Generations of immigrants have had to adapt to a new climate, new landscape, new language, and new lifestyle. Each immigrant has their own unique story to tell.
This is a new site and part of an ongoing project to record the journeys and experiences of Tasmania’s migrant population. The aim of the site is to encourage migrants and their descendants to share their personal stories of migration and settlement.
We want to preserve this history, so that that the extraordinary achievements of our island’s migrant people are not forgotten in the passage of time, but will live on to inspire and educate our descendants and future generations of Tasmanians. We hope you enjoy reading these stories!
A brief history of Tasmanian migration
How to contribute :
You may contribute to the site by sending in your story, and any photographs.
Email: Please email any contributions with attached digital picture files to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Post: Please do not send in orginal documents. If you have photographs or documents which you would like scanned for the Museum, please call us so arrangements can be made for us to scan the documents.
Virtual Migration Museum
c/- Multicultural Council ofTasmania
49 Molle Street, Hobart TAS 7000
This Virtual Migration Museum site is maintained by the Multicultural Council of Tasmania. For any further information, please call us on (03) 62315067 or email email@example.com
The first Tasmanians were the indigenous Tasmanian Aboriginals who crossed a land bridge that once connected Tasmania to the Australian mainland more than 35,000 years ago.
Tasmania was discovered by Europeans in 1642 by Abel Janszoon Tasman, commander of Heemskirk and Zeehan who had been sent to explore the mysterious southern land by Antony Van Diemen, Governor General of the Dutch East Indies Company. He named the island Van Diemen’s Land.
Tasmania was also visited by the French. The DÉncastereaux expedition was the largest and best equipped scientific expedition dispatched from France in the 18th Century. The French landed in April 1792 and stayed for 26 days, and visited again in January 1793 for 24 days. The botantists Labillardiere, Riche and Ventenat collected, catalogued and preserved hundreds of specimens of flora and fauna. A garden and observatory were established and friendly contact made with the Aboriginal people during the second stay.
The first burial of a European in Tasmania occurred during the second visit.
Archaeologists have authenticated rock walls at Recherche Bay in the island's far south as those laid out for a garden by the French in 1792-93, making the site Tasmania's earliest known European construction.
Following Dutch and French exploration, Van Diemen’s land became a British colony in 1803. It was renamed Tasmania in 1856 and joined the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. In keeping with the penal nature of the early settlement, most of the population were convicts or government officials. At the Census of 1847, just over 50% of the total population of 70,000 were, or had been, convicts. Less than 20% were free immigrants.
According to Figures drawn from Statistics of the Colony of Tasmania for the Year 1900, in 1900, persons born in more than 32 countries were resident in Tasmania, comprising 14.2% of the total population.
Until the mid-nineteenth century, Tasmania experienced a fairly rapid build-up of population. However, in the early 1850s this rapid rate of population increase slumped. This decline was due to two major factors: the discovery of gold in Victoria in 1851, which led to a large-scale emigration of Tasmanians, and the ending of transportation of convicts in 1853.
This decline was reversed in the early 1870s, partly due to a growth in markets for Tasmanian primary products, and also important tin and gold discoveries in Tasmania. Between 1861 and 1876, the population increased from 90,000 to 105,000. The next 15 years to 1891 saw the population reach 151,150, an annual rate of increase more than double that of the previous period.
The largest numbers of immigrants during this time were Chinese, with a significant presence in Tasmania. Here they were miners, principally for tin, which was discovered at Mount Bischoff in 1871 and then in the Ringarooma district of the north-eastern mountains in 1874. The price of tin was rising in the late 1870s, and by 1878 Chinese miners were moving into the district around Weldborough. By 1882 they became the largest group in the local population
Post war migration.
Tasmania’s trend towards increasing diversity is consistent with national and global patterns of greater mobility. It also reflects the impact of Australia’s post-war immigration program, one of the largest and most protracted planned migration intakes in modern history.
After World War II, Tasmania shared in the prosperity of the Australian economy. The post-war baby boom and gains from overseas immigration resulted in an annual population increase of 1.5% in the 35 years from 1945 to 1980, more than double the pre-war rate. Tasmanians made up 2.9% of the total Australian population at 30 June 1976.
Numerous migrants have come to Tasmania in the post-war years. A number of sizeable communities have been established, notable among them the Italian, German, Polish, Dutch, Chilean and Greek communities.
In the early years of the post-war migration program, significant numbers of ‘displaced persons’ from the Baltic States and the Ukraine also arrived in Tasmania, many of them joining Italians and Poles working on hydro-electric schemes as a condition of their entry.
More recently, communities originating from countries as diverse as Burma, Vietnam, Laos (the Hmong), El Salvador, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Sudan and Somalia have been established in Tasmania, largely composed of those coming to Australia as refugees or humanitarian entrants. Other overseas conflicts such as in the former Yugoslavia have also seen Tasmania play willing host to both new immigrants and refugees.
Interesting Links to Tasmania’s migration history