Monument to the Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Monument to the Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Monument to the Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. Hobart's Abel Tasman monument, celebrating the Dutch seafarer's 1642 discovery of the island that's Australia's bejewelled earring. Autumn 2013.

Copyright © Fred Vanderbom

Abel Janszoon Tasman was born at Lutjegast, near Groningen, in the Netherlands in about 1603. In about 1632 he sailed for the East Indies and soon established himself as one of the most reliable skippers.

After several successful expeditions he was appointed to command two ships, the Heemskerck and Zeehaen to explore southern and eastern waters. He discovered Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) making landfall just north of Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania's wild west coast on 24 November 1642. He went on to discover New Zealand, the Tonga Islands, and some of the Fiji group. On his return, and after a couple more expeditions, he was rewarded with a backdated pay rise! He died in Batavia in 1659.

Tasman was a tenacious and able seaman and navigator. According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, which is published by the Australian National University, 'Tasman was a member of the Reformed Church. He was a brave and energetic mariner, a humane and properly cautious explorer, and a conspicuously able commander'.