volcanic rock can be seen at Mount Read near Rosebery, or at Mount Lyell near Queenstown. Also present in the south and northwest is limestone with caves.
The quartzite and dolerite areas in the higher mountains show evidence of glaciation, and much of Australia's glaciated landscape is found on the Central Plateau and the Southwest. Cradle Mountain, another dolerite peak, for example, was a nunatak. The combination of these different rock types contributes to scenery which is distinct from any other region of the world. In the far southwest corner of the state, the geology is almost wholly quartzite, which gives the mountains the false impression of having snow-capped peaks year round.
Evidence indicates the presence of Aborigines in Tasmania about 42,000 years ago. Rising sea levels cut Tasmania off from mainland Australia about 10,000 years ago and by the time of European contact, the Aboriginal people in Tasmania had nine major nations or ethnic groups. At the time of the British occupation and colonisation in 1803, the indigenous population was estimated at between 3,000 and 10,000. Historian Lyndall Ryan's analysis of population studies led her to conclude that there were about 7,000 spread throughout the island's nine nations; Nicholas Clements, citing research by N.J.B. Plomley and Rhys Jones, settled on a figure of 3,000 to 4,000. They engaged in fire-stick farming, hunted game including kangaroo and wallabies, caught seals, mutton-birds, shellfish and fish and lived as nine separate "nations" on the island, which they knew as "Trouwunna".
The first reported sighting of Tasmania by a European was on 24 November 1642 by Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who landed at today's Blackman Bay. More than a century later, in 1772, a French expedition led by Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne landed at (nearby but different) Blackmans Bay, and the following year Tobias Furneaux became the first Englishman to land in Tasmania when he arrived at Adventure Bay, which he named after his ship HMS Adventure. Captain James Cook also landed at Adventure Bay in 1777. Matthew Flinders and George Bass sailed through Bass Strait in 1798–99, determining for the first time that Tasmania was an island.
Sealers and whalers based themselves on Tasmania's islands from 1798, and in August 1803 New South Wales Governor Philip King sent Lieutenant John Bowen to establish a small military outpost on the eastern shore of the Derwent River in order to forestall any claims to the island by French explorers who had been exploring the southern Australian coastline. Bowen, who led a party of 49, including 21 male and three female convicts, named the camp Risdon. Several months later a second settlement was established by Captain David Collins, with 308 convicts, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) to the south in Sullivans Cove on the western side of the Derwent, where fresh water was more plentiful. The latter settlement became known as Hobart Town or Hobarton, later shortened to Hobart, after the British Colonial Secretary of the time, Lord Hobart. The settlement at Risdon was later abandoned. Left on their own without further supplies, the Sullivans Cove settlement suffered severe food shortages and by 1806 its inhabitants were starving, with many resorting to scraping seaweed off rocks and scavenging washed-up whale blubber from the shore to survive.
A smaller colony was established at Port Dalrymple on the Tamar River in the island's north in October 1804 and several other convict-based settlements were established, including the particularly harsh penal colonies at Port Arthur in the southeast and Macquarie Harbour on the West Coast. Tasmania was eventually sent 75,000 convicts—four out of every ten people transported to Australia. By 1819 the Aboriginal and British population reached parity with about 5000 of each, although among the colonists men outnumbered women four to one. Free settlers began arriving in large numbers from 1820, lured by the promise of land grants and free convict labour. Settlement in the island's northwest corner was monopolised by the Van Diemen's Land Company, which sent its first surveyors to the district in 1826. By 1830 one-third of Australia's non-Indigenous population lived in Van Diemen's Land and the island accounted for about half of all land under cultivation and exports.
Tensions between Tasmania's black and white inhabitants rose, partly driven by increasing competition for kangaroo and other game. Explorer and naval officer John Oxley in 1810 noted the "many atrocious cruelties" inflicted on Aboriginals by convict bushrangers in the north, which in turn led to black attacks on solitary white hunters. Hostilities increased further with the arrival of 600 colonists from Norfolk Island between 1807 and 1813. They established farms along the River Derwent and east and west of Launceston, occupying 10 percent of Van Diemen's Land. By 1824 the colonial population had swelled to 12,600, while the island's sheep population had reached 200,000. The rapid colonisation transformed traditional kangaroo hunting grounds into farms with grazing livestock as well as fences, hedges and stone walls, while police and military patrols were increased to control the convict farm labourers.
Violence began to spiral rapidly from the mid-1820s in what became known as the "Black War". While black inhabitants were driven to desperation by dwindling food supplies as well as anger at the prevalence of abductions of women and girls, whites carried out attacks as a means of exacting revenge and suppressing the native threat. Van Diemen's Land had an enormous gender imbalance, with male colonists outnumbering females six to one in 1822—and 16 to one among the convict population. Historian Nicholas Clements has suggested the "voracious appetite" for native women was the most important trigger for the explosion of violence from the late 1820s.
From 1825 to 1828 the number of native attacks more than doubled each year, raising panic among settlers. Over the summer of 1826–7 clans from the Big River, Oyster Bay and North Midlands nations speared stock-keepers on farms and made it clear that they wanted the settlers and their sheep and cattle to move from their kangaroo hunting grounds. Settlers responded vigorously, resulting in many mass-killings. In November 1826 Governor George Arthur issued a government notice declaring that colonists were free to kill Aborigines when they attacked settlers or their property and in the following eight months more than 200 Aborigines were killed in the Settled Districts in reprisal for the deaths of 15 colonists. After another eight months the death toll had risen to 43 colonists and probably 350 Aboriginals. Almost 300 British troops were sent into the Settled Districts, and in November 1828 Arthur declared martial law, giving soldiers the right to shoot on sight any Aboriginal in the Settled Districts. Martial law would remain in force for more than three years, the longest period of martial law in Australian history.
In November 1830 Arthur organised the so-called "Black Line", ordering every able-bodied male colonist to assemble at one of seven designated places in the Settled Districts to join a massive drive to sweep Aboriginals out of the region and on to the Tasman Peninsula. The campaign failed and was abandoned seven weeks later, but by then Tasmania's Aboriginal population had fallen to about 300.
After hostilities between settlers and Aboriginals ceased in 1832, almost all of the remnants of the indigenous population were persuaded or forced by government agent George Augustus Robinson to move to Flinders Island. Many quickly succumbed to infectious diseases to which they had no immunity, reducing the population further. Of those removed from Tasmania, the last to die was Truganini, in 1876. The near-destruction of Tasmania's Aboriginal population has been described as an act of genocide by historians including Robert Hughes, James Boyce, Lyndall Ryan and Tom Lawson. Boyce has claimed that the April 1828 "Proclamation Separating the Aborigines from the White Inhabitants" sanctioned force against Aboriginals "for no other reason than that they were Aboriginal" and described the decision to remove all Tasmanian Aborigines after 1832—by which time they had given up their fight against white colonists—as an extreme policy position. He concluded: "The colonial government from 1832 to 1838 ethnically cleansed the western half of Van Diemen's Land and then callously left the exiled people to their fate."
Van Diemen's Land—which thus far had existed as a territory within the colony of New South Wales—was proclaimed a separate colony, with its own judicial establishment and Legislative Council, on 3 December 1825. Transportation to the island ceased in 1853 and the colony was renamed Tasmania in 1856, partly to differentiate the burgeoning society of free settlers from the island's convict past.
The Legislative Council of Van Diemen's Land drafted a new constitution which it passed in 1854. The following year the Privy Council approved the colony changing its name from "Van Diemen's Land" to "Tasmania", and in 1856 the newly elected bicameral parliament sat for the first time, establishing Tasmania as a self-governing colony of the British Empire.
The colony suffered from economic fluctuations, but for the most part was prosperous, experiencing steady growth. With few external threats and strong trade links with the Empire, Tasmania enjoyed many fruitful periods in the late 19th century, becoming a world-centre of shipbuilding. It raised a local defence force that eventually played a significant role in the Second Boer War in South Africa, and Tasmanian soldiers in that conflict won the first two Victoria Crosses awarded to Australians.
In 1901 the Colony of Tasmania united with the five other Australian colonies to form the Commonwealth of Australia. Tasmanians voted in favour of federation with the largest majority of all the Australian colonies.
The state was badly affected by the 1967 Tasmanian fires, in which there was major loss of life and property. In the 1970s the state government announced plans to flood environmentally significant Lake Pedder. As a result of the eventual flooding of Lake Pedder, the world's first greens party was established; the United Tasmania Group.
In 1975 the Tasman Bridge collapsed when the bridge was struck by the bulk ore carrier MV Lake Illawarra. It was the only bridge in Hobart, and made crossing the Derwent River by road at the city impossible. The nearest bridge was approximately 20 kilometres (12 mi) to the north, at Bridgewater.
National and international attention surrounded the campaign against the Franklin Dam in the early 1980s.
On 28 April 1996, in the incident now known as the Port Arthur massacre, lone gunman Martin Bryant shot and killed 35 people (including tourists and residents) and injured 21 others. The use of firearms was immediately reviewed, and new gun ownership laws were adopted nationwide, with Tasmania's law one of the strictest in Australia.
In April 2006 the Beaconsfield Mine collapse was triggered by a small earthquake. One person was killed and two others were trapped underground for 14 days.
The Tasmanian community has for some time been divided over the issue of the proposed Bell Bay Pulp Mill to be built in the Tamar Valley. Proponents argue that jobs will be created, while opponents argue that pollution will damage both the Bass Strait fishing industry and local tourism. The company behind the proposal collapsed in 2012 and the pulp mill project officially ended in 2017 when the building permits lapsed.
Tasmania's landmass of 68,401 km2 (26,410 sq mi) is located directly in the pathway of the notorious "Roaring Forties" wind that encircles the globe. To its north, it is separated from mainland Australia by Bass Strait. Tasmania is the only Australian state that is not located on the Australian mainland. About 2,500 kilometres (1,600 mi) south of Tasmania island lies Antarctica. Depending on which borders of the oceans are used, the island can be said to be either surrounded by the Southern Ocean, or to have the Pacific on its east and the Indian to its west. Still other definitions of the ocean boundaries would have Tasmania with the Great Australian Bight to the west, and the Tasman Sea to the east. It lies at similar latitudes to the South Island of New Zealand, and parts of Patagonia in South America.
The most mountainous region is the Central Highlands area, which covers most of the central western parts of the state. The Midlands located in the central east, is fairly flat, and is predominantly used for agriculture, although farming activity is scattered throughout the state. Tasmania's tallest mountain is Mount Ossa at 1,617 m (5,305 ft). Much of Tasmania is still densely forested, with the Southwest National Park and neighbouring areas holding some of the last temperate rain forests in the Southern Hemisphere. The Tarkine, containing Savage River National Park located in the island's far north west, is the largest temperate rainforest area in Australia covering about 3,800 square kilometres (1,500 sq mi). With its rugged topography, Tasmania has a great number of rivers. Several of Tasmania's largest rivers have been dammed at some point to provide hydroelectricity. Many rivers begin in the Central Highlands and flow out to the coast. Tasmania's major population centres are mainly situated around estuaries (some of which are named rivers).
Tasmania's insularity was likely detected by Captain Abel Tasman when he charted Tasmania's coast in 1642. On 5 December, Tasman was following the east coast northward to see how far it went. When the land veered to the north-west at Eddystone Point, he tried to keep in with it but his ships were suddenly hit by the Roaring Forties howling through Banks Strait. Tasman was on a mission to find the Southern Continent, not more islands, so he abruptly turned away to the east and continued his continent-hunting.
The next European to enter the strait was Captain James Cook on HMS Endeavour in April 1770. A talented and diligent hydrographer, Cook quickly identified the strait, but knew he had to conceal it. The Admiralty had issued its usual instructions to hide strategically important discoveries that could become security risks, such as off-shore islands from which operations could be mounted by a hostile power, at a time of intense Anglo-French rivalry.
Consequently, in his journal Cook seemingly disguised his discovery with a riddle; and on his chart he drew a curtain across the truncated channel by sketching a false coastline down to an invented Point Hicks. Cook's ploy worked and Tasmania's insularity was suppressed for three more decades, as Europe's mapmakers increasingly depicted it as a peninsula joined to the mainland.
The age-old question about Tasmania's insularity – 'Is Van Diemen's Land a peninsula or an island?' – was officially resolved in 1798–99 when George Bass and Matthew Flinders circumnavigated the island. When news of their discovery of Bass Strait reached Europe, the French government despatched a reconnaissance expedition commanded by Nicolas Baudin. This prompted Governor King to send two vessels from Sydney to the island to establish a garrison at Hobart.
Tasmania has a relatively cool temperate climate compared to the rest of Australia with four distinct seasons. Summer is from December to February when the average maximum sea temperature is 21 °C (70 °F) and inland areas around Launceston reach 24 °C (75 °F). Other inland areas are much cooler, with Liawenee, located on the Central Plateau, one of the coldest places in Australia, ranging between 4 °C (39 °F) and 17 °C (63 °F) in February. Autumn is from March to May, with mostly settled weather, as summer patterns gradually take on the shape of winter patterns. The winter months are from June to August, and are generally the wettest and coldest months in the state, with most high lying areas receiving considerable snowfall. Winter maximums are 12 °C (54 °F) on average along coastal areas and 3 °C (37 °F) on the central plateau, as a result of a series of cold fronts from the Southern Ocean. Inland areas receive regular freezes throughout the winter months. Spring is from September to November, and is an unsettled season of transition, where winter weather patterns begin to take the shape of summer patterns, although snowfall is still common up until October. Spring is generally the windiest time of the year with afternoon sea breezes starting to take effect on the coast.
|City||Mean Min. Temp °C||Mean Max. Temp °C||No. Clear days||Rainfall (mm)|
Despite the presence of some Quaternary glaciation, Tasmania's soils are not more fertile than those of mainland Australia, largely because most are severely leached and the areas with driest climates (least leaching) were unaffected by glaciation or alluvia derived therefrom. Most soils on the Bass Strait Islands, the east coast and western Tasmania are very infertile spodosols or psamments, with some even less fertile "lateritic podzolic soils" in the latter region. Most of these lands are thus not used for agriculture, but there is much productive forestry—which remains one of the state's major industries.
On the north coast, apart from some relatively fertile alluvial soils used for fruit-growing, there are also deep red, easily workable soils known as "krasnozems" ("red land"). These soils are highly acidic and fix phosphate very effectively, but their extremely favourable physical properties make them extensively used for dairying, beef cattle and fodder crops.
The Midlands and the Lower Derwent present a different story from the rest of the state. Owing to a relatively dry climate and alkaline (mostly dolerite) parent material, these soils are relatively unleached and contain lime in the deeper subsoil. They are mostly classified as "prairie soils" or "brown earths" and bear some resemblance to the chernozems of Russia and North America, although they are much lower in available phosphorus and somewhat acidic in the surface levels. Their higher nutrient levels, however, allow them to support productive pasture, and large numbers of sheep are grazed in these regions. Some grain crops are also grown in the driest areas. In the alluvial areas of southeastern Tasmania, rich alluvial soils permit apples to be grown.
Tasmania became known as the "Apple Isle" because for many years it was one of the world's major apple producers. Apples are still grown in large numbers, particularly in southern Tasmania, and have the distinction of being the first approved by the Japanese government for import, due to their verifiable pest-free status.
Geographically and genetically isolated, Tasmania is known for its unique flora and fauna.
Tasmania has extremely diverse vegetation, from the heavily grazed grassland of the dry Midlands to the tall evergreen eucalypt forest, alpine heathlands and large areas of cool temperate rainforests and moorlands in the rest of the state. Many flora species are unique to Tasmania, and some are related to species in South America and New Zealand through ancestors which grew on the super continent of Gondwana, 50 million years ago. Beech species Nothofagus gunnii, commonly known as Fagus, is Australia's only temperate native deciduous tree that is found exclusively in Tasmania.
The island of Tasmania was home to the thylacine, a marsupial which resembled a fossa or some say a wild dog. Known colloquially as the Tasmanian tiger for the distinctive striping across its back, it became extinct in mainland Australia much earlier because of competition by the dingo, introduced in prehistoric times. Owing to persecution by farmers, government-funded bounty hunters and, in the final years, collectors for overseas museums, it appears to have been exterminated in Tasmania. The Tasmanian devil became the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world following the extinction of the thylacine in 1936, and is now found in the wild only in Tasmania. Tasmania was one of the last regions of Australia to be introduced to domesticated dogs. Dogs were brought from Britain in 1803 for hunting kangaroos and emus. This introduction completely transformed Aboriginal society, as it helped them to successfully compete with European hunters, and was more important than the introduction of guns for the Aboriginals.
Tasmania's population is more homogeneous than that of other states of Australia, with many of British descent. Approximately 65% of its residents are descendants of an estimated 10,000 "founding families" from the mid-19th century.
Until 2012, Tasmania was the only state in Australia with an above-replacement total fertility rate; Tasmanian women had an average of 2.24 children each. By 2012 the birth rate had slipped to 2.1 children per woman, bringing the state to the replacement threshold, but it continues to have the second-highest birth rate of any state or territory (behind the Northern Territory).