(previous … Discovery of Port Phillip)

The first attempt to colonize Port Phillip was made in 1803 under Governor David Collins, who landed near the present site Sorrento, with about four hundred convicts. The convicts began clearing the land of its timbers and building their settlement, but the need for water, as well as the barren nature of the soil, made the prospects of the little township seem very miserable.

An incident with the Natives

Collins, therefore, sent Lieutenant Tuckey, with a couple of boats, to explore the shores of the bay and select a place where there was an abundance of water. Tuckey examined the part of the bay which stretched from Point Nepean to Mornington but could find no spot suitable for the proposed colony. Having reached the little creek on which Frankston now stands, he was attacked by a great crowd of blacks and had a conflict with them sufficiently severe to prevent his landing again. He was thus unable to explore via land and the stormy weather prevented him from remaining long on the open bay. He therefore returned with a very gloomy report and increased the despondency of the little community.

A Very Young John Pascoe Fawkner

Everyone was dull and dispirited, except for two or three children who had been allowed to accompany their convict parents. Among these children, the leader of all their childish sports was a lad by the name of John Pascoe Fawkner, who was destined to be someone of note in the future history of Port Phillip. But even the children sank under the heat, the want of fresh water and the general wretchedness of the situation. Very soon all the voices were unanimous in urging the Governor to relocate. Collins responded by sending a ship with letters to Sydney, and Governor King gave him permission to cross over to Tasmania. David Collins took no time in doing so and founded the settlement at Derwent. Click here to learn more about early Tasmanian settlements.

Fate of Four Escaped Convicts

Before he left , there were four convicts who took advantage of the confusion to escape into the bush, hoping to make their way back to Sydney. One returned, footsore and weary, just in time to be taken onboard to Tasmania, the other three were never seen of again. Two are believed to have perished from hunger and thirty two years later the fate of the third was discovered. Click here to find out who survived.

(continues …. John Pascoe Fawkner)