February 29, 1644: Beginning of Second Pacific Voyage of Abel Tasman. Abel Janszoon Tasman was a Dutch seafarer, explorer, and merchant, best known for his voyages of 1642 and 1644 in the service of the Dutch East India Company. He was the first known European explorer to reach the islands of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) and New Zealand, and to sight the Fiji islands.
On 24 November 1642 Abel Tasman reached and sighted the west coast of Tasmania, north of Macquarie Harbour. He named his discovery Van Diemen’s Land after Antonio van Diemen, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies. Proceeding south he skirted the southern end of Tasmania and turned north-east, Tasman then tried to work his two ships into Adventure Bay on the east coast of South Bruny Island where he was blown out to sea by a storm, this area he named Storm Bay. Two days later Tasman anchored to the North of Cape Frederick Hendrick just North of the Forestier Peninsula. Tasman then landed in Blackman Bay – in the larger Marion Bay. The next day, an attempt was made to land in North Bay; however, because the sea was too rough the carpenter swam through the surf and planted the Dutch flag in North Bay. Tasman then claimed formal possession of the land on 3 December 1642.
February 29, 1964: Dawn Fraser Sets New World Record for Freestyle in Sydney Olympics. Dawn Lorraine Fraser is an Australian freestyle champion swimmer and former politician. She is one of only three swimmers to have won the same Olympic event three times – in her case the women’s 100-metre freestyle.
She was named the Australian of the Year in 1964, was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1965, was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1967, and appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1998. Also in 1998, she was voted Australia’s greatest female athlete in history. She was named Australian Female Athlete of the Century by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, who had inducted her as their first female member in 1985. In 1999 the International Olympic Committee named her the World’s Greatest Living Female Water Sports Champion. On 14 July 2000, Fraser was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for “outstanding contribution as a swimming competitor”.