With introductions out of the way in an earlier post, let’s join The Vagabond’s tour through the Western District for his Picturesque Victoria series. “The Cradle of Victoria No. 1” was the first of two articles about his first port of call, Portland.
Prior to reaching Portland, The Vagabond had travelled through parts of eastern Victoria and along the Murray River to Mildura. He then headed south, arriving in Portland in November 1884, just in time for the Henty Jubilee on November 19, celebrating 50 years since Edward Henty settled at Portland, then widely considered as the first permanent European settler at Portland. Overlooked was that whaler and sealer William Dutton who was feeling pretty settled in his hut in the years before 1834, growing potatoes between whaling trips…but that’s another story.
The article begins with an extensive history of Portland, from the first Europeans to sight land, up until the 1830s. He discusses the Portuguese, with a reference to the Mahogany ship, thought buried under the sands of a beach between Port Fairy and Warrnambool.
The Vagabond then turned his attention to the early 1830s and the arrival of the Hentys. He tells a story that I never tire of, that of the meeting between Edward Henty and Major Thomas Mitchell. The Vagabonds descriptive style makes his account my favourite to date.
Please excuse my photo of a sketch hanging at Portland’s History House depicting the meeting.
The last section of The Vagabond’s article describes Portland in 1884, starting with the transport available from Melbourne to Portland. We can take something from this for our family history research. We record our ancestors movements between towns or states, but it is easy to overlook how they may have made the trip or the time it took. While they seem to teleport on paper, there were more practical methods available.
Aside from bullock wagon, dray or foot, one could travel overland from Melbourne on the train, or take the coastal route on a steamer. The train trip from Melbourne, with stops at Geelong, Ballarat, Ararat and Hamilton, cost 45s. The trip was 13 hours. The ticket price of the steamer was “ridiculously low” according to The Vagabond, with a cabin priced at 12s 6d for passage only. Food was extra. The trip was 24 hours with stops at Warrnambool and Port Fairy. This was his transport of choice but he does suggest that those with a weaker stomach than his own may suffer “mal de mer”
While in Portland, The Vagabond, stayed at Richmond House, the Henty’s first home turned guest house. The following sketch, from 1884, the same year The Vagabond visited Portland, shows Richmond House at the top centre.
The Vagabond concludes:
This is another beautifully written article by The Vagabond and if you follow the link, you can read the article in full – “Picturesque Victoria – The Cradle of Victoria No. 1
The Vagabond was good enough to include his sources:
In my next Vagabond post, he will still be rocking around Portland, with a tour of the town he thought had an “atmosphere of bygone days”.