Australia a timeline

HISTORICAL TIMELINE

Compiled by Anne Mavric

1768

August 26th – The “Endeavour” sailed from Plymouth on her eventful voyage, the Commander, First Lieutenant James Cook (1728-1779) Mariner, accompanied by Zachary Hicks – Second Lieutenant, John Gore – Third Lieutenant, Robert Molineaux – Master and the English botanist Joseph Banks (1743-1820).

Cook, son of a farm labourer, was born at Marton-in-Cleveland, Yorkshire, left school at 13, and later became a deckhand in the Baltic and coastal trade, transferring to the Royal Navy as an able seaman in 1755. After only two years he had achieved the rank of Master. In 1758 in the “Pembroke” and later “Northumberland”, he took part in survey work on the Canadian east coast and the action against the French. His map making skills and detailed report of a solar eclipse in 1766 made him favourably known to the Royal Society which invited him through the Admiralty, to take command of a voyage of scientific observation and exploration in the Pacific.

The objectives of the expedition, which had been organised by the Royal Society of London and the Admiralty were:
1. The observation of the transit of Venus between the earth and the sun by Lieutenant Cook and Charles Green, Astronomer.
2. The search in the South Pacific Ocean for a supposed southern continent, and the exploration of New Zealand.
3. The study and collection of specimens of natural history by Joseph Banks and the members of his party.

1769

June 3rd The astronomical observations were successfully carried out at Tahiti. Having sailed around Cape Horn, they observed the transit of Venus from Tahiti then set a course towards New Zealand, which they circumnavigated and set a course westward. Two months later Cook sailed southwards in search of the supposed southern continent.

October 7th The East Coast of New Zealand was discovered. A landing was made on the shores of Poverty Bay two days later and the next six months were spent in sailing around New Zealand and mapping the islands.

1770

April 19th Lieutenant Zachary Hicks sighted the point of land which now bears his name as Point Hicks (Cape Everard).

April 29th Captain Cook came into Botany Bay and stayed a week while Banks collected specimens.

May 7th Cook discovered Port Jackson.

June 11th Making their way north they went aground on the Barrier Reef. Repairs and storms held them up for seven weeks.

August 22nd At Possession Island, Queensland, Cook claimed the land in the name of his King, King George III, and took possession of the whole of the east coast of Australia from Point Hicks to Cape York and named it New South Wales.

1771

July 13th Cook arrived at Plymouth, England after journeying home via Batavia. His prestige was greatly enhanced by the extraordinary odyssey which did so much to increase man’s knowledge of his world.

1772

Cook set off again in the “Resolution”, accompanied by Captain Tobias Furneaux in the “Adventure”. Once again he circumnavigated the globe and during this voyage Furneaux closely examined the east coast of Van Diemen’s Land.

Robert Molineaux the Master, Charles Green the Astronomer and Lieutenant Hicks had died (Hicks on the 26th May 1771). Cook returned to England in 1775 then sailed for the Pacific once more the following year.

1779

On his third voyage to discover a passage round the North Coast of America from the Pacific by way of the Cape, Tasmania, New Zealand, the Pacific & Sandwich Islands and the North Coast of America, he reached Karakakoa Bay, Hawaii on 14th February 1779 where he was killed by Hawaiian islanders.

1784

The prison system and hulks which accomodated criminals were hopelessly inadequate, so in 1784 a parliamentary committee began to enquire into transportation. Two years later the government of William Pitt chose Botany Bay and the First Fleet was dispatched in 1787. Very often, transportation was a substitute for execution.

Under British law of the late 1700’s people could be hanged if convicted of sending threatening letters, cutting down trees in ‘an Avenue or Garden’, forgery, uttering counterfeit money, housebreaking during the day, picking a pocket of more than a shilling, as well as the more serious crimes of rape, murder and treason. In the late 1820’s and 1830’s the death penalty was removed from many of the lesser offences and replaced with automatic transportation. Whilst the great majority of convicts were transported for ordinary crimes, others found themselves in New South Wales as a result of political activities or affairs of honour.

From Ireland came a succession of rebels and, in later years, honest people were forced into crime by the Potato Famine. The convicts sailed to Australia on chartered private ships and, for the men, the voyage could be barely tolerable or horrendous, depending on the avarice of the ship’s owner or master.

1786

August – the east coast of New South Wales was selected as a place to found a Penal Settlement.

1787

May – First Fleet Despatched. Captain Arthur Phillip (1738-1814) sailed from Spithead in command of an expedition of eleven ships with instructions to establish a Colony on the shores of Botany Bay. On arrival there, he found the location unsuitable and chose Sydney Cove as the site for the first European settlement on the east coast of Australia.

1788

January 26th The First Fleet arrived at Botany Bay marking the foundation of the colony of New South Wales. This day is nationally celebrated as “Australia Day”, the anniversary of the day Captain Arthur Phillip raised the English Flag at the new convict settlement in Sydney Cove.

February 7th – Phillip was formally proclaimed Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief of New South Wales with a territory extending from Cape York to South Cape, Van Diemen’s Land, on the east to all the country inland westward as far as the 135th degree of east longitude and including all the adjacent islands in the Pacific Ocean.

April – Governor Phillip named the southern section of the Blue Mountains which could be seen from parts of the settlement, Lansdowne Hills.

From 1788 to 1867, male and female convicts for terms ranging from seven years to life were sent from England and Ireland embarking for Australia and totalled well over 162,000. Most went to New South Wales – 80,000 and Van Diemen’s Land – 67,000, while Western Australia took 9,600 and lesser numbers went to Moreton Bay and Norfolk Island.

1790

Ships of the Second Fleet reached Port Jackson on the voyage from England. 267 Convicts died.

1791

Ships of the Third Fleet arrive.

September 26th The first ship to sail directly from Ireland, the “Queen”, arrived in Port Jackson.

1793

September 15th First of several unsuccessful attempts to explore the Blue Mountains.

1794

Governor Hunter opens the fertile Hawkesbury River area for settlement.

Assignment – A system under which Convicts were sent often immediately after arriving from Britain or Ireland to work for private employers who had to feed and house them thus saving the colonial treasury. Employers could bring convicts before Magistrates for punishment and were themselves liable to fines if they permitted their assignees to wander at large. Assignees could earn money through extra work. The system was ended on the recommendation of the 1838 Molesworth Select Committee on Transportation.

1795

Horses from the Cape of Good Hope arrive in Sydney.

1796

A naval dockyard is established at Sydney Cove.

1797

December 3rd George Bass (1771-1803), Naval surgeon of “HMS Reliance”, set out from Port Jackson in the “Tom Thumb”, a whale boat manned by six volunteers. The voyage could not be resumed until the 31st due to bad weather.

Coal found on banks of the Hunter River.

First planting of grape vines.

1798

A severe drought destroys the colony’s wheat and maize crops.

January 2nd Wilson’s Promontory and Phillip Island sighted by George Bass.

January 5th Bass and his men enter Western Port.

February Mathew Flinders (1774-1814) and George Bass joined the schooner “Francis” the first seagoing vessel launched in Australia. Six months passed before any action was taken to decide the question whether there was a passage between New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land.

October 7th The “Norfolk” sailed from Sydney under the command of Flinders with Bass on board.

1799

Beginning of a six year period of resistance to white settlement by Aborigines in Hawkesbury and Parramatta area – known as “The Black War”.

1800

December John Batman (1800-1839), the son of William & Mary Batman was born at Parramatta, New South Wales.

European population of New South Wales is 5,995 with half living in Sydney and the rest settled in the Parramatta, Toongabbie and Hawkesbury areas.

1801

Penal station is established at Newcastle to mine coal.

Linen manufacture begins on the Hawkesbury River using locally grown European flax.

1802

Lieutenant Murray, R.N., discovers and examines Port Phillip in the “Lady Nelson”.

April-May Port Phillip Bay, a large bay upon which Melbourne is situated, explored by Matthew Flinders. A record of his voyage to Terra Australia was published on 19th July 1814, the day he died. After his greatest voyage Flinders put forward the name “Australia” to encompass the island of Van Diemen’s Land, New South Wales, and New Holland. At that time the eastern mainland was known as New South Wales, the western part as New Holland, and Tasmania as Van Diemen’s Land. Governor Lachlan Macquarie (1762-1824) adopted the name formally in 1817, during his time as Governor of New South Wales (1810-1821).

1803

The present site of Melbourne explored by Charles Grimes (1772-1858) Surveyor-General of New South Wales 1801-1809 who, in charge of the land party, explored and mapped the present site of Melbourne, occupied by John Batman (1801-1839), John Pascoe Fawkner (1792-1869) and others some 32 years later in 1835.

February 2nd, Robbins, Charles Grimes, Daniel McCallum, James Flemming and two others reached the Yarra Yarra River. On the 4th February, the party rowed up the Yarra Yarra to the site of Melbourne, three landings being made.

Australia’s first newspaper, the “Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser” is founded. Governor King suggested that a colony be formed at Port Phillip as it was considered advisable to establish a secure sea port on the south coast. It was decided to dispatch an expedition under Lieutenant-Colonel David Collins who would choose a suitable place to establish a settlement.

April 22nd Two vessels, “H.M.S. Calcutta” and the chartered transport “Ocean”, sailed from England and arrived at Sullivan Cove, near the present resort on the 7th October 1803. On board the vessels were fifty marines, civil and military establishments, about 300 convicts, some of their wives and children, and forty eight free settlers including children.

Two of the children aboard the Calcutta were John Pascoe Fawkner, aged 11 years, and his sister, Elizabeth. Their mother had accompanied her husband who was one of the convicts.

Lieutenant-Governor David Collins, whose leadership was inadequate, became disheartened by the poor site and misbehaviour by convicts and soldiers.

October 10th John Skilhorne, settler, died. The first death at Port Phillip.

October 23rd The first Divine Service at Port Phillip was conducted by the Reverend Robert Knopwood (1763-1838).

November 25th First white child was born at Port Phillip, William James Hobart Thorne, a son of Sergeant Thorne.

November 28th First marriage at Port Phillip. Richard Garratt, prisoner, to Hannah Harvey, free.

December 27th Convict William Buckley (1780-1838) escapes from Port Phillip and lives for the next 32 years with a tribe of aborigines.

1804

Hobart is established.

Early in 1804, with the permission of Governor Philip Gidley King, Collins moved the expedition from Sullivan’s Cove to Hobart, where he became the first Lieutanant-Governor of Van Diemen’s Land.

1805

First Australian-built deep sea whaler, “King George”, launched.

1806

Massive flooding of Hawkesbury River destroys crops.

Launceston settlement established in Van Diemen’s Land.

1808

Government begins buying fresh beef and mutton from local farmers – before this time it had all been imported.

1809

Severe drought in New South Wales destroys crops and causes water shortages.

1812

New South Wales begins buying wheat grown in Van Diemen’s Land.

1813

May Blue Mountains crossed. In 1813, a drought year when the need for new pastures became urgent, Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson & William Wentworth finally made a successful assault. The six previous attempts in 1793, 1794, 1796, 1802, 1804 and 1806, failed because the explorers had tried to penetrate through the gullies and gorges. Blaxland’s party with four assigned servants, left his farm at South Creek on May 11th, and keeping to the ridges, sometimes nearly 2km wide and sometimes less than 1m, they made the crossing in 17 days.

1814

August 23rd John Pascoe Fawkner received 500 lashes and three years’ gaol in Newcastle for helping convicts to escape from Hobart. After his release he worked as a baker, wood merchant, and sawyer.

1815

First free immigrants arrived in Van Diemen’s Land.

1817

December 21st Governor Lachlan Macquarie formally adopts the name “Australia” for the Colony in an official correspondence on this date.

1819

John Pascoe Fawkner (1792-1869) placed on a bond for his involvement in a robbery for which his father received 200 lashes and two years in Newcastle. Fawkner moved to Launceston, married Eliza Cobb (1800-1879) who had been transported for baby stealing, and eventually opened the Cornwall Hotel.

1821

Port Macquarie opened as a penal settlement for convicts.

1822

Species of black northern European bees successfully introduced into Australia.

1824

The name “Australia” was officially adopted.

Crops fail in New South Wales due to severe drought.

Hume and Hovell, having crossed the Murray River, reach Corio Bay near the present site of Geelong.

1825

Van Diemen’s Land becomes a separate colony.

“Advance Australia” – slogan made popular after its use in the masthead of the “Sydney Gazette” from 1825 and adopted in 1856 by the Victoria Land League which campaigned for the unlocking of the Squatters’ holdings.

1826

November 12th Captain Dumont D’Urville, in the corvette “L’Astrolabe” enters Western Port and spends six days exploring the area.

November 24th “HMS Fly” (Captain F. A. Wetherall) as escort, and the colonial brig “Dragon” reach Western Port.

December 3rd Wetherall takes formal possession at Rhyll.

December 12th After a careful examination of the shores of Western Port, the site for the settlement is chosen on the eastern shore not far from the present township of Corinella and formal possession is taken.

1828

March 29th John Batman marries a convict girl, Eliza Callaghan (or Thompson) at St. John’s Church, Launceston.

John Pascoe Fawkner establishes the “Launceston Advertiser” newspaper, partly to earn money and partly to support the emancipist cause.

James Wishart on a sealing expedition to Julia Percy Island in the cutter “Fairy”, establishes a new harbour which he calls Port Fairy.

1829

First record of a football game being played in Australia.

1830

February 9th Charles Sturt (1795-1869), becomes the first European explorer to see the mouth of the Murray River.

1831

Richard Bourke (1777-1855) becomes Governor of New South Wales (1831-1837). He was born in Dublin and returned to Ireland where he died at his estate near Limerick.

Start of government assisted free migration from Britain.

1832

Issue of transportation of convicts to Australia comes under attack in England.

1834

First commercial potato crop planted.

November 19th Edward Henty landed with Henry Camfield to form an establishment at Portland Bay. He brought with him a number of fruit trees from Fawkner’s nursery in Launceston and planted them in Portland where they soon bore fruit.

November 21st The schooner “Enterprise” arrives at Hobart from Sydney, with Captain Peter Hunter as master, and continues to trade between Hobart, Launceston and Sydney until July of 1835.

From 1801 to 1834, approximately 329 convict ships arrived in New South Wales.

1835

April John Pascoe Fawkner purchases the “Enterprise” and provisions her for a trip to Port Phillip with the intention of forming a settlement.

John Batman (1801-1839), a founder of Melbourne was commissioned to explore & navigate. He had moved from New South Wales to Van Diemen’s Land in 1821 with his younger brother Henry. His part in the capture of the bushranger Matthew Brady earned him a grant of 830 ha to add to his growing holdings and by the mid-1830’s he had nearly 3000 ha. However Batman’s eyes were on the unclaimed grazing lands of Port Phillip and in 1834 he was the principal founder of the Geelong and Dutigalla Association (later Port Phillip Association).

May 29th John Batman enters Port Phillip Heads in the “Rebecca” and explores the Yarra River, recording in his journal on the 8th June the famous words – “This will be a place for a village.” He signs a treaty with aboriginal members of Dutigalla, a band of the Wurundjeri tribe of Port Phillip.

July 6th William Buckley surrenders to Batman’s party.

July 27th John Pascoe Fawkner’s vessel, the “Enterprise” sails from George Town, Van Diemen’s Land, conveying Peter Hunter, as master and Fawkner’s expedition, organised by him for the purpose of occupying land either at Western Port or Port Phillip. The party comprised John Pascoe Fawkner, publican, William Jackson, carpenter, Robert Hay Marr, carpenter, John H. Lancey, master mariner, and George Evans, plasterer. Fawkner took with his as employees, James Gilbert, blacksmith, his wife, Mary, and Charles Wise, farm hand and George Evans took his servant, Evan Evans.

July 30th The “Enterprise” returns to George Town. John Pascoe Fawkner, said to have been prostrated by sea-sickness, lands a horse on the 3rd August and rides to Launceston.

August 8th The “Enterprise” with John Lancey as Fawkner’s representative, reaches Western Port. The party spends a week examining the country around Western Port. The “Enterprise” then sails for Port Phillip Bay, and anchors off the encampment of John Batman’s party at Indented Head on the 16th August. The next three days were spent in examining the land on the east coast of Port Phillip Bay.

August 20th The “Enterprise” reaches the mouth of the Yarra River and on August 29th anchors a little to the west of Spencer Street.

August 31st A start is made to unload cargo from the “Enterprise”.

September 5th The off-loading of her cargo completed, the “Enterprise” sails for Launceston.

October The Enterprise returns to those left camped on the Yarra Yarra River with John Pascoe Fawkner, his wife Eliza, William Watkins, a lad they had adopted, John Scott, servant and Mrs. Lancey with her three children.

Fawkner brought 2,500 fruit trees from Van Diemen’s Land which he planted along the Yarra River. He eventually began selling them and was considered the first Nurseryman of the Port Phillip District. He opened the first hotel, the first newspaper, and acquired a grazing property some kilometres to the north (now Pascoe Vale). He made a quick fortune, lost it in the 1840’s, recovered, and by the 1850’s was one of the most substantial and influential men in the colony. About 15,000 people lined Melbourne’s streets for his funeral in 1869.

Archbishop John Bede Polding (1794-1877) appointed first Catholic Bishop of Australia. A Benedictine orphan, born in Liverpool and ordained in 1819, he became Archbishop in 1842.

New South Wales’ Catholic population approximately 18,000.

Port Phillip Association founded in Launceston (originally as the Geelong and Dutigalla Association) by John Batman, Joseph Tice Gellibrand and others to arrange the private colonisation of the Port Phillip District.

November 18th Fawkner commences cultivation on the south side of the Yarra Yarra opposite the Settlement.

Two migrant-assistance schemes introduced. One pays the captains of ships a bounty for each settler carried, and the other is a direct payment towards a migrants’ passage money.

1836

Major Mitchell reaches Portland Bay.

June 1st George Stewart, a police magistrate, arrives.

September Captain William Lonsdale arrives on “HMS Rattlesnake” as the first administrator and the police magistrate of Port Phillip. He was sent by Sir Richard Bourke, (Governor of New South Wales) after George Stewart’s inspection.

November Constable James Dwyer conducts a census of the new settlement. Population 224 made up of 186 males and 38 females – comprising 210 Protestants and 14 Roman Catholics.

Melbourne consisted of three to four wattle and daub huts, a few turf huts and about 12-15 tents some being tarpaulins put across a spar which was supported at each end by a forked stick stuck in the ground.

October The first overlanding party meets at the appointed starting point, Howe’s station on the Murrumbidgee. Mr. Howe was a squatter and kept a few sheep and a dairy station – distance about 180 miles from Sydney. Joseph Hawdon (1813-1871) mustered the cattle and brought them to the above station. They started with the cattle down the Murrumbidgee, the whole river at that time on both sides being taken up as squatting stations. This was the first expedition in which stock either of sheep or cattle started from the Sydney side.

Christmas The first overlanders arrive with 300 head of cattle driven through hundreds of miles of little known country from the Murrumbidgee River in New South Wales. Joseph Hawdon, John Gardiner and John Hepburn with their men drove the cattle across Dight’s Falls to some ground on both sides of the Yarra River where Victoria’s first cattle run was situated on the hills of Toorak and the plains of Prahran, near Gardiner’s Creek.

With the first overlanders were a number of assigned servants. Michael Hogan (c1806-1873), drover, (a convict assigned to Robert Innes Allan of Goulburn who was rewarded for his efficiency in bringing the cattle safely to their destination in excellent condition and without loss), and James Conway Bourke (c1814-1902), convict, (who was the first Mailman in 1838), were members of that party.

1837

Charles Hotson Ebden (1811-1867) first overlanded sheep from New South Wales to Melbourne.

March 1st Governor Richard Bourke visited the Port Phillip settlement and approved “the grid of streets” Robert Hoddle (1794-1881) and his team of surveyors marked out, which he named Melbourne.

The Old Melbourne Cemetery consisted of ten acres set aside by Governor Bourke which were vested in various church leaders in trust. The first burial is thought to have taken place in 1837. (At least ten people were buried at Flagstaff Hill. As a result of previous brief settlements in the Port Phillip District near Sorrento in 1803 and on Western Port Bay at Corinella in 1826, some burials were known to have taken place).

April 13th Edward James Foster appointed as Melbourne’s first Official Postmaster. John Batman had previously been elected by the original Port Phillip settlers to take care of their mail.

April 26th Robert Hoddle officially appointed Surveyor in charge of Melbourne with a salary of £400 per year.

June 1st Governor Bourke authorises the first land sales conducted in Melbourne by Robert Hoddle on the south west corner of Collins & William Streets. One hundred city lots of half acre each, average price half acre lots – £35. All the land was sold with blocks ranging in price from £5 to £95.

The blocks were numbered 2,4,12-14 and the boundaries were: No. 2-Flinders Street, William Street, Collins Street & King Street. No. 4-Flinders Street, Elizabeth Street, Collins Street and Queen Street. No. 12-14 Collins Street, Swanston Street, Bourke Street & William Street. Each block with a lane in the biddle from west to east was subdivided into 20 allotments of 1 rood 36 perches each.

The minimum price of an allotment was £5. Ten per cent deposit had to be paid at the sale and the balance within a month. The purchaser of each allotment was bound to erect, within a year, a house to the value of £50. In the bond to be signed by purchaser the building was defined as “dwelling house” store or other permanent building. Purchasers were not permitted to make any carriage ways across the foot ways as access of the kind had been provided by back streets (Flinders Lane & Little Collins Street) in which no foot ways were to be laid out.

The first brick building was a general store which was built for young businessman, William Frederick Augustus Rucker (c1807-1882) in the latter half of 1837 at the corner of Queen and Collins Streets.

November 1st The second sale of Melbourne town allotments of 1 rood 36 perches was conducted by Robert Hoddle. The boundaries of the blocks which were numbered 3,5,19-21 were: No.3-Flinders Street, Queen Street, Collins Street & Market Street. No. 5-Flinders Street, Swanston Street, Collins Street & Elizabeth Street. No.19-21 Bourke Street, Swanston Street, lonsdale Street & William Street, except the present sites of Elizabeth Street, Post Office and the adjoining building and of the Law Courts which were reserved. The highest price £100. The lowest price £7. 83 Allotments sold for an average price of £42.

Worst drought since settlement begins – many rivers dry up.

November 7th The first Auctioneer’s license was issue to James Hill.

November 14th The Port Phillip Auxiliary Temperance Society was organised, with John Gardiner as President and George Langhorne as Secretary.

Seven hunderd and forty immigrants arrived by sea. 1,050 letters and 1,355 newspapers passed through the Post Office, the revenue being £33.10.10.

December 31st Population all of Port Phillip: 1,264 comprising 984 males and 280 females.

1838

January 1st The “Melbourne Advertiser & Port Phillip Gazette” first published by John Pascoe Fawkner. As he did not obtain the required licence the newspaper was suppressed after 17 issues, the first 9 of which were hand written.

October Melbourne’s second newspaper published with George Arden as editor. He had migrated from England in 1838 and after a brief stay in Sydney, launched the “Port Phillip Gazette” with a printer, Thomas Strode. Bankruptcy cost him the paper in 1842 but, apart from a visit to England in the mid-1840’s he continued to practise as a journalist in Melbourne, Geelong and later on the goldfields. He was found dead in Ballarat in 1854, apparently as a result of his widely known intemperance.

March 25th The site of Geelong determined by Robert Hoddle. The town site was proclaimed on October 26th and the first land sales held in February 1839.

Introducion of first overland mail from Melbourne to Sydney, carried on horseback. James Conway Bourke, a convict, employed by Joseph Hawdon (one of the first overlanders), received £1,200 per year for the contract between Melbourne and Yass – it was a fortnightly post where mailmen rode alone and met at Yass to swap mail.

September 12th Census: Melbourne’s population: 1,036 comprising 652 males, 362 females and 22 bond servants. First census Port Phillip including Geelong – 3,511. 3,080 males and 431 females.

October In late October the Yarra River flooded following heavy spring rain.

George Gipps (1791-1847) appointed Governor of New South Wales (1838-1846).

1839

January 13th Black Friday, disastrous bush fires ravaged Victoria from the Grampian Ranges to Gippsland taking 71 lives. The entire township of Noojee was destroyed.

February 4th Charles Joseph La Trobe appointed Superintendent of Port Phillip by the British Government at a salary of £800 per year.

Re-emerged, the “Melbourne Advertiser & Port Phillip Gazette” as the “Port Phillip Patriot and Melbourne Advertiser”.

April 28th A meeting of Roman Catholics was held in Melbourne to support a petition to the Vicar Apostolic of New Holland and Van Diemen’s Land, the Right Reverend John Bede Polding, asking that a priest be sent to Melbourne.

May 6th John Batman dies.

May 11th – An appeal from the Roman Catholics of Melbourne to their Protestant and Christian bretheren for financial support was published in the “Port Phillip Gazette”.

May 11th The “Port Phillip Gazette” stated that a mail cart would start from Melbourne to Geelong on this date.

May 15th Melbourne’s Catholic population was about 2,000 when Reverend Patrick Bonaventure Geoghegan (1805-1864), a Franciscan, arrived from Sydney in the schooner “Paul Pry” and the first Mass was offered on the 19th May in a little unroofed store on the corner of Elizabeth & Little Collins Streets, owned by a non-catholic, Arthur Horne.

October 2nd Charles Joseph La Trobe (1801-1875) arrives. First Superintendent of the Port Phillip District (30 September 1839 – 15 July 1851).

November Melbourne’s population approximately 3,500.

Land purchased in 1837 at £150 an acre now sold for £10,000.

December 31st The estimated population of Port Phillip is 5,822 comprising 4,014 males and 1,718 females.

1840

January 1st Father P. B. Geoghegan opened a small school at St. Francis in Lonsdale Street.

January 2nd The Port Phillip Bank commenced business in the auction mart on the south-west corner of Collins and Williams Streets. John Gardiner was the managing director.

January 3rd First edition of “Port Phillip Herald” published by George Cavenagh (sole proprietor). It was printed at the “Port Phillip Herald” Office in Elizabeth Street by Joseph Thompson.

January 11th Angus McMillan (1810-1865) and his party set out from Tambo River to explore previously unknown areas of what is now known as Gippsland. They discovered the Gippsland lake system including its major tributary rivers.

January The population of Melbourne estimated at 4,000 people and the number of houses between 700-800.

February 2nd Paul Edmund Strzelecki and James MacArthur began an exploratory journey from south eastern New South Wales to Port Phillip. Strzelecki climbs and names Australia’s highest mountain – Mount Kosciusko.

March 3rd-5th First race meeting at Flemington was held. The racing was conducted under the rules of the Jockey Club.

May 28th Count Paul Strzelecki and his party arrive in Melbourne.

August 13th Forty-five Melbourne town allotments of 1 rood 36 perches each and 53 Geelong town allotments of 2 roods and 1 rood 20 perches were sold in Melbourne for £24,253. The Melbourne allotments were in the blocks bounded by Flinders, Spring, Lonsdale and Stephen (now Exhibition) Streets, and Collins, Russell, Lonsdale and Swanston Streets.

October 15th The first sale of land at Portland is held.

November 21st John Pascoe Fawkner establishes the “Geelong Advertiser” newspaper with James Harrison.

December 2nd First recorded robbery of a Port Phillip mail took place. It was to be the first of many.

December 31st Population of Port Phillip: 10,291 comprising 7,254 males and 3,037 females.

Transportation from England and Ireland to New South Wales ends in 1840 ( Van Diemen’s Land 1852, and Western Australia in 1868, with the last convict transport ship to sail from England to Australia being the “Hougoumont”.

1841

January 3rd The steamer “Clonmel”, on its second voyage between Sydney and Melbourne, was wrecked near Corner Inlet.

January 22nd The foundation stone of the first Scots’ Church was laid by Dr. David Patrick. Samuel Jackson was the architect of the building – Webb and Allec were the contractors for the stone and brickwork and James Rule, was the contractor for the carpentry, joinery, plumbing and glazing.

February 1st First Coroner for the District of Melbourne, William Byam Wilmot, appointed.

February 3rd First resident Judge, John Walpole Willis, of the Supreme Court, Port Phillip, appointed at a salary of £1,500 a year.

February 9th Angus McMillan sets out on further exploratory treks and founds the site of Port Albert near Corner Inlet.

March 2nd Census of Port Phillip – 11,738 (8,274 males, 3,464 females). The population of Melbourne recorded as 4,479 and Geelong 454 people.

March 8th A day school for boys and girls was opened in the schoolroom of the Independent Church, with James Smith as Schoolmaster.

April 12th The Supreme Court sits in Melbourne for the first time in a small brick building on the south-west corner of King and Bourke Streets that was previously used as the Land Office.

June 24th The Wesleyan Chapel, Collins Street, was opened by the Reverend Samuel Wilkinson (1813-1899).

October 4th – The Foundation Stone of St. Francis’ Roman Catholic Church was laid by the Reverend Patrick B. Geoghegan.

October 22nd Incorporation of the Town of Melbourne. Melbourne was divided into four wards – Bourke Ward: north-west; Gipps Ward: north-east; La Trobe Ward: south-east and Lonsdale Ward: south-west.

Economic Depression – general financial collapse. A fall in wool prices the cessation of overseas investment and financial dislocation in all the colonies combined to bring down the rickety facade of prosperity.

First government building for postal services opens in Melbourne.

Australia’s first great economic depression occurred after the settlers embarked on a wild spree of land speculation using high interest British capital.

The “Melbourne Almanac and Port Phillip Directory for 1841” compiled by William Kerr was published.

Australia’s first gas lighting is turned on in Sydney.

December 31st Population of Port Phillip: 20,416 (14,391 males and 6,025 females).

1842

St. Francis’ Church, corner Elizabeth and Lonsdale Streets, established but not completed until 1845. They had wooden schoolrooms.

February 1st A new law for insolvency was passed in New South Wales. The insolvent person had to surrender all of his estate. He had to make a declaration stating why he had reached his present financial position and after satisfying the requirements of the Law, he could apply to the Commissioner of Inslovent Estates for a certificate of release. It was not deemed polite to apply too early. Perhaps six months was early enough. Many estates were so complicated that they took years to resolve.

February 4th William Verner who was appointed Chief Commissioner of Insolvent Estates, Melbourne, by Judge Willis, was sworn in by him. On the 8th February 1842, George Lilly had the dubious honour of being the first person to become insolvent in the Port Phillip District. During 1842, 109 firms and private individuals passed through the Insolvency Court.

July Floods in Melbourne.

August 12th Melbourne Incorporated as a Town by Act 6. Victoria No. 7 of the Governor and the Legislative Council of New South Wales.

Infantile Cholera and dysentry now killing many children.

6,100 immigrants arrived by sea, of whom 4,136 came under the bounty system.

December 31st Population Port Phillip: 23,799 (15,691 males and 8,108 females).

1843

Melbourne now a substantial town.

March 1st Great Comet makes its appearance in southern skies.

April 1st Bank of Australia fails.

June 17th – Governor Gipps orders the removal from office of Justice John Walpole Willis, resident Judge in the Port Phillip District, after powerful interests in Melbourne petition for his recall.

Yass pastoralist, Henry O’Brien, begins boiling down sheep for their tallow, thus establishing a standard minimum value for sheep.

1844

March 20th The first sale of land at Seymour was conducted.

April 2nd Occupation regulations issued limiting area and stock-carrying capacity of Squatters’ runs and making it obligatory to hold a separate licence for each run.

June 1st – Squatters meet in Melbourne to protest against new land regulations.

October 3rd Floods. The Yarra Yarra River overspreads its banks.

November 16th The ship “Royal George” arrives in Port Phillip from London carrying twenty-one “exiles” – convicted criminals given a conditional pardon upon landing – causing a public outcry.

November 28th Public meeting in Melbourne demands separation from New South Wales and appoints a representative to take a petition to England.

1845

The Great Potato Famine begins. A blight attacks the plants and destroys the crops. Ireland is one of the worst effected. Many Irish people decide to migrate.

February 11th John Batman’s son, John Charles Batman, drowns in the Yarra Yarra River.

April 21st The Queen’s Theatre opened in Melbourne.

August 4th A fierce storm drives the emigrant ship “Cataraqui” ashore on King Island. Of the 115 people on board, only 9 survived.

1846

June 2nd In Melbourne “The Argus” newspaper, published by William Kerr, commences business.

St. Francis Roman Catholic Church, corner Lonsdale and Elizabeth Streets, officially opened. By this time Melbourne has 15 church schools and 16 private schools.

July 12th Martial Law proclaimed for one night in Melbourne, following rioting between Orangemen and Roman Catholics during which shots were fired.

First bridge over the Yarra River is completed.

1847

Melbourne proclaimed a city but it is not official until the Proclaimation is gazetted on February 5th 1848.

June 29th Charles Perry is consecrated an Anglican Bishop in London. He is to take charge of the new Diocese of Melbourne, created a few days earlier.

St. Francis’ rebuild their school in brick. Port Phillip District becomes the See of Melbourne with James Alpius Goold appointed as the first Roman Catholic Bishop on July 9th.

Beginning of period of severe drought in New South Wales.

Golf is introduced by the Hon. James Graham Fife who creates a course at Flagstaff Hill, Melbourne.

Melbourne hosts its first Intercolonial Race Meeting.

Government decides that the recovery from the Depression is sufficient to start land sales in Port Phillip again.

1848

March 15th The Melbourne Hospital is opened. Built on the corner of Swanston & Lonsdale Streets, with later building expansion extending across the block to Russell Street. Previously the sick had often been nursed in hotel rooms.

July 26th Electors in Port Phillip District, in protest against an absentee government in Sydney, refuse to nominate representatives to the New South Wales Legislative Council (and elect Earl Grey as the Member for Melbourne).

Richard Goldsbrough founds a wool auction in Melbourne.

October 9th The “Port Phillip Patriot” newspaper becomes the “Melbourne Daily News”.

November 7th First sale of land in Colac.

December 13th First government assisted immigrants arrive at Moreton Bay.

Port Phillip Turf Club obtains a lease of Flemington Racescourse site.

1849

January 1st The “Port Phillip Herald” newspaper becomes the “Melbourne Morning Herald”.

February 24th The “Alfred” arrives in Melbourne with the young Prince Frederick of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg travelling incognito as Lt. Frederick Gronwald.

Gas lighting is introduced by William Overton, a confectioner. He, at considerable expense, succeeds in the manufacture of gas and uses it to light his large premises in Swanston Street, Melbourne.

A hurricane blows down houses and levels chimney stacks. The Yarra and Maribyrnong Rivers in high flood. At Dight’s Falls the Yarra rises 37 feet above its normal level.

August 31st Melbourne has its heaviest snowstorm.

Tokens, used as currency, issued for the first time by Melbourne grocers Annand, Smith & Co.

1850

January 1st Australia’s first adhesive postage stamps issued in New South Wales.

January 3rd Adhesive postage stamps first issued in Victoria. They featured Queen Victoria and were the first stamps in the world to be printed using the lithography process.

The first refrigeration plant in the world was built by James Harrison in Victoria. The process he developed relied on the formation of ice by the evaporation of ether.

August 5th The “Australian Colonies Government Act” receives royal assent in Britain – providing for the separation from New South Wales of the Port Phillip District, to be known as Victoria, and for the eventual self-government of the Australian colonies.

November 11th The ship “Lysander” brings news to Melbourne of the passing of the Australian Colonies Governement Act, which sets off four days of general rejoicing.

November 15th Princes Bridge, over the Yarra River, opened in Melbourne.

December 5th Pentridge Gaol, recently completed, receives its first prisoners.

Measles first reported in Australia.

Joseph Wilkie opens a music shop (later known as Allans) in Collins Street, Melbourne.

1851

February 6th Black Thursday. A day when the temperature in Melbourne rose to 47° centigrade at 11 am. Melbourne Town was in grave danger of destruction by encircling bush fire. Areas affected included Portland, the Plenty Ranges, Westernport, the Wimmera and Dandenong districts. Approximately 12 lives, 1,000,000 sheep and thousands of cattle were lost.

April 1st Melbourne Chamber of Commerce founded.

May 15th The “Sydney Morning Herald” carries news of gold discovery and the rush to the Ophir goldfield begins.

May 22nd Proclamation issued in New South Wales declaring all gold found on private or Crown land to be the property of the Crown. A licence to dig required after 1st June at a fee of 30 shillings per month.

June 26th Sale gazetted as a village site.

July 1st Victoria separates from New South Wales and Melbourne becomes the capital of the Colony of Victoria. Port Phillip is declared an independent Colony and is to be known as Victoria. The first state boundaries are established and the treaty is signed under the separation tree in Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens.

July 7th James Esmond discovers gold near Clunes, 35km north of Ballarat. The announcement marks the beginning of the Victorian gold rush.

July 15th Charles Joseph La Trobe becomes the first Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Victoria (until 5th May 1854).

July 20th Gold officially discovered at Mount Alexander. This was one of Victoria’s earliest and richest goldfields. Located 100km north-west of Melbourne, it encompassed the diggings at Chewton, Forest Creek, Fryer’s Town, Campbell’s Creek and Castlemaine. Thomas Peters, a shepherd, found gold in mid-July but maintained secrecy for several weeks. Late in October 4,000 men had rushed to the district and by the end of 1852 there are 30,000 diggers.

August 8th Gold discovered in the Buninyong Range, near Ballarat. Ballarat, 110km north-west of Melbourne, became one of the richest goldfields in the world. The area was rushed in 1851 after John Dunlop found gold under some wattle trees. When the alluvial gold petered out, Ballarat became famous for its deep lead mines, some of which tunnelled far below the surface. The very fact that Ballarat’s gold was so deep was an indirect cause of the Eureka rebellion. Miners objected to paying 30 shillings a month licence fee (introduced in Victoria on September 1st, 1851) during weeks and months they were sinking shafts and earning no income.

September Gold field discovered near Creswick.

November 13th Victoria’s Legislative Council formally opened in St. Patrick’s Hall, Bourke Street, Melbourne.

December 31st Victoria’s population approximately 20,000 people.

SOURCES:

Books:

Australian Firsts, Axiom, 1998

Barker, Anthony Wilhelm, What Happened When, Allen & Unwen, North Sydney 1992

Boys, Robert Douglas, First Years at Port Phillip 1834-1842, Melbourne 1959.

Bride, Thomas Francis, Letters from Victorian Pioneers, South Yarra 1983

Fraser, Bryce, The Macquarie Book of Events, Sydney NSW 1983

Gibbs, Christine, History of Postal Services in Victoria, Australia Post 1984

Grant, James & Serle, Geoffrey, The Melbourne Scene, Sydney NSW 1983

Laidlaw, Ronald, The Land They Found, South Melbourne 1979

Larkins, John, A Dictionary of Australian History, Rigby, 1980

Munday, B.J. & Grigsby, J.R., Mainstreams in Australian History, Melbourne 1968

Palmer, Helen & Macleod, Jessie, The First Hundred Years, Croydon 1966

Other:

“Australasian” – Centenary Number

Bradley, Stewart

Internet site – First Families 2001

Port Phillip Pioneers’ Group Inc. – Newsletters No. 1 – 116

Romanov-Hughes, Alexander