CLOSED – 1835
THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED
I haven’t read James Boyce’s new book, 1835: The Founding of Melbourne and the Conquest of Australia (RRP $44.95) yet, but but I’m planning to write a review in the near future. I’ve read one or two others on the early years of Melbourne and it’s a fascinating period. I’m therefore pleased to say the publisher, Black Inc., has made two copies available for readers of The Melbourne Urbanist. Here’s a summary:
In 1835 an illegal squatter camp was established on the banks of the Yarra River. In defiance of authorities in London and Sydney, Tasmanian speculators began sending men and sheep across Bass Strait – and so changed the shape of Australian history. Before the founding of Melbourne, British settlement on the mainland amounted to a few pinpoints on a map. Ten years later, it had become a sea of red.
In 1835 James Boyce brings this pivotal moment to life. He traces the power plays in Hobart, Sydney and London, the key personalities of Melbourne’s early days, and the haunting questions raised by what happened when the land was opened up. He conjures up the Australian frontier – its complexity, its rawness and the way its legacy is still with us today.
And to whet your appetite, here from the author himself is a dozen things you may not have known about the founding of Melbourne:
- Melbourne’s mother island was not Britain but the notorious penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land.
- Melbourne was founded by unauthorised boat arrivals (or to use the contemporary term, ‘illegals’) who were breaking British law.
- The founding fathers (sadly there were few founding mothers) of Melbourne were not the cashed up squatters but their former convict workers. Very few of the famous Port Phillip Association members who sent sheep and shepherds across the strait were permanently resident in the Port Phillip District during the first year.
- The emancipist workers were experienced and environmentally attuned bushmen.
- By the time Melbourne was founded other Europeans had already been living on what is now the Victorian coast for decades.
- The site of Melbourne was a well-known Aboriginal gathering spot with its own bridge across the Yarra.
- Melbourne’s environs were ecologically diverse containing extensive wetlands and vast grasslands.
- The lowland grasslands contained an incredible number of plants and were as different from ‘improved’ pastures as a tree plantation is from an old growth forest.
- In 1835 the first tents were pitched roughly where the Immigration Museum now stands.
- The founding of Melbourne represented a direct challenge to the long established British Government policy of concentrating European Settlement within defined boundaries.
- The eventual capitulation to the squatters and the opening up of Australia’s grasslands to private conquest led to one of the fastest expansions of Europeans in the history of the British Empire. Within a couple of years more land had been settled than in the fifty years before
- It was thus the founding of Melbourne, not the settlement of Sydney that signalled the emergence of European control over Australia.
All you have to do is tell me your favourite song that references or evokes Melbourne in some way and you’re in the running. Just use the Comment box at the bottom of this page. Entries close midday, Thursday 25 August.
As usual, the quality of the song you choose doesn’t matter, because the winners will be chosen at random (if you’re stuck, Up There Cazaly will do). Still, it’s nice to show some taste and wit if possible. It would be wonderful to compile a comprehensive anthology of Melbourne-related songs from all eras (although such a list already exists!)
If you’re one of the winners (and the odds are pretty good!), you’ll have to give the publishers, Black Inc., your address and they’ll post your bounty to you direct. Your anonymity is assured – I won’t know who you are or where you live. Sorry overseas readers, you’ll need an Australian address (you should see what Australians have to pay for postage!).
Not that anyone’s asked, but let me explain how I choose the winners of giveaways. First, I count the number of comments, excluding any invalid entries (e.g. pingbacks, replies by me). I then get two random numbers at Random.org. Then I count through the valid entries starting from the first comment (the top one) until I arrive at the two winners.