A SHORT ACCOUNT OF THE ORIGINS OF KILMORE -
VICTORIA'S FIRST INLAND TOWN

[Ken Smith]

Ken Smith describes the Town of Kilmore from a Map Held by Barbara Hawkins.

"When I was young a frequent Sunday afternoon drive was up Pretty Sally Hill near Kilmore followed by afternoon tea at the Hume & Hovell Lookout Tower. It was built of bluestone like many buildings in the township of Kilmore itself."

Ken Smith, Port Phillip Pioneers Group Member, has researched the land subdivisions in Kilmore and in doing so has gained much information about the early settlers, all Port Phillip Pioneers.

In 1988, to commemorate the township's 150th anniversary the local council published a book, professionally written by Maya Tucker, title "Kilmore on the Sydney Road." Ken thinks that an error has been made in this book regarding the name of one of the early squatters.

The Shire was originally made up of several sheep runs, and Billis & Kenyon's book "Pastoral Pioneers of Port Phillip" states, as does the Council's book, that Frederick Armand Powlett and William Pomeroy Greene were licensees of 'Moranding Station', (now Kilmore), from 1838 - 1844.

Ken's research indicates that William Pomeroy Greene was not in the Colony in 1838 but arrived in 1842 on the "Sarah," with his wife, seven children, his prospective son in law William Stawell (later to be Chief Justice of Victoria), many household staff members, cattle and thoroughbred horses.(1)

His name also is not in the "1841 Port Phillip Directory." However, a gentleman named John Green, who had a station on the Goulburn River called 'Mooanding' is listed. In the "Port Phillip Gazette" dated 1st September 1841 there is also a reference to John Green and his station 'Moranding' on the Sydney Road. Another entry most likely referring to the same gentleman is in "Port Phillip Gentlemen" by Paul de Serville where a John Green, squatter was a member of the Melbourne Club in 1839.

It would appear that John Green and not William P. Greene was, with Frederick A. Powlett the licensee of 'Moranding Station.' At the end of 1840, the Colonial Offoce in London, England advertised a scheme for purchasing 8 square miles of land anywhere in the Port Phillip District for £1 an acre. This showed a complete misunderstanding of conditions in the colony as in some places land had sold for £25 an acre. Although Governor Gipps in Sydney tried to alleviate the problem by insisting that land selected must be more than five miles from any established township, nine Special Surveys, including one in Kilmore, were taken up before the scheme was stopped.

William Rutledge born in Kilmore, Cavan, Ireland, emigrated to New South Wales and by 1841 had the mail contract for the overland run from Sydney to Melbourne. He was familiar with the Sydney Road, such as it was, and he knew the road passed through the 'Moranding' station where creeks and water holes provided camping spots.

On 12 April 1841 he arrived in Port Phillip from Parramatta, New South Wales, with £5,120 to tender for the Powlett- Green run. Even before the land, known as Rutledge's (or Kilmore) Special Survey in Kilmore was granted on 9th November 1841, he had put the land on the market.

He instructed auctioneer Thomas Herbert Power to handle the sales. Town allotments were about an acre in size and suburban blocks about 20 acres each. Despite terms 'most liberal,' rich volcanic soil, and proximity of creeks, the sales pitch - 'to see is to admire' - the times were depressed and the auction was a failure. The £15 offered for town allotments was unacceptable to Rutledge and the land was taken off the market. Rutledge instead leased the land, mainly to Irish immigrants.

John Mitton thought the terms of sale were good. He raised £100 from the sale of his Fitzroy property and was one of the first to buy a town allotment. On 6th October 1841 he advertised in the "Port Phillip Gazette" that his house in Kilmore was 'open for the reception of travellers,' 'upon the strict principles of teetotalism.' He had erected a 'commodious dwelling and store' with good stabling but he had been unsuccessful in obtaining a license to operate a tavern.

After the sales of half a dozen town blocks, Rutledge sold out of Kilmore to Sydneysiders Allan McGaa, John Lamb and William Carr who later sold his share to George John Rogers. James Atkinson, who had taken over F. W. Unwin's Special Survey in Bulleen, may have shown some interest, but went no further. E. K. Horn was commissioned to organise leasing of land and further sales of town allotments.

Eventually all the land was sold, the town developed, crops were harvested and bullock teams conveyed wheat to the flour mills. By 1851 there was a Post Office, Police Station and Court House. There were hotels, saddlers, watchmakers, and blacksmiths who did a roaring trade fixing broken wagons which became bogged in the quagmire of Sydney Road.

The best years for Kilmore though, were during the gold rush when people poured through the town en route to the gold fields and profits were high. Rutledge hoped the town would rival Melbourne but although Kilmore prospers despite being bypassed by the road to Sydney, land values have never increased like those in Dendy's Special Survey in Brighton or Elgar's Special Survey in Boroondara.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

(1) Newspaper articles found on Trove indicate William Pomeroy Greene arrived in the Port Phillip District on 5 December 1842, lived initially in South Yarra and then erected his 'kit' home, brought from Ireland, at Bulla in 1843, on property he called 'Woodlands.'

( The above is a report on Ken Smith's address at the General Meeting on 9 February 2014 )

( Contributed by Jan Hanslow, PPPG Member No. 1057 )


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