Twelve thousand years ago, sea levels were rising as the period of global glaciation ended. The land mass now known as Tasmania was cut off and the Aboriginal people living here were isolated from the Australian mainland. Before European settlement, Aboriginal Tasmanians lived in bands, each occupying a stretch of coastline and adjacent inland areas. They were hunter/gatherers who moved around the country to harvest seasonal food. As a coastal people, they relied on the sea for much of their diet. Aboriginal women collected abalone, oysters, mussels and other seafood and the remains of these make up the middens which can be found all around the Tasmanian coastline. The boat shown above was typical of the Tasmanian people. Southern Tasmania became a favoured resting and restocking place for French and English explorers journeying to the Pacific in search of new trade routes, products, land, and scientific knowledge. Aboriginal Tasmanians of the Oyster Bay and South East Tribes were the first to observe Europeans. The earliest encounter in 1772, with a French expedition led by Marion du Fresne, was marred by misunderstanding. Men from both sides were wounded and an Aboriginal was man killed. Other early visitors included Furneaux on Cook’s first Pacific voyage and Cook himself on his second voyage. Bligh also stopped over on his two attempts to obtain breadfruit from Tahiti.