Tasmania separated from mainland by rising sea levels

Aboriginal people have been living on this country since time immemorial. In that time the shape of the land has changed drastically so that the Australia we live on today is only a small part of what it used to be.

One of those changes was the separation of ‘Tasmania’ from ‘Victoria’. What is now known as the Bass Strait used to be a giant plain that Aboriginal people lived and travelled on, until around 30,000 years ago when there was an ice age. This ice age cause sea levels to drop so that at one point there was a continuous stretch of land from Papua New Guinea to Tasmania.

The ice eventually melted – taking an estimated 6000 years to do so – and the sea levels rose once again as a result, this time higher then before the ice age. This rise in sea levels created the Bass Strait and effectively separated Tasmania from the mainland.

This separation caused the isolation of many of the Aboriginal people living in Tasmania as the Bass Strait was so rough it was almost impossible to cross during those times.


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The shoreline of Tasmania and Victoria about 14,000 years ago, as sea levels were rising, showing some of the human archaeological sites. Image source: Wikipedia.

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