Indigenous Watercraft

lutruwita/Tasmania has been inhabited by Indigenous people for approximately 40,000 years.

Before European colonisation, at least nine separate nations occupied the land and relied on the sea as a seasonal food source.

Indigenous women swam and dove to harvest abalone, mussels, lobster and other shellfish, and to hunt fish and seals.

While sea country was the women’s domain, watercraft construction was largely practiced by men, and it was men who navigated the craft.

Tragically, the Indigenous community was seriously depleted during the colonisation of Tasmania by the British, and its violent aftermath.

Despite this, today descendants of the first Tasmanians are reviving historic watercraft practices as a way to connect to their heritage and show that Indigenous culture is still alive and well in Tasmania.

See one of these boats and learn more of this story today at the Maritime Museum of Tasmania.