David Collins

(March 3, 1754 – March 24, 1810)

(previous … First Settlement in Tasmania)

Destination Tasmania

In 1803 the English Government decided on forming a settlement at Port Phillip and David Collins, who had been Judge-advocate in the first expedition to Sydney, was appointed to take charge of it. Collins, however, thinking the place unsuitable, asked permission from Governor King, in Sydney, to alter the destination of his party, and was directed to cross over to Tasmania and join up with Lieutenant Bowen’s expedition. Collins sailed with his two vessels, containing about 400 convicts and superseded Bowen at Risdon.

Settlement in Chaos

On his arrival he had found the party almost starving and in danger every night of being surprise attacked by the natives. He, therefore, removed the whole settlement to a place on the opposite side of the Derwent, where it would be more secure and also more easily visited by store ships.

Hobart Town

Here at the mouth of a little creek, with Sullivan’s Bay as its harbour, the broad waters of the Derwent stretching before it, Mount Wellington and the adjacent hills circling it behind, Governor Collins selected the site which would become the southernmost city of the world. Houses were quickly erected consisting of posts stuck into the ground, interwoven with wattle twigs and daubed over with mud to form the walls, a few stones with turf were mixed together to form the chimneys and roofs of grass completed the structures. In honour of Lord Hobart, who was secretary of the State of the Colonies, the infant city was called Hobart Town.

North Settlement

In 1804, the following year, the Sydney Government sent another party of convicts to Tasmania, under Colonel Paterson, to found a colony in the north of Tasmania. The position selected was near the entrance to Port Dalrymple. For eight years the small settlement continued to exist in an independent state, until in 1812, it was placed under the charge of the Governor at Hobart Town.

Death of Collins

The colony at Hobart Town was meanwhile slowly establishing itself. In 1808, when Governor Bligh visited it after his expulsion from Sydney, he found the little township with quite a comfortable appeal. In 1810, however, it lost its amiable and warm-hearted Governor. While calmly and cheerfully chatting with a friend Mr Collins fell back dead in his chair. He was a man of a good and kindly nature, a little vain and self-important, but earnest and possessed great qualities. The important part he played in the early colonization of Australia will always be remembered and he will remain a significant figure in Australian history.

(continues … Governor Thomas Davey)