History of Melbourne
John Batman and a group of businessmen bought 243,000 ha of land from the local Aborigines for some trinkets (just like Peter Menhuit bought Manhattan from the Indians).
The aborigines had no idea what they were getting into. John Batman thought he was buying the land from the Aborigines. The Aborigines thought they were only granting him the right to pass through their land as they have no concept of private land ownership. In Aboriginal culture the land belonged to everyone. This purchase was later declared illegal by the government.
About the same time another expedition led by John Pascoe Fawkner made camp on the other side of the river not far from John Batman. The first building in the new settlement was Fawkner's grog shop. (Near the present day Spencer Street railway station). John Fawkner also brought the first settlers on his schooner the Enterprise. (seen in this painting).
In early 2836 news reached the British governor in Sydney of unauthorised settlements taking place down south ( in the area then refereed to as Port Phillip) and of autocracies being committed against the local aborigines in the region.
Captain William Lonsdale was appointed police magistrate for the new settlement and arrived on the ship H.M.S. Rattlesnake on the 29th September 1836.
First Census: Population of the new settlement 145 men and 35 women
The new settlement was named Melbourne(after the British Prime Minister at the time, Lord Melbourne).
The rectangular street grids were laid out.
|DID YOU KNOW|
| At various times before then is was also known as Batmania, Bearbrass, Bearport,
Bareheap and Bearbury. Some of these names were probably derived from the
Aboriginal name for the area which was Berren or Bararing.
In 1839 the first public building, the customs house, was started. You can see it in the centre of this painting from 1848. (It is still there at the corner of Flinder's Street and Williams Street)
In 1842 Melbourne was created a town. It had a population of about 10, 000 people.
Melbourne was proclaimed a city.
Gold was discovered in Ballarat. The whole city emptied as almost one third of its people rushed off to seek their fortune in the gold fields.
Melbourne became the largest city in Australia.
During the gold rush it was the fastest growing city in the British Empire. With the discovery of gold came great wealth . Many fine buildings and houses were built at this time.
By 1881 the boom was over and a devastating depression started. Many businesses closed down.
The opening of the first session of the Commonwealth Parliament was held in the Exhibition Building. The population of Melbourne reaches half a million.
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