MELBOURNE CIRCA 1853 - 1860


We arrived in Melbourne on 17 March, 1853. The women and children were not allowed to land until the next day, as there were riots in the streets between the Orange and the Greens. Father got an empty cottage (4 rooms) in Lonsdale Street a few doors from Elizabeth Street. He paid five pounds a week. We slept on the floor..... Afterwards we moved to 133 Swanston Street, near Little Bourke Street, from where (Father) ran his cooperage business. Our landlord was Mr. Swanson. Our part of the street was not channelled or paved and floods were common.

On Sunday afternoons father and mother used to take us to Batman's Hill where there was a great many people and shady she-oaks and nice grass to sit on. Sometimes we went to the other side and saw the blue water. Sometimes we were taken for a walk along the Yarra. It was a lovely river then, ti-tree and scrub right to the river's edge, with a path alongside among the trees.

The river was a very lively place on Sunday morning. Near Prince's Bridge men used to take their horses to water them, and others did their washing there; and such a lot of chinamen with their big cane hats all talking and doing their washing too, standing on stumps or logs and hanging the things on bushes right up as far as the ferry. On the south side of the yarra there was a swamp where my sister and I used to water our pony and give him a drink. The swamp was a wonderful place for wild duck to breed. Standing by the Prince's Bridge road fence you could see dozens of them with their ducklings.

Where the Queen's Bridge is now there used to be falls formed by large flat stones so that the water would not come up. On one occasion I jumped from stone to stone right across the river and back. I could jump in those days and the river happened to be low.

As a great treat we were taken by gondola down the Yarra to Cremorne Gardens which we thought a wonderful place. There were all sorts of shows and at night rope walking and fireworks. "The Siege of Sebastopol" was on. There were little houses on trees and a circular chair to reach them. There was also a maze. Cremorne was eventually sold.

(The above are extracts from "Recollections of Early Melbourne" from the handwritten notebook of Mrs. Alice Davies born 1848 Shropshire, England who arrived in Melbourne in the sailing ship "Thames")

Contributed by Winsome Matenson (PPPG Member No. 463)


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