Tasmanian Wilderness (1982, 1989)

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In a region that has been subjected to severe glaciation, these parks and reserves, with their steep gorges, covering an area of over 1 million ha, constitute one of the last expanses of temperate rainforest in the world. Remains found in limestone caves attest to the human occupation of the area for more than 20,000 years. 

Australia 1996. World Cultural Heritage. Tasmanian Wilderness, Australia.

The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is one of the largest conservation reserves in Australia. At 1.38 million hectares, it covers approximately 20 per cent of the land area of the island of Tasmania. 

It is one of only three temperate wilderness areas remaining in the Southern Hemisphere.

  • Australia 1996.  From the second series of World Heritage stamps. 

The insularity of Tasmania, and of the Tasmanian Wilderness in particular, has contributed to its uniqueness and has helped to protect it from the impact of exotic species that have seriously affected the environment of the Australian mainland.  The Tasmanian Wilderness is a stronghold for several animals that are either extinct or threatened on mainland Australia. The world's largest marsupial carnivores, the Tasmanian devil, spotted-tailed quoll and eastern quoll are commonly seen at night. 

More than 40 sites have been located in the south west inland river valleys, with human occupation dating to at least 30 000 years ago. 

At the time these places were occupied the climate was significantly colder and drier than it is now and the sites reveal the special ways thatthe Aboriginal community developed to deal with these conditions. 

The severity of the climate reached a peak 18 000 years ago, at the height of the last Ice Age. 

United Nations (Geneva) 1999. Tasmania, Australia.

The World Heritage values of the Tasmanian Wilderness relating to European settlement are those of the area's convict past. The colonisation of parts of the globe by means of the forced transportation of convicts from Europe was a significant feature of world population movement in the 18th and 19th centuries. Australia was unique, in that it was the only British colony founded as a convict settlement.

The Macquarie Harbour penal settlement was based on Sarah Island and in use from 1821 to 1833.

Being Danish, I am particularly proud of the fact that Crown Princess Mary, who married Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark on 14th May 2004, is of Tasmanian origin.  

The Netherlands 1992. Commemoration of the 350th anniversary of Abel Tasman's discovery of Tasmania.

The first reported sighting of Tasmania by a European was on November 24th 1642 by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman who named the island Anthoonij van Diemenslandt, after his sponsor, the Govenor of the Dutch East Indies. 

The name was later shortened to Van Diemens Land by the British. 

Captain James Cook also sighted the island in 1777, and numerous other European seafarers made landfalls, adding a colourful array to the names of topographical features. 

The early settlers were mostly convicts and their military guards, with the task of developing agriculture and other industries. Numerous other convict-based settlements were made in Van Diemens Land, including secondary prisons, such as the particularily harsh penal colonies at Port Arthur in the south-east and Macquarie Harbour on the West Coast.

Van Diemens Land was proclaimed a separate colony from New South Wales, with its own judicial establishment and Legislative Council, on December 3, 1825.  In 1856 the island's name was changed to honour Abel Tasman.  

Sources and links: 

Other World Heritage Sites in Australia (on this site). Inactive links are not described on stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Australia-section, for further information about such sites. 

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Revised 01 jul 2007  
Copyright 1999 Heindorfhus 
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