JOHN BATMAN
AND THE FOUNDATION OF MELBOURNE


9th of June 1835: "the boat went up the river to where it is very deep, 30ft - that will be the place for a village". Rex Harcourt argues that it irrelevant whether John Batman was on board that day as it was recognised from Surveyor Grimes' work in 1803 that there was only one place for a settlement in the Port Phillip area. At the falls on the Yarra River (level with Market Street).

Founding a new settlement requires much spadework and for John Batman, on behalf of a small syndicate in Van Diemen's Land, the most important task was to sign a treaty with the aborigines, hopefully to avoid the problems that had occurred in that state.

On 10th May 1835, the sloop "Rebecca" left Launceston and delayed by strong westerlies, arrived at Corio Bay on 29th May.

The party moved to Williamstown and on the 3rd June Batman went up the Maribyrnong River to Sunbury - a 2 day trip, news of their arrival having been spread by Aboriginal women using smoke signals. Batman's diary entries are confusing but it is accepted that the treaty took place with chiefs of the Wurendjeri tribe, on the north side of the Merri Creek, abreast of Rushall Station, Westgarth.

Accompanied by 2 aborigines, Batman returned to Launceston on 11th June and immediately contacted his financiers, syndicate members, and the newspapers whilst Surveyor Wedge drew up a rough map of Batman's journey. Governor Arthur in Hobart was in favour of Batman's new settlement. Paperwork was forwarded to the Colonial Office in Britain on 3rd July and the Port Phillip Association was now formed.

A manifesto was drawn up and its aims also sent to Britain. The documents produced are the blue print for Melbourne and Victoria. For his work, John Batman was paid 5 shillings.

With the banker, Charles Swanston in control, the Port Phillip Association set about the enormous task of arranging the infrastructure for transportation of livestock, - wharves, cattle yards, custom clearance, purchase of sheep, employment of drovers, etc. Swanston's sheep were the first to be transported in November 1835.

Fawkner had contacted Batman as he wished to set up a settlement on the eastern side of Port Phillip Bay. His ship the "Enterprise" set out on 20th July, but Fawkner for some reason disembarked and the boat under Captain Lancey continued. Lancey found Western Port to be unsuitable and decided on the Yarra.

It took over a week to negotiate the ocean going vessel between Williamstown and the falls. By the time Fawkner arrived much work had been done and when Batman returned, Fawkner was well established.

Governor Bourke in Sydney had been forced to declare the new settlement illegal. The land after all didn't belong to the aborigines but to the Crown. Bourke however realized the benefits of the new settlement.

When he received confirmation from Britain on 1st September 1836, he moved quickly. Captain Lonsdale was made Police Magistrate, Melbourne was officially named and on the 1st June 1837 the first land sales were made.

Rex Harcourt's soon to be released book, "Southern Invasion - Northern Conquest, The Story of the Founding of Melbourne" will be packed with detail and should be very interesting.

(The Above is a Report on Rex Harcourt's Address at the Annual General Meeting on 10th March 2001)

Contributed by Jan Hanslow (PPPG Member No. 1057)


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