Australasia 1825: Colony of Van Diemen’s Land
The island of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) was first colonized by the British in 1803 and quickly became the primary penal settlement in Australia—a position it would hold until it ended convict transportation fifty years later. In 1825 Van Diemen’s Land became a separate colony from New South Wales, but antagonism between settlers and Aboriginal Tasmanians led to six years of brutal warfare and the eventual resettlement of the few remaining Aborigines on offshore Flinders Island.
1821–1824 Te Heke Tataramoa▲
Facing invasion by Waikato Tainui and their allies, Te Rauparaha led the Māori tribe of Ngāti Toa south from their homeland in Kāwhia, on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand, through Taranaki to Kāpiti Island near the Cook Strait. They were soon joined by several Taranaki tribes—Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Mutunga, and Ngāti Awa—and together established control of the coastline. In 1824 an alliance of Cook Strait tribes attempted to expel these newcomers, but were decisively defeated at the battle of Waiorua on Kāpiti Island.
Aug 1821–Jun 1822 Te Amiowhenua▲
In mid-1821 warriors of the Māori tribe of Ngāti Whātua traveled south from Kaipara, combining with Waikato and Ngāti Maniapoto groups to march across the central North Island of New Zealand to the east coast. After some battles there, they marched south to Cook Strait then back north along the west coast, fighting multiple enemies along the way. Named Te Amiowhenua—the encircling of the land—the expedition completed its circuit in mid-1822.
1824–1827 Kai Huānga Dispute▲
In 1824 conflict broke out within the Kāi Tahu tribe of the South Island of New Zealand when a woman called Murihaka insulted Te Maiharanui, the paramount—and northern—chief, by wearing his dogskin cloak while he was away in Kaikōura. Although initial fighting was quickly concluded, southern Kāi Tahu—who had acquired muskets from traders in the Foveaux Strait—invaded Banks Peninsula in 1825 to avenge relatives they had lost. The feud—called kai huānga (‘to eat a relative’)—ended in late 1827 in the face of the growing threat from Te Rauparaha in the north.
Jan–11 Dec 1824 Bathurst War▲
In early 1824, after a farmer shot at several of their tribesmen for taking potatoes from his field, the Wiradjuri people began a campaign of guerrilla warfare against British settlers in the Bathurst region of New South Wales, spearing men, burning buildings, and killing stock. The British responded by declaring martial law in August and sending in a regiment of soldiers. What followed was a short but brutal war, which ended in December after a number of Aboriginal leaders surrendered. The war emphasized the importance of mounted units in the Australian interior, leading to the formation of the NSW Mounted Police the following year.
2 Sep 1824 Settlement of Moreton Bay▲
In 1823 John Oxley sailed north from Sydney, New South Wales, to inspect potential sites for a new penal colony, discovering the Brisbane River at Moreton Bay in what is now Queensland. He returned with soldiers in September 1824, beginning to construct his colony at Redcliffe. When this first site proved inadequate due to mosquitoes and poor anchorages, the settlement was moved 28 km south to the Brisbane River where North Quay of the Central Business District of Brisbane still stands.
26 Sep 1824–26 Feb 1829 Fort Dundas▲
In 1824 three British ships from Port Jackson, New South Wales, landed about 100 men on Melville Island, in what is now the Northern Territory, to establish a settlement. The new outpost—named Fort Dundas after Robert Dundas, First Lord of the Admiralty—soon faced fierce resistance from the indigenous Tiwi people and was eventually abandoned in 1829 due to dwindling supplies. Three more settlement attempts would be made in northern Australia—at Raffles Bay, Port Essington, and Escape Cliffs—before the successful establishment of Palmerston (Darwin) in 1869.
16 Jul 1825 Darling’s Commission 1825▲
In July 1825 Letters Patent were issued extending the boundary of the British Colony of New South Wales west from the line of longitude at 135 degrees east to longitude 129 degrees. This change was made to place Fort Dundas—established on Melville Island in 1824—within the jurisdiction of the Governor of New South Wales.
3 Dec 1825–31 Dec 1831 Black War▲
From 1825 to 1828 conflict between British settlers in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) and Aboriginal Tasmanians increased dramatically, prompting Governor George Arthur to issue a proclamation in November 1826 allowing colonists to kill Aborigines when they attacked settlers or their property. The violence only intensified and Arthur declared martial law in November 1828, eventually introducing a bounty of £5 for every captured Aboriginal (February 1830). By 1831 disease and warfare had reduced the Aboriginal population from a several thousand in 1825 to perhaps 700, with the last resisting Aborigines surrendering in December.
3 Dec 1825 Colony of Van Diemen’s Land▲
In November 1824 colonists in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) sent a petition to King George IV of Britain requesting separation from New South Wales. The King accepted their plea on 14 June 1825 with an Order in Council, which was read by New South Wales Governor Ralph Darling in Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land’s capital, on 3 December that same year. George Arthur, Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen’s Land since May 1824 and an advocate of the island’s role as a British penal settlement, continued on in his role as governor of the new colony.