A potted history of the settlement of Port Phillip by whitemen (and women)

In my previous blog, I said I would provide some more information on a course on the history of the Port Phillip District in the 1840s which I presented last term to a U3A group. Below is a copy of a handout that I gave the group. I hope that blog readers will find it a useful summary of those times. In coming blogs, more on the population growth, bounty immigrants, crown land and so on.

A limited history of recorded human settlement of Victoria before 1856

Aboriginal people settled in Victoria (around 40,000 years ago or before)

Voyages of discovery of the coasts of Victoria by the French (Nicolas Baudin – 1802; Emmanuel Hamelin – 1802; Dumont d’Urville- 1826), and the British (James Cook – 1770 in Endeavour; George Bass – 1798 in Tom Thumb, and with Matthew Flinders in 1799; James Grant – 1798 in Lady Nelson planted crops on Churchill Island in Westernport Bay; John Murray – 1801 in Lady Nelson discovered Port Phillip Bay; Matthew Flinders – 1802 in Investigator; Charles Robbins in HMS Buffalo in 1803 examined Port Phillip Bay in detail.

A settlement was attempted near Sorrento in Port Phillip Bay in 1803 by a British expedition led by David Collins in two ships (HMS Calcutta, and The Ocean with 35 settlers’ families, 50 marines, 299 convicts) to forestall the French from settling in the area, after seven months the party abandoned the site and moved to settle at Hobart.

Sealers and whalers made casual temporary settlements from 1802 to 1824.

In 1824, Hamilton Hume, William Hovell and Henry Angel travelled overland from Sydney to Port Phillip Bay, on a trip of discovery.

In December 1826, a military post was established at Corinella, on the eastern coast of Westernport Bay, and on Phillip Island, near Rhyll. The settlement was abandoned in 1828.

In November 1834, Edward Henty and family formed a pastoral settlement at Portland in western Victoria without government sanction.

In June 1835, John Batman and party arrived from Tasmania and established a depot at Indented Head on the Bellarine Peninsula. He later moved to the site of Melbourne.

In July 1835, a party formed by John Pascoe Fawkner made a settlement at the present site of Melbourne on the Yarra River, under the command of Captain Lancey.

In 1836, Major Mitchell and party discovered a favourable route for over-landing flocks of sheep from New South Wales, and named much of western and northern Victoria as ‘Australia Felix’.

In subsequent years, waves of settlers arrived from Tasmania, and over-land from New South Wales, all seeking new grazing lands, and most without government authorisation.

Captain William Lonsdale was sent by Governor Bourke in 1836 as Police Magistrate with soldiers and policemen to the unofficial settlement on the Yarra River.

In March 1837, Governor Bourke visited the site and directed that a town be laid out named Melbourne by his surveyor, Robert Hoddle, and to organize the first land sales (1 June). Country in drought.

20 June 1837 – Queen Victoria commenced her long reign.

13 January 1839 – Serious bushfires – Black Friday. Floods later in the year.

1839 – Melbourne Mechanics’ Institute was formed.

2 October 1839 – Charles Joseph La Trobe arrived from Sydney to be Superintendent of the Port Phillip District, and to head the administration of the District.

15 November 1839 – The William Metcalfe arrived – the first privately organised ship of bounty migrants. George Playne and Daniel Jennings were cabin passengers as was JB Were; land prices were increasingly rapidly.

December 1839 – Flooding occurred in Melbourne.

22 October 1841 – Incorporation of the Town of Melbourne. Melbourne divided into four wards. Population of the Port Phillip District was over 20,000, with about 5,000 in Melbourne.

1842 – Recession took hold and many insolvencies occurred. The land ‘bubble’ burst.

12 August 1842 – Melbourne was officially gazetted as a ‘town’, and local elections held.

1 March 1843 – The Great Comet appeared in the southern skies.

 1843 – Recession continued. The boiling down of sheep for tallow commenced, thus setting a base price for sheep.

2 April 1844 – Regulations issued to tighten squatting licence regulations limiting area and stock carrying capacity.

1 June 1844 – Squatters protested in Melbourne.

3 October 1844 – Floods occurred in Victoria.

28 November 1844 – Public meeting held to demand separation from New South Wales. A representative was appointed to take a petition to England.

August 1845 – More flooding occurred in Victoria.

4 August 1845 – The immigrant ship Cataraqui is wrecked on King Island in Bass Strait with the loss of 400 people – only nine survived.

1846 – Royal Botanic Gardens founded by Chas La Trobe.

14 July 1846 – Martial law proclaimed for one night in Melbourne following rioting between Orangeman and Roman Catholics.

1846 – First bridge (a wooden one) over the Yarra River was completed.

1847 – Port Phillip District recovered from the recession and land sales recommence.

August 1847 – The first use of anaesthetic in Victoria by Dr Thomas for an operative procedure, Dr George Playne administered the anaesthetic.

5 February 1848 – Melbourne proclaimed a ‘City’.

15 March 1848 – The first Melbourne Hospital was opened.

1849 – Gas lighting is introduced by William Overton.

1849 – More floods and then a snowstorm in Melbourne.

11 November 1850 – News of the approval by the Queen to form a new colony of Victoria reached Melbourne, and the citizens party for a week.

15 November 1850 – the new stone Princes Bridge opened – more celebrations.

6 February 1851 – Extensive and major bushfires across Victoria – Black Thursday.

1 July 1851 – the Colony of Victoria established. Charles La Trobe became the first Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria.

20 July 1851 – Gold officially discovered.

1854 – Telegraph link to Williamstown established, and a railway from Melbourne to Port Melbourne built.

6 May 1854 – Charles La Trobe retired as Lt-Governor and left for England on the Golden Age to Panama.

July 1854 – foundation of the University of Melbourne.

31 July 1854 –formation of the Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science.

 12 August 1854 – formation of the Philosophical Society of Victoria.

 1859 – the societies amalgamated into the Royal Society of Victoria.

3 December 1854 – the Eureka stockade rebellion took place on the goldfields.

1856 – the Public Library (or State Library) opened in Swanston Stre