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 2.00, talks start at 2.30 followed by a delicious afternoon tea, finishing 4.00 pm.

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 St Kilda Road tram to Domain Interchange and take a pleasant walk up past the Shrine to the Herbarium.

Sunday June 11

Surveying the Landscape: Robert Russell, Robert Hoddle and the First Plan of Melbourne.
Presenter:  Dr Fay Woodhouse
Robert Russell arrived in Sydney in 1833 with a thirst for adventure. He soon gained the position of Acting Assistant to the Town Surveyor. Though talented, Russell’s career was characterised by his disrespect for authority. In 1836, he was appointed Chief Surveyor and Commissioner of Crown Lands in the Port Phillip District. His first work was a topographical feature survey of the Melbourne site which he later had lithographed in London. When Governor Bourke visited the Port Phillip District in 1837 he named the new township ‘Melbourne’. After complaints about the slowness of Russell’s progress on the survey of Port Phillip, Bourke removed Russell from office in March 1837 and appointed Robert Hoddle as Chief Surveyor.
Historians have long disputed whether Russell or Hoddle originally laid out the grid of the streets of Melbourne and the issue remains contentious. This paper aims to survey the evidence and draw some conclusions.

Sunday July 9

Pioneer Public Health Practitioners in the Port Phillip District
Presenter:  Dr Walter Heale
Dr Alexander Thomson was employed by the Port Phillip Association to provide health care to new settlers. Arriving in March 1836, he was briefly employed by Government, resigning to pursue pastoral interests. His temporary replacement was Dr Barry Cotter responsible for the care of military personnel and prisoners, and re-employed in 1840 during the quarantine of the fever ship, the Glen Huntly. In September 1837 Dr Patrick Cussen was appointed Assistant Colonial Surgeon who improved the primitive government hospital, employed a pharmacy assistant, and introduced vaccination. He supported the coroner Dr William Wilmot (appointed in 1841) in establishing the local registration of medical practitioners, becoming the President of the Medical Board. Along with Dr John Patterson he assessed the health of shiploads of immigrants, and was instrumental in establishing the Yarra Bend Asylum. The outcome was an 1854 Act establishing a public health system headed by a Chief Medical Officer.

Dr William Wilmot

Sunday August 13

Captain ‘Old King’ Cole: from Port Phillip Pioneer to Victorian Patriarch
Presenter:  John Botham
The talk provides a view of early Melbourne life through Captain George Ward Cole, who arrived in Melbourne in 1840 following a career in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars and the sacking of Washington, and in the merchant marine.
He was prominent in early Melbourne society, controversially marrying into the McCrae family and building one of the first houses in Brighton, St Ninian's, where Edward La Trobe Bateman was employed on the garden. Cole built the first private wharf on the Yarra, known as Cole’s Wharf, and developed shipping facilities in Port Phillip, providing sea transport both locally and to other colonies. He was a leader in the development of Melbourne and was a respected politician, serving on the Legislative Council for 20 years.
Although he had seven children, none married and his memory died out with them. Now you can rediscover this virtually forgotten patriarch of early Melbourne.

Sunday September 10

La Trobe and the Cape Otway Lighthouse
Presenter:  Tim Gatehouse
The talk will explore the circumstances which led to the construction of the Cape Otway lighthouse, La Trobe’s role in obtaining approval for the Cape Otway lighthouse, and the need to liaise with the Tasmanian and British governments to provide for other lighthouses in Bass Strait to provide comprehensive protection. It will also address the exploration necessary to locate a suitable site, the history of its construction and the lives of the keepers.



See also other Events that you may attend.