Home » Historical Timeline » 1803 – 1835

1803 – 1835


The British invasion began at Risdon Cove and later Hobart Town.

The first massacre of clans people took place at Risdon Cove in May 1804. The first child was taken and raised by whites. He was named Robert Hobart. In 1804 Woorrady was about 29 years old when he joined a group of clans people who gathered on the high country around Hobart Town and watched the invaders cut down the trees, build stone houses and form roads. Cartloads of emu and kangaroo were taken into Hobart Town to feed the hungry English.

From this time minor skirmishes erupted in the colonized areas between the military, small landholders and shepherds and the First peoples who defended their rights to their hunting grounds and clan lands.


Europeans arrived at Port Dalrymple in the north and later the main town was relocated to the headwaters of the Tamar River where Launceston is built. 

From 1810

From 1810 a small number of men, who called themselves the Straitsmen’, established their homes on small islands in the Bass Strait islands.  They made contact with the clans along the northeast coast and cultural trading arrangements took place with women who became their wives. They called themselves Tyereelore. Woretermoteryenna’s daughter Dalrymple Briggs was believed to be the first child born between these unions in 1812.


Captain James Kelly set out on the first circumnavigation of the island. Straitsmen George Briggs and three others joined him as oarsmen. They had interaction with clanspeople on their voyage. 


The conflict intensified between the clans and the colonists with the rapid expansion of colonization of the island- more sheep and people arrived and more land was annexed to graze the animals. Extensive fences and hedgerows were planted erected homesteads erected. According to John West ‘the favourite spots surrounded by new enclosures and the land was no longer theirs’. The territory was defended as trespass of their clanlands ‘was a declaration of war’. The precise movement with the seasons was predicted with attacks on the family groups around their campfires carried out by roving parties.

It was during this time that men left the colonial towns to join the small number of Straitsmen and find a new life on the islands of the Bass Strait. The unions between the Straitsmen and Tyereelore established their homes on the small islands around Flinders and CBIs. Their population grew strong. 


Two convicts who escaped from MacQuarie Harbour were eventually captured near Smithton. One told that he saw about 1000 people on the way along the coast. He was a baker so he could count and later the Pieman River was named after him.


John Boultbee recorded his experience on a sealing voyage out of Hobart Town to the Bass Strait. (P Cameron, Grease and Ochre, p107).

That same year in December a party of about 200 were passing through Paterson’s Plains near Launceston where they were set upon by whites. Some of the women were treated with ‘indescribable brutality’. The whites responsible were punished with 25 lashes. The party retreated towards the Lake River where they wounded two sawyers who had not been attacked before.  (J. West, 269)


Two clans people from Oyster Bay nation who had supposedly killed a colonist were hanged as an example to the clans. 

In response to sheep being speared and thrown over the cliffs VDL workers massacred at least 30 people and threw their bodies over Suicide Point near Cape Grim. 


Lieutenant George Arthur declared Martial Law. Proclamation Boards were nailed onto trees for the clans to get the message that if they kill colonists they will be hanged and vice a versa.


George Augustus Robinson (GAR) commissioned by Arthur to care-take the stores and clans on Bruny Island.  He began his ‘Friendly Mission’ in late 1829 walking along the rugged coast from Bruny Island westward to Port Davey, northward to MacQaurie Harbour, Woolnorth, and Launceston.


With the assistance of his Aboriginal guides GAR met many family groups on the way. He was taken to the cliffs where the massacre took place near Cape Grim and later met a group of Straitsmen at their camp on Robbins Island. He took charge of Tunnerminerwait who was staying with the Straitsmen for protection while his countrymen, including the woman GAR called the amazon Walyer, who were raiding outlying farms in the northwest. 

In Launceston, The Line or Great Army was being planned by Lieutenant-Governor Arthur and the military when GAR arrived there in October 1930.

GAR continued his trek from Launceston to the northeast coast in search of the clanspeople who were in the bush.

On 1 November GAR met a small group of 7 confederated clanspeople sheltering in a bark hut on Ansons Plain- Mannalargenna was among them. They were waiting on Anson’s Plain for 7 of their clanspeople to return from an attempt to meet with the Governor.

On the 4 November the first people were taken into exile onto Swan Island. They were joined ten days later by the others and Some women from the islands who were collected by GAR’s boatmen.


The Swan island exiles were relocated to Gun Carriage Island after the Straitsmen and their families had been evicted in March/April.

Mannalargenna and Tunnerminerwait were brought back to join GAR to find Maulterheerlargenna’s group still at large in the northeast.

The Little Musselroe Promise was made here on 6 August. The promise was never honoured.


Robinson brings in the remaining Oyster Bay and Big River people from the Big River Country. There were 26 (16 men, 9 women and a child) who walked into Hobart Town- all naked carrying their weapons of war. Two formidable leaders were among them – Tongerlongter and Montpeliater. They meet the Governor on 7 January 1832 and 10 days later they were dispatched to Flinders Island.