I’ve written many times about how we fell in love with Tasmania, but perhaps one thing I haven’t spoken enough about, is the Indigenous history of Australia’s island state.
There’s a reason for that; during our 3 months in Tasmania, although we learned a lot of history, I’m sad to say we didn’t learn much about Tasmania’s first peoples. There were snippets on a couple of signs, and a small amount I managed to track down at Port Arthur, but sadly I don’t feel there’s enough information in general tourist areas. There may be more accessible information on Flinders Island, Bruny Island or Maria Island but we didn’t make it to any of those, so perhaps that’s why we didn’t see more?
As someone majoring in Indigenous Studies, and because I wasn’t satisfied with what I learned, I’ll tell you what I know myself, and I hope, if you visit, you’ll track down something wonderful and send me information. I do intend to re-visit Tassie and track down more for myself.
I set off on our adventure keen to uncover how settlement may have affected Indigenous peoples in Tasmania, who before settlement knew the island as lutruwita (lu-tru-wee-tah). In 1803 settlers arrived to form Australia’s second British colony at Risdon Cove, and it was named Van Diemen’s Land as part of the New South Wales settlement. In 1856 the island was granted self-government and the name officially changed to Tasmania. Of course, I realised that just like every part of Australia, settlement was likely a destructive time for Indigenous populations, but how destructive? What happened? Did any clans survive on their own lands? What was the initial reaction from either side?
Unfortunately, the story isn’t a kind one.
Before settlement it is believed there were nine Indigenous Nations living on Tasmania, who traded with European sealers with very little animosity, but once settlement began, Indigenous peoples were pushed off their lands in order for settlers and convicts establish colonies and farmland. Land would be fenced off and distributed for farming and cropping, but when Indigenous peoples rely on their homelands for food and water, to fence this off means desperation and lack of ability to survive.
If you’d been living peacefully on lands for no less than 35,000 years and all of a sudden found your lands fenced off resulting in your family starving, what would you do? Of course you would need to fight, you would be driven to fight; fight for the right to eat, and stay alive.
Most people don’t understand that for the most part, Indigenous Australians were not historically a nomadic peoples, instead they existed in designated lands which they cared for and used to sustain all they needed, sometimes trading with neighbouring Nations for tools or foods they may not have access to on their own Country. So it was not as simple as being kicked off one area of land by settlers and moving on to somewhere else, Indigenous peoples could not just take over someone elses lands. Sadly this is the theme right across Australia, not just Tasmania, but on an Island state so small, losing lands would have had horrific consequences.
Lieutenant-Governor Arthur declared martial law in 1828 resulting in Aboriginal clans being forced out of areas and away from white settlers, murdered or incarcerated. Those who were not forced out were decimated by European diseases which killed many Indigenous peoples who had no immunity to such health issues.
Surviving Indigenous Tasmanian peoples were forced onto Bruny Island, Flinders Island, and other areas, where most died due to poor conditions and disease, before a settlement at Oyster Cove was formed and those who survived were mostly left to their own devices there.
There is, today a Tasmanian Indigenous population who have worked hard to revive and continue Indigenous language and connection to land and culture, so as proven right across Australia, our First Peoples are resilient and determined and this should be celebrated.
My Most Treasured Indigenous Insight While In Tasmania.
One area we did visit that holds Indigenous significance is Recherche Bay.
Many people would have heard of Truganini (1812-1876), a brave and amazing Aboriginal woman who survived the destruction and decimation of her peoples, caused by white settlement.
Truganini was born in Recherche Bay, daughter of the leader of the region. While much of Truganini’s family were brutally killed, Truganini travelled with her partner Woorraddy who accompanied George Robinson, serving as a guide and interpreter, during attempts to relocate Indigenous populations to several island settlements. During this time, Truganini became disollusioned with Robinson’s mission, realising that his attempt to remove and relocate Aboriginal peoples would all but remove the chance for traditional Indigenous life in Tasmania, and instead urged her peoples to stay and with them settled at Oyster Cove.
Truganini passed away in 1876, and is believed to have been the last surviving full-blood Tasmanian Aboriginal person. While fighting occured when her remains were recovered from the Hobart Female Factory site in 1878 after much protest and fighting, in 1976 her ashes were scattered on the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, fulfilling her wishes almost one hundred years after her death.
I, stood, one small person looking out the the D’Entrecasteaux Channel, and Recherche Bay, and with my standing, felt the gravity of settlement, the pain of a peoples who did not ask for us to be here, and the pain of one woman who fought for survival for herself and her peoples.
In all this sadness I felt a renewed hope that as a country we can move forward. We can never undo what has been done during the devastation caused by settlement, but we can be mindful and reflection and acknowledge that while we have grown into an amazing country, this has not been without loss and pain.
Together, as a united country we must not lose sight of the most important part of this country. The land. It has nurtured a culture now considered the oldest continuing living culture in the world, and we must care for the land so it continues to nurture the people who now call it home.
Do you have an interest in Indigenous History or special memories of Tasmania? Share below.
Well, I just downloaded all the photos we’ve taken of the caravan renovation during our reno adventure. If you’ve been following along on Facebook, then you’ve likely been seeing updates pop up as we go, but simply because of the busy nature of trying to get the renovation done, I haven’t updated anything on the blog.
While the plan is, to post a chronological step through of what we’ve done; the irony is that until we’re done I just won’t have the time, so I’m posting a few pictures that highlight the process we’ve been through and are getting closer to finishing.
This is the original lounge, I need to find some more of the internals before we started stripping, then in the one below you can see Matt stripping out the internal wall lining, after he’d ripped out the kitchen and the lounge and old beds.
There is so much work in stripping out just in order to put it all back together again, but we got it all stripped out, took out all the old wiring, part of the floor, and had a clean canvas to begin rebuilding.
Then there was re-wiring the entire van and deciding where we wanted our phone charging points, lights, stereo and other goodies to go. There is a LOT of wiring running in the van. We got heavy duty dual core so it should last forever and a day. You can see in the photo below, we’ve repained, and insulated as well by this point.
Once many, many hours of work went in, we started to re-line the van.
After many, many more hours, we began to get to some of the detail work, we laid a new floor which I love. It feels and looks like old floorboards.
It also included painting… the kids helped to do the undercoat, and then once all that was over we could begin constructing the furniture.
This is the new lounge in progress, it doesn’t have the dividing wall up in this picture, but you’ll see that in the next one down. It’s a big taller than the old one but we wanted storage space, and you just have to figure these things out as you go.
So, at the moment, we have the entire van lined, wired, painted and the bunks and lounge, and new dividing wall between the lounge and our bedroom installed. We have the kitchen and our bed to go.
The triple bunks are mostly finished, just some cosmetic work to do, the kids love them and I can’t blame them! It will be lovely for them to have their own space. We utilised the old cupboard to turn it into pigeon holes for them to store toys and goodies. We then created new pigeon holes at the entrance of the door to house the fire extinguisher and blanket, a speaker and charging point. It will be handy to store things like sunscreen, hats and things we need handy daily.
There’s so much we’ve done that hasn’t made it in here, including putting new springs and axle underneath, installing solar wiring and a new aerial, scraping the entire outside edging to be re-sealed, but I’ll do individual posts for those processes once we’re kicking back and enjoying what we’ve created.
This has been one of the most challenging but rewarding journeys of our lives I think, and it isn’t over just yet.
I know, I know, our posts are terribly sporadic, but as usual, life gets busy and blogging becomes secondary to everything else going on, but you definitely need to know about our latest obsession; geocaching.
If you look at the container in Byron’s hands on the right, in the photo below; that is a geocache. It’s like a worldwide outdoor treasure hunt, and it’s a perfect activity for the entire family. We’re now official Geocaching around Australia with Kids 🙂
It’s something we’d heard about years ago and had always said we “should” give it a go, but we’d never really bothered. Oh, how I wish we’d started earlier because it is absolutely the most fun thing we’ve undertaken as a family.
Because our travels have been a bit halted with the caravan renovation, we really needed something to add a bit of excitement for the kids, and it turns out geocaching is just that bit of fun we needed.
The kids had no idea we were heading out to have a little fun, we told them we were heading to the grocery store and piled them into the car. As we pulled over on the side of the road, with no idea what they were doing, we gave them clues about what they were looking for, and our first ever geocache was in their excited little hands.
The first day we set off to do a few that are close to where we’re staying. We did our first one on the way into town, located another small one in town, which offered a bit of a challenge and had all five of us stumped for a little while, but we had success after about 20 minutes of searching. Then, after a quick stop at the grocery store, we did another one on the way home.
It’s added a new dimension to our travels. A few days ago we were on a road trip to visit family, and we sussed out what geocaches would be available on the direct route to where we were going, and planned to do a couple of stops on the way.
The kids now keep a zip-lock bag of little goodies in the car, because there are caches that have the option to swap something out, and they are very enthusiastic about knowing if there’s caches in the direction we’re heading during trips anywhere.
So, if you don’t know what geocaching is, or haven’t given it a go, here’s some details to get you started. It’s really a lot of fun, and we’ll now be geocaching our way around Australia.
What is Geocaching?
Geocaching is like an outdoor treasure hunt, so you can see why it’s perfect for kids and families. Caches are hidden in places all around Australia and the world. Using a handheld GPS or your mobile phone, you use the GPS coordinates to try and track down the cache. They can be a variety of sizes and difficulty levels. Some contain nothing more than a log sheet that you sign to say you’ve been there. Other caches are larger and contain trinkets and goodies left by others, these allow you to swap out something in there and replace it with a trinket of your own for someone else to take later.
Who can Geocache?
There’s a massive worldwide geocaching community. If you love a bit of a challenge, a surprise and getting outdoors in a really fun way, then geocaching could be the activity you’ve been looking for! We think, for families it’s the perfect way to spend time together, face challenges and have a fun result at the end.
How do you get started with Geocaching?
We downloaded the free version of the official geocaching app from the iTunes app store. We found our first few caches using the free version and then updated to the paid version so we could use the extra features such as being able to search for geographical areas we were heading too, not just being limited to where we currently were. We suggest you take a look at the Geocaching 101 area of the offical website, and start from there.
So, please let us know if you’re a geocacher or if you’re planning to start, we’d love to hear your stories, leave us a comment below.
One thing we’ve learned on this journey, is that plans never quite turn out the way you expect them to. Personally, my plan is definitely not to plan, but of course there’s always a general guideline for where we’re going and how we’ll get there. When we first planned years ago to travel Australia, we had our hearts set on a Jayco Swan. We tramped through camping show, after camping show and loved the layout, and having the advantage of towing a smaller sized, off-road home and so that’s what we set off on our Australian travels. After less than a year we said goodbye to our Swan and can now introduce you to our newest family member.
Meet Claire, the 1978 Viscount Royal Caravan renovation project.
It’s not that we weren’t happy with the swan, it gave us good times, was light and easy to tow, had heaps of room and hadn’t let us down at all.
The biggest problem was, the inconvenience of putting canvas up and down, and the fact that everything didn’t have a place because as we folded up and down, packed in and out, there was so much that needed to be shuffled around. It simply got tiring.
As we’d pull up during our Tasmanian camping holiday, we’d see people arrive for the evening, step out of their van, join in for happy hour and we’d still be shuffling, juggling and setting up. Next morning people would hitch up, and off they’d go, while we waited for the canvas to dry from the night dew, packed things in, folded up everything, loaded in the rest and finally headed off for the next destination. It took so much time, we ended up not moving quickly, and sometimes missing out on awesome campsites because we’d totally dodge having to move camps and stay in one place instead. The other issue was that the kids were sharing the queen bed, and I think they were really longing for their own, private space.
So, as we’ve been here spending time with family, we decided that we’d add an extra little bit of adventure to our travelling lifestyle, and we’d renovate an old van and restore it, in the process converting it into our perfect home on the road. We saw the ad on gumtree, made a phone call and drove a couple of hours to pick this old girl up.
She’s been leaking, neglected, and needs lots of love and attention to bring her back to glory, and we really can’t wait to make her own home. She’s a year older than Matt, which makes her 2 years older than me, and we’ve given her the name Claire, a dedication to Matt’s Nan who we’ve been visiting and spending time with.
The kids are excited they’ll have their own bunk bed, we’ll be making under-bed storage, putting in a new 90litre fridge, a gas stove and oven which means we won’t have to carry the weber babyQ around any more either, there will be a lounge with space for all of us, plenty of cupboard space, and the best part is, everything will have a place and when we pull up the car we won’t have any set up to do, we can just step inside and enjoy!
So, expect to see plenty of photos of us gutting and then re-building our old viscount, I truly can’t wait to take her on her first trip as our new home.
A huge hello to those who have found us via my “Blog of the Week” talk with Andrew on 2GB Radio. We’re really happy to have you here checking out the blog, and we can’t wait to talk with Andrew again in a few months to update him and talk some more about how to fulfill this crazy dream!
I thought I’d pick out a few of our previous blog posts for you to get you started and give you some idea about heading off and travelling around Australia, but, if you have any specific questions, please feel free to email us at email@example.com and don’t forget to sign up to our email newsletter over on the right hand side of our website.
If you think this travel dream is something that you will only ever dream of doing, then I want you, indeed I beg you to leave that thought where it stands, and trust me that it’s possible for ANYONE to travel Australia. I promise you we don’t have a slush fund, we weren’t and aren’t in high paying jobs, we are very budget conscious and we’ll also be working as we travel, we’re an average Aussie family.
Tips about getting ready to travel Australia:
We wrote an overview about many of the major considerations you’ll need to think about when you decide to head of on a trip around Australia, we cover the initial questions you’ll want to ask yourself to get an idea of what your dream trip will look like, so click here for our big lap of Australia starter planning.
We wrote about choosing a car to travel Australia, as well as some modifications we did to the Patrol.
We’ve written a little on income when on the road, but we’ll cover more about this soon.
The Mindset it Takes to Travel Long Term
We’ve collaborated with other bloggers to write about mindset and why you need to create your own luck to make your dreams come true.
We’ve written about how we too got bogged down into the struggles of life and had to kick ourselves to make our dreams happen.
About the struggles it takes for massive life change to get on the road, here and here and here.
What Else You’ll Find on our Site
While there’s lots about our travel that we’re struggling madly to get up on the blog, you’ll find info about many of the places we’ve visited, some of our tips about travelling Australia with a dog, and there’s so much more coming.
We have a great Facebook community, and we regularly send out our newsletter, as well as run competitions and we’re always happy to answer questions.
Whether you want to plan to explore Australia for a few months, or open ended as we are, then we’re here to help you any way we can. Feel free to comment below and we’ll get back to you!tra
When I think back to late 2013, we knew we were heading off on our big lap of Australia, but we didn’t really have any idea where that journey would take us, or just where we’d aim for first. So it goes without saying that when we had the chance to head off with the kids on Spirit of Tasmania, along with the dog, and the caravan we figured why not!
Waaaayyyyyy back in February we blogged about our excitement of the journey over there, and how much we were looking forward to a month in Tassie, but it didn’t take long, perhaps maybe three days, for us to fall in love and extend our trip out to a whole three month experience.
There’s so much to catch up on! I’ll put my hand up now and admit that we were so busy getting out and exploring Tasmania with the kids, that blogging had to take a back seat. It wasn’t helpful that overcast days challenged our solar and the ability to charge the laptops, or that Tassie doesn’t always have the best mobile internet reception, but if you’ve been there, or if you’re planning to go, you’ll understand why, and you really won’t mind one bit, because the internet and phone mean so little when you get views like this!
Alas, here we are spending our final night in a free camp at Forth. It’s only about 15kms from the Spirit of Tasmania terminal in Devonport, so it was a super convenient camp for the night.
Our Return Journey on Spirit of Tasmania.
Something a little exciting was the fact that our depart date fell on Mother’s Day. So it started with me getting to open my swag of goodies that Matt and the kids had collected right under my nose without me realising! (It can get tricky to buy gifts when we’re all together every day), before we caught up with other travellers we’d met at another camp, who dropped in to say goodbye.
I was sad to be waving goodbye to our home state of three months, but between you and me, having someone else cook dinner for me, a bed that wasn’t in the van, and catching a movie with the kids on board Spirit of Tasmania was exciting me!
So, here we are, we couldn’t leave without a group photo right in front of Spirit of Tasmania, well, two actually because I didn’t have a tripod and nobody wanted to miss out on a photo 🙂
We checked our gas bottles into the holding area, and before long, it was time time to board, there’s always excitement as we head up the ramp….
Then it was time for Yoshi to go into his kennel. Bedding and blanket to keep him comfy and we waved our buddy goodbye so we could grab some dinner before the movie started! (The photo is a bit blurry, a lovely lady offered to take a family one for us), thanks to her we got all of us in 🙂
We had dinner at The Captain’s Table, which is a buffet style eatery, which the kid’s loved because they got to choose what they had to eat for dinner. A nice mix of roast, fish, butter chicken was a favourite, and the big winner of the night was the dessert and soft drink. Here’s to not having to cook on Mother’s Day and having a beautiful meal with the family!
We were pretty lucky that Muppets Most Wanted was playing for the 8pm viewing and we hadn’t seen that before, so the kids were really excited, had full bellies and we enjoyed kicking back and enjoying the Muppet antics together.
We also managed to track down the games room which will keep the kids occupied if they are into video games.
So now we’ve been to Tassie, would we recommend it?
I just can’t tell you how much you SHOULD GO TO TASMANIA!!!
Just book your spot on the Spirit of Tasmania and go folks! If you even remotely like nature, then Tassie will thrill you with things to see and places to explore. The people are friendly, and the entire State feels like one comfy country town where Mates help each other out and people care about their neighbour. It’s no surprise that lots of people visit on holidays and end up back there to live.
Go, Go, Go! If you have a caravan, take it with you. It’s really easy driving on, and straight off again, and Tassie is jam packed with free camp and low cost camping options. If you want to take the dog, then do that too! You’ll just need to make sure their vaccinations are up to date, most importantly they must have had their hydatid tape work tablets within 14 days of departure so keep your receipt and your worming box or get your vet to do it and fill out a vaccination card.
If Tassie greeted us with an amazing sunrise as we departed into Devonport on the way over, then Melbourne sure did a great job of giving us a beautiful welcome too….
Just do it, you’ll never regret it!
How long should you spend there? Definitely no less than 4 weeks if you can, and we think 3 months was a really nice amount of time, so immerse yourself and enjoy.
Stories or questions about Tasmania? We’d love to hear in the comments below 🙂