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Early Melbourne




Melbourne lies on a coastal plain alongside the Yarra River and its lack of natural charm has been overcome by the creation of beautiful parks and gardens.

A small group of huts, called Batmania, on the shores of the Yarra River in 1835 grew to be the beautiful city of Melbourne, the capital of Victoria.

John Batman was born in Parramatta, New South Wales, and settled near Ben Lomond in Tasmania in 1821.

He personally attempted to pacify the Tasmanian Aborigines during their hostilities with the European settlers.

Known as the 'father of Melbourne', Batman landed on the site that is now Melbourne in May, 1835 and noted in his diary that 'This will be the place for a village'.

John Batman was leading a party of 15 people who were disappointed with conditions in Tasmania and, making a treaty with the local Aborigines, he purchased about 600 000 acres of land for blankets, knives and tomahawks.

Some 500 000 acres were around the site of Melbourne and the rest near Geelong.

In August of that year John Pascoe Fawkner arrived with another party of disgruntled Tasmanians and came upon the Batman settlement.

Fawkner, born in London, had settled in Launceston in 1819 and established the newspaper The Launceston Advertiser.

Sir Richard Bourke, the Governor of New South Wales, did not officially support this upstart colony until 1837 when he finally conceded that the settlers were there to stay.

On a visit to the settlement Bourke named it Melbourne, after the then Prime Minister of Britain, and ordered that it be laid out according to a plan by the New South Wales Surveyor General.

The plan was a square grid 'with roads being 99 feet wide and intersecting at 220 yard intervals'.

John Batman died shortly after his encounter with Fawkner and never lived to see the colony achieve self government.

There were two main elements that gave Melbourne a markedly different personality to Sydney.Firstly, the colony of Melbourne insisted that it not be a penal colony and it was settled by those free people from other Australian colonies along with British settlers and some convicts who had completed their sentences.

The other element was the discovery of extremely rich gold fields at Bendigo, Ballarat, Castlemain and other places within a radius of 100 miles of Melbourne.

These riches formed the basis of the colony's magnificent arts and architectural heritage.


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Published by Robin A Cartledge ~ ABN 19 924 273 138 ~ Low Head, Tasmania ~ Contact/Comment