The Tasmanians were hunters and gatherers. They made tools and containers from wood, bone, stone, seaweed, bark, grass, and sinew. They managed their environment carefully, moving around their country to harvest seasonal food resources and using fire to maintain grasslands which supported an abundance of wallabies and kangaroos.
Coastal people relied on the sea for much of their diet. Scale fish were eaten in the distant past but not since about 3,500 years ago.
However, the women collected abalone, oysters, mussels, and other shellfish—the remains of these makeup enormous middens all around Tasmania’s coastline. The Tasmanians made bark canoes to travel to offshore islands to harvest muttonbirds and seals during summer and autumn. The people camped in family groups, several of which formed a band, the land-holding group in Tasmanian society. Several bands spoke the same language, and there were nine language groups/tribes in Tasmania at the time of European contact. Bands with reciprocal arrangements intermarried and shared resources.
By the time of European contact, the Aboriginal people in Tasmania had nine major ethnic groups. At the time of British settlement in 1803, the indigenous population was estimated between 5,000 and 10,000 people. By introducing infectious diseases to which they had no immunity, war, persecution, and intermarriage, the population dwindled to 300 by 1833. Almost all of the indigenous population was relocated to Flinders Island by George Augustus Robinson.
A woman named Truganini (1812–76) is generally recognized as the last full-blooded Tasmanian Aborigine.