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Early Australian History

An Exhibition of Material from the Rare Book Collection
Monash University Library

6 April - 30 June 2000

Exhibition and catalogue by Richard Overell, Rare Books Librarian,
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 them.

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 words.

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 fruitful theme.

Graeme Davison, History Department,
Monash University.


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.

Richard Overell,
Rare Books Librarian.


  1. 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. view

    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 more tendentious,

    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.

  1. Cook, James
    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. view

    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 attention but,

    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.

  1. The infants' library. Book 5. (London : Printed and sold by John Marshall, [1800?]) view

    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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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) 3 v. view

    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, p. 424)

    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 Journals

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".

  1. * 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) view

    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)

  1. 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) view

    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 September 1800.

    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 to illustrate.

    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)

  1. 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 fruit."

  1. 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)

  1. 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 view

    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 Land.

    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.

  1. The Convict Maid (Birmingham, Jackson and Son, [182-?])

    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 property;

    and her harsh fate; as the Judge tells her,

    To Botany Bay you will be conveyed,
    For seven years a convict maid.

  1. 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.), [9] 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 following account,

    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. 218-219)

  1. * Tuckey, J. H. (James Hingston), 1776-1816.
    An 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. 157-158)

    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. 189-190)


  1. * 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) view

    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.

  1. * Mitchell, Thomas, 1792-1855.
    Three expeditions 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. view

    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.

  1. * 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.

  1. 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 printed, 1841.

    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.

  1. * 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)view

    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.

  1. * Wills, William John, 1834-1861.
    A successful 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 Bentley, 1863)

    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.

Natural History

  1. 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)view

    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 few birds,

    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".

  1. 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, [602] 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 Australia (1845-63).

  1. 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) view

    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 land-owner.

    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.

  1. 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. view

    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.

  1. Mueller, Ferdinand von, 1825-1896.
    Educational 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.

Early Sydney

  1. Photographs illustrating the earliest times of New South Wales [picture-album]. (Sydney : Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1893)

    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.

  1. 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?])

  1. [Barrington, George, 1755-1804. Attrib.]
    "Prologue. 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."

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Early Melbourne

  1. Bonwick, James, 1817-1906.
    John Batman : the founder of Victoria / by James Bonwick. 2nd ed. (Melbourne : Fergusson and Moore, 1868)
  1. Bonwick, James, 1817-1906.
    Port Phillip settlement / 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 1839.

    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.

  1. 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) view

  1. 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)

  1. Murray, Robert Dundas.
    A summer at Port Phillip / by Robert Dundas Murray. Edinburgh : William Tait, 1843. view
  1. 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 ascertaining. … 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; … where the 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 … (p. 242-244)

    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 more bitter,

    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.

  1. Hargraves, Edward Hammond, 1816-1891.
    Australia and 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) view

    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.

  1. 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]) view

    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 intending emigrants.

    It includes a map showing "The gold regions of Victoria and New South Wales.

  1. 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, [1853])

    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

  1. 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 this passage,

    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)

  1. 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, 1853)

    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. … I have 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.

  1. 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) view

    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 husband.

    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 verbatim dialogue.

    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)

  1. 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, [185-?]) view

    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.

  1. Victoria. Colonial Secretary's Office.
    Copies of 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, 1855)

    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 miners.

  1. 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) view

    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 buildings.

  1. 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.

The Emigrants' Manuals

  1. Lang, John Dunmore, 1799-1878.
    Phillipsland, or, 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)
  1. Lang, John Dunmore, 1799-1878.
    Queensland, 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.

  1. 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. (p. 154-157)

  1. 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.

  1. 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 M'Cutcheon, 1872) view

    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 widespread misery.

    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 headings,

    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.

  1. 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) view

    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)

  1. 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.

Visitors' Accounts

  1. Aspinall, Clara.
    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..

  1. Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882.
    Victoria and Tasmania / by Anthony Trollope. New ed. [Australia and New Zealand. Selections] (London : Chapman and Hall, 1875)
  1. Trollope, Anthony, 1815-1882.
    South Australia and Western Australia / by Anthony Trollope. New ed. [Australia and New Zealand. Selections] (London : Chapman and Hall, 1875)
  1. 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 Caldigate.

    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 boast.

    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. 32)

    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 Woods Point.

    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)

  1. Froude, James Anthony, 1818-1894.
    Oceana, or, England and her colonies / by James Anthony Froude. New ed. London : (Longmans, Green, 1886) view

    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)

Tourists' Guides

  1. Guide for excursionists from Melbourne. (Melbourne : H. Thomas, 1868)
  1. Guide for excursionists from Melbourne : dedicated to all in search of health, recreation and pleasure. 2nd ed. (Melbourne : H.Thomas, 1869)

    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 breadth. … 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)

  1. 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 detail.

  1. Excursionists' handbook / compiled by J.H. [James Hingston?] of Huddart, Parker & Co. Ltd. ; copiously illustrated. (Melbourne : Sands & McDougall, [1894])

    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.

  1. Cook, Samuel.
    The Jenolan caves : an excursion in Australian wonderland / by Samuel Cook. (London : Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1889)

    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.

  1. Saville-Kent, W. (William), d. 1908.
    The Great Barrier Reef of Australia : its products and potentialities / by W. Saville-Kent. (London : W.H. Allen, [1893])

    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.

  1. 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., 1900)

    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

  1. 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]
  1. The Last move in the Tichborne Case [hand-coloured engraving with moveable eyes] ([London], F. Arnold, [1874?])
  1. Rose, George, 1817-1882.
    Mrs. Brown on the Tichborne case / By Arthur Sketchley. (London : G. Routledge and sons, 1872)
  1. Rose, George, 1817-1882.
    Mrs. Brown on the Tichborne defence / by Arthur Sketchley. (London : Routledge, [1872?])

    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.


  1. Sands & McDougall's Melbourne and suburban directory for 1885. (Melbourne : Sands & McDougall, 1884) view

    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.

  1. 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, 1866)

    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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Directory for shires & road boards in Victoria, 1866. (Geelong : Heath & Cordell, [1866])

    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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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)
  1. 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)
  1. 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.

  1. 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, [1877])

    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)

  1. 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?])
  1. 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 Victoria, [1875])

    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 history.

    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.

    I … 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 with rust.

    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." (p. 1-2)

    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.

Illustrated Works

  1. 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.]
  1. 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., [31] leaves of plates)
  1. 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 historically-based.

    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 hold.

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 time.

  1. 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)

  1. The Journal of Australasia. [Continued by: The Illustrated journal of Australasia] (Melbourne : George Slater, 1856-1858)
  1. Once a month : a magazine for Australasia / conducted by Peter Mercer. (Melbourne : William Inglis, 1884-1886)
  1. The Melbourne review. (Melbourne : Samuel Mullen, 1876-1885)

    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)

  1. Melbourne punch. [Continued by: Punch (Melbourne, Vic.), and Table Talk] (East Melbourne : Melbourne Punch, 1855-1900)
  1. Sydney Punch. (Sydney, N.S.W. : Edgar Ray, 1864-
  1. Adelaide punch. (Adelaide : William Godfrey Roberts 1868-1884)

    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".

  1. Table talk. (Melbourne, Vic. : Maurice Brodzky, 1885-1939)

    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 contemporary productions.

    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.

  1. The Tomahawk : a journal of satire. ([Melbourne : The Tomahawk], 1880)

    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 everywhere."

  1. Alex. McKinley & Co.
    McKinley's Australian 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.

  1. 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."

  1. 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.


  1. 1838 - 1888, Melbourne then & now : together with the first land sale and present value. (Melbourne : M.L. Hutchinson, [1888]) view

    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.

  1. "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 accompanying "key".

  1. "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.

  1. [Views of Melbourne and Sydney: an album of photographs, dating from the 1890s] view

    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 illustrations.

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.

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