November marked the 220 year anniversary of the historically significant discovery of Port Dalrymple.
Matthew Flinders discovered the region after circumnavigating Van Diemen’s Land [Tasmania] in 1798.
Order of Australia Medalist and Tasmanian historian Bob Silberberg said the event was hugely significant because it was when we discovered Australia and Tasmania were not connected.
“Up until that time they thought that Van Diemen's Land was attached to the mainland,” Mr Silberberg said.
“Flinders actually proved that Van Diemen's Land was an island.”
Port Dalrymple was named after famous hydrographer Alexander Dalrymple.
“He [Matthew Flinders] thought it was appropriate that such a large area of water estuary should be named after somebody like Dalrymple,” Mr Silberberg said.
Following the discovery of Port Dalrymple, William Collins surveyed the area in 1804, naming the top part of the region ‘Main Head’.
Later that year, Lt Colonel William Paterson arrived at Main Head.
He traveled down what was then called the Dalrymple River, before it was known as the Tamar River.
“On all navigational charts the whole of the river was called the Dalrymple River until November 1804,” Mr Silberberg said.
Lt Colonel Paterson would then discover both the North and South Esk rivers.
“He [Paterson] named the North and the South Esk rivers after rivers in Scotland,” Mr Silberberg said.
“Then Colonel William Collins named the north junction of these two rivers the Tamar River after where he came from, Launceston in the UK.
“That's how the Tamar River came about.”
Mr Silberberg said that it’s interesting areas originally discovered by Matthew Flinders, such as Low Head, Anchor Point and West Arm in 1798 have kept their original names.
He also mentioned that navigational chart AUS 167, used by all mariners entering the mouth of the Tamar, does not actually include the Tamar River.
“I've won quite a few beers over that argument,” Mr Silberberg said.
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