Tasmania – What You Don’t Probably Know

Tasmania is an Australian island that is the twenty-sixth largest in the world. It is situated one hundred and fifty miles south of eastern Australia and is also an Australian state that includes the entire island and also the surrounding islands. Tasmania covers an area of twenty-six thousand square miles and has a population of over half a million people. The capital of the state of Tasmania, and also its largest city, is Hobart. Prominent Tasmanians have included Joseph Lyons, Simon Baker, John Bowe, Elizabeth Blackburn, Marcos Ambrose, Errol Flynn, Luke Ockerby, Peter Sculthorpe, Richard Flanagan, Christopher Koch, John Gellibrand, Rachael Taylor, Phillip Aspinall, David Foster, David Boon, Michelle G. Craske, Dave Haley and F. Matthias Alexander.

Tasmania has been inhabited for at least thirty thousand years by the native Aborigines. Scientist believe that at one time Tasmania was connected to Australia, but geologic shifts and rising waters made it into a separate island. When the first Europeans set foot on the island, there were eight major Aboriginal ethnic groups and a population of over ten thousand people. Europeans first located the island in 1642. This is when explore Abel Tasman spotted the island. But, Europeans wouldn’t set foot on it for another one hundred and thirty years.

This is when Marc Joseph Marion du Fresne led a French landing party on the island. After that, many other Europeans would land on the island including James Cook. The first settlement established on Tasmania was at Risdon Cove by the British Empire. This establishment was set up to prevent the French for claiming the area.

The British would turn the island into a penal colony and most of the original occupants were convicts and their guards. The convict population were used as a labor force to develop a number of industries which included ship building and agriculture. From the beginning of the nineteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century, over seventy thousand convicts were put on the island. But, European contact had disastrous effects on the Aborigine population as disease, war and persecution of the natives caused their population to drop to under three hundred residents by the mid-nineteenth century. In 1856, A British colony was established on the island.

This colony was made possible by the 1850 Australian Constitutions Act. This act passed by the Westminster Parliament allowed six colonies of Australia the ability to have legislative powers. For much of its existence the Tasmania Colony enjoyed prosperity, due in part to its strong trade links with Great Britain. This colony lasted until 1901, when its citizens voted in favor of federation. In January of 1901, it became the Australian state of Tasmania.

Tasmania has a diverse ecosystem that is composed of its natural flora fauna and unique fauna. The topography on the island runs the gambit from grasslands to Eucalyptol forest and rainforest. And there are also portions of the island that are composed of moorlands. Tasmania contains some of the oldest, and tallest, trees in the world. These include two thousand year old Huon pines and the three hundred foot tall Eucalyptus regnans. A species of animal which used to exist on the island is the Thykacine. It was the largest known meat eating marsupial and both sexes had a pouch that protected its offspring. On average, they were about fifty inchees long and weighed seventy pounds.

The Thylacine was a marsupial that was driven to extinction by the Australian dingo. The most well known animal on the island is the Tasmanian Devil. The Tasmanian Devil is a meat eating marsupial that is only found on the island. It has the size of a small dog and is quite muscular. They have black fur and a growl that is a combination between a screech and a dog’s growl. Other animals on the island include European Red Foxes, Wallabies, Koalas, Tasmanian tree frogs, Moss froglet, Striped marsh frogs, King Island Emu, Stubble Quail, Blue-billed Duck, Australasian Shoveler, Hoary headed Grebe, Southern Giant Petrel, Short-tailed Shearwater, Little Pied Cormorant, White-faced Heron, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Australian Spotted Crake, Latham’s Snipe, Pacific Golden Plover, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo, Azure Kingfisher, Strong-billed Honeyeater, White-breasted Woodswallow, Bassian Thrush and European Starling.

A popular Tasmania attraction is Cataract Gorge. Cataract Gorge is a river gorge that is situated in the northern portion of the island, in Launceston. It feature the Kings Bridge Cataract Walk, which was built near the end of the nineteenth century. It also features a chair-lift that has the longest span of any chairlift in the world. It measures nine hundred and twenty-five feet and was erected in the early 1970s. Its northern side is called Cliff Grounds and is a beautiful Victorian garden that is composed of plants, flowers and ferns.

Also located at Cataract Gorge is a restaurant, kiosk, rotunda and a swimming pool. Mole Creek Karst National Park is another popular attraction in Tasmania. It features deep limestone caves that have beautiful displays of cathedral caverns, stalactites, glow worms and stalagmites. The park has over three hundred caves and covers thirty-three hundred acres.