The history of British government and settler treatment of the Tasmanian Aborigines in the first three decades of white settlement in VDL, is an outstanding example of the destructive effects of Western colonialism. Prior to white settlement in 1803, there were approximately 3,000-5,000 Aborigines living on the island in viable tribal-based groups. The average tribe had 20-30 families and lived in harmony with the environment. By the standards of similar hunting and food gathering societies, the population was relatively high on the island. By 1836, thirty-three years after , British colonists had invaded the island, the Aboriginal population was near complete decimation. Apart from a dwindling population on the official Flinders Island settlement, the only survivors of the holocaust were those that escaped government control in a sealing community in the Bass Strait islands.