Namesakes of Tasmanian Capes

Tasmanian  Geographic illustrates J. Moore Robinson’s 1911 “A Record of Tasmanian Nomenclature“:  It’s of great interest to geographers, trekkers, and seafarers.

The Oxford English Dictionary  defines a cape as a “a headland or promontory: late Middle English: from Old French cap, from Provençal, based on Latin caput ‘head‘”.

These namesakes are a good reminder for landlubbers that Tasmania was first formally charted from the decks of seafaring boats.


North Coast (Bass Strait)

  • GRIM CAPE, named by Flinders and Bass in 1798. Native name Kennaook.
  • PORTLAND, CAPE, named by Flinders in October, 1798, after the Duke of Portland, then Imperial Secretary of State for the Colonies. The native name for the district is “Tebrakunna.”
  • ROCKY CAPE, so called for its forbidding appearance by Flinders in 1798, when he, with Bass, first sailed through the Strait between Tasmania and the mainland.
  • NATURALISTE CAPE, named by Baudin in 1802. It has always been so marked, but the different charts do not always put the name in the same place, some placing it a few miles to the north. The name came from Baudin’s ship, being again conferred on a big promontory near Bunbury, in West Australia
  • TABLE CAPE, discovered and named in 1798 by Flinders and Bass.

Maria Island

  • BOULANGER CAPE. Named by Baudin in 1802. It is sometimes called Coxcomb Head, from the name given by Flinders to Cape Mistaken. Its position has been altered in modern maps and placed too much to the east. This error is probably due to Arrowsmith’s chart.
  • MAURANARD CAPE (Maria Island). Named by Baudin (1802), but Frankland called it “Bold” on his map of 1839. and this error is repeated on all modern maps. Cape Mauranard being placed more to the south. On Scott’s map of 1842 it is called “Rocky and Barren.” It has sometimes been wrongly charted as “St. Helens” Cape, owing to an error by which it was confused with Mauranard or St. Helen’s Island. The latter is about 90 miles northward, and just to the south of the entrance to St. Helens.
  • PERON, CAPE, named after the official naturalist of the French expedition of 1802 under Baudin.

Tasman Peninsula

  • FREDERICK HENDRICK CAPE is possibly Cox’s Smoky Cape. Furneaux marked it on his map at the north of Adventure Bay, and D’Entrecasteaux, seeing Furneaux’s mistake, replaced it to the south of Marion Bay, calling the other Troubrient. This correction was rejected by Flinders, with the result that Tasmania now has two capes Frederick Hendrick.
  • SURVILLE CAPE (Yellow Bluff). Named by Baudin’s expedition in 1802. The identification of Cape Surville with the Yellow Bluff (writes Mr. T. Dunbabin) does not seem to be correct. The name of Surville was given to the cape just north of Monge (now also called Pirates’) Bay, and not far from Eaglehawk Neck, while the Yellow Bluff is miles away to the northward or north-eastward, not far from Wilmot Harbour, otherwise, and more commonly known as Lagoon Bay. Peron says that the name Surville was given to the cape in memory of the “unfortunate” French navigator of that name, who visited New Zealand in 1770 and was soon afterwards drowned in the surf at Callao, on the West Coast of South America. Who gave the name of the Yellow Bluff to the other place, or its curious name to the adjacent Humper’s Bluff, I cannot undertake to say ; pre- sumably the first name was suggested by the colour of the bluff, and the second by the shape.
  • PILLAR CAPE. It was called “Zud Cape” by Tasman. Its present name was given by Cox, who was followed by Arrowsmith and modern cartographers.
  • RAOUL CAPE It was so called after the pilot of the D’Entrecasteaux expedition. Flinders, not knowing of the French survey, called it Basaltic Cape in 1798. Subsequent geographers gravitated between the names, sometimes using both, but today the original name has been universally adopted. Australian maps have even given to a neighbouring hill the name of Mount Raoul. In 1814 Flinders very honestly (writes Comte de Fleurieu) replaces on his map the name of Raoul, stating that he gave up the name of Basaltic. This notwithstanding Scott, Cross, and Arrowsmith chart it as Raoull or Basaltic. There can be no doubt, however, that Raoul is the only true and correct name.
  • DESLACS CAPE. Discovered and named by D’Entrecasteaux in 1792, after an apprentice on board his ship. Deslacs was a god-son of the French Minister of Marine (Fleurieu), who sent out the expedition. After the return to France, Deslac, persistent in his desire for a life of adventure, ran away from his uncle’s house, and saw active service against the English. He was killed at Trafalgar. (Comte de Fleurieu.)”Young Deslac, whose full name was Charles Francois Hyppolyte-Deslac d’Ar- combol was son of the Marquise Deslac d’Arcombol, and of the marquise whose maiden name was Ducrest de Chigy. He was born on September 7, 1777, and was only 14 years old when he was sent by his god-father, M de Fleurieu, to D’Entrecastdaux, to be taken by him on the voyage in search of the ill-fated La Perouse. On the return voyage, he was taken prisoner, sent to London, and did not see his own country again until 1802, after the peace of Amiens. He became the son-in-law of M. Fleurieu, with whom he lived, but, learning that war had again broken out, he escaped during the night, and was killed on October 21, 1805. Cape Deslac has sometimes been called “Deslaco.” It seems probable that D’Entrecasteaux called the Hippolyte Rocks after this youth’s third Christian name.
  • FREDERICK HENRY, CAPE, was named, in 1773, by Capt. Furneaux, who believed that the bay called by Tasman Fredrik Hendrik lay to the north of it.

Bruny Island and the Channel

  • FLUTED CAPE (Bruny Island). Discovered and named by Captain Hayes in 1794 because of its peculiar formation. “The name Fluted Cape, with its translations and modifications, serves as the designations of three capes on the Australian Chart, viz., Conacte, Fluted, and Connella.” (Count de Fleurieu.)
  • TASMAN’S HEAD (Bruni Island) is called Tasman’s Cape in Cook’s chart. Both D’Entrecasteaux and Baudin, however, adopted Tasman’s nomenclature, and called it Cape Boreel, the Dutch navigator having become confused as between the Friers and the rocky shore.
  • PIERSON’S POINT (the Pilot Station). This was the name given by D’Entrecasteaux during his survey of 1792, the origin being uncertain. Hayes two years later gave the place the name of Point Lewis, and James Meehan, who came to the Derwent with Bowen in 1803, having Hayes’s chart, continued the use of the name. Baudin in 1802 followed the nomenclature of his French predecessor, and so did Flinders in his map of 1814. Thus the name has remained ever since. Sprent, in 1858, for some reason called it Blythe’s Point, a name which belongs to the cape just to the southward.
  • SORTIE, CAPE DE LA (Bruny Island). It was named by D’Entrecasteaux, but Count de Fleurieu holds that it is wrongly placed on the charts of to-day. The evidence is clear that the French commander gave the name to the eastern point (now charted as Point Kelly), and not to the point on the river side of the Island. The name is preserved by Flinders in 1814 ; called Green Point, or “Get-out,” (the latter being a translation) by Scott in 1824, “Get-out” by Arrowsmith (1833), and Frankland makes it “de la Sorte” in his book of 1841. Sprent adopted the same designation in 1858. “Through all these changes,” says Count de Fleurieu, “the cape is described as the very large one on the east, while all your charts place it at the entrance to the Derwent.”

East Coast

  • BOUGAINVILLE CAPE, surveyed and named by Baudin in 1802. It is locally known as Lord’s Bluff.
  • BERNIER CAPE, locally known as Hellfire Bluff, named by Baudin’s expedition, in 1802.
  • BAILLY CAPE. So named by Baudin, in 1802.