Van Diemans Land/Tasmania/Tassie

Call it what you will. The first European to bump into Tasmania in 1642 was Abel Tasman and he named it Van Diemans Land. it wasn’t actually changed to Tasmania until 1851. Our man, Cooke, didn’t actually get here until 1777!!! It was the second place to be settled after Sydney in 1803 mostly by convicts and soldiers when they started logging. The empire desperately needed wood and we in England had cut down most of our oaks. This place was full of blue gum trees. We were also worried that the French or Dutch who had been here loads of times might stick their flag up.

Originally, about 8,000 indigenous people lived here. By the mid 1830’s only a few hundred survived and they had been driven away to live on outlying islands. So, an outstandingly beautiful place had a pretty shaky start often referred to as the convict stain and for a long time was not talked about.

We spent our final Melbourne day in St. Kilda, one of Melbourne’s many different outlying suburbs. St. Kilda with it’s huge bay and buzzing cafe and wine bar culture has a great street party atmosphere. In the evening we went to Port Melbourne to catch the ferry where the loading was fairly chaotic but we had a reasonably smooth night crossing and arrived in Devonport at 6a.m.

After doing some re-stocking (you are not allowed to take fruit, veg or fish into Tasmania) we drove across to the east coast and it was oh so scenic. Some rain forest, some open plains and some mountains. Our first stop was just outside St. Helens at the Bay of Fires, right on the beach with white sand and turquoise sea – what more can you say. The story of the Bay of Fires as we were told is that this huge bay with many small bays within it was and is still is Aboriginal land. The different groups lit fires at night and so came the name Bay of Fires. Apparently, National Parks have tried to buy this land so that camping can be charged for but the Aboriginals won’t sell but want it left as it was and are happy to let people camp for free.

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