On This Day …

Monday, 13th December, 1802

Bellin1753Did you know that Tasmania might have been a French colony, but for a man called Charles Robbins, who intercepted the French on the 13th December, 1802?

As we know Tasmania was originally discovered by Abel Tasman in 1642, who then named it Van Diemen’s Land after the Governor General of the Dutch East Indies in Jakarta, Anthony van Diemen, at the time. At that point they were unaware Tasmania was an island.

Captain Arthur Philip of the First Fleet in 1788, claimed the whole east coast of Australia for Britain, including Tasmania, again unaware that Van Diemen’s Land was separate from the mainland of the country. It was another eleven years before Bass and Flinders circumnavigated Tassie, proving it was in fact, an island.

Of course, the British were eager to make a proper claim on the island then, but discovered that the French also had an eye on the island. French commodore Nicolas Baudin let it slip (during some drunken revelry in Port Jackson – Sydney) that he aimed to colonise Van Diemen’s Land for France. The race was on then. Governor King sent Charles Robbins down to Tassie to convince the Frenchies to leave the little island alone.

Robbins arrived in Tasmania on 13th December, 1802, on a schooner called the Cumberland, and was successful in dissuading Baudin from setting up a colony. British troops soon followed to re-enforce England’s claim on the island.

Imagine if he’d failed. Would we have a little French population to our south? Can you speak any French?

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Published in: on 14th December, 2012 at 11:05 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. C’est magnifique! Tassie n’est pas Francais mais Anglaise! C’est bonne, n’est pas? Oooh la, la!!! (or something like that!!) Madeleine (spelt the French way)

    • Nice foreign accent, Madeleine! LOL. Fun! 🙂


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