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1: Early Settlers in Victoria. 1803
2: A Letter from Melbourne to his Father by W. J. Wills 1853
3: A Romance of Canvas Town. Melbourne 1851
4: Letter from John Hewat to his parents, March 17 1853.
5: Letter to his Father from Thomas Henry Severn 1852
6: A Lady's Visit to the Gold Diggings of Australia in 1852-53
7: Speeding Vehicles in Melbourne Australia circa 1875
8: 'Larrikinism' a term first adopted in Melbourne
9: The Sydney larrikin in 1878
10: Serious water famine: Rain water tanks, Melbourne 1887
11: Public Transport Issues - Crowded Trains. 1915
Other Historical related articles.
Early Settlers Homes
Henry Lawson: The Australian Drought 1900
Drought and Bush Fires in Victoria 1851 Black Thursday
Drought in Australia a natural phenomenon.
The first attempt to settle Victoria was made in 1803.
On the 7th October of that year Lieutenant-Colonel Collins arrived from England with the intention of founding, in Port Phillip, a convict settlement similar to that which had been established at Sydney.
The expedition landed on the shores of Port Phillip, near Sorrento, and several explorations of the country were made, but in the course of a few months the attempt at colonisation was abandoned, as the place was believed to be unsuitable for settlement. For twenty years thereafter the District of Port Phillip continued to be neglected.
In 1824 Hume and Hovell undertook exploration of the territory to the south and west , the western arm of Port Phillip, not far from the present town of Geelong. In 1826 another expedition, under Captain Wright, was sent from Sydney to form a settlement at Western Port, but returned by order of Governor Darling after one year's trial, although the reports of Hume and Hovell and of the officers of the military were favourable to a continuation of the occupation. The first permanent settlement was made in 1834 at Portland Bay, by Edward Henty.
In May, 1835, John Batman arrived at Port Phillip from Launceston, Tasmania, and obtained from the aborigines tracts of land covering an area of 600 000 acres on the shores of Port Phillip and the banks of the Yarra, but these grants were afterwards disallowed by the Imperial Government.
In August of the same year another party, under the leadership of J. P. Fawkner, also from Launceston, arrived in the Yarra, and formed a settlement on the site now occupied by the city of Melbourne.
In 1836 Captain Lonsdale, who bore the title of Resident Magistrate of the District of Port Phillip, and was accompanied by a party of soldiers as well as the necessary civil servants, was dispatched from Sydney by Sir Richard Bourke, Governor of New South Wales, for the purpose of establishing regular Government.
In 1837 the Governor himself arrived from Sydney, and gave the name Melbourne to the new settlement. Port Phillip was separated from the mother colony on the 1st July, 1851, and became an
independent province under the name of Victoria. The first representative Parliament was opened on the 21st November, 1856. Victoria is both the second most populous State in Australia and the
smallest on the Australian mainland. It is also the most densely populated State. It's capital city, Melbourne, was the main city of the Victorian gold rush in the middle of the nineteenth century
and soon outgrew even Sydney though this has since been reversed. After Federation Melbourne served as the National Capital until the establishment of Canberra.
Port Phillip, January 3rd, 1853.
Letter from W. J. Wills Member of the Burke and Wills Expedition
Melbourne 1835 " The banks of the Yarra were fringed with feathery scrub, and the stream itself, as yet untainted by the sewage of a populous city, glided downward to the sea in its pristine freshness and purity.
Melbourne 1841 " the water supply of the inhabitants had to be carted in casks from the
already polluted Yarra river.... "
Melbourne 1835 " The banks of the Yarra were fringed with feathery scrub, and the stream itself, as yet untainted by the sewage of a populous city, glided downward to the sea in its pristine freshness and purity. .... "
Melbourne 1841 " the water supply of the inhabitants had to be carted in casks from the already polluted Yarra river.... "Source : "Picturesque Atlas of Australasia" a three-volume geographic encyclopaedia of
" DWELLERS in Melbourne during 1851 and the immediately succeeding years of the golden age in Australia will remember Canvas Town. Good cause, doubtless, have certain prosperous citizens to recall the strange suburb of Melbourne across the river, in which they, with hundreds of strangers and pilgrims, were fain to abide, pending suitable lodgings or employment. It arose mushroom-like from the bare trampled clay, a town of tents and calico, at no great distance from Prince's-bridge, shouldering the road which then led to the fashionable suburb of South Yarra. "
" For in Melbourne, houses and cottages, huts and hotels were alike
full, more than full, with legitimate occupants. The verandahs and even
the back yards were utilised as dormitories. A list of the
extraordinary makeshifts for bedrooms then in common use would read
like a chapter from the Hunting of the Snark or kindred literature.
Only with this difference, that the nonsense would all be
true,--terribly true. "
Partially extracted from: A Romance of Canvas Town Author Rolf Boldrewood 1881
pseudonym of Thomas Alexander Browne (1826-1915)
" The people here are dying by scores of dissentry, fevers, and every other ailment that man is subject to; a more unhealthy place is not to be found in the known world...a person that brings out a family here ought to be shot - he has no place to bring them to. A room in Melbourne could not be obtained for love or money and you would pay two pounds a week for a dilapidated old Tent not even water proof. " A letter from John Hewat to his parents, March 17 1853.
My Dear Papa
A Letter to his Father from Thomas Henry Severn,
a newly arrived passenger on the ship "PRINCE ALFRED".
Written in Melbourne Australia on 26 December 1852.
" The state of society in the town had not much improved during my
absence. On the public road from Melbourne to St. Kilda, fifteen men
were robbed in one afternoon, and tied to trees within sight of one
In Melbourne itself the same want of security prevailed, and concerts, lectures, &c., were always advertised to take place when there was a full moon, the only nights any one, unarmed, dared venture, out after dusk.
The following extract from the "Argus," gives a fair specimen of Melbourne order.
"We are led to these remarks (referring to a tirade against the Government) by an occurrence that took place last week in Queen Street, the whole detail of which is peculiarly illustrative of the very creditable state of things, to which, under the happy auspices of a La Trobe dynasty, we are rapidly descending.
"A ruffian robs a man in a public-house, in broad daylight. He is pursued by a constable and taken. On the way to the watchhouse a mob collects, the police are attacked, pistols are pointed, bludgeons and axe-handles are brought out of the adjacent houses (all still in broad daylight, and in a busy street), and distributed amongst the crowd, loud cries inciting attack are heard, a scuffle ensues, the police are beaten, the prisoner is rescued, the crowd separates, and a man is left dead upon the ground. The body is taken into a public-house, an inquest is held, the deceased is recognized as a drunkard, the jury is assured that a POST-MORTEM examination is quite unnecessary; and the man is buried, after a verdict is brought in of 'Died by the visitation of God;' the said visitation of God having, in this instance, assumed the somewhat peculiar form of a fractured skull!"
This is a true picture of Melbourne; but whether the "Argus" is
justified in reproaching the "La Trobe dynasty" with it, is quite
another matter. "
Source: A Lady's Visit to the Gold Diggings of Australia in 1852-53 by Mrs Charles (Ellen) Clacy 1853
Speeding Vehicles in Melbourne Australia circa 1875
" ..police regulation forbids these.... a regulation, as might be expected, not infrequently disregarded. We were told, however, in all gravity by a citizen of Melbourne, that when the municipal treasury happens to be low, policemen are stationed at the crossings until a sufficient number of offenders have been caught, carried off to the police office, and fined to bring the funds up to the required level. "
Elizabeth street Melbourne circa 1875
Source: What we saw in Australia. 1875 by Rosamond and Florence Davenport Hill
'Larrikinism' a term first adopted in Melbourne
" That the milder treatment favoured by the magistrates is not, efficient, the following paragraph leads us to fear.
It is extracted from the ' South Australian Register ' for December 5th, 1874.
' The fruits of the defective early training of young men belonging chiefly to the lower grades of society are beginning to manifest themselves in an epidemic of 'larrikinism' a term first adopted in Melbourne to describe the reckless deeds of the young roughs that infest the streets of that city.
The offenders are principally youths budding into manhood, who appear to set at defiance all moral and social restraints, and to take delight in blackguardism for its own sake.
They are accustomed to go about in gangs insulting or maltreating the quietly disposed, according as the humour seizes them, or as opportunity serves. Their operations are principally confined to Adelaide and the suburbs, although other centres of population are beginning to complain of their lawless proceedings.
Encouragement has been given to their escapades by the unwise leniency with which magistrates have treated cases of rowdyism brought before them from time to time. A demand has sprung up in some quarters for the free application of the cane or of the lash to the backs of the young ruffians ; but there is reason to believe that the existing law, which empowers the Justices to imprison the culprits or to send them on for trial at the Supreme Court, would, if rigorously administered, answer all requirements. "
Source: What we saw in Australia. 1875 by Rosamond and Florence Davenport Hill
A subculture of the Victorian era of 1837 - 1901 , who had ‘ a language, manners and dress peculiarly his own...’. The Larrikins were easily recognised by the short jackets, short and tight bell bottom trousers worn with high-heeled pointed boots. The activities, dress sense and life styles of the Larrikins and their girlfriends (donah) earned them ‘the anger and disgust of all respectable folk’. The donah was described as ‘gaudily dressed’ wearing boots, brightly coloured dresses and flaunting their feather boas. Gaudy could be also used to describe their presumed and display of character. The image on the left represents the fashion style of 1876 from which the donha modified their style of dress.(2)
The Sydney larrikin in 1878
" The larrikins are numerous in Sydney.
They are brutal cowards, who would not hesitate to rob a sick child, or steal the letters off a gravestone. They insult women, assault unwary pedestrians, defy the police, haunt the parks at night, are up to every villany and outrage.
Larrikinism threatens dire consequences.
The respectable classes growl and grumble, and occasionally write letters to the papers, and abuse the police and the aldermen, and the clergy, and government. But as for subscribing to night schools, or city missions, or as exist in other great cities, these things are not thought of.....
" We are too busy gambling, and pot-hunting, and overreaching and manipulating politics, and plundering the treasury, and rigging the market, to lose time over mawkish sentimentality.
Let the parsons, and the police, and the government look to it.
They are paid to put down larrikinism. What have we to do with it?" Overdrawn, you say? I wish it were so. "
Source: Our Australian Cousins by James Inglis: MacMillan and Co.London 1880
CROWDED TRAINS. 1915
" At its meeting last evening the Prahran Council received a communication from the Brighton Council suggesting that the Prahan Council in conjunction with those of St Kilda , Caulfield, Moorabbin, and Brighton should appoint representatives to wait on the Railways Commissioners to direct attention to the overcrowding of carriages on the Melbourne to Brighton railway through the late running of trains
This condition was emphasised daily between 5 and 6 p.m. when residents of the various municipalities connected by this train service were returning to their homes.
Failure on the part of the department to observe scheduled time occasioned crowding and much discomfort, inconvenience, and annoyance resulted.
The matter was referred to the mayor "
Source: Argus Newspaper (Melbourne, Vic.) Tuesday 10 August 1915
CROWDED TRAINS. 2009.
We should just get used to crowded trains.
Department of Transport chief Jim Betts said Melbourne was becoming more like London, Paris and Tokyo, where overcrowding was a fact of life. "I'm not saying that's a good thing. I'm not celebrating it. But welcome to the Western world," he said. "This is what happens when you have a city of four million people."
Source: Herald Sun Newspaper (Melbourne, Vic.) May 19, 2009
Serious water famine: Melbourne 1887
Threatened failure of the Yan Yean water supply for Melbourne.
" It might be as well, therefore, for householders to consider the desirability of their adopting some tank system for storing rain water during the summer months. " Source: : The Age 10 January 1887
More than a century later we are again informed about the benifits of a household rainwater tank:
Victoria State Government Water Minister John Thwaites said ,
" By installing a rainwater tank, householders can help protect our drinking water supplies....."
Source: Media Release From the Minister of Water Victoria, October 12, 2006
References and other Sources:
An extract from 'A statistical account of the Seven Colonies of Australasia 1895 - 1896 by T. A. Coglan
Reference: Victoria University - Local Aboriginal History.
Thomas Henry Severn's Diary http://members.tip.net.au/~phodge/prince%20alfred.htm"
Image source. "Picturesque Atlas of Australasia" a three-volume geographic encyclopaedia of
Australia and New Zealand compiled and published in 1886. Descriptive Sketch of Victoria
Image Flinders Street Railway Station Melbourne Australia 1854
Source: The City Terminus of the M & H.B Railway Company. by S.T.GILL 1854 courtesy of Tbe National Bank of Australia Limited calendar September 1967
Image Melbourne from the south, near the St. Kilda road. 1855 (1)
Source: Henry Burn lithograph 1855 courtesy of Tbe National Bank of Australia Limited calendar 1967
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