With the settlement of Tasmania (Van Diemen’s Land) in 1803 - and potentially even before that during the interactions between Aboriginals and explorers – came many problems. The introduction of diseases to which the Aboriginals had no prior exposure – and therefore no immunity – caused high numbers of Aboriginals to die. Influenza and tuberculosis were devastating to the Aboriginal tribes, with unrecorded numbers killed as a result of contracting these diseases.
The slow takeover of prime hunting grounds by the settlement, the competition for traditional foods, and deadly attacks both between tribes and settlers and inter-tribal wars, all lead to many deaths. In 1803 the Aboriginal population was estimated at between 4000 and 7000. By 1847 there remained only the 47 Aboriginals who had been held at Wybalenna, and around 20 tribal Aboriginal women who lived in the Bass Strait Islands.