Members Talk to Members and Friends

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This series of talks enables La Trobe Society members to make presentations on topics that they have researched or in which they have a particular interest, in the field of Victorian colonial development and aspects of life in early Melbourne and beyond.

Spend a rewarding Sunday afternoon with us, doors open at 2pm, talks start at 2.30pm followed by afternoon tea, finishing 4pm.

Venue, Mueller Hall, National Herbarium, Royal Botanic Gardens, Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne. Click to see map

$5 admission payable at the door. All welcome.

Bookings essential: please use the 'Click to Book' buttons below at each talk.

N.B. Parking may be difficult, so allow sufficient time if driving. Best Public Transport is via any tram to Domain Interchange, Stop 20, and take a pleasant walk up past the Shrine to the Herbarium. Note also 605 bus service (Flagstaff Station to Gardenvale, via Birdwood Avenue).


Sunday June 10

Georgiana McCrae and her ‘Favorite’ Music
Presenter: Dr Rosemary Richards
Collecting handwritten music was a fashionable practice in Britain and its empire during the nineteenth century. Georgiana McCrae (1804–1890) brought three of her manuscript music collections from Britain and continued to transcribe and share music after she arrived in Melbourne in 1841. Her fourth collection, bound as a manuscript in Melbourne in 1856, contains references to her friendship with the La Trobe family. While her manuscript music collections reveal her musical preferences, they also functioned as a form of diary over thirty years of her life. They uncover clues to her musical education in London, her identification with her aristocratic Scottish Gordon relatives, and her maintenance of connections with Britain during her ‘exile’ as an unwilling migrant to a distant colony. This talk explores Georgiana McRae’s ‘favorite’ music and the way in which surviving manuscript music collections can shed light on the musical lives of the individual collector as well as wider issues of migrant and colonial history.

Sunday July 8

Edward Byam Wight: enterprising pioneer in the Port Phillip District
Presenter: Davydd Shaw
A brief introduction outlining the speaker’s involvement with the Wight family will be followed by an account of the immigration of Edward Byam Wight and Catherine Philpott who arrived in Melbourne in 1841, a decade prior to the gold rushes. The demise in the early 19th century of the cloth mills in Gloucestershire and the subsequent movement of population led to Edward’s immigration to Australia. The subsequent lives of Edward and Catherine in their chosen land could only be described as very successful. The character of Edward suited well the times of expansion in the colony and the opportunities that were available to a man with capital resources, enterprise and a strong Christian foundation. A friendship with La Trobe was therefore not surprising, given La Trobe’s desire for good governance, public institutions and the creation of a stable and civilised community. Wight’s contribution to Victoria continued up to his death in 1900.

Sunday August 12

La Trobe and his Horses – Testing Times
Presenter: Peter Hiscock AM
The talk will focus on the horse as a major player in the settlement of the Port Phillip District, a fact so often neglected in the historical narrative. It will discuss various aspects of La Trobe and his horses in Port Phillip by examining their likely blood-lines; their procurement (sometimes thwarted calamities at sea) and other difficulties the new Superintendent would have faced in looking to his own and his family members’ mobility. La Trobe’s frequent lengthy rides were demanding on both man and horse, given the uncertainty of tracks, terrain and weather and the frequent non-availability of relief horses. In La Trobe’s time horses were working animals and they were worked hard, particularly during the gold-rush years. His routine rides to or from Geelong or the Mornington Peninsula, sometimes mentioned almost dismissively, would have honed his sense of direction and his eye for landmarks. La Trobe’s long rides were indeed testing for both the man and his mount.

Sunday September 9

Gulf Station: one of the National Trust’s La Trobe era properties
Presenter: Irene Kearsey
Gulf Station in the Yarra Valley was established by John Dickson in the 1840s as part of a 25,000 acre run known as the Gulf. It was then owned by the Bell family for the better part of 100 years until 1951.
The talk will concentrate on the early days of the station in the La Trobe era, following the story of Dickson and the Bells, and give a flavour of early life in rural Victoria.



See also other Events that you may attend.