An Exhibition of Material from the Rare Book
Monash University Library
6 April - 30 June 2000
Exhibition and catalogue by Richard Overell, Rare Books
Monash University Library
Historians have too seldom considered the powerful colonising influence
of the printing press. Alan Atkinson's recent important book The
Europeans in Australia has made the case for regarding writing - 'the
weighty, broad and permanent conversations of pen and paper' - as a major
theme in colonial history. It was through the constant flow of letters,
despatches, orders, and proclamations that imperial power was constituted
and impressed upon the new society, he argues. Atkinson gives less
attention to the influence of print. Australia's first printing press, he
notes, was carried by the First Fleet, but he overlooks the formidable
colonising influence of the London publishers and printers whose accounts
of the new land were both the inspiration and the formal culmination of
the colonising process.
This exhibition is, among other things, an interesting vantage point on
that process. In the history of Australia since the coming of the
Europeans, pride of place long belonged to discovers and explorers. Cook,
Phillip, Sturt, Leichhardt, Strzelecki, Burke and Wills were once top of
the historical pops. Battling stormy seas or trackless deserts, they
became substitutes for the military heroes that colonial Australian longed
for, but still lacked. Their journals and narratives in turn became the
text for our national Book of Genesis. In schoolrooms across the country
children traced maps of their epic journeys into their exercise books and
recited tales of their courage and fortitude.
By the mid-twentieth century exploration history was on the wane, worn
out from over-use. Anzac had created a new cast of heroes. A more
democratic, comfortable suburban society found little to admire in these
vainglorious travellers. Collectors still treasured the bound volumes of
explorers' narratives and journals but professional historians seldom read
Only recently, since the late 1980s, has exploration history again
returned to fashion. Now that the Age of Empire is past - or almost so -
we are in a position to read the explorers' narratives with fresh eyes.
Bernard Smith's brilliant European Vision and the South Pacific
(1960) was the path-setter. Paul Carter's provocative The Road to
Botany Bay (1988) was a more self-consciously post-colonial history,
an account not of exploration, but of the spatial consciousness that
exploration revealed. He sought to decode the language of the journals and
narratives of discovery for clues to an imperium, not of muskets, but of
At about the same time Henry Reynolds was also re-reading the
explorers' narratives. Between the lines of their self-aggrandising
testimony he discerned the outlines of an alternative story. The explorers
were not solitary travellers in an 'unknown land' but followers in the
paths of Aborigines who often acted as their guides and saviours.
This exhibition of treasures from the Matheson Library's Australiana
collections fittingly begins with a selection of exploration journals and
narratives thoughtfully displayed and catalogued to highlight their
'post-colonial' significance, especially those passages bearing upon the
relations between Aborigines and Europeans. The volumes themselves are an
important clue to the ways in which the experience of exploration and settlement
were appropriated by the metropolitan society for whom they
were largely written and published.
In the wake of the explorers came immigrants attracted by the reports
of pastures new and golden riches published in traveller's accounts,
colonial handbooks and emigrant's guides. This exhibition includes
examples of the most popular and colourful of these genres. Long quarried
by historians for information about colonial life, these texts also
deserve a new, more critical reading. David Goodman's Goldseeking
(1994) warns of the need for 'a critical distancing from [the]
implicitly metropolitan position' typically adopted by these writers. John
Sherer's colourful The Goldfinder of Australia (1853) (item 39) is
a prime example of the exaggerations and distortions produced through the
publisher's need to meet the expectations of a British reading public.
Like the items in this exhibition, a large proportion of the printed
discourse about colonial Australia emanated from London. But the flow of
information and argument was not entirely one-way. Thomas Chuck's
refutation of the most famous nineteenth century account of Australia, the
novelist Anthony Trollope's Australia, (item 79) shows that the colonists
could also occasionally answer back. By the end of the nineteenth century
a small but increasing proportion of the printed material about Australia
was published in Australia itself.
When, I wonder, did Australia win its independence from the hegemony of
British publishing? Even in the 1980s emigrι Australians - Clive James,
Robert Hughes, Barry Humphries, Germaine Greer - and British publishing
houses remain powerful intermediaries between Australia and the world. The
Road to Botany Bay still runs via Charing Cross Road and Fifth Avenue.
The works assembled here illustrate the impressive progress that
Richard Overell and his colleagues have made in building up a strong
representative Monash collection of Australiana. By consulting these works
in their original editions, we are brought a step closer to the process by
which Australia was constituted, not only by the acts of explorers,
emigrants and settlers, but by the writers and publishers who rendered
those actions into words, pictures and print. This excellent exhibition is
a strong invitation to Monash academics and students to investigate that
Graeme Davison, History Department,
Click here for a View of the Exhibition Area>
Monash University Library collects comprehensively in the field of
Australiana, not only literature and history, but any material which
contributes to the understanding of our culture.
This exhibition consists mainly of a selection of the some of the
high-lights of early Australiana. Rather than interpreting the items on
display, the commentaries offered in the catalogue are mainly anecdotal
attempts to place them in their period, and, through use of quotation, to
give a flavour of the works themselves.
We have not had a full-scale exhibition of Australiana before, and hope
to mount a display of twentieth-century Australiana in 2001.
The emphasis in this exhibition is on the history of white settlement.
All of the books included have extensive references to the aborigines, and
are essential sources for researchers dealing with the period. Many of the
titles were on display in an earlier exhibition, "Early images of the
Australian Aborigines", which was held in 1993. Catalogues of this are
still available. A "virtual" version of both the aboriginal exhibition and
the current exhibition can be found in the Monash Rare Books web-site.
The Monash University Library is constantly adding to its collection of
early Australiana. This is necessary to support the teaching and research
of Australian cultural studies, history and literature being undertaken in
the History and English Departments, and in the National Centre for
Australian Studies. However, this Exhibition would not have been as
representative as it is without material from the collection of Sir Robert
and Lady Price; these items are marked in the catalogue with an asterisk.
Sir Robert Price was the Chairman of the CSIRO from 1970-77 and was on the
Council at Monash University from 1977 to 1982. Before his recent death,
Sir Robert generously agreed to make a bequest of this fine collection of
early Australiana to the Monash University Library Rare Book Collection.
Our thanks are due to Joyce, his widow, and to his family.
Rare Books Librarian.
A Collection of voyages : in four volumes ...: illustrated
with maps and draughts also several birds, fishes, and plants, not found
in this part of the world : curiously engraven on copper-plates.
(London : Printed for James and John Knapton ... , 1729) 4 v.
Vol. 1 contains "Captain William Dampier's voyages round the world"
in which he describes the north-west coast of "New Holland". He landed
at King Sound, on 5 January 1688. He and his men stayed until 12 March.
Of the country he wrote,
New Holland is a very large tract of land. It is not yet
determined whether it is an island or a main continent; but I am certain
that it joyns neither to Asia, Africa, nor to America. (p. 463)
Dampier's statement concerning the natives, the earliest description
of the Australian Aborigines by an Englishman, is now seen as rather
The inhabitants of this country are the miserablest
People in the world. The Hodmadods of Monomatapa, though a nasty
people, yet for wealth are gentlien to these; who have no houses and
skin garments, sheep, poultry and fruits of the earth, ostrich eggs
&c. as the Hodmadods have: and setting aside their humane
shape, they differ but little from brutes. (p. 464)
Dampier commented on the prevalence of flies and the barrenness of
the land, before sailing on to the Cocos Islands.
An account of the voyages undertaken by
the order of His present Majesty, for making discoveries in the southern
hemisphere, and successively performed by Commodore Byron, Captain
Wallis, Captain Carteret, and Captain Cook, in the Dolphin, the Swallow,
and the Endeavour : drawn up from the journals which were kept by the
several commanders and from the papers of Joseph Banks, Esq. / by
John Hawkesworth, (London : Printed for W. Strahan and T. Cadell ... ,
1773) Vol. 3.
Captain Cook discovered the east coast of Australia in 1770. The
account of that journey was given for the first time in vol. 3 of this
set of voyages.
The Endeavour sailed into Botany Bay on 28 April 1770. The
crew sighted four small canoes, each with one man aboard, "very busily
employed in striking fish with a long pike or spear." (p. 492) The boat
passed within a quarter of a mile of the men, but, "possibly being
deafened by the surf, and their attention wholly fixed upon their
business," the aborigines neither saw nor heard them.
The ship anchored "abreast of a small village." A woman came out of
the woods, followed by three children.
She often looked at the ship, but expressed neither fear
nor surprise: ... she kindled a fire, and the four canoes came in from
fishing. The men landed, and having hauled up their boats, began to
dress their dinner, to all appearance wholly unconcerned about us,
though we were within half a mile of them. (p. 492)
After dinner, the Endeavour's boat was put out to go ashore to
get water. The crew hoped the natives would continue to pay them scant
as soon as we approached the rocks two of the men came
down upon them to dispute our landing, and the rest ran away. Each of
the two champions was armed with a lance about ten feet long, and a
short stick which he seemed to handle as if it was a machine to assist
him in managing or throwing the lance: they called to us in a very loud
tone, and in a harsh dissonant language. ... they brandished their
weapons, and seemed resolved to defend their coast to the uttermost,
though they were but two and we were forty. (p. 492-3)
Cook commented, "I could not but admire their courage."
The Endeavour sailed from Botany Bay on 6 May, 1770. On 11
June, while trying to work their way through the islands of the Great
Barrier Reef, they struck aground off Cape Tribulation. After managing
to re-float the vessel, they decided to beach it at the Endeavour River
and effect repairs on the hull. They landed there on 18 June, and did
not resume their voyage until 6th August. It was there that they first
saw a kangaroo.
As I was walking this morning [24 June] at a little
distance from the ship, I saw myself one of the animals which had been
so often described: it was of a light mouse colour, and in size and
shape very much resembling a greyhound; and I should have taken it for a
wild dog, if instead of running, it had not leapt like a hare or
deer. (p. 561)
On 14 July Mr. Gore, a crew-member,
had the good fortune to kill one of the animals which
had been so much the subject of our speculation: an idea of it will best
be conceived by the cut, plate XX [on display] without which, the most
accurate verbal description would answer very little purpose, as it has
not the similitude enough to any animal already known, to admit of
illustration by reference.
This animal is called by the natives
Kanguroo. (p. 577-578)
The illustration was executed by the prominent artist William Stubbs.
The next day, our Kanguroo was dressed for dinner, and
proved most excellent meat; we might now indeed be said to fare
sumptuously every day, for we had turtle in great plenty, and we all
agreed that they were much better than any we had tasted in England,
which we imputed to their being eaten fresh from the sea, before their
natural fat had been wasted, or their juices changed by a diet and
situation so different from what the sea affords them, as garbage in a
tub. (p. 578)
The Endeavour was repaired and re-floated. On 21 August he
landed on an island near Cape York,
As I was now about to quit the eastern coast of New
Holland, which I had coasted from latitude 38 to this place, and which I
am confident no European had ever seen before, I once more hoisted
English colours, and though I had already taken possession of several
particular parts, I now took possession of the whole eastern coast, from
latitude 38° to this place, latitude 10½ S. in right of His Majesty King
George the Third, by the name of New South Wales, with all the bays,
harbours, rivers, and islands situated upon it: we then fired three
vollies of small arms, which were answered by the same number from the
ship. Having performed this ceremony upon the island, which we named
Possession Island, we re-imbarked in our boat. (p. 616)
There is a model of the Endeavour in a glass case outside the
Rare Books Reading Room. It was constructed by Sir Robert Blackwood, the
first Chancellor of Monash University.
The infants' library. Book 5. (London : Printed and sold
by John Marshall, [1800?])
This is part of a set of sixteen miniature volumes originally issued
in a specially-made, tiny wooden bookcase. The volume on display shows
wood-cuts of various animals, each with a brief text. It is open at the
illustration of a kangaroo, obviously based on Stubbs's engraving in
Cook's First Voyage. The text in the miniature book reads,
The kanguroo is a curious animal brought from a foreign
country, and may be seen in the king's garden at Richmond.
Cook, James, 1728-1779.
A voyage towards the South
Pole and round the world. : Performed in His Majesty's ships the
Resolution and Adventure, in the years 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1775 /
written by James Cook ... In which is included, Captain Furneaux's
narrative of his proceedings in the Adventure during the separation of
the ships. 4th ed. (London : printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell,
1784) 2 v.
Cook's second voyage was made in 1772-1775. The party consisted of
two boats, The Resolution commanded by Cook, and the
Adventure, under Captain Tobias Furneaux. The crew of the
Adventure charted the south-eastern and eastern coasts of Van
Dieman's Land and put into Adventure Bay in March 1773.
Cook, James, 1728-1779.
A voyage to the Pacific
Ocean. : Undertaken by the command of His Majesty, for making
discoveries in the Northern hemisphere. Performed under the direction of
Captains Cook, Clerke and Gore, in His Majesty's Ships, the Resolution
and Discovery; in the years 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, and 1780 in three
volumes / Vol. I and II written by Captain Cook, Vol. III by Captain
James King. (London : printed for G. Nicol; and T. Cadell, 1784-85)
On his third voyage, Cook, in the Resolution, put into Adventure Bay
on 26 January 1777, and stayed for three days. Furneaux had seen
evidence of the native encampments when he had visited the bay in 1773,
but had not seen any of the aboriginals themselves. Cook was more
fortunate. On 28 January,
In the afternoon, we were agreeably surprised, at the
place where we were cutting, with a visit from some of the natives;
eight men and a boy. They approached us without betraying any marks of
fear, or rather with the greatest confidence imaginable; none of them
having any weapons except one, who held in his hand a stick about two
feet long and pointed at one end. They were quite naked, and wore no
ornaments unless we consider as such, some large punctures in different
parts of their bodies, some in straight and others in curved lines. The
men were of middle stature but rather slender. Their skin and hair were
black; and the latter as woolly as that of any native of Guinea; but
they were not distinguished by remarkable thick lips, nor flat noses. On
the contrary, their features were far from being disagreeable. ... Most
of them had their hair and beards smeared with a red ointment, and some
also had their faces painted with the same composition. (vol. 1,
Later a group of women came,
some with children on their backs, and some without
children. The former wore a kangaroo skin fastened over their shoulders,
the only use of which seemed to be, to support their children on their
backs, for it left those parts uncovered which modesty directs us to
conceal. Their bodies were black, and marked with scars like those of
the men; from whom, however they differed, in having their heads shaved;
some of them being completely shorn, others only on one side, while the
rest of them had the upper part of their heads shaved, leaving a very
narrow circle of hair all round. (vol. 1, p. 424)
The First Fleet
The decision to establish a penal settlement at Botany Bay was taken by
Lord Sydney at the Home Office on 18th August 1786. Arthur Phillip was
appointed to command the expedition. It consisted of eleven vessels, the
Sirius, under Phillip, the Supply, under Lieutenant Ball,
six convict transports, carrying 750 convicts, and three storeships.
Five of the officers in the party, Phillip, Hunter, Collins, Tench, and
White, later published accounts of the early settlement. These are usually
referred to now as "the First Fleet Journals".
* Phillip, Arthur, 1738-1814.
The voyage of
Governor Phillip to Botany Bay : with an account of the establishment of
the colonies of Port Jackson & Norfolk Island, compiled from
authentic papers which have been obtained from the several departments,
to which are added, the journals of Lieuts. Shortland, Watts, Ball &
Capt. Marshall, with an account of their new discoveries. 2nd
edition. (London : John Stockdale, 1790)
The journey took eight months and one day, from 13 May 1787 to 20
January 1788. Philip quickly decided that Botany Bay was unsuitable and
shifted the location to Port Jackson, where they landed on 26 January.
The British were astonished to see on 24 January, two boats with
French flags appear off Botany Bay. They later landed and proved to be
the expedition sent by the French government to explore the south seas
under the command of La Perouse.
Governor Phillip tried to establish good relations with the
aborigines, but this was difficult partly because the convicts
mistreated them, and, as was to be expected, the natives resented the
intrusion of the whites.
The anonymous narrator of Governor Phillip's account summarised the
situation at the beginning of the new settlement,
A rising government could not easily be committed to
better hands. Governor Phillip appears to have every requisite to ensure
the success of the undertaking intrusted to him, as far as the qualities
of one man can ensure it. Intelligent, active, persevering, with
firmness to make his authority respected, and mildness to render it
pleasing, he was determined, if possible, to bring even the native
inhabitants of New South Wales into a voluntary subjection; or at least
to establish with them a strict amity and alliance. Induced also by
motives of humanity, it was his determination from his first landing to
treat them with the utmost kindness: ands he was firmly resolved, that,
whatever difference might arise, nothing less than the most absolute
necessity should ever compel him to fire upon them. In this resolution,
by good fortune, and by his own great address, he has happily been
enabled to persevere. But notwithstanding this, his intentions of
establishing a friendly intercourse have hitherto been frustrated. M. de
la Peyrouse, while he remained in Botany Bay, had some quarrel with the
inhabitants, which unfortunately obliged him to use his fire-arms
against them: this affair, joined to the ill behaviour of some of the
convicts, who in spite of all prohibitions, and at the risque of all
consequences, have wandered out among them, has produced a shyness on
their parts which it has not yet been possible to remove, though the
properest means have been taken to regain their confidence. Their
dislike to the Europeans is probably increased by discovering that they
intend to remain among them, and that they interfere with them in some
of their best fishing places, which doubtless are, in their
circumstances, objects of very great importance. Some of the convicts
who have straggled into the woods have been killed, and others
dangerously wounded by the natives, but there is great reason to suppose
that in these cases the convicts have usually been the
aggressors. (p. 58-59)
Hunter, John, 1737-1821.
An historical journal of
the transactions at Port Jackson and Norfolk Island : with the
discoveries which have been made in New South Wales and in the Southern
Ocean since the publication of Phillip's voyage, compiled from the
official papers; including the journals of Governors Phillip and King,
and of Lieut. Ball; and the voyages from the first sailing of the Sirius
in 1787, to the return ... to England in 1792 / by John Hunter
(London : Printed for John Stockdale, 1793)
Hunter was the second governor of New South Wales. Like Phillip, he
was a naval officer. One of the most moving passages in his book is
concerned with the wreck of the Sirius, of which he was the
captain, off Norfolk Island.
He was appointed Governor in January 1794, after Phillip's
resignation. He was in England at that time and did not arrive back in
Sydney until 7 September 1795. Phillip had left for England on 11
December 1792, and during the three year inter-regnum the army had
gained control of the colony. Their rule was characterised by
viciousness and debauchery. The traffic in rum was creating wealth for
the officers of the New South Wales Corps. Hunter had the very difficult
task of re-establishing civil rule. In this he was ultimately
unsuccessful and was recalled in 1799. He left for England on 28
He was a courageous officer and a humane man who did much good work
in exploring the country around Sydney. It was one of these expeditions
that he came across the scene depicted in the title-page vignette,
reproduced on the cover of this catalogue.
This took place in June 1789 on a trip to Broken Bay. An aboriginal
woman was found hiding in grass, suffering a fever, apparently the
after-effects of smallpox, a disease which the aborigines had caught
from the whites, the occurrence of which had been first noticed only in
April 1789. Hunter's party gave the woman food and water and comforted
her. After she was re-united with her tribe, they came across her again
sheltering her terrified child. This is the scene the artist has chosen
We supplied her, as before, with birds, fish and fuel,
and pulled a quantity of grass to make her a comfortable bed, and
covered her little miserable hut so as to keep out the weather: she was
now so reconciled to our frequent visits, seeing we had nothing in view
but her comfort in them, that when she wanted baa-do [water], or
ma-gra, which signifies fish, she would ask for them, and when
she did, it was always supplied her; in the morning we visited her
again; the child had now got so much the better of her fears, that it
would allow us to take hold of her hand; I perceived, that young as it
was, it had lost the two first joints of its little finger, of the
left-hand, the reason or meaning of which we had not yet been able to
learn. (p. 141)
White, John, 1757 or 8-1832.
Journal of a voyage to
New South Wales : with sixty-five plates of non descript animals, birds,
lizards, serpents, curious cones of trees and other natural
productions / by John White Esqre. (London : Printed for J. Debrett,
1790) [from AMA Collection]
White was the surgeon on the voyage. His Journal is most
notable for the natural history information it contains, although both
Phillip and Hunter also included copious amounts of botanical and
zoological data as well as illustrations of animals, plants and birds.
His account of the settlement is quite detailed up to 11th October
1788, when he despatched his manuscript to London. It takes the form of
a chronicle. From it we learn much of the day-to-day detail of early
Sydney. The supplies were running low and it was necessary to live off
the land as much as possible.
That which we call the sweet tea, is a creeping kind of
vine, running to a great extent along the ground; the stalk is not so
thick as the smallest honey-suckle; nor is the leaf so large as the
common bay leaf, though something similar to it; and the taste is sweet,
exactly like the liquorice root of the shops. Of this the convicts and
soldiers make an infusion which is tolerably pleasant, and serves as no
bad succedaneum for tea. Indeed were it to be met in greater abundance,
it would be found very beneficial to those poor creatures, whose
constant diet is salt provisions. In using it for medical purposes I
have found it to be a good pectoral and, as I before observed, not at
all unpleasant. We have also a kind of shrub in this country resembling
the common broom; which produces a small berry like a white currant,
but, in taste, more similar to a very sour green gooseberry. This has
proved a good antiscorbutic; but I am sorry to add, that the quantity to
be met with is far from sufficient to remove the scurvy. That disorder
still prevails with great violence, nor can we at present find any
remedy against it, notwithstanding that the country produces several
sorts of plants and shrubs which in this place are considered tolerable
vegetables, and used in common. (p. 195-196)
The volume is open at an illustration of "The Banksia serrata in
Tench, Watkin, 1758 or 9-1833.
A narrative of the
expedition to Botany Bay : with an account of New South Wales, its
productions, inhabitants, &c. : to which is subjoined, a list of the
civil and military establishments at Port Jackson / by... Watkin
Tench. Second edition. (London : Printed for J. Debrett, 1789)
Tench was a captain-lieutenant of the marines, who accompanied the
First Fleet. He wrote two books on his experiences in Sydney; this is
the first of these. He was a cultivated man with a light, graceful style
and was well-liked by his colleagues.
In one chapter he speculates as to the ultimate purpose of the settlement, indicating that he was not privy to any "grand plan" such as
modern historians suspect.
The author of these sheets would subject himself to the
charge of presumption, were he to aim at developing the intentions of
Government in forming this settlement. But without giving offence, or
incurring reproach, he hopes his opinion on the probability of advantage
to be drawn from hence by Great Britain, may be fairly made known.
If only a receptacle for convicts be intended, this place stands
unequalled from the situation, extent and nature of the country. When
viewed in a commercial light, I fear its insignificance will appear very
striking. The New Zealand hemp, of which so many sanguine expectations
were formed, is not a native of the soil; and Norfolk Island, where we
made sure to find this article, is also without it. So that the scheme
of being able to assist the East Indies with naval stores, in case of
war, must fall to the ground, both from this deficiency, and the quality
of the timber growing here. (p. 138-139)
Collins, David, 1756-1810.
An account of the
English colony in New South Wales : with remarks on the dispositions,
customs, manners, &c. of the native inhabitants of that country. To
which are added, some particulars of New Zealand / compiled, by
permission, from the MSS. of Lieutenant-Governor King by David Collins
... (London : Printed for T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies 1798-1802) 2 v.
bound in 1
Collins was the Judge Advocate and Colonial Secretary in the new
colony, serving under both Phillip and Hunter. He returned to England at
the end of September 1796, coming back to Australia in 1803 as a
Lieutenant-Governor with a party of 330 convicts to form a settlement "in Bass's Streights". After trying unsuccessfully to establish a colony
at Sorrento on the south-eastern shore of Port Phillip, he sailed on to
Tasmania, where he arrived on 15 February 1804, settling at Risdon on
the Derwent River, thus becoming the first Governor of Van Diemen's
Collins's account is the most comprehensive of the First Fleet
journals. It covers the period up to September 1800, information for the
last four years having been obtained from Hunter and King among others.
The illustrations are valuable, particularly those which show the
customs of the aborigines. The volume is open at the title page for
volume two showing the frontispiece engraving of a corroboree, entitled,
"A Night scene in the neighbourhood of Sydney." The most useful section
from this point of view is the series of twelve appendices to volume
one. These include eight illustrations of the steps in an initiation
ceremony, as well as an engraving of aboriginal funeral customs.
The Convict Maid (Birmingham, Jackson and Son,
The voice of the convicts themselves is seldom heard among all the
official accounts and the memoirs of the officers published in large
quarto volumes. The popular ballad printed as a broadside or a chapbook
was more likely to reflect the experience of the common people. Here we
see a typical broadside of the period, complete with wood-cut, where the
"convict maid" tells of her crime,
To wed my lover, I did try,
To take my master's
and her harsh fate; as the Judge tells her,
To Botany Bay you will be conveyed,
For seven years
a convict maid.
Flinders, Matthew, 1774-1814.
A voyage to Terra
Australis : undertaken for the purpose of completing the discovery of
that vast country, and prosecuted in the years 1801, 1802, and 1803 in
His Majesty's ship the Investigator, and subsequently in the armed
vessel Porpoise and Cumberland Schooner; with an account of the
shipwreck of the Porpoise, arrival of the Cumberland at Mauritius, and
imprisonment of the commander during six years and a half in that island
/ by Matthew Flinders. (London : G. and W. Nicol, 1814) 2 v. (cciv,
269; 613 p.),  leaves of plates ; Accompanied by: folio of 30 charts.
Flinders was the first to circumnavigate the continent. He was also
the first to make general use of the name "Australia".
He came to the colony in 1795 as a midshipman aboard the
Reliance which was bringing Hunter back from England to take up
the position of Governor. Bass was also on board the Reliance, as
the surgeon. After they reached Sydney, Bass and Flinders began a series
of explorations along the coast in small vessels, the Tom Thumb
and the Norfolk. It was on one of these that they discovered
Bass Strait (1798).
In 1800 he returned to England where he was commended for his
scientific and cartographic discoveries, and, partly through the
influence of Sir Joseph Banks, was given command of the
Investigator. He returned to Australia in 1802 and began a series
of cartographic voyages around the coast-line to chart the continent.
The Investigator eventually became unseaworthy and Flinders
set out in 1803, to return to England, with his charts, in the
Cumberland. This too began to leak badly causing him to put into
Mauritius. Unfortunately France and Britain were at war and Flinders was
detained in captivity from December 1803 until June 1810. He then
returned to England and prepared his book for publication, but his
health had been affected and he died in 1814.
In April and May 1802 he had explored Port Phillip Bay, giving the
I find it very difficult to speak in general terms of
Port Phillip. On the one hand it is capable of receiving and sheltering
a larger fleet of ships than ever yet went to sea; whilst on the other,
the entrance, in its whole width, is scarcely two miles, and nearly half
of it is occupied by the rocks lying off Point Nepean, and by shoals on
the opposite side.
The country surrounding Port Phillip has a pleasing, and
in many parts a fertile appearance; and the sides of some of the hills
and several of the vallies, are fit for agricultural purposes. It is in
great measure a grassy country, and capable of supporting much cattle,
though better calculated for sheep.
Indented Head, at the northern
part of the western peninsula, had an appearance particularly agreeable;
the grass had been burned not long before, and had sprung up green and
tender; the wood was so thinly scattered that one might see to a
considerable distance; and the hills rose one over the other to a
moderate elevation, but so gently, that a plough might every where be
used. The vegetable soil is a little mixed with sand, but good, tough
probably not deep, as I judged by the small size of the trees.
Were a settlement to be made at Port Phillip, as
doubtless there will be some time hereafter, the entrance could be
easily defended; and it would not be difficult to establish a friendly
intercourse with the natives, for they are acquainted with the effect of
fire arms, and desirous of possessing many of our conveniences. I
thought them more muscular than the men of King George's Sound; but
generally speaking, they differ in no essential particular from the
other inhabitants of the South and East Coasts, except in language,
which is dissimilar, if not altogether different to that of Port
Jackson, and seemingly of King George's Sound also. (vol. 1, p.
* Tuckey, J. H. (James Hingston), 1776-1816.
account of a voyage to establish a colony at Port Philip in Bass's
Strait, on the south coast of New South Wales, in His Majesty's Ship
Calcutta, in the years 1802-3-4 / by J.H. Tuckey. (London, Longman,
Hurst, Rees, and Orme, 1805)
Tuckey was the First Lieutenant on the Calcutta, the boat
which, in 1803, carried Collins and his band of convicts to "Bass's
Streight" with the intention of forming a settlement in Port Phillip.
The details of that abortive settlement at Sorrento are included in this
account. The decision to set up a colony in the south of what was then
New South Wales, was taken to forestall any risk of French settlement.
The Calcutta arrived at Port Phillip on 9 October 1803, but
the settlement proved impossible to establish. A lack of fresh water was
the main problem. The party was forced to sink casks in the sand above
high water mark to obtain water for drinking and general use. They
sailed for Van Diemen's Land on 30 January 1804.
Tuckey felt the charm of the scenery,
The face of the country bordering on the port is
beautifully picturesque, swelling into gentle elevations of the
brightest verdure, and dotted with trees, as if planted by the hand of
taste, while the ground is covered with a profusion of flowers of every
colour; in short, the external appearance of the country flattered us
into the most delusive dreams of fruitfulness and plenty. (p.
He describes the Port Phillip aborigines at length, as well as the
labours of the convicts, and, in a passage which culminates in a
romantic yet self-deprecating look into the future of this antipodean
convict colony, writes,
And now again, when I considered the motives; when I
contrasted the powers, the ingenuity, and the resources of civilized
man, and the weakness, the ignorance, and the wants of the savage he
came to dispossess, I acknowledged the immensity of human intelligence,
and felt thankful for the small portion dispensed to myself. These
thoughts naturally led to the contemplation of future possibilities. I
beheld a second Rome, rising from a coalition of banditti. I beheld it
giving laws to the world, and superlative in arms and in arts, looking
down with proud superiority upon the barbarous nations of the northern
hemisphere; thus running over the airy visions of empire, wealth, and
glory, I wandered amidst the delusions of imagination. (p.
* Oxley, John, 1783-1828.
Journals of two
expeditions into the interior of New South Wales, undertaken by order of
the British Government in the years 1817-18 / by John Oxley.
(London, John Murray, 1820)
After the crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813 by Blaxland,
Wentworth and Lawson, the country inland began to be explored.
Oxley was the Surveyor-General under Governor Macquarie. He explored
the area around Bathurst and the Lachlan and Macquarie Rivers in 1817
and 1818. The account of these two expeditions is given here. Oxley was
frustrated by the fact that these rivers seemed to lose themselves in
vast tracts of swamp, and wrote in his entry for 7 July 1817,
It was with infinite regret and pain that I was forced
to come to the conclusion, that the interior of this vast country is a
marsh and uninhabitable. (p. 104)
His despondency was not to last, and his later accounts of land in
the interior are often quite favourable.
His Journal is open at a colour portrait of "A Native Chief of
Baturst [i.e. Bathurst]". This is the work of J. W. Lewin, now best
remembered for his ornithological illustrations.
* Mitchell, Thomas, 1792-1855.
into the interior of eastern Australia : with descriptions of the
recently explored region of Australia Felix, and of the present colony
of New South Wales / by T.L. Mitchell. (London, T. & W. Boone,
1838) 2 v.
Major Mitchell was appointed Deputy Surveyor-General under Oxley in
February 1827, and became Surveyor-General on Oxley's death in May of
the following year. He explored the region around the Darling,
Murrumbidgee and the Murray Rivers. On his third expedition he went
south to Portland where the Hentys had already established themselves,
and returned through what was later to become central Victoria. So
impressed was he with this land that he called it "Australia Felix". In
1844 he was elected to the Legislative Council in Sydney as one of the
members for the Port Phillip district.
Here is Mitchell's account of the Henty family's property, the first
permanent settlement of the future Victoria. When they had reached the
sea at Portland Bay on 29 August 1836, Tommy Came-last, one of the
aborigines with Major Mitchell's party found "the shoe marks of a white
man". Mitchell supposed that some whalers must be in the neighbourhood,
and, proceeding around the bay, they sighted a brig at anchor, then came
upon a man who told them "that just around the point there was a
considerable farming establishment." (p. 238)
Hoping to buy provisions, Mitchell pressed on,
I therefore approached the house and was kindly received
and entertained by the Messrs. Henty, who as I then learnt had been
established there during upwards of two years. It was very obvious
indeed from the magnitude and extent of the buildings, and the
substantial fencing erected, that both time and labour had been expended
in their construction. A good garden stocked with abundance of
vegetables already smiled on Portland Bay: the soil was very rich on the
overhanging cliffs, and the potatoes and turnips produced here,
surpassed in magnitude and quality any I had ever seen elsewhere. I
learnt that the bay was much resorted to by vessels engaged in the whale
fishery, and that upwards of 7000 tons of oil had been shipped there
that season. I was likewise informed that only a few days before my
arrival five vessels lay at anchor there, and that the communication was
regularly kept up with Van Diemen's Land by means of vessels from
Launceston. Messrs. Henty were importing sheep and cattle as fast as
vessels could bring them over, and the numerous whalers touching at or
fishing there, were found to be good customers for farm produce and
whatever else could be spared from the establishment. (p. 239)
Vol. 2 is open at a colour plate of the Major Mitchell cockatoo.
* Mitchell, Thomas, 1792-1855.
Journal of an
expedition into the interior of tropical Australia, in search of a route
from Sydney to the Gulf of Carpentaria. (London, Longman, Brown,
Green, and Longmans, 1848)
Mitchell undertook another expedition in December 1845, an attempt to
find an overland route to Port Essington (near present-day Darwin). He
explored much of the country around the head-waters of the Maranoa,
Warrego, and Belyando Rivers, and discovered the Barcoo, which he called
the Victoria. He believed this was the major river which people had
speculated must flow north from the centre of the continent; it was in
fact the headwaters of Cooper's Creek. He found much good pastoral land
on this expedition, but, short of supplies and threatened by aborigines,
he turned back without having discovered a route to the continent's
north coast. He arrived back in Sydney in December 1846.
Return to an address of the Honorable the House of Commons,
dated 26 February 1841 : for, copy of a despatch from Sir G. Gipps,
Governor of New South Wales, to the Secretary of State for the colonies,
transmitting a report of the progressive discovery and occupation of
that colony during the period of his administration of the
government. [London] : Ordered, by the House of Commons, to be
This House of Commons paper contains the only contemporary published
account of Strzelecki's explorations in the Port Phillip District
(Victoria). It also includes a map showing the "Route from Yass Plains
by the Australian Alps and Gipps Land to Port Philip by E. P. Streleski
[sic] 1840"; and "Map shewing the surveyed lands at Port Phillip from
the government surveys made in 1840", by John Arrowsmith.
Strzelecki was Polish. He arrived in Australia in 1839 after
travelling via North and South America, the islands of the South Seas
and New Zealand. His main interest was geology and mineralogy. He
discovered traces of gold in New South Wales but was convinced by
Governor Gipps not to announce his find. In 1840 he set out on an
expedition to explore the south-east of Australia. He discovered the
highest mountain in Australia and named it Mount Kosciusko after the
Polish patriot. He also explored the eastern region of the Port Phillip
district, naming it Gipps Land.
* Leichhardt, Ludwig, 1813-1848.
Journal of an
overland expedition in Australia, from Moreton Bay to Port Essington, a
distance of upwards of 3000 miles, during the years 1844-1845 / by
Ludwig Leichhardt. (London : T. & W. Boone, 1847)
Although Mitchell had a poor opinion of Leichhardt, the German
explorer succeeded in reaching Port Essington. He had set out on 1st
October 1844 from the Darling Downs in south-eastern Queensland and
proceeded northwards to the Gulf of Carpenteria. This he reached on 5th
July. Unfortunately John Gilbert, one of Gould's natural history
collectors who was a member of the party, was killed by the aborigines
near the Gulf on 28 June. Leichhardt reached Port Essington on 17th
December 1845. His journey to the Gulf had been through mostly good
country suitable for grazing, so when the explorers returned to Sydney
on 25th March 1846, they were greeted enthusiastically, and Leichhardt
wrote an account of his discoveries.
Although a popular pubic figure, Leichhardt was not an accomplished
bushman and was generally disliked by his men. He later vanished in
western Queensland in 1848 while attempting to cross the continent from
east to west.
The volume is open at a view of Port Essington in 1845. This settlement
was on the Coburg Peninsula, north-east of Darwin. It had
been set up in 1838. Its proper name was Victoria. It was hoped that it
would become a commercial emporium through which goods from Asia would
be imported into Australia, but it was bypassed by commerce. It was an
outpost with an undeveloped hinterland and in 1849 it was disbanded.
Darwin, originally named Palmerston, was founded in 1869.
* Wills, William John, 1834-1861.
exploration through the interior of Australia, from Melbourne to the
Gulf of Carpentaria : from the journals and letters of William John
Wills / edited by his father, William Wills. (London : Richard
Burke and Wills attempted to cross the continent from south to north
and return. They set out from Royal Park in Melbourne on 20th August
1860. The expedition was organized by the Royal Society of Victoria and
was partly funded by the Victorian government. They headed north-west to
Swan Hill and up through the centre, reaching the Gulf on 9th February
1861. They suffered much privation from shortage of water and
provisions, and both men died in June 1861 on Cooper's Creek.
There was a great deal of public interest in this expedition,
especially in Victoria. Although they achieved very little, their
courage and their tragic fate made them heroes. Their statues stand in
the centre of Melbourne.
Grant, James, 1772-1833.
The narrative of a voyage
of discovery, performed in His Majesty's vessel the Lady Nelson, of
sixty tons burthen, with sliding keels, in the years 1800, 1801 and
1802, to New South Wales / by James Grant. To which is prefixed, An
account of the origin of sliding keels. (London : Printed by C. Roworth
... for T. Egerton, 1803)
All of the early accounts of voyages and journeys of discovery
include details, and usually illustrations, of botanical, zoological and
ornithological specimens which were collected en route. Perhaps
the most famous of these early collectors was Sir Joseph Banks who
travelled with Cook on his first voyage.
James Grant came out to Australia in 1800 as Captain of the Lady
Nelson. His assignment was to survey the south coast of Australia
and in December 1800, he was the first to sail through Bass Strait.
He returned from Sydney in 1801 and surveyed Western Port. While
undertaking this survey Grant and his party observed the bird-life,
including the bell-birds, the kookaburra which he refers to only as "the
laughing-bird, whose note can only be compared to the ha! ha! ha! of a
hearty laughing companion", and the "whistling duck". On a wet day with
We were fortunate enough
to fall in with some rare and
uncommon cockatoos, one of which Mr. Barreiller shot, and a faithful
representation of it will be found in the annexed Plate. (p. 134)
The colour plate shows a "gang-gang cockatoo".
Gould, John, 1804-1881.
The Birds of Australia : in
seven volumes / by John Gould. (London : Published by the author,
1848) 7 v. ([xviii], v-cii,  leaves of col. plates) : Accompanied
by: 1 supplement (London, 1869).
Gould's Birds of Australia originally appeared in thirty-six
parts from 1840 to 1848.
John Gould began as a gardener in the Royal Gardens at Windsor, a
position he left in 1827 to become a taxidermist for the Zoological
Society. His first book was A Century of Birds from the Himalaya
Mountains (1832); this was followed by Birds of Europe,
published in parts between 1832 and 1837. He then began his Birds of
Australia, coming out to Tasmania in 1838 with his wife, Elizabeth, who
did most of the art-work, and his field worker, John Gilbert, later to
die of a spear wound on Leichhardt's northern expedition.
Gould stayed in the colonies until 1840, visiting South Australia,
and New South Wales, and sending Gilbert to Western Australia.
Unfortunately his wife, Elizabeth died in 1841 and Gould had to employ
other artists to paint from the specimens and sketches.
Gould continued to publish bird books, among them were books on the
humming-birds (1849-61), and The Birds of New Guinea (1875-88)
which featured the birds of paradise. He also produced The Mammals of
Meredith, Louisa Anne, 1812-1895.
Some of my bush
friends in Tasmania; native flowers, berries, and insects, drawn from
life, illustrated in verse, and briefly described by Louisa Anne
Meredith (London, Day & Son, 1860)
Louisa Meredith was married to Charles Meredith, a prominent
Tasmanian politician. Under her maiden name, Louisa Twamley, she wrote
several works for the gift book market, usually consisting of engravings
of scenery or natural history, often taken from her own sketches,
accompanied by letterpress description or poetry. She married Charles
Meredith, her cousin, in 1839 and accompanied him to New South Wales.
There he suffered substantial financial losses, and, after two years,
went to Tasmania, where his father was already an established
Mrs. Meredith wrote Notes and Sketches of New South Wales, an
account of the their stay in that colony. Its most memorable passages
are perhaps those which describe their difficult journey over the Blue
Mountains to Bathurst.
When in Tasmania she wrote books of her experiences in that colony
and, in Over the Straits, of her journey to Victoria. She also
wrote children's books, and produced lavishly illustrated books of
natural history. On display we see one of her fine, colour-plate books.
She was an accomplished artist as well as a good writer, and had an
extensive knowledge of botany.
Bentham, George, 1800-1884.
Flora australiensis : a
description of the plants of the Australian Territory / George
Bentham ; assisted by Ferdinand Mueller. (London : L. Reeve, 1863-78) 7
v. bound as 19.
This is a unique set of Flora Australiensis. It contains
numerous original illustrations, both in colour and black and white,
with manuscript notes, some of which are in Von Mueller's hand. It has
been argued that this was Von Mueller's own set illustrated with field
sketches of the plants.
Baron Ferdinand Von Mueller was the Victorian Government Botanist
from 1852 until 1884, and the Director of the Botanical Gardens from
1857 to 1873.
Mueller, Ferdinand von, 1825-1896.
collections of Australian plants under the auspices of the Victorian
Government, (Melbourne, John Ferres, Government Printer, 1873)
As part of the duties of the Government Botanist Von Mueller prepared
folios of plant specimens for distribution to schools to support the
teaching of botany. Surviving sets are extremely rare.
Photographs illustrating the earliest times of New South Wales
[picture-album]. (Sydney : Charles Potter, Government Printer,
This elaborately-bound, large folio volume was for presentation to
visiting dignitaries. It included copies of many of the early images of
the colony, taken from the "first fleet journals", as well as such early
artists as J. Skinner Prout. The volume also contains copies of early
photographs which show prominent members of Sydney society.
The volume is open at a "View at Rose Hill", Parramatta, from
Hunter's Journal, and a "Direct south view of the town of Sydney", taken
from Collins's Journal.
Barrington, George, 1755-1804.
A voyage to Botany
Bay : with a description of the country, manners, customs, religion,
&c. of the natives / by the celebrated George Barrington.
(London : Sold by H.D. Symonds, [1795?])
[Barrington, George, 1755-1804. Attrib.]
By a Gentleman of Leicester", in Annual Register
for the year
1801. (London, W. Otridge [et al], 1802)
Barrington was perhaps the best-known of the convicts to be
transported during the early years of the colony. He was transported for
seven years for stealing a watch and arrived in Sydney in August 1791.
He was appointed head constable at Parramatta in May 1792 and was given
a conditional pardon by Governor Phillip in November of the same year.
Phillip and Hunter were both full of praise for the way Barrington
carried out his duties. The Voyage to Botany Bay, and the later
History of New South Wales (1802) which appeared over his name
were simply compilations drawn together by unscrupulous London
publishers, having been worked-up by a hack writer, possibly F. G.
Waldron, from the first fleet journals.
Barrington is also credited with having written a prologue said to
have been recited at the opening of the first playhouse in Sydney on 16
January 1796. It contains the famous lines,
True patriots all, for be it understood,
We left our
country for our country's good.
These were apparently spoken by Barrington, but written by Henry
Carter. It first appeared in the Annual Register for 1801 (p.
516), with the heading, "On opening the Theatre, at Sydney, Botany Bay,
to be spoken by the celebrated Mr. Barrington."
- MacArthur, James, 1798-1867.
New South Wales, its
present state and future prospects : being a statement, with documentary
evidence, submitted in support of petitions to His Majesty and
Parliament. (London : D. Walther, 1837)
James Macarthur was the son of John Macarthur, of Camden Park, the
founder of the Australian wool industry. James was prominent in attempts
to halt transportation and encourage voluntary immigration. New South
Wales, its present state and future prospects, written in fact by
Edward Edwards, was an attempt to put this case in England.
It includes the following description of contemporary Sydney, taken
from an article in John Dunmore Lang's newspaper, The Colonist of
22 December 1836,
In what sense can we convey to our friends in the mother
country, without provoking their laughter at our supposed vanity and
exaggeration, an adequate idea of Sydney? If we tell them that we have
here shops and dwelling-houses which in point of dimensions, of
architectural taste, and of internal elegance, are equal to those of the
first-rate towns in England, and to some of the respectable private
edifices in London - that our building-ground is selling at the rate of
several thousands of pounds per acre, and in some instances, has
realized higher prices than are attached to the best stands in Cheapside
- that our citizens are charioted along in a splendour of equipage
little inferior to what is beheld in Hyde Park in the fashionable
hey-day of that magnificent resort of British rank and fashion; -- we
shall tell them nothing more than the sober truth, and yet we shall tell
them what they will not or cannot believe. (p. 203-204)
The "General map of Australia" published with this book shows the
contemporary extent of the Australian colonies.
- Lang, John Dunmore, 1799-1878.
An historical and
statistical account of New South Wales : both as a penal settlement and
as a British colony / by John Dunmore Lang. (London : Cochrane and
M'Crone, 1834) 2 v.
John Dunmore Lang is the figure most often associated with attempts
to encourage immigration to Australia. Lang was a Scottish Presbyterian
clergyman who arrived in Sydney on 23 May 1823. He returned to Britain
several times over the next fifty years, often with a view to personally
organizing parties of emigrants. The first such group, of "Scottish
mechanics" and their families emigrated in 1831.
Lang wrote his Historical and statistical account of New South
Wales during his 1833 voyage back to England. By 1874 it had run to
four successive revised editions. His description of Sydney was couched
in glowing terms perhaps because one of the objectives of the book was
to encourage settlement.
The capital of the colony, and the seat of the colonial
government is Sydney. The town of Sydney is beautifully situated on
Sydney Cove, one of the numerous and romantic inlets of Port Jackson,
about seven miles from the entrance of the harbour.
Many of the most interesting localities on the shores of Port
Jackson, between Sydney and the Heads, are in the hands of private
proprietors; and the richly and endlessly diversified beauties of
nature, which they uniformly exhibit, are in some instances enhanced by
the manner in which they appear contrasted with the tasteful habitations
of men. Several neat cottages have been erected by the pilots of Sydney,
on a sandy beach immediately behind the South Head. A little nearer the
town is the picturesque cottage of Vaucluse, the residence of Mr.
Wentworth the barrister; and somewhat nearer still is the splendid villa
of Point Piper, formerly the residence of Captain Piper, naval officer
of the colony. On Woolloomoolloo Hill, an elevated projection of the
land, situated between Woolloomoolloo and Elizabeth Bays, about a mile
from Sydney on the same side of the harbour, most of the civil officers
of the colony have built houses of respectable appearance, on allotments
granted them for the purpose by the late Governor, the view of which
from the water is highly interesting and enlivening. And on the opposite
side of the harbour, or what is called the North Shore, a few handsome
cottages have also been erected, besides wharfs and stores belonging to
merchants in Sydney connected with the fisheries and the New Zealand
trade. (p. 273-175)
The volume is open at a map of New South Wales showing the settled
districts by the early 1830s.
- Mudie, James. 1779-1852.
The felonry of New South Wales :
being a faithful picture of the real romance of life in Botany Bay, with
anecdotes of Botany Bay society and a plan of Sydney / by James
Mudie. (London : Printed for the author by Whaley and co., 1837)
James Mudie was infamous in Sydney in Governor Bourke's time, the
early 1830s, for his savage treatment of the convicts assigned to him
and for the harsh sentences he handed down from the bench, where he
served as a magistrate. There were court cases, angry pamphlets and an
investigation by the Governor, the result of which was that Mudie was
not re-appointed as magistrate, sold his property and returned to
England. The Felonry of New South Wales is an attack on the
colonial society he had left behind. It made him many more enemies than
he already had, and when he, very ill-advisedly, returned to the colony
in 1840, he was horse-whipped by the son of Judge Kinchela whom he had
maligned in the book.
- Bonwick, James, 1817-1906.
John Batman : the
founder of Victoria / by James Bonwick. 2nd ed. (Melbourne :
Fergusson and Moore, 1868)
- Bonwick, James, 1817-1906.
/ by James Bonwick. (London : Sampson Low, Marston,
Searle, & Rivington, 1883)
The inhabitants of Van Diemen's Land, as Tasmania was called until
1855, began in the 1820s to look across Bass Strait at the fertile, and
unoccupied land around Port Phillip. Descriptions of the countryside
there were well-known from the sealers who frequented the southern
shores of the Port Phillip district.
John Batman was a prosperous farmer in north-eastern Tasmania who
founded the Port Phillip Association with some Tasmanian businessmen. He
across the Strait on an exploratory expedition in 1835, landing in Port
Phillip, near the present site of Geelong, on 29th May. After examining
the country there, he sailed on to where Williamstown is now situated.
He then made a circuit to the north and the east of the present site of
Melbourne. On his return to Hobson's Bay, on the 6th June he met with
the aborigines and had them sign two deeds, one, the "Grant of the
territory called Dutigalla" i.e. the "Melbourne Deed"; the other, the
"Grant of the territory called Geelong", the "Geelong Deed". The former
was for 500,000 acres, the latter for 100,000 acres. The natives made
their marks and Batman took the deeds back to Tasmania, hoping that the
government would recognise them. This was not without precedent. The
deeds had been modelled on William Penn's deed with the North American
Indians through which he obtained Pennsylvania. The Colonial
authorities, not surprisingly, refused to ratify the deeds. The Port
Phillip Association was, however, allowed £7000 compensation in April
On 8th June Batman wrote in his diary,
The boat went up the large river I have spoken of which
comes from the east, and, I am glad to state, about six miles up found
the river all good water and very deep. This will be the place for a
village. The natives on shore. (Bonwick, Port Phillip Settlement, p. 189)
Batman returned to Tasmania, leaving some of his people behind to
establish their claim to the land
John Pascoe Fawkner's party arrived on 29th August and began to build
a settlement. From the first there was a dispute as to who founded
Melbourne. As Batman died in 1839, soon after the first settlement,
Fawkner's adherents have tended to carry the day. Fawkner was a very
active citizen of Melbourne and was a determined self-promoter, but it
is incontrovertible that Batman, acting as an emissary for the Port
Phillip Association, was the first to explore the area with the express
purpose of settlement
Both Batman and Fawkner came from Tasmania, and their involvement in
the enterprise led to a flood of settlers from across Bass Strait.
- Morgan, John, 1792-1866.
The life and adventures of
William Buckley : thirty-two years a wanderer amongst the aborigines of
the then unexplored country round Port Phillip, now the province of
Victoria / by John Morgan. (Hobart : Archibald MacDougall, 1852)
- Bonwick, James, 1817-1906.
William Buckley : the
wild white man, and his Port Phillip black friends / by James
Bonwick. (Melbourne : Geo. Nichols, 1856)
As referred to above, Batman left some of his men at Port Phillip
when he returned to Launceston. They camped at Indented Head, on the
western shore of the bay. Early in July they were surprised when a tall
white man came out of the bush with a group of aborigines. At first he
could not remember any words of English, but gradually remembered his
native tongue. Buckley was a convict who had escaped from Collins's settlement
at Sorrento in 1803, and had lived since then with a tribe
around Barwon Heads.
From all accounts Buckley was not very bright, but was able to convey
some interesting information about the aborigines he had known so well.
Morgan's account is particularly detailed, being the result of long
sessions with Buckley, listening to him reminisce about his life. He
spoke of the customs of the tribe with whom he lived and tells of their
belief in such creatures as the bunyip.
On the first occasion where he mentions the bunyip, he relates that
he and his aboriginal friends had camped on the edge of a lake,
"Moodewarri", and were feeding on the large eels found there,
In this lake, as well as in most of the others inland
and in the deep water rivers, is a very extraordinary amphibious animal,
which the natives call Bunyip, of which I could never see any part,
except the back, which appeared to be covered with feathers of a dusky
grey colour. It seemed to be about the size of a full grown calf, and
sometimes larger; the creatures only appear when the weather is very
calm and the water smooth. (p. 48)
He later in the narrative gives details of the aborigines'
superstitions regarding the bunyip. (see p. 108-110)
- Murray, Robert Dundas.
A summer at Port Phillip
/ by Robert Dundas Murray. Edinburgh : William Tait, 1843.
- Clutterbuck, James Bennett.
Port Phillip in 1849
/ by James Bennett Clutterbuck (nine years resident in the colony).
(London : John W. Parker, 1850)
There are few early first-hand accounts of pre-goldrush Victoria. The
first and most famous is George Arden's Latest information with
regard to Australia Felix, the finest province of the great territory of
New South Wales (Melbourne, 1840). However, as we possess only a
facsimile of that work, we have on display two other early accounts. The
first gives details of a visit to Melbourne in 1841. Murray comments
favourably on the grid-pattern of the streets as laid-out by Robert
Hoddle in 1837, but he adds,
Unlike the uniformity that prevails in the arrangement
of the streets, there is enough of irregularity in the construction and
size of the houses themselves to satisfy a lover of the picturesque.
Looking down Collins Street, the principal thoroughfare, the eye
encounters every variety of building, from the brick house of three
storys, to the low tenement of wood, only a few degrees superior to a
booth at a village fair. Here and there in the line occurs a gap not yet
filled up, where, perhaps a shattered relic of the primeval forest shows
a few green leaves; or, more melancholy still, displays a ticket which
testifies, that here there is "ground to sell." (p. 12)
Trollope remarked on a similar mixture of buildings still in the
centre of Melbourne over thirty years later.
Murray was impressed by Melbourne and the district in general. He
went up country to stay for a while on a property and extolls the "wild
freedom" of the pastoral life,
With what feelings must the change be welcomed by the
youth lately emancipated from some of the mercantile dungeons of London
or Liverpool, and now free to range over the little domain he calls his
own; his hours, his movements, and his will, for the first time, at his
sole disposal. (p. 238)
Perhaps the most interesting passage to modern researchers concerns
the plight of the aborigines. He devotes several pages to this; I will
quote only briefly,
Every station is subject to the visits of the
aborigines, who still cling to the haunts where they have been reared,
despite of the intrusion of the white man and his flocks, whose
presence, and especially the spreading numbers of the latter speedily
scare away the game that formed the principal means of subsistence
before the arrival of the colonists.
Since the occupation of the
district, their numbers have rapidly decreased.
The early settlers,
that is to say those who landed some eight years ago, speak of having
been visited, and occasionally molested, by numerous bands, of whom none
but a feeble remnant now traverse their ancient territories. The causes
of this sudden diminution, within so short a period, we have no means of
The introduction of European diseases, their own
internal dissensions, together with a change of food, - these are the
causes assigned by those who have undertaken to solve this question; but
however valid they may be in accounting for the gradual extinction of
the race, it is scarcely possible that these alone are the causes of
that mortality which has descended with such violence on some tribes as
to sweep nearly the whole of them into oblivion. I fear that a too
searching investigation into this matter would bring to light some
facts, redounding little to the credit of those who were the first to
lead their flocks among the "wild blacks."
If all tales be true, there
are certain spots in the province that have witnessed scenes in which
the white men have acted a cruel and remorseless part;
musket, at the dead of night, has not ceased to play upon its surprised
and helpless victims, until, one and all, they were stretched in death
where their pursuers found them; - the strong men of the tribe together
with the stripling - the mother beside her child! Of such atrocities
there are whispers afloat
Murray was a barrister; Clutterbuck, a doctor. The former was
accepted into the inner circle of Port Phillip, the latter was not. This
difference colours their descriptions of the social events and the class
distinctions current at the time. Murray has much that is amusing to say
about the scandals and the back-biting, Clutterbuck's account is rather
A heterogeneous mixture of persons necessarily pervades
all newly-formed settlements. The "happy valley" is not to be found in
Melbourne, if its inhabitants collectively be taken as criteria of
harmony and sociability. The maxim usually adopted is "Nothing for
nothing." The number of really disinterested social entertainments given
in the Colony is, consequently exceedingly limited; but the spirit of
ostentation and competition exists to a pitiable and ludicrous extent
amongst a portion of the colonists. It is to be lamented, also, that
here, as elsewhere, the unmanly, (ay, and unwomanly too,)
artifices of slander and detraction are found. As in every land there is
an aristocracy and a democracy, even so in Port Phillip, the two grades
coexist; and here as in other countries also, the acquisition of wealth
is too generally accounted the chief passport to worldly distinction,
unless when its possessor is tainted with convictism. Men of talent, and
those who by birth, education and moral worth, are entitled to associate
with the higher circles, are here nonentities, unless a well-filled
purse be an accompaniment. (p. 64-65)
The Discovery of Gold.
- Hargraves, Edward Hammond, 1816-1891.
its gold fields : a historical sketch of the progress of the Australian
colonies, from the earliest times to the present day : with a particular
account of the recent gold discoveries and observations on the present
aspect of the land question : to which are added notices on the use and
working of gold in ancient and modern times and an examination of the
theories as to the sources of gold / by Edward Hammond Hargraves.
(London : H. Ingram, 1855)
Hargraves was the discoverer of gold in Australia. He had emigrated
to New South Wales in 1832, left for the Californian gold rush in 1849,
and returned without having had much success in January 1851. He had,
however, noticed that the countryside in California where gold was found
had a resemblance to the land around Bathurst, so he began to pan for
alluvial gold at Summer-Hill Creek near the town. He soon found several
ounces of gold. This he reported to the government and was able to claim
the reward of £500 on offer. This was later increased to £10,000 by a
grateful government. The area where the gold had been found, on 12
February 1851, was called Ophir. A rush began to the New South Wales
gold fields. Other significant finds were made at Turon River and Hill
End, but by late 1851 attention had turned towards Ballarat and Bendigo
in the newly independent colony of Victoria.
- MacKenzie, David, fl.1845-1852.
The gold digger : a
visit to the gold fields of Australia in February, 1852 : together with
much useful information for intending emigrants / by David
MacKenzie. (London : W.S. Orr, [ca. 1852])
Mackenzie was a graduate of Edinburgh University who was recruited by
John Dunmore Lang in 1834 to come to Sydney as a teacher in his
Australian College. He also invested in pastoral property and livestock
from which he made considerable profits. In 1845 he published The
Emigrant's guide or ten years practical experience in Australia. His
1852 account of life on the gold fields was also meant to be useful for
It includes a map showing "The gold regions of Victoria and New South
- Sherer, John, b. 1810.
The gold-finder of Australia
: how he went, how he fared, and how he made his fortune / edited by
John Sherer ; illustrated with forty-eight magnificent engravings from
authentic sketches taken in the colony. (London : Clarke, Beeton,
According to his own account, Sherer arrived in Melbourne in 1852,
struck it rich in Bendigo, and returned home where he penned this
colourful account. It is illustrated with engravings from S. T. Gill's
sketches, although these are nowhere credited. It appeared both in book
form and in twenty-four weekly numbers at a penny each.
Gold had been discovered in Victoria at Clunes in 1850, but not in
payable quantities. In August 1851 the first gold was discovered in the
Buninyong Ranges, near Ballarat, and the rush started. Gold was soon
found in large quantities at Bendigo, and Castlemaine
- Clacy, Charles, Mrs.
A lady's visit to the gold
diggings of Australia, in 1852-53 : written on the spot / by Mrs.
Charles Clacy. (London : Hurst and Blackett, 1853)
Mrs. Clacy went to the gold-fields with her brother and his friends
in 1852. She writes in a bright, lively style and gives a detailed
account of life on the diggings. The camaraderie, the conversations, the
luck and the anxiety it brings, fearing that your precious find will be
plundered, all these are described by Mrs. Clacy. Perhaps her lightness
of touch and her ability to impart useful information can be gauged from
Ballarat is a barren place, the ground is interspersed
with rocky fragments, the creek is small, and the good water rather
scarce. In summer it almost amounts to a drought, and what there is then
is generally brackish or stegnotic. It is necessary never to drink
stagnant water, or that found in holes, without boiling, unless there
are frogs in it, then the water is good; but the diggers usually boil
the water and add a drop of brandy, if they can get it. In passing
through the plains you are sure of finding water near the surface (or by
seeking a few inches) wherever the tea tree grows. (p. 205)
- A Visit to Australia and its gold regions / published
under the direction of the Committee of General Literature and
Education, appointed by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
(London : Printed for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge,
This popular account of Australia went into three editions by 1859.
It was meant to inform prospective emigrants. It drew its information
from various sources including letters home from diggers on the gold
fields. Here, for example, is some news of Buninyong, from a letter sent
by a "gentleman at Geelong",
The first Boninyong gold did not yield satisfactorily,
and a proclamation of his Excellency C. J. Latrobe, promising the
enforcement of thirty shillings-a-month licence, disturbed the diggers,
who spread over the neighbouring ranges, and by sheer accident hit upon
the finest gold field ever known, within six miles of the one they had
deserted, and in a continuation of the same range, on a sheep station
held by Alexander Tuille, Esq. The yield of this field from the
commencement was good. Individuals procured from a quarter of an ounce
to an ounce per day. The yield then rose to three and four ounces per
man, and the public were electrified by the news that three individuals
had found twenty-seven ounces in two hours. It is true; I know the men
and helped to weigh the gold. Within a fortnight there were 8,000 men at
Ballarat. Ballarat is the name of this gold field; it is the Ararat on
which the ark of Victoria rested, and saved the colony. Within a week of
this period the diggers turned out gold in pounds weight daily.
seen two shovels-full of earth yield 60l. worth of gold.
In one word,
gold is an ordinary article of merchandise; and men, clad in a blue
shirt and fustian trowsers, are bringing into Geelong hourly gold dust
and nuggets, wrapped up in rags, old stockings, pieces of handkerchiefs,
and such like, to the amount of thousands. Men are realizing from 300l.
to 400l. in three or four weeks, and many of my own acquaintance, who
had hardly a pound to bless themselves with three months ago, are now
possessed of 700l. and 800l. a-piece. (p. 178-179)
Two points referred to in this passage are particularly significant.
The resentment aroused by Governor Latrobe's imposition of a licence fee
dated from the first rush in 1851, and only came to a head in 1854 at
the Eureka Stockade; and the unsettling nature of wealth suddenly
acquired by people who would normally have to work for several years to
earn such amounts. It soon became impossible to hire tradesmen, and in
another letter quoted further on in the same chapter (p. 181-182) we are
given a picture of the shortage of printers and compositors in
Melbourne, the result of everyone leaving for the diggings.
Read, C. Rudston. (1818-1854)
What I heard, saw,
and did at the Australian gold fields / by C. Rudston Read. (London
: T. & W. Boone, 1853)
The historian Ernest Scott considered this to be the best description
of the gold fields. It is accompanied by coloured engravings of the
Turon River gold field and the diggings at Castlemaine and Bendigo. The
title-page vignette shows a "Turon widow" saying good-bye to her
Read was a naval officer who had resigned in 1849 to emigrate to New
Zealand. In September he went to Sydney and joined the rush to the Turon
field. He was unsuccessful, and went on to Mount Alexander in Victoria.
He was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Crown lands at Forest Creek,
near Castlemaine, where one of his duties was to collect the gold
licence fee. That he was able to do so and still remain generally
popular says much for his amiability. He later wrote against the licence
scheme. He was transferred to Bendigo where he became a police
magistrate. In 1853 he returned to England where he published this
account of his experiences. He died suddenly in 1854.
His book is especially rich in day-to-day anecdotes complete with
Read had a high opinion of Americans who had come to the Australian
diggings, after the waning of the rush in California.
During the whole time I was at the Australian gold
fields, I never recollect an American being brought up either for
robbery or anything else disreputable (unless it was for not having a
licence, and that but seldom), they generally seemed to keep together,
and if people left them alone, they would not interfere with anybody,
but if others would make themselves obnoxious, they might rest assured
they were awkward customers to deal with; whenever I had to settle a
dispute between an American and any other nation, the former were
invariably in the right, and I only wish all gold diggers would listen
to reason as well as they would, and doubtless many squabbles would be
prevented; there was a dislike generally to them, on account of the
manner in which any one almost was treated, who went from Australia to
California; certainly nothing would be more likely to occur than such a
feeling, considering that every one who went from the Australian
colonies to that El Dorado, no matter who he was, or what he was, was
looked upon as a "Sydneyite," which was an insinuation that he was a
convict, or had been one, or descended from one, at all events he must
be connected, more or less, with convictism. (p. 191)
- Newman, William.
Rhymes and pictures, to illustrate
the histories of a scuttle of coals, a bale of cotton, and a golden
sovereign / by William Newman. (London : Grifith and Farran,
This item consists of three children's books issued together with a
uniform title page. It is open at the third of these, The History of
a Golden Sovereign in rhymes and pictures. The fine, hand-coloured
engravings show the miners at work as the gold starts out on its journey
from Ballarat to the Royal Mint.
- Victoria. Colonial Secretary's Office.
correspondence respecting American citizens who were supposed to have
participated in the late riots at Ballaarat [i.e. Ballarat] / laid
upon the Council table by the Colonial Secretary ...and ordered to be
printed 7th March 1855. (Melbourne : John Ferres, Govt. Printer,
This paper for the Victorian Legislative Council prints an exchange
of letters between James M. Tarleton, the American Consul in Melbourne
and J. H. Kay, Governor Hotham's Private Secretary. The "late riots at
Ballaarat" were part of the worsening situation there with the miners
forming a league against the imposition of miner's licences. These riots
in October 1854 centred on the Eureka Hotel which was burnt down on 17
October. The US Consul assured the Governor that no Americans were
involved, but Hotham, through his secretary informed the Consul that in
fact "the leader of this movement is a young American." (p. 2) This was
apparently James McGill, and Irish-American who was prominent in the
"Independent Californian Rangers Revolver Brigade", an offshoot of the
Californian Rangers, who had banded together on the Ballarat field with
the intention of assisting in the struggle for an Australian republic.
The Eureka disturbances took place over about a week between 27
November and 3 December 1854, when the stockade was attacked by troopers
and mounted police. Six government men were killed along with twenty-two
- Marsland, L. W.
The Charters Towers gold mines : a
descriptive and historical account of the town and gold field of
Charters Towers, Queensland : with full and detailed particulars of the
more important mines, and of all mining companies carrying on operations
on the field : being a handbook of Charters Towers and a guide to mining
investors / compiled by L.W. Marsland. (London : Waterlow Bros.
& Layton, 1892)
In the late 1860s and early 1870s attention turned to Queensland when
gold was discovered at Gympie, Mount Morgan, the Palmer River, and
Charters Towers. The frontispiece shows some of the mines with the town
in the background; an uninviting prospect, although Charters Towers
became a prosperous town and is still notable for its fine Victorian
- Schmeisser, Karl, b. 1855.
The gold-fields of
Australasia / by Karl Schmeisser ; assisted by Karl Vogelsang ;
translated by Henry Louis. [Goldfelder Australasiens. English]
(London : Macmillan, 1898)
By the end of the century the major gold fields in Victoria had
become deep-lead mining operations; the alluvial gold had been
panned-out. Gold was discovered in Western Australia in 1892 and 1893.
There was an immediate rush from the east. Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie
were the main centres. This rush helped establish Western Australia as a
viable economic unit after the granting of self-government in 1890.
The fold-out frontispiece to Schmeisser's book shows Coolgardie in
the late 1890s. Like Charters Towers, it was a shanty-town set up in the
middle of a desolate plain.
- Lang, John Dunmore, 1799-1878.
The Country hitherto designated Port Phillip : its present condition and
prospects, as a highly eligible field for emigration / by John
Dunmore Lang. (Edinburgh : Thomas Constable, 1847)
- Lang, John Dunmore, 1799-1878.
Australia : a highly eligible field for emigration, and the future
cotton-field of Great Britain: with a disquisition on the origin,
manners, and customs of the Aborigines / by John Dunmore Lang.
(London, Edward Stanford, 1861)
One of the main promoters of emigration to Australia was a
Presbyterian minister, the Rev. John Dunmore Lang. He tirelessly
canvassed support in Britain for his emigration schemes and wrote many
books and pamphlets intended to encourage people, particularly Scottish
"mechanics", i.e. tradesmen, to take the step.
- MacKenzie, David, fl. 1845-1852.
Ten years in
Australia / by the Rev. David Mackenzie. (London : William S. Orr
and Co., 1851)
As noted above, (item 38), Mackenzie was one of Lang's proteges,
although he, like many others, had fallen out with the Reverend Doctor.
When Lang returned from one of his trips back to Britain and found that
Mackenzie was paying more attention to his sheep and cattle interests
than to the teaching at Lang's College in Sydney, he called Mackenzie a
"clerical drover", and claimed that he was "absent three months
together, visiting his stations, while the institution was left to take
its chance". (see the entry for Mackenzie in the Australian
Dictionary of Biography, vol. 2, p. 172-173)
Ten Years in Australia was a re-working of Mackenzie's
earlier Emigrant's Guide (1845).
The final chapter is a summary of direct advice on how to prepare for
the voyage, how to survive the journey, and what to do on arrival.
Newly-arrived emigrants are liable to be attacked by
dysentery. But it is easy to guard against it by taking the following
precautions:-"spare diet, very gentle exercise, using no stimulants and
occasionally taking some laxative medicine."
Immediately on the arrival of a ship with emigrants, a number of
citizens and settlers, or their agents, go on board to hire the people.
The persons who generally remain longest disengaged are families
consisting partly of very young children, who, instead of being any use
to the settler, only occupy the time of the mothers, consume rations,
and supply the establishment with vocal music. The emigrants who are
most readily engaged are single females to act as house-servants. There
is often a scramble for them. The great scarcity of female servants in
this colony is owing chiefly to the readiness with which they get
married. A large proportion of the girls that emigrate to Australia are
comfortably married within a twelvemonth of their arrival.
I now warn you that very few persons, on their first arrival in any
new colony, relish their situation. The transition is too violent. They
feel themselves as if helpless and abandoned on a foreign shore; and
hence many individuals, if they had only the means, would gladly retrace
their steps, without giving the colony a fair trail. Guard on your
arrival against this general feeling of gloom and despondency. Doubtless
you will here meet some faint-hearted people who see a lion in the path
wherever they go, and who, like the spies sent by Moses to view the land
of Canaan, would throw every obstacle in the way of emigrants.
Carter, C. R. (Charles Rooking), 1822-1896.
Victoria, the British "El Dorado", or, Melbourne in 1869 :
shewing the advantages of that colony as a field for emigration / by
a Colonist of twenty years' standing and late member of a colonial
legislature. (London : E. Stanford, 1870)
In his "Preface" Carter explains why he wrote this book. On returning
from Victoria to Britain in 1870 he had found that the old country was
in a poor state economically, and that although "the question of
emigration is receiving an amount of public attention not bestowed upon
it at any former period within my memory", (p. vi) and the colonies were
being constantly discussed, there was a general lack of knowledge as to
the real conditions in Australia.
The minds of thousands of artizans, labourers, and
others thrown out of employment, were turned towards emigration as the
only effective agency for providing what may be termed (in a
non-parochial sense) "permanent out-door relief" for the surplus
population of the Empire. (p. vii).
Carter's book is an attempt to inform people as to the great
opportunities in Victoria, although he takes pains to be objective and
to show "the dark as well as the bright surface." (p. viii) His book is
notable for the vivid descriptions of the eastern Market on Saturday
night, the theatre crowds and the Chinese quarter.
Ballantyne, James, 1818-1896.
Homes and homesteads
in the land of plenty : a handbook of Victoria as a field for
emigration / by the Rev. James Ballantyne. (London ; Paris ; New
York : Cassell, Petter, and Galpin ; Melbourne : Mason, Firth and
As with Carter a couple of years before him, the Rev. Ballantyne
wrote in the hopes of encouraging emigration to Victoria. He sets out
his reasons as "beliefs", in point form in the "Preface",
I believe that to multitudes the avenues to competence
in life, and even to desirable comfort, are choked up in the Home
country. Its cities are over-crowded, and the inevitable result must be
I believe that there is room in Victoria for all who choose to come.
Its broad plains are sufficiently ample to become homes of millions of
people. (p. 5)
Among the chapters we find one describing "Men who are wanted" and
another on, "Men who are not wanted." The latter includes the following
Men of Utopian ideas -- Men wanting in the quality of accommodation
- Men of extravagant expectations - Men whose dependence is
on luck - Young men who live fast - Men without energy.
Baden-Powell, George, 1847-1898.
New homes for the
old country : a personal experience of the political and domestic life,
the industries, and the natural history of Australia and New Zealand
/ by George S. Baden-Powell. (London : Richard Bentley, 1872)
Baden-Powell's book is a valuable source of contemporary detail, not
only in its descriptions, but also for the fine and unusual engravings.
The frontispiece shows an aboriginal stalking emus. He has camouflaged
himself with shrubbery and has his arm upraised to mimic the emu's neck.
The title-page vignette shows two platypuses in a bush pool.
In common with the other books written to encourage emigration, it
describes the various industries thriving in Australia. The wine
industry was already becoming established and Baden-Powell has some
observations and advice,
There are various industries more or less common
up-country in the several colonies, foremost among which stands the
production of wine.
Climate and soil are all that can be desired, and it therefore
depends entirely on man to render wine a source of future prosperity to
the Australian world.
The proper drink of a country, of the climate and soil of Australia,
is a light wine, which should be saleable at about twopence or
threepence per half-pint.
It will be a great object when Australia can supply the market with a
dependable wine, Russia, England, and the United States are great
markets for any good wine; and the numerous passenger vessels trading to
Australia might well be supplied for the voyage in Sydney or Melbourne
instead of being stored with wines from Europe.
Champagne, rapidly becoming an essential medicine, is a species of
wine that would do well in Australia.
Very good wine is already made
in Australia, but by far the greater proportion is taken too little care
of; and again, it is drunk as if it were a strong brandied wine (as port
or sherry), in small glasses and at about the same price. Whereas it is
evident that the want of the country is a light wine, of similar
strength and price to beer. (p. 213-216)
Great Britain. Emigrants' Information Office.
Professional handbook, dealing with professions in the
colonies. [No. 11] (London : H.M.S.O., 1893)
This was part of a series of emigrants guides published in the 1890s;
one for each colony, i.e. Canada, the African colonies, the West Indies,
as well as each Australian colony.
The professions covered include, as well as architects, lawyers,
doctors, dentists, teachers and veterinary surgeons, such occupations as
auctioneer, clergyman, governess, nurse, and policeman.
Three years in Melbourne / by
Clara Aspinall. (London : L. Booth, 1862)
Clara Aspinall was the sister of Butler Cole Aspinall, a Melbourne
barrister who made his name defending those arrested at the Eureka
Stockade. Clara arrived to join her brother in March 1858, returning to
England in 1861. Her remarks as to the responses she received when
telling people she had been to Australia, offer an interesting
side-light on contemporary attitudes to the colonies.
Since my return home, I have noticed lovely English
girls opening their eyes with amazement when the heard that I had been
spending three years in Australia, and seeming to wonder how I could
possibly be looking in such high spirits and health after going through
the terrible ordeal of transportation! And the first question they have
asked me has always been, "But are they not very rough in Australia?"
upon which I have told them there certainly are rough people in the
colony, who baffle all description, and to be met with too at
entertainments given by the most distinguished colonial magnates; but,
at the same time, I have assured them that there are some in the colony
upon whom even they might be induced to smile; and then I have attempted
to describe, perhaps, some squatter or Government officer, standing over
six feet high, with long and artistically woven beard, and
well-organised moustache. After the fashion of the King of Sardinia, in
the "Illustrated News". (p. 32-33)
Her prose style is wry and a little satirical, but she also gives
sensible lists of the prices of food, clothes and general living
expenses, including, most interestingly, the cost of transport in these
pre-motor car days..
- Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882.
Tasmania / by Anthony Trollope. New ed. [Australia and New
Zealand. Selections] (London : Chapman and Hall, 1875)
- Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882.
South Australia and
Western Australia / by Anthony Trollope. New ed. [Australia and New
Zealand. Selections] (London : Chapman and Hall, 1875)
- Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882.
New South Wales and
Queensland / by Anthony Trollope. New ed. [Australia and New
Zealand. Selections] (London : Chapman and Hall, 1875)
Perhaps the most famous writer to visit Australia in the nineteenth
century was Anthony Trollope. He came to Australia in 1871 to visit his
son who had settled on the land in New South Wales. Trollope always
produced a travel book for each of his trips, e.g. to the West Indies,
South Africa, North America. While in Australia he also gathered
material for two novels, Harry Heathcote of Gangoil and John
He was impressed with Melbourne which he considered "the undoubted
capital not only of Victoria but of all Australia", but his most famous
observation was of the tendency of the colonials to "blow", i.e to
They blow a good deal in Queensland, they blow loudly in
New South Wales, but the blast of the trumpet as heard in Victoria is
louder than all the blasts - and the Melbourne blast beats all the other
blowing of that proud colony. (Victoria and Tasmania, p.
While most English tourists who visited the colonies circulated from
one capital to the next, Trollope was a very thorough traveller. He made
a point of going to as many towns as possible. In Victoria for example,
he visited Walhalla, then a thriving goldrush town, from where he
traversed a series of rough tracks over the ranges behind the town to
It was a long and arduous journey on horseback, with a mounted
policeman as guide. Trollope had a recurrent theme in his writings, and
he referred to it often in his travel accounts as well as in his novels;
the question of who is a gentleman, and who is not. On his ride to Woods
Point, his mind ran along this familiar track,
We are apt to separate men into two classes, -- and
define each man by saying that he is or that he is not a gentleman. This
man was a private policeman. Had I not known the fact, I should have
taken him for a gentleman. Even as it is I rather think that I regard
him in that light. He was a fine, powerful fellow, well mannered, able
to talk on all subjects, extremely courteous, -- and he amused us
greatly by explaining to us why it was that a policeman must be always
more than a match for at any rate two rogues. He was an Irishman, -- of
course. In the colonies those who make money are generally Scotchmen,
and those who do not are mostly Irishmen. He had probably come out
because his family could do nothing for him at home. (Victoria and
Tasmania, p. 32)
Froude, James Anthony, 1818-1894.
England and her colonies / by James Anthony Froude. New ed. London :
(Longmans, Green, 1886)
Froude was hailed by the press on his arrival in Australia early in
the New Year of 1885 as "the most eminent man of letters that has ever
visited our shores". He was a prominent historian, best-remembered now
as Carlyle's editor, biographer, and literary executor.
His Oceana begins by referring back to Sir James Harrington's
work of the same name, published in 1656. Harrington was a republican
writing during Cromwell's time. In Oceana he advocated a
commonwealth, and Froude was putting forward his own interpretation of
the "commonwealth" model as the future for the British empire.
He visited South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and various Pacific
countries in his voyage round the world in 1885.
As with all traveller's accounts the details of the privations
suffered often provide the most entertaining reading. In Melbourne he
visited the Botanical Gardens, but was pestered by flies,
of all sizes and hues, who were in millions, and who,
like the giant in "Jack and the beanstalk", "smell the smell of an
Englishman," and fasten on him and devour him. A cigar would be remedy
but for the stern "No smoking allowed in these precincts." The gardeners
happily are more humane than their masters, and do not see the forbidden
thing when it is not flourished in their faces. With the help of tobacco
I contrived to protect myself and thus guarded I had a most charming
place to walk in all the time of my stay, and a great many curious
things to observe. (p. 88)
In Australia Froude detected "an American smartness
but it was
American with a difference." (p. 81) He was most struck by the
similarity of the colonies to Britain, rather than their differences.
His observations on the people allow us some insight into the
higher-class social circles in the colonies of the 1880s and
particularly their attitude to Britain,
Party followed party, and it was English life over
again: nothing strange, nothing exotic, nothing new or original, save
perhaps in greater animation of spirits. The leaves that grow on one
branch of an oak are not more like the leaves that grow upon another,
than the Australian swarm is like the hive it sprang from. All was the
same - dress, manners, talk, appearance. The men were quite as sensible,
the women as pretty, and both as intelligent and agreeable. I could not
help asking myself what, after all, is the meaning of uniting the
colonies more closely to ourselves. They are closely united; they are
ourselves; and can separate only in the sense that parents and children
separate, or brothers and sisters; and until symptoms have actually
appeared of a wish on our part to throw them off, or on theirs to desert
us, the very talk of such a thing ought not to be. Nor need any other
straiter bond exist between us
parents and children do not enter into
articles of compact. If the natural tie is not strong enough, no
mechanical tie will hold. And it is on account of this existing
relationship between us that the sting has lain of the late suggestion
of parting with the colonies. They have felt as a child would feel who
was trying to do his best, and was conscious that he was no discredit to
the family, yet was told by his father that the family had no wish to
keep him, and that the sooner he took himself off the better. It was
treating close kinsmen as if we acknowledged no relationship with them
except of interest, and kinsmen are apt to resent such unhuman
indifference. (p. 89)
- Guide for excursionists from Melbourne. (Melbourne : H.
- Guide for excursionists from Melbourne : dedicated to all in
search of health, recreation and pleasure. 2nd ed. (Melbourne :
These guides were compiled by James Hingston, who was later to become
famous as the author of The Australian abroad (1879). The cover
title of the 1868, first, edition is "Outs", the slang term then current
for "outings", or trips to tourist destinations. The table of contents
is arranged under headings such as, "Outs for fishing", "Outs for
Picnic", "Outs for shooting", "Outs for scenery", etc.
Under the heading, "Rural ramble and return by rail" we find details
of an outing to a country lane near Melbourne,
Wandering along one of the interminable straight roads
in the neighbourhood of the somewhat flat and uninteresting parish of
Caulfield, we reached a scrubby sort of common or waste wearing a most
uninviting aspect as to anything picturesque to be got out of it, and
followed a kind of track somewhat (we imagine) in a southerly direction
which ultimately brought us to what seemed in the distance to be a
corner with apparently no outlet: but which on closer inspection proved
to be a lane,
certainly too wide, but with hedges of gorse and patches
of gorse growing about it and within it, so that it resembled two or
three lanes rolled into one, and what it wanted in length had made up in
We at once made up our minds that it was, by far the nearest
approach to a lane we had discovered in this colony. Some cows, going
home to be milked, gave it quite a rural look: three or four country
urchins (not colonial town-bred boys) were roaming about; and, on
passing a gorse bush which stood up in the centre of the lane, we
disturbed a young couple sitting side by side on a bank. A most decided
case of rustic courtship, we shrewdly suspected, so we hurried on
quickly; and a little further down the lane we noticed one or two men
comfortably smoking their pipes in their gardens, who gave us a good,
long stare. Next we came to a large house and grounds: and, after
crossing a road, found ourselves in North Brighton, in the midst of a
sequestered little hamlet, having quite an old, countrified, and
long-before-the-gold-discovery look about it, with primitive cottages
and gardens in front full of fine old fruit-bearing trees, with a
watercourse running alongside, -- all very picturesque, very pleasant,
and very pretty; and in less than half an hour we were at the Bay Street
Station of the Brighton Railway, whence we took out tickets and
returned, highly delighted with our ramble. (p. 198-199)
- Wimpole, Frederick.
Wimpole's visitors' guide to
Melbourne, its suburbs, and interesting places of resort. (Melbourne
: A.H. Massina, 1881)
This guide was published primarily for sale to the visitors to
Melbourne for the 1880-1881 International Exhibition. Frederick Wimpole
was the proprietor of the George Hotel, opposite the railway terminus at
St. Kilda. The guide includes twelve "drives round Melbourne" by J. H.
"the racy correspondent of the Argus and the Australasian"; J. H.
being James Hingston. These drives take us as far afield as Keilor,
Dandenong, "Bulla Bulla", and Eltham, all of which are described in
- Excursionists' handbook / compiled by J.H. [James
Hingston?] of Huddart, Parker & Co. Ltd. ; copiously illustrated.
(Melbourne : Sands & McDougall, )
Although published in Melbourne, this guide-book covered all of
Australia. Huddart Parker was a steamship company involved in passenger
travel between the colonies. Each locality lists the hotels, and the
"Lions", or feature attractions, the town is noted for.
- Cook, Samuel.
The Jenolan caves : an excursion in
Australian wonderland / by Samuel Cook. (London : Eyre &
The Jenolan Caves are thought to have been discovered in 1838 by
James Whalan while he was involved in the search for a bushranger named
McKeown. This has been disputed, but it appears certain that the
earliest published references were in The Bathurst National
Advocate, 13 May 1848, and in the Bathurst Free Press, 30 April
1856. The caves were referred to as McKeown's Caves; they were later
called the Fish Creek Caves. The name was changed to Jenolan Caves on 19
August 1884, Jenolan being the Aboriginal word for the parish where they
are found. New caves in the labyrinth have continued to be discovered
into the 1950s. It was a popular tourist destination from the late 1840s
and considerable damage was done to the caves until the government took
control of them in 1866, and appointed a Keeper in 1867.
Illumination was originally provided by torches and candles, until
one cave was lit by electricity in 1880; the whole system being lit by
electric lights by 1894.
The chapters in this book originally appeared in the Sydney
Morning Herald. In his Preface, Cook writes,
Words are too poor to express the feelings of admiration and awe
which are experienced by those who wander through the marvellous
subterranean galleries embellished with myriads of graceful and delicate
tints and shades. Of all the caves in New South Wales those at Jenolan
are the most beautiful, and well-travelled men admit that they are
unrivalled in any other part of the world. As they are so little known
this book may be interesting, and serve to give some impression
concerning geological transformations and the slow processes of Nature
in the production of works at once so grand, ornate, and unique.
- Saville-Kent, W. (William), d. 1908.
Barrier Reef of Australia : its products and potentialities / by W.
Saville-Kent. (London : W.H. Allen, )
This lavish folio includes several spectacular chromo-lithograph
plates of the corals and the reef-fish. Saville-Kent was a marine
biologist with the British Museum. He refers in his Preface to the
ambition he formed when working with the coral exhibits in the Museum,
of seeing and describing these organisms in their live state.
The impressions which the actual sight of growing
coral-reefs yielded the author are here reproduced, with the fidelity
that photography alone can compass, for the benefit of those who,
possessing the desire, lack opportunity of making a personal
acquaintance with this fairy-land of fact.
The passage, and in particular the phrase "fairy-land of fact",
conveys to us the emotions of a scientist, enthusiastic about the beauty
of his subject yet intent on demonstrating that the reef is of great
practical use. His book makes much of the potentialities of fishing,
pearl diving, and cultivation of sponges, while arguing strongly for the
establishment of "biological stations" to facilitate study of the marine
biology of the Reef.
It was not until the early twentieth century that the Great Barrier
Reef began to be systematically developed as a tourist destination.
- Holmes, E. L.
A record of the pioneer trip of the
Thomson motor car : driven by H. Thomson (the inventor), accompanied by
E.L. Holmes / [E.L. Holmes] (Melbourne : Thomson Motor Car Ltd.,
The motor-car revolutionised tourism in Australia. Holmes's account
of his trip with Herbert Thomson from Bathurst to Melbourne, "493Ό
miles", was the first to be published here. Thomson, of Armadale in
Melbourne, was the pioneer of motor car manufacture in Australia, having
built his steam-powered "motor-phaeton" in 1896.
The account of the journey with the creeks to be forded and unmade
roads to be traversed makes nightmarish reading. Here is a section
headed "Bushed and bogged",
Our troubles then began in earnest, for it grows dark
amongst the hills and trees, and by six it was impossible to see more
than ten yards in front. Lighting our four lamps (two kerosene and two
Calcium Kings) we plodded on, making the best of it, until we came to a
chain of swamps. After sticking once or twice, we struck a dryer track,
but found that a heavily laden bullock waggon had lately passed over it,
sinking in places over a foot --in fact we came to several spots where
the wheels had been dug out. However we kept moving ahead, sometimes
leaving the car and inspecting the ground ahead of us, until at last
mistaking a sheet of water for good level ground, we stuck firmly up to
our front axles in mud and water. This was about 7 p.m., and I "moved"
that the car stay where it was until day-break, we, in the meantime,
camping in our coats and one rug. Thomson seconded my motion which was
declared unanimously carried, when presently we heard dogs barking, and
a man came upon the scene, having come from a drovers' camp half a mile
away, after seeing our lights. With the prospect of company for the
night, we rescinded our motion and set to work, over our boots in water,
and eventually succeeded in dislodging the car from where it had stuck,
we being covered in mud and perspiration. (p. 10)
The Tichborne Claimant
- A Literary & pictorial record of the Great Tichborne case:
containing a complete history of this cause cιlθbre, with numerous
engravings from sketches and photographs, reprinted from the Graphic,
and facsimile autographs of letters, now published for the first time.
[London : s.n., 1874]
- The Last move in the Tichborne Case [hand-coloured
engraving with moveable eyes] ([London], F. Arnold, [1874?])
- Rose, George, 1817-1882.
Mrs. Brown on the
Tichborne case / By Arthur Sketchley. (London : G. Routledge and
- Rose, George, 1817-1882.
Mrs. Brown on the
Tichborne defence / by Arthur Sketchley. (London : Routledge,
The case of the Tichborne Claimant was one of the most popular topics
of conversation in England and Australia throughout the 1870s. In August
1865 an advertisement had appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald
calling for information as to the whereabouts of Roger Tichborne,
heir to a baronetcy and family estates in Hampshire. He was feared to
have drowned off South America in 1854. His mother, Lady Tichborne,
refused to believe her son was dead and hoped he may have been rescued
and taken to Australia.
Arthur Orton (1834-98), a butcher in Wagga, living under the assumed
name of Thomas Castro, was encouraged by a local lawyer to answer the
advertisement. He was by all accounts, a plausible villain, and, on his
return to England convinced Lady Tichborne that he was indeed her son.
The rest of the family did not believe him, and his ignorance of many of
the details which it could be assumed that Roger Tichborne would know,
made the butcher's claims very dubious. There was a civil action in
1871-1872, which Orton lost. He was then accused of perjury, tried in
1873-1874, and sentenced to fourteen years jail, of which he served ten.
He left jail proclaiming his innocence, but, in April 1895 he published
a full confession in The People, a London magazine.
He was a charlatan to the end, making his living after his release
from jail as a music-hall turn who would go on stage and argue his case.
Shortly before he died he recanted the 1895 confession, but there were
few who did not believe he was a confidence trickster.
The two "yellowback" novels on display were part of a series
featuring Mrs. Brown, a working-class, Sarah Gamp type of character,
written by "Arthur Sketchley", the pen-name of George Rose. All the
dialogue was written phonetically to convey the London accent and speech
patterns of Mrs. Brown and her friends. Rose achieved great popularity
with Mrs. Brown, writing thirty-two novels in the series. He toured the
world giving readings, coming to Australia in 1879-1880.
- Sands & McDougall's Melbourne and suburban directory for
1885. (Melbourne : Sands & McDougall, 1884)
The Melbourne Directory began as the Sands and Kenny
Commercial and General Melbourne Directory in 1857 and ceased
publication in 1974. It is useful to researchers as it gives details of
the occupants of each house and business premises in Melbourne, has an
alphabetical sequence to enable us to find a person's address and gives
a list of people by occupation. Through consulting the directories one
is able, for example, to trace the changes in land-use in particular
localities over time.
The 1884 directory was issued at the height of the 1880s boom in
Melbourne; it has, as an additional feature, a series of plans and
elevations of typical single-and double-storey cottages and terrace
houses which were at that time being built by speculators.
- Butler & Brooke's national directory of Victoria for
1866-67; including a correct and complete map of the colony, and the
Victorian yearly advertiser. (Melbourne : Butler & Brooke,
This was the predecessor of Bailliere's Post Office Directory of
Victoria. It was broader in its coverage than the Sands &
McDougall Directory, until their Melbourne Directory
merged with the Post Office Directory in 1912.
- Whitworth, Robert P. (Robert Percy), 1831-1901.
Bailliere's Queensland gazetteer and road guide ... /
compiled by Robt. P. Whitworth. (Brisbane : F.F. Bailliere, 1876)
Most states had their Gazetteer, listing all the cities and towns and
giving details such as their population and services. This one also has
a list of the pastoral runs and the lessees.
- The Australian handbook and almanac and shippers' and
importers' directory for 1875. (London : Gordon and Gotch, 1874)
The Australian Handbook began in 1870 and ran until 1906. It
was primarily for the business sector and contained much of the
information included in the Gazetteers and the commercial clients from
the Directories. The later volumes were copiously illustrated with
large-scale maps and street plans of the major cities. This volume is
open at a map which shows the telegraph service linking Australia to the
rest of the world in 1875.
- Directory for shires & road boards in Victoria, 1866.
(Geelong : Heath & Cordell, )
This was the predecessor of the Victorian Municipal Directory.
It gave information on all areas of the colony, including the
population, postal services, distance from Melbourne, and a list of
local officers and councillors.
We have a large collection of pamphlets from all periods, including
nineteenth century Australian publications. Much of the immediate parry
and thrust of public life was carried on through pamphlet warfare. If
someone wanted to promote a scheme for the general good, he would publish
a pamphlet. John Dunmore Lang was undoubtedly the pre-eminent pamphleteer
in the Australian colonies, but we have examples from many other pens.
- Authentic particulars of the dreadful wreck of the Stirling
Castle, and horrible treatment of the crew by savages : with the
interesting life, wonderful adventures, and horrid sufferings of Mrs.
Frazer as related by herself before the Lord Mayor of London.
(Bideford : Printed and sold by J. Wilson, [1837?])
This is an example of a "chap-book". We have a large collection of
these. They were sold by "chapmen" who would go from town to town
hawking their wares at the markets. This story is of Eliza Fraser's
sufferings at the hands of the aborigines after her shipwreck on Fraser
Island off the Queensland coast. The Stirling Castle ran aground on 21
May 1836 and the survivors reached Fraser Island. They were
badly-treated by the aborigines, but Mrs. Frazer survived until her
rescue on 17 August. It has been the subject of various books, most
notably Patrick White's novel, A Fringe of Leaves.
- Hogan, William, fl. 1876-1877.
The teachings of
history and their application to the present position of the colony of
Australia : a letter to the officers, non-commissioned officers and
members of the volunteer corps of Australia / from a Citizen of New
South Wales. ([Sydney : s.n.], 1876)
- Lang, John Dunmore, 1799-1878.
The prospect for
Australia in the event of a war with France : being a lecture delivered
in Sydney in the evening of Monday, August 23rd, 1858 / by John
Dunmore Lang ; with an appendix containing correspondence on the
subject. (Sydney : J.L. Sherriff, 1858)
- Lang, John Dunmore, 1799-1878.
How to defend the
colony : being the substance of a speech delivered in the Legislative
Assembly of New South Wales, on Tuesday, 20th December, 1859 / by
John Dunmore Lang, on the motion of Sir Henry Parkes for the
organization of a colonial militia. (Sydney : J.L. Sherriff, 1860)
The vulnerability of Australia to attack from a foreign power was a
recurrent preoccupation throughout the nineteenth century. There was a
strong fear that we were too remote from Britain for the mother country
to be of much immediate help in the event of an attack. The colonies
tried to establish their own navies (the Cerberus which still
lies off Black Rock beach is a remnant of the Victorian navy), and to
encourage the setting-up of volunteer militias.
- Chuck, Thomas Foster, d. 1898.
"One story is good
till another is told", or, A reply to Mr. Anthony Trollope on that part
of his work entitled "Australia and New Zealand", relating to the colony
of Victoria / by Thomas Chuck. (Liverpool [England] : Daily Post
Steam Printing Works, )
This is a rebuttal to Trollope's account of Victoria. The invective
in the pamphlet wars of words is usually read with relish both at the
time and now, by those who care to take the trouble, but Chuck begins in
a reflective vein,
Of the many mines of intellectual wealth and stores of
sound literature, the student of history, to my thinking, extracts an
enjoyment second only in degree to the delights of the poet and the
divine. (p. 3)
This soon becomes more barbed as his attack on Trollope gathers
momentum. He takes exception to Trollope's assertion that the colonial
likes to be "cracked-up", i.e. to be praised, and that he likes to
"blow". i.e. to boast. Chuck asks rhetorically,
Who conferred the "character" here described? None other
than Mr. Trollope as far as I am aware, whose unsupported testimony on a
few things Australian must be cautiously received. (p. 16)
- Rawlinson, Thomas E.
Notes on the discovery of some
keys in the shore formation of Corio Bay, near Geelong / by Mr.
Rawlinson. ([Melbourne : Royal Society of Victoria, 1874?])
- Gunn, Ronald Campbell, 1808-1881
Letter from R.C.
Gunn ... respecting the discovery of keys in the shore formation of
Corio Bay, and the paper relating to them read by Mr. Rawlinson, C.E.,
on the 16th November, 1874. ([Melbourne] : Royal Society of
The "Geelong keys" occupy a similar place in the category of urban
myths as the Mahogany ship. These two pamphlets published by the Royal
Society of Victoria tell the story.
According to Rawlinson's pamphlet, Governor Latrobe in "1845 or 1846"
found some iron keys in the vicinity of Corio Bay. Latrobe had gone to
inspect a new lime kiln which had been excavated to the depth of about
twenty feet. He remarked upon a level of shells at the depth of some
fifteen feet in the hole, which he supposed must have formerly been the
beach or sea floor, although about ten feet above the current high-water
mark. The lime-burner told Latrobe that he had found a bunch of keys
yesterday in that same stratum of deposit. He went to his hut and
returned with two of the keys, "each about two inches in length." There
had been three but his children had been playing with one and it could
not be found. Latrobe described them thus,
There could be no question but that they were keys, very
little, if any way corroded with rust, very similar to those of the
present day, except that they were a little longer in the shank, and the
wards smaller than is now usual.
They were just of the description
still used for a box or trunk, or seaman's chest, and I should judge
from the form that they were not more than a hundred or one hundred and
fifty years old at most. The position in which they were found gave me
the impression of their having been dropped on the beach at the time
when the shellbed formed the shore line. (p. 3)
Rawlinson, after quoting Latrobes's full statement, proceeds to
analyse the geology of the area around Limeburner's Point where the find
is supposed to have taken place. He then draws his own conclusions,
which read in part,
The earliest known visit to Port Phillip was about 1802,
and the time which has elapsed since than appears very inadequate to
produce so great results under present known conditions; and admitting
the statements made as within the range of possibility, I do not see any
alternative but to extend the period from 200 to a little over 300 years
back, during which period the Buccaneers had made their presence felt in
the Pacific; we know that some of them visited Australia in their
wanderings, and it is almost a certainty that many of them left little
trace of their presence, except in traditions of lost ships and ruined
towns. (p. 8)
Gunn, who had been a colleague of Latrobe at the time, answered
Rawlinson in a letter which the Royal Society also published as a
pamphlet. This offers a perfectly mundane account of the keys and their
I saw the two keys in the possession of my friend Mr. La
Trobe in Melbourne in the end of September or beginning of October 1849
(not in 1845 or 1846), immediately after they were picked
up. (p. 1)
On 4th October Gunn went himself to Geelong to enquire further.
visited the spot where the keys were discovered. On
questioning the lime-burner, I ascertained that he did not pick
the keys out of the stratum of shells at the depth alleged, but found
them at the bottom of the hole, mixed with some shells, and
assumed that they had dropped along with them. I was perfectly
satisfied that the keys never had been embedded in the stratum of
shells, as supposed by the lime-burner and by Mr. La Trobe, consequently
all the theories based on that assumption fall to the ground. The keys
were small, about the size ordinarily used for chests of drawers, of
very modern make, not encrusted with lime, and very slightly eroded
I have little doubt but that they had been dropped by some inhabitant
of Geelong, lay in the grass for some --not very long - time, and fell
to the bottom of the hole from the surface after the excavation was
made, the margin being formed of a rather light, crumbling soil.
I expressed my views and opinions to Mr. La Trobe on my return to
Melbourne, and thought the whole question had been considered as
settled, until I saw a letter from Mr. La Trobe in The Australasian
of June 3rd, 1871, under the heading, "Port Phillip a Lake."
The matter is still raised from time to time. The memory of Governor
Latrobe finding the keys and the supposition that they help to prove the
very early discovery of the Victorian coast by the Spaniards or
Portuguese is all that survives. Gunn's reply seems totally forgotten.
In much the same way, the contemporary newspaper reports of a
charcoal-burner reducing the wreck of the "mahogany ship" to charcoal in
the 1890s is never mentioned by the modern enthusiasts promoting further
excavation along the Warrnambool coast-line.
- Picturesque atlas of Australasia / edited by Andrew Garran
; illustrated under the supervision of Frederic B. Schell, assisted by
leading colonial and American artists. (Sydney : Picturesque Atlas
Publishing Co., 1886-1888) 3 v. [also issued in 42 parts.]
- Finn, Edmund, 1819-1898.
The chronicles of early
Melbourne, 1835 to 1852 : historical, anecdotal and personal, / by
"Garryowen". Centennial ed. (Melbourne : Fergusson and Mitchell, 1888) 2
v. (1000 p.,  leaves of plates)
- Sutherland, Alexander, 1852-1902.
Victoria and its
metropolis : past and present / by Alexander Sutherland. (Melbourne
: McCarron, Bird, 1888.) 2 v.
In 1888 there was a great outpouring from the presses of
commemorative editions issued to celebrate the centenary of settlement in 1788.
The Picturesque Atlas and Victoria and its metropolis were
both sold by subscription by canvassers who went door-to-door. For the
Picturesque Atlas engravers were brought from America. Julian
Rossi Ashton was one of the prominent artists who worked on the volumes.
The Chronicles of Early Melbourne is a valuable collection of
material on the foundation years. "Garryowen", or Edmund Finn, was able
to speak to many of the survivors from the pre-gold rush period. The
illustrations by Walter Withers are fanciful but they are
Victoria and its Metropolis includes essays on a wide-range of
topics, although perhaps its most immediate interest for us lies in the
chapter which gives the reader a guided tour of Melbourne in 1888. The
tour begins on the steps of the Treasury Building at the top of Collins
Street. The reader is conducted down that street towards the Town Hall.
On the left you pass the Melbourne Club. Here is Sutherland's
description. It ends on a note we would find rather sinister today.
There is no great traffic in this part of the street,
and the neat little trams that glide with a swan-like motion have the
spacious roadway almost to themselves. In this corner - the city, yet
outside the city bustle, -- the wealthy squatters have located their
club. It is a handsome building, of no architectural pretension, but
yet, in the massive simplicity of its freestone walls, suggesting a
plain, unvarnished potency of some sort, which is in keeping with the
folks who frequent it. For none but men of means can well afford to be
free of its halls and staircases and banqueting-rooms. It is most
colonially select, and it would be a startling total to figure up all
the bank balances which have taken their way, personified in portly
figures, up those stone steps that lead betwixt their sentinel lamps to
the domain of squatterdom in town. To think of these balances, and the
luxury within, the dinners of a dozen courses, the iced champagne, and
the evanescent bewitchments of French cookery; and then to look back
forty years to the slab huts, the damper, the fat mutton, and the
milkless tea to which these same portly gentleman did honour, with good
open-air appetites, when young fellows, strong, eager, and
light-hearted! Truly here is a change; and many a long reminiscence must
these rooms within bear witness to, from year to year, as the old
fellows fight their battles over again, and again round up those ugly
customers for the stockyard, or again lie in wait with gun in hand for
the onslaught of spear-brandishing natives in those fine old days when
life was young and Victoria yet to be made. (p. 543)
For an institution which began only in 1962, Monash has reasonable
holdings of nineteenth century periodicals. We actively collect in the
area, and the items on display are merely examples of titles which we
Any researcher who wishes to understand the fabric of daily life from a
period has to consult the magazines which reported the preoccupations of
The Illustrated Sydney news. [Continued by: Illustrated
Sydney news and New South Wales agriculturalist and grazier] (Sydney :
Walter George Mason, 1853-1894)
Illustrated papers were published most notably in Sydney and
Melbourne. They were based on The Graphic and The Illustrated
London News. The early settlers were in the habit of pasting-up the
illustrations as wallpaper in their huts.
On display is the issue for 4 July 1891, showing "An ideal scene, -
Sydney a century hence. The Queensland Night Express." This is an
artist's rendition of an aeroplane flying over Sydney Harbour. The story
which accompanies it begins,
This is truly a wonderful age, this year 1991. When one
contemplates the vast strides the civilisation of this country has made
during the last hundred years, and sees the dreams of our forefathers
actually realised - the masterpieces of art and invention, the
discoveries in science, and above all, the genius that has subdued and
brought into practical use that limitless power, electricity - it
appears to the ordinary mind that perfection has been attained, and that
human ingenuity can go no further.
All this passed through my mind while comfortably seated in the
saloon of the "Night Express" in the year 1991.
Onward through space
rushed the mighty engine, the stillness of the night being broken only
by the whirr of the huge wings as they beat the air in measured
time. (p. 8)
- The Journal of Australasia. [Continued by: The
Illustrated journal of Australasia] (Melbourne : George Slater,
- Once a month : a magazine for Australasia / conducted by
Peter Mercer. (Melbourne : William Inglis, 1884-1886)
- The Melbourne review. (Melbourne : Samuel Mullen,
Among the most widely-read nineteenth century periodicals were the
serious monthlies and quarterlies such as Blackwoods, and the Quarterly
Review. There were several attempts to publish similar magazines in
Australia. The articles they carried were mostly written by local
authors, dealing with philosophical and political issues as well as
matters of literary and artistic interest. Among the items on display we
see the first appearance of Barron Field's "The fiction fields of
Australia" (Journal of Australasia, no. 3, Sept., 1856)
- Melbourne punch. [Continued by: Punch (Melbourne,
Vic.), and Table Talk] (East Melbourne : Melbourne Punch,
- Sydney Punch. (Sydney, N.S.W. : Edgar Ray, 1864-
- Adelaide punch. (Adelaide : William Godfrey Roberts
Punch was perhaps the most popular magazine of the time, and
it spawned a number of colonial imitations. Melbourne Punch was
the longest-running of these. They were satirical magazines and dealt
closely with the day-to-day politics of the colonies.
Melbourne Punch is open at an issue from 1855 which depicts
the fall from popularity of the Governor of Victoria, Sir Charles
Hotham. He is shown rising like a sky-rocket over his Arch of Welcome,
erected when he arrived; and as a burnt-out stick, plunging beneath the
waves, after such disasters as the Eureka Rebellion.
A later volume of Punch is open at its "Almanac for 1885",
which shows some satirical Christmas cards.
Sydney Punch is open at an anti-blackbirding poem and
illustration from the issue for 19 September 1868 (p. 138). The caption
refers to "The South Sea Island Slave Trade".
- Table talk. (Melbourne, Vic. : Maurice Brodzky,
Table Talk was a society weekly. It is an important source of
information about the social set in Melbourne, and is particularly
useful for those doing research on the theatre. It included photographic
portraits of those in society, and of the actors and actresses in the
The volume for 1899 is open at 13 October showing the Governor's
wife, Lady Brassey and her daughter, as well as Miss Evelyn Calder, "A
'Royal Melbourne' golf champion", and Miss Jessie Duigan, "the young New
Zealand contralto visiting Melbourne for the first time."
In 1926 it absorbed Melbourne Punch.
The Tomahawk : a journal of satire. ([Melbourne : The
The Tomahawk was based on an earlier English magazine of the
same name. It was one of the short-lived rivals of Melbourne
Punch. Another was Humbug, edited by Marcus Clarke.
The Tomahawk is open at a typical political cartoon of the
period. It shows James Service the Premier of Victoria at the time
falling into "The seething pit of corruption". The caption in the
lower-right hand corner reads, "We promise anything. Railways
Alex. McKinley & Co.
pictorial almanac for 1880... / edited by W. Potter, illustrated by
Charles Richardson. (Melbourne : A. McKinley, 1880) McKinley's
almanac, which appeared in 1880 and 1881, included illustrated articles
on Australian history as well as pieces such as we see here, on trout
fishing in Australia.
The woman's voice. Sydney, N.S.W. : Jas A. Ross, 1894)
During the 1880s and 1890s the women's movement began to become an
issue in public life. The agitation centred particularly on the question
of female suffrage.
The tone of The Woman's Voice was meant, presumably, to be
firm but non-threatening. The sub-title of this magazine was,
"Democratic but not revolutionary; womanly but not weak; fearless
without effrontery; liberal without license."
The modern revelator : a scientific exponent of spiritual and
magnetic agencies actively combining with material forces in the history
of life. (Ballarat [Vic.] : C.A. Phillips, 1879)
Spiritualism was a craze in the second half of the nineteenth century
in America, in England, and on the continent. This was picked-up also in
Australia. We see here perhaps the only surviving copy of a provincial
magazine on seances, spiritualism and the attendant philosophy.
1838 - 1888, Melbourne then & now : together with the
first land sale and present value. (Melbourne : M.L. Hutchinson,
This shows "Melbourne in 1838 from the Yarra Yarra", and "Melbourne
in 1888, from Fitzroy Gardens." The earlier view is a representation of
a model constructed by Mr. . Drouhet of the Victorian Railways
Department for display in the 1888 Centennial Exhibition. The reporter
from the Australasian in describing the model called attention to
the fact that "the depression now known as Elizabeth Street was a
channel down which the storm waters flowed."
Unfortunately the present whereabouts of this model are unknown.
"Bird's eye view of Melbourne", supplement to the Illustrated
Sydney News, 30 Sept., 1871.
Large engravings of birds-eye, or "isometric", views of cities and
towns were very popular in the second half of the nineteenth century. De
Gruchy and Leigh in Melbourne published several of them and the
illustrated papers also provided them for their readers. They were meant
to be accurate representations. If businesses paid extra their premises
could be picked out by having the name of the firm included on the side
of the building or specifically indicated in the margin of the
"Burning of the Garden Palace, Sydney. September 22, 1882, as
seen from Macquarie Street", supplement to the Illustrated Sydney
News, 25 October 1882.
The Garden Palace was erected for the Sydney International Exhibition
of 1879-80. It was on land which was part of the Domain. After the
exhibition closed the building was used for concerts, and as a museum.
Several government departments had their offices there and large
quantities of documents were stored in the basement.
In the early morning of 22nd September 1882 it was destroyed by fire.
The disaster was spectacular, and the destruction was complete. It was
never established how the fire came to occur, but arson was suspected,
the possible motive being to destroy convict records.
The location is now part of the Botanic Gardens.
[Views of Melbourne and Sydney: an album of photographs,
dating from the 1890s]
This album belonged to E. O. Weir. Among the photographers whose work
is included are C. B. Walker, and C. Rudd. It is open at a view of the
"Fish Market, Melbourne" and a view of "Collins Street, looking west
from William Street."
The fish market was in Flinders Street on the south side between
Market and Spencer Streets.
Rosser, Celia E., 1930-
The banksias / Celia E.
Rosser and Alexander S. George. (North Fitzroy, Nokomis Publications, in
association with Monash University, 2000) vol. 3.
We are pleased to have on display the third and final volume of
Celia Rosser's Banksias. Celia Rosser is the Monash
University botanical artist. For the past twenty-five years she has
been working with botanist Alex George to provide complete
descriptions of all the varieties of banksias. Banksias were
discovered and named by Sir Joseph Banks who collected the first
specimens when he landed at Botany Bay in 1770 on Captain Cook's
first voyage. Sydney Parkinson, the artist on that voyage, and most
of the artists whose work appears in various of the "First Fleet
Journals", included examples of banksias among their botanical
The copy on display has been specially bound for Monash
University. An identical copy was presented to the Queen on her
recent visit to Australia.
Brochures are available giving details of the publication in book
form and as a portfolio of plates. There will be an exhibition of
the original watercolours at the Herbarium in the Botanical Gardens
for four weeks from 8 July 2000.
| Rare Books | Previous Exhibitions
| Monash University Library|