Australia in the 1830s

New colonies

From the mid 1830s, pastoralists and traders from Van Diemen's Land were sailing into Port Phillip Bay and into the land of the Kulin people. In 1834 Edward Henty (1810–1878) left Launceston with farm animals, seeds and plants and landed at Portland Bay, a coastal area in Victoria's west. This was the foundation of the colony later known as the Port Phillip District of New South Wales.

In 1835 John Batman (1801–1839), a former convict from Van Diemen's Land, attempted to negotiate a treaty with the Wurundjeri people to 'compensate' them for the use of their land, some hundreds of thousands of acres, which was almost all their ancestral lands. In return he gave them 20 pairs of blankets, 30 tomahawks and various other articles, and a yearly tribute. Like all Indigenous groups, the Wurundjeri have very strong and complex relationships and connections with their land, in contrast to the British, who saw land as a possession to be bought and sold. Permission was rarely sought from Traditional Owners to enter their countries, much less use the land and resources, which were often exploited or destroyed in order to farm. The ideas of private property and ownership of land would have been foreign concepts to the Wurundjeri. Eventually, Governor Richard Bourke (1777–1855) rescinded the treaty.

An early pioneer of this time was John Pascoe Fawkner (1792–1869), who was one of the original founders of the area known as 'The Settlement' or 'Bearbrass', which was later officially named Melbourne in 1837. He stayed on in the settlement and opened the first inn. Reports of more and more unauthorised settlers arriving and of the poor treatment of the Aboriginal peoples led to the appointment of William Lonsdale (1799–1864) as the first Police Magistrate of the Port Phillip District of New South Wales. He arrived in 1836.

Sealers, whalers and bark cutters had been visiting the coasts of southern Australia for many years before settlements were officially sanctioned. As a result of their reports and positive comments about the area, South Australia was chosen as the site of the first free British colony. Many of the ideas of Edward Gibbon Wakefield (1796–1862) were the basis for the new colony. It was agreed that no convicts would be sent to the new settlement and that the colony would be a place of religious tolerance. South Australia was founded in 1836 and Surveyor-General William Light (1786–1839) chose the site for Adelaide. The British Government would control the colony, but colonisation commissioners would have power over the survey of and sale of the land, using the proceeds to entice and employ the labourers that they needed. The first migrants arrived in South Australia in 1836 and the first school opened on Kangaroo Island in the same year.

In 1838, the explorer Captain Charles Sturt (1795–1869) herded cattle from Sydney to Adelaide, which took just 40 days. Along the way he explored the Hume and the Murray Rivers and discovered that they were the same river. He settled in South Australia and was appointed Surveyor-General and later Registrar-General.

.New colonies_1830

A snapshot of 1838

  • January
    • John Pascoe Fawkner (1792–1869) founded the Melbourne Advertiser, the first weekly newspaper published in Melbourne. It was originally handwritten on four pages until a press and type arrived from Tasmania.
    • The 50th anniversary of the colony of New South Wales was held.

  • June
    • The Myall Creek massacre of 28 Aboriginal men, women and children occurred.

  • November
    • Pastor Kavel brought about 200 German dissenters escaping religious persecution in their own country to South Australia.
    • The Melbourne Cricket Club was founded.

  • December
    • Melbourne's first school opened at Batman's Hill.
    • The Jenolan Caves were discovered.


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