Abel Tasman (Source: Wikipedia)
Abel Janszoon Tasman
(1603-1659) was the first known European explorer to land in what is now Tasmania. He was a seafarer, an explorer and a merchant for the East India Company, and he came from Holland. (Do not get him mixed up with Willem Janzoon!)

Abel Tasman made his discoveries in two ships, the Zeehaen and the Heemskerck. . Click here to see a picture of them.

Abel Tasman's voyages (Source: Wikpedia Commons)
First voyage (1642-3)
On his first voyage to Australia in 1642-43, Tasman made the first European landing in Tasmania.

The red line on the map shows which way he went on the first voyage. First he sailed south from Holland (also called The Netherlands) and along the west coast of Africa to the Cape of Good Hope. Then he sailed west across the Indian Ocean to Batavia (now called the city of Jakarta in Indonesia.) From there he sailed west to Mauritius (a large island off the coast of Africa) before turning south and into the Southern Ocean.

Tasman then sailed east across the Southern Ocean to the south coast of Tasmania.

He tried to land in a number of places but the weather was too rough. He finally landed in a place he named Frederick Henry Bay but is now called Blackman Bay, and the next day one of his crew, the carpenter, swam through the surf at North Bay and raised the Dutch flag to claim the island for Holland on Dec 3rd, 1642. They did not see any Aborigines. Tasman named it Van Dieman's Land after the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies (now called Indonesia after they finally got their independence in 1949). But now it is called Tasmania in his honour.

He then sailed on eastwards across what is now called the Tasman Sea, to New Zealand. He was the first European ever to visit New Zealand, arriving in December 1642 on the South Island. There they had a battle with the Maori so they sailed on, to the North Island.

After that, in 1643, Tasman sailed on to Tonga, then past Fiji, then to New Guinea and finally back to Batavia (Jakarta in Indonesia, (then called the Dutch East Indies and also the Spice Islands).

After this, Australia was called New Holland to show that the Dutch had found it.

Second voyage (1644)
On his second voyage in 1644 Abel Tasman was sent back to explore more of New Holland (Australia). He was supposed to find out if New Guinea was joined to the south land. He sailed along the south coast of New Guinea eastwards but could not get through the dangerous reefs. So he turned south to sail along the Australian coast all the way from the tip of Queensland to Willem's River (now called Gascoyne River) in Western Australia (near Exmouth). He mapped the coast line and wrote in his journal about the land and its people. He reported that the Aborigines seemed poor and did not have any clothes. He also said they had no rice and no interesting fruits, and that they were not friendly.

Even though he had found two new countries (Australia and New Zealand), his employers at the Dutch East India Company were not very pleased with him. They sent Tasman to find places to trade with, hoping that he would find new cities, or at least a new shorter route from Holland to the Spice Islands. But he did not find the short-cut that they wanted because he did not find the body of water we now call the Torres Strait between New Guinea and Australia. So he thought that Australia was joined to New Guinea. The Dutch East India Company did not want to trade with the Aborigines because they did not understand Aboriginal culture, and the Aborigines did not have anything that they wanted to buy. So they left them alone and did not come back to explore any more.

So even though Tasman claimed Van Dieman's Land for the Dutch, they did not ever come back to start a settlement there.

SA Memory (South Australian State Library)
Wikipedia: Abel Tasman page