Historical Places: Adventure Bay, Bruny Island, Tasmania

Bruny Island in general and Adventure Bay in particular is steeped in the rich history of Australia's early explorers, its convict past and the whaling  industry which flourished in the early days. Long used by the Nuenonne band of the South East Tribe of Aborigines Adventure Bay was first sighted by Europeans when Abel Tasman arrived in November 1642. His ships, the Zeehaen and Heenskerck, briefly entered Adventure Bay but fierce storms prevented him from landing.

Abel Tasman

On 2 June 1639, he was dispatched by Antonio van Diemen, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, on a voyage to the north-western Pacific, in an unsuccessful search for certain 'Islands of gold and silver', east of Japan, which, as we now know, don't exist. In 1642 he set out on the first of his two 'South Land' expeditions. The expedition left Batavia on 14 August 1642 with two vessels, the Heemskerk with sixty men and the Zeehaan with fifty men on board. They first called at Mauritius, where they stayed for a month long repair to both ships.

Tasman decided to sail his ships east along the south coast beyond Cape Leeuwin. He did this and reached the islands of St Peter and St Francis on the South Australian coast, then travelled further south, sighting Tasmania on 24 November 1642. Tasman named the island after the governor of The Dutch East Indies, Antonio van Diemen. The first two mountains they sighted were named Mount Zeehan and Mount Heemskirk, after their ships. Variable weather made exploration of the eastern coast difficult. Seeking shelter in a storm, Tasman put into a cove he called Storm Bay. In actual fact, he took shelter in what is known today as Adventure Bay on Bruny Island. A later explorer, Furneaux, misread Tasman's charts and called Tasman's Storm Bay Adventure Bay and gave the name Storm Bay to a larger bay nearby. On 1 December the storm abated, allowing the ships to anchor at Green Island and put ashore for supplies at what is now known as Blackman's Bay (3km north of Bruny Island beyond Piersons Point). On the following day Tasman intended to go ashore and claim the land for Holland, but his boat crew were prevented from landing due to heavy seas. Instead, he got the ship's carpenter, Pieter Jacobszoon, to swim ashore and tie a Dutch flag to a stake on the shore, and claim possession. This having been done without mishap, Tasman moved his ships on, following the east coast of Tasmania. When the shore fell away to the northwest (Bass Strait) and the weather was coming in directly from the north, Tasman decided to quit this island and continue east, sailing on to the south island of New Zealand.

Names recalling Tasman's visit (see map at foot of page)
Van Diemen's Land: Anthonie Van Diemen, Governor of the Dutch East Indies
Storm Bay: storm encountered there on 29 November 1642 (the actual location was today's Encounter Bay)
Tasman Island: Abel Tasman
Frederick Henry Bay: Frederick Henrijk, a councillor of the Dutch East India Company

Tobias Furneaux

British captain Tobias Furneaux was the commander of Adventure during James Cook's second voyage to the Pacific. Near Van Diemen's Land his vessel became separated from Cook in a fog. Whilst Cook sailed on to New Zealand, Furneaux travelled further north and sighted a group of islands off the South West Cape of Tasmania on 9 March 1773. James Cook was to later name the islands after Furneaux. On a for four day trek following the path taken by Dutchman Abel Tasman 130 years before, Furneaux then visited a number of locations including Adventure Bay and Bruny Island, charting the coast as he went.

Names recalling Furneaux's visit
Adventure Bay: HMS Adventure

James Cook

Four years after Furneaux's visit on 26 January 1777, James Cook, on his second voyage of discovery in the Pacific, sailed the HMS Resolution and Discovery into Adventure Bay and stayed for two days, taking on water and replenishing timber supplies.

During James Cook's third voyage to the Pacific (1775-1780) his ships the Resolution and Discovery heading eastward came upon what they called Van Diemen's land (Tasmania) which Cook still thought was joined to mainland Australia. Cook anchored in the Bay on 26 January 1777 to restock supplies of food, water & wood during a 4 day sojourn. Cook's contact with the Aborigines who lived on the island was amicable.

William Bligh

Aboard the Resolution was William Bligh, who was later to suffer the humiliation of a mutiny aboard the Bounty during an expedition to transport breadfruit plants from Tahiti to the West Indies. Bligh visited again in 1788 and planted a number of fruit trees at East Cove. It was from here that Bligh departed on his ill fated voyage to Tahiti, and his infamous the mutiny. After the Bounty voyage, he led another expedition to transplant breadfruit plants from Tahiti to the West Indies. Bligh set sail aboard the brig Assistant from Portsmouth in August 1791, returning to Adventure Bay, Tasmania, in February 1792. He found an Apple was still growing on Australia's and the Apple Isle's first apple tree. Bligh's Midshipman was Matthew Flinders, who set foot on Australian soil for the first time at Adventure Bay. One of the earliest echidna specimens was collected in 1792 at Adventure Bay. Captain Bligh both drew and described this peculiar animal.

Bruni D'Entrecasteaux

In September 1791, the French Government decided to send an expedition in search of La Pérouse, a French explorer who had not been heard of since leaving Botany Bay in 1788. Bruni D'Entrecasteaux was selected to command this expedition. He was given a frigate, La Recherche (500 tons), with d'Hesmity-d'Auribeau as his second in command and de Rossel among the other officers. A similar ship, L'Esperance, was placed under Huon de Kermadec, with de Trobriand as his second in command. A distinguished hydrographical engineer, C.F. Beautemps-Beaupre, was the hydrographer to the expedition.

The expedition left Brest on 28 September 1791. The plan of the voyage was to proceed to New Holland (Australia), to sight Cape Leeuwin, then hug the shore closely all the way to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania), inspect every possible harbour in a rowing boat, and then sail for the Friendly Islands (Tonga) via the northern cape of New Zealand. He was next to follow in La Pérouse's planned tracks in the Pacific. Land was sighted in April 1792. The ships anchored in a harbour, which he named Recherche Bay, and for the next five weeks, the Frenchmen carried out careful boat explorations that revealed in detail the beautiful waterways and estuaries in the area. The party then moved on to the coast of Tasmania, charting as they went. While surveying the coasts, Beautemps-Beaupre, with Lieutenant Cretin, surveyed Adventure Bay and discovered Bruni Island and the channel which separated it from the mainland. On 16 May, d'Entrecasteaux commenced to sail the ships through the channel and this accomplished by the 28th. Port Esperance, the Huon River, and other features were discovered, named and charted, the admiral's names being given to the channel and the large island separated by it from the mainland. On 28 May 1792, the ships left Tasmania and sailed into the Pacific to search for La Pérouse. The spelling of Bruni Island was changed to Bruny Island in 1918.

Names recalling d'Entrecasteaux's visit
Huon River, Port Huon, Houn Point, Huonville: Huon Kermadec, commander of the Esperance
Bruny Island, Cape Bruny, D'Entrecasteaux Channel: Bruni D'Entrecasteaux
Recherche Bay: frigate La Recherche
Cape Delasorte:
Port Cygnet: swans and cygnets seen there
Cape Connella: Recherche sean who first sighted the cape
Cape Direction: bearings were taken here
Cape Deslacs: Hippolyte Deslacs, seaman of Recherche

The Bligh Museum

The Bligh Museum of Pacific Exploration on Bruny Island contains an amazing collection of documents, relics and artefacts from this era. Its collection includes a remnant of a tree where Cook carved 'Cook 26th January 1777', a globe of the world which dates to 1799 and some interesting memorabilia relating the Captain Bligh.

Post colonial Adventure Bay

Adventure Bay became a centre of the whaling industry with whalers using the Bay as early as 1804. By 1829 the Bay supported some 80 to 90 men, two sloops and up to twenty whale boats. A walk from East Cove to Grass Point will take you past numerous site of interest and at Grass Tree Point you will see the Ruins of old whalers cottages. The Agricultural and Timber industries provided further employment and even sandstone  and coal mining was undertaken on South Bruny. The Melbourne GPO and Houses of Parliament were built from Sandstone mined at Ventenat Point on South Bruny.

Trugannini one of Australia's most famous Aboriginals was a member of the Nuenonne band and was born on Bruny Island in 1812 the daughter of the chief Mangana. Exhibits from all of these periods and pictorial folders depicting the complete history of Bruny Island from aboriginal times to the present can be found at "The History Room" at Alonnah.

Related websites and links

Old Map of Adventure Bay: "Plan De la Baye De L'Aventure sur la Terre Van-Diemen." by James Burney. Published in Paris, 1784. Chart of Adventure Bay on Bruny Island. While anchoring in the Bay to restock supplies of food, water & wood over a 2 day sojourn. James Burney, 1st Lieutenant on the Discovery sketched the Bay, noting depth soundings, a lake, & elevations plus the contours of the beach as seen from the ship. The map was engraved by Robert Benard from Burney's sketches for the French edition of Cook's Voyages, this depiction was taken from a MSS in the Public Records Office.