|A Book of Discovery|
|by M. B. Synge|
|A fascinating account of the world's famous explorers, including the early travelers in ancient times, the discovery of the New World, explorations in Africa and Australia, and the expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. Many of the explorers tell part of their story in their own words. Amply illustrated with reproductions of early maps and charts, as well as old woodcuts, drawings, paintings, and miniatures. Emphasis is placed on the explorers' 'record of splendid endurance, of hardships bravely borne, of silent toil, of courage and resolution unequalled in the annals of mankind, of self-sacrifice unrivalled and faithful lives laid ungrudgingly down.' Ages 12-18 |
TASMAN FINDS TASMANIA
 AT this time Anthony Van Diemen was governor at Batavia, and one of his most trusted commanders was Abel Tasman.
In 1642, Tasman was given command of two ships "for making discoveries of the Unknown South Land," and,
hoisting his flag on board the Sea-Hen, he sailed south from Batavia without sighting the coast of
Australia. Despite foggy weather, "hard gales, and a rolling sea," he made his way steadily south. It was
three months before land was sighted, and high mountains were seen to the south-east. The ship stood in to
shore. "As the land has not been known before to any European, we called it Anthony Van Diemen's Land in
honour of our Governor-General, who sent us out to make discoveries. I anchored in a bay and heard the sound
of people upon the shore, but I saw nobody. I perceived in the sand the marks of wild beasts' feet, resembling
those of a tiger."
Setting up a post with the Dutch East India Company's mark, and leaving the Dutch flag flying, Tasman left Van
Diemen's Land, which was not to be visited again for over one hundred years, when it was called after its
first discoverer. He had no idea that he was on an island. Tasman now sailed east, and after about a week at
sea he discovered a high mountainous country, which he named "Staaten Land." "We found here abundance of
inhabitants: they had very hoarse voices and were very large-made people; they were of a colour
 between brown and yellow, their hair long and thick, combed up and fixed on the top of their heads with a
quill in the very same manner that Japanese fastened their hair behind their heads."
Tasman anchored on the north coast of the south island of New Zealand, but canoes of warlike Maoris surrounded
the ships, a conflict took place in which several Dutch seamen were killed, the weather grew stormy, and
Tasman sailed away from the bay he named Murderer's Bay—rediscovered by Captain Cook about a hundred
"This is the second country discovered by us," says Tasman. "We named it Staaten Land in honour of the
States-General. It is possible that it may join the other Staaten Land (of Schouten and Le Maire to the south
of Terra del Fuego), but it is uncertain; it is a very fine country, and we hope it is part of the unknown
south continent." Is it necessary to add that this Staaten Land was really New Zealand, and the bay where the
ships anchored is now known as Tasman Bay? When the news of Tasman's discoveries was noised abroad, all the
geographers, explorers, and discoverers at once jumped to the conclusion that this was the same land on whose
coast Pelsart had been wrecked. "It is most evident," they said, "that New Guinea, Carpentaria, New Holland,
Van Diemen's Land make all one continent, from which New Zealand seems to be separated by a strait, and
perhaps is part of another continent answering to Africa as this plainly does to America, making indeed a very
After a ten months' cruise Tasman returned to Batavia. He had found Van Diemen's Land and New Zealand, without
A second expedition was now fitted out. The instructions for the commodore, Captain Abel Jansen Tasman, make
interesting reading. The orders are detailed and
 clear. He will start the end of January 1644, and "we shall expect you in July following attended with good
"Of all the lands, countries, islands, capes, inlets, bays, rivers, shoals, reefs, sands, cliffs, and rocks
which you pass in this discovery you are to make accurate maps—be particularly careful about longitude
and latitude. But be circumspect and prudent in landing with small craft, because at several times New Guinea
has been found to be inhabited by cruel, wild savages. When you converse with any of these savages behave well
and friendly to them, and try by all means to engage their affection to you. You are to show the samples of
the goods which you carry along with you, and inquire what materials and goods they possess. To prevent any
other European nation from reaping the fruits of our labour in these discoveries, you are everywhere to take
possession in the name of the Dutch East India Company, to put up some sign, erect a stone or post, and carve
on them the arms of the Netherlands. The yachts are manned with one hundred and eleven persons, and for eight
months plentifully victualled. Manage everything well and orderly, take notice you see the ordinary portion of
two meat and two pork days, and a quarter of vinegar and a half-quarter of sweet oil per week."
VAN DIEMAN'S LAND AND TWO OF TASMAN'S SHIPS.
 He was to coast along New Guinea to the farthest-known spot, and to follow the coast despite adverse
winds, in order that the Dutch might be sure "whether this land is not divided from the great known South
Continent or not."
What he accomplished on this voyage is best seen in "The complete map of the Southern Continent surveyed by
Captain Abel Tasman," which was inlaid on the floor of the large hall in the Stadthouse at Amsterdam. The
Great South Land was henceforth known as New Holland.
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