Abel Tasman Exploration Voyages
Abel Tasman is best known for exploring Tasmania and New Zealand. Abel Tasman was born about 1603 at Lutjegast, near Groningen in Holland. By the age of 30 he was a seaman and became a skipper in the Dutch East India Company. In 1638 Abel Tasman went to live in Batavia. From then on, Abel Tasman stuck to exploring rather than trading. He made exploratory voyages to China, Cambodia, Japan, and Sumatra which brought him to the attention of Anthony Van Dieman, the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies. He was given a commission to explore the southern oceans.
Abel Tasman had two ships, the Heemskerck (or Heemskirk) which had a crew of sixty, and the Zeehan with fifty on board. The ships set sail on 14th August 1642 and planned to stay out for eighteen months. Abel Tasman called the Heemskirk a "yacht" and the Zeehan a "flute". The wind was blowing from the north-east and the first night the Zeehan ran aground near the island of Rotterdam but was got off rather easily and they continued on through the Sunda Straits.
Abel Tasman then sailed to Mauritius, and then sailed south east into unchartered waters. On the 24th November they sighted Tasmania and named it Van Diemens Land. It took several days for them to land as the winds were unsuitable and on December 1st, they anchored in 22 fathoms in a good harbour that had a bottom of white and grey fine sand and sent the pilot with the pinnace ashore and the cock-boat of the Zeehan to find out if there was any fresh water, timber, or food available. They returned with a number of plants. The men had heard sounds of the Aborigines and notches made in trees to rob birds' nests.
Abel Tasman left Tasmania and on 13th December they saw land bearing south-east about fifteen miles away. They anchored off the shore and boats of Maori warriors approached them and there was a fight that left several Dutchmen dead. Tasman thought New Zealand was a part of Chile and sailed north-west to discover Tonga and the Fiji Islands. Abel Tasman then sailed past the Solomon Islands and over the top of New Guinea and arrived back at Batavia on the fifteenth June 1643.
In 1644 Abel Tasman made another exploration to the north of Australia. Abel Tasman charted the seas from the Gulf of Carpentaria all the way around to the North-West Cape of Western Australia. He ascertained that New Guinea was not a part of Australia. Abel Tasman died in 1659 in Batavia, Java.
Baudin & Flinders
Sir Robert Seppings