Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first European to discover the island . On the 24th of November 1642 Tasman, commanding two ships of the Dutch East India Company, sighted the west coast. He named his discovery Van Dieman's Land , Tasman sailed South then East to the other side of the island and anchored off at a spot we now call Blackman Bay . Tasman found evidence of human habitation ( life ) but made no contact with the Aborigines. On the 3th of December 1642 he had a flag planted to claim formal possession of the land. Tasman might as well not have bothered because he never returned , the Dutch actually made no settlement, it would be more than 160 years before the next Europeans ( the British) would set up camp in Van Dieman's Land.