History of Melbourne

Before 1835

Melbourne ancient Aboriginals

The first people to live around the area which is now Melbourne were the Aboriginal people. There were five different groups which belonged to the Kulin Nation. They were hunter-gatherers.


Melbourne Aboriginals signing peace agreement

John Batman and a group of businessmen bought 243,000 ha of land from the local Aboriginals for some trinkets (just like Peter Menhuit bought Manhattan from the Indians).

The Aboriginals had no idea what they were getting into. John Batman thought he was buying the land from the Aboriginals. The Aboriginals 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.



Sailing Ship at Melbourne Australia

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).



Whilliam Lonsdale

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 Aboriginals 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


Old City of Melbourne Map

The new settlement was named Melbourne(after the British Prime Minister at the time, Lord Melbourne).

The rectangular street grids were laid out.


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.


Painting of Melbourne Australia in 1840's

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 Australia grows into a city

Melbourne was proclaimed a city.


Panning Gold in Australia

Ballarat Gold Mines

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.


Painting of Melbourne Australia in 1861

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.




Exhibition Building Built in Melbourne Australia

The opening of the first session of the Commonwealth Parliament was held in the Exhibition Building. The population of Melbourne reaches half a million.



Painting of Collins St Melbourne Australia in 1901

Melborune was now a prosperous comopolitain city.


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