University of Tasmania
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Selected industries and their impact on the Aboriginal landscape Van Diemen's Land from invasion to 1830

posted on 2023-05-27, 07:10 authored by McPherson, K
When the British arrived in Van Diemen's Land in 1803, they came as a society that was increasingly industrial in belief and technology. Even the small numbers of British inhabitants involved in the original settlements set up under Bowen, Collins and Paterson had the need for cottage industries to provide the products required for daily life. As the European population increased, selected industries evolved into domestic industries, larger scale operations needed for the functioning of the wider economy and to provide a lifestyle that was appropriate for a British colonial settlement. Export industries emerged at the same time to integrate Van Diemen's Land into the world economy. This thesis investigates the impacts on the Aboriginal landscape of timber, wattle bark, fauna and salt, four early resource-based industries, based on examination of the primary records for the period to 1830. The first two industries come from the European use of trees. The timber industry exploited the easy accessibility of a wide variety trees. Entrepreneurs developed an export industry for wattle bark after local recognition of its usefulness for tanning and the need in Britain to conserve overexploited oak trees. Exploitation of wildlife began with the need for food, but at an early date turned to the commercial utilisation of oil, meat, furs, skins, fat, bones and feathers. Salt could be produced via a rang~ of technologies. It was intertwined with other industries ranging from the making of soap to the export of skins and hides. Salt pans were turned into muddy ponds, and the densely tree lined areas near the coastal saltworks were depleted of the wood needed to fuel boilers. The landscape of Aboriginal Trowernna became the landscape of British Van Diemen's Land. Aboriginal landscape management unwillingly and unwittingly provided the British settlement with a seemingly unending supply of raw materials, hence the consequences of their exploitation was not considered significant at the time. The landscape of Trowernna drew forth little to no affection from the British; that observation is demonstrated by over harvesting, the lack of care with harvesting methods, together with the introduction of European flora and fauna. In 1830 the local European population had grown to 24,504. In less than thirty years, European people and their industries had substantially modified large parts of the Aboriginal landscape beyond recovery.


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