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Excitement in Tasmania
The news about the new settlement at Port Phillip (1835) taken over to Tasmania by John Batman caused a great deal of commotion. Many settlers crossed to the mainland in search of the new land and before a year had passed, nearly 200 settlers, with more than 15,000 sheep, had landed on the shore of Port Phillip. But they soon spread over a great extent of the land, from Geelong to Sunbury.
Aborigines Not Happy
They were also now in the midst of numerous black tribes, who now, too late, began to understand the nature of John Batman’s visit and started to seek revenge. Frequent attacks were made, one of which killed a squatter and his servant beside the shores of the Werribee River. Their bodies lie buried in the Flagstaff Gardens. Many of the settlers were 10-20 miles apart and for their safety, they fixed heavy bells on posts near their houses. When anyone was attacked by natives, he rang his bell. The nearest neighbour then rang the bell on his station, to warn the settlers next to him and so, in an hour or two, all the squatters of the district would gather to deliver the family besieged by the infuriated natives.
These were not the only trouble for the settlers. The Sydney Government declared that all purchases of land from ignorant natives were invalid and Governor Bourke issued a proclamation, warning the people at Port Phillip against building their homes there, as the land did not legally belong to them.
Still new settlers flocked over and a township began to be formed on the banks of the Yarra. Batman’s Association found that their claims to the land granted to them by the natives would not be allowed and after some correspondence on the subject with the Home Government, they had to be content with 28,000 acres as compensation for the money they had spent.
Towards the close of 1836, Governor Bourke found himself compelled to recognize the new settlement and sent Captain Lonsdale to act as a magistrate. Thirty soldiers accompanied him to maintain order and protect the settlers.
Governor Bourke Names Melbourne
In 1837 the Governor himself arrived at Port Phillip, where he found the settlers now numbering 500. He planned out the little town, giving names to its streets and then finally settling on a name for the settlement. He declared it should be called Melbourne, after Lord Melbourne, who was then the Prime Minister of England.
Charles Latrobe Superintendent
In 1838, Geelong began to grow into a township and the settlers spread west, as far as Colac. The following year Charles Latrobe was sent to take charge of the whole district of Port Phillip, under the title of Superintendent, but with almost all powers of a governor. The settlers held a public meeting, in an auction room at Market-square, for the purpose of giving a hearty welcome to their new Governor, whose kindliness and upright conduct soon made him very popular.
A wattle and daub building was built as a police office on the site of the Western Markets, where it did duty for some time, until one night it fell down. Some say it was undermined by a party of imprisoned natives, but others believed it was due to a bull, belonging to John Batman, which had charged its walls. A courthouse was erected and four policemen were appointed. A post office followed next and then one by one various institution of a civilized community arose in miniature form. Numerous ships began to enter the Bay and a lucrative trade with Tasmania soon sprang up.
First Melbourne Newspaper
In 1838, the first newspaper appeared. Every Monday Morning, sheets containing four pages of writing were distributed to the subscribers, under the title of The Advertiser. After nine issues of this kind had been published, a parcel of old refuse type was sent over from Tasmania. A young man was found in the town who had, in his boyhood, spent a few months in a printing office, he was thrown into service and soon The Advertiser appeared in print form, the pioneer of the powerful press of Victoria.
Fate of Batman and Fawkner
John Batman had built his residence not far from the place now occupied by the Government Railway Station. In 1839, he was seized by a violent cold and after being carefully nursed by one of his daughters, died before seeing the growth of the settlement he had laboured so hard to found. John Fawkner lived at Emerald Hill and saw the city rapidly grow in prosperity.
The year 1839 brought further increase to the population and before the beginning of 1840, there were 3,000 people, with 500 houses and 70 shops in Melbourne. In 1841 it boasted 11,000 people and 1,500 houses.
(continues … South Australia 1836 to 1831)