Detailed map of Victoria and part of New South Wales, published in London by Smith, Elder & Co.
The map is divided by Districts and early Counties and shows roads, towns, mountains, rivers and many other details.
The map shows
- the railway lines made by private contract
- as projected by the government viz permanently levelled
- surveyed & prepared for contract
- projected extensions & trail lines.
"The Electric Telegraph connects Melbourne with Geelong & the Heads of Port Phillip, with Ballarat, & with Castlemaine & Sandhurst."
The map shows Victoria only 6 years after the discovery of gold. Victoria's first successful British settlement was at Portland, on the west coast of what is now Victoria. Portland was settled on 19 November, 1834, by the Henty family, who were originally farmers from Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). When Major Mitchell led an expedition to the region from Sydney in 1835, arriving at Portland in August 1836, he was surprised to find a small but prosperous community living off the fertile farmland.
Melbourne was founded in 1835 by John Batman, also from Van Diemen's Land. Its foundation was the result of an invasion of wealthy squatters, land speculators and their indentured servants (including ex-convicts), who arrived from 1835, in a race with one another to seize an 'empty' country.
Between 1836 and 1842, Victorian Aboriginal groups were largely dispossessed of territory bigger than England. Although the British Colonial Office appointed 5 "Aboriginal Protectors" for the entire Aboriginal population of Victoria, arriving in Melbourne in 1839, they worked "...within a land policy that nullified their work, and there was no political will to change this." By 1845, fewer than 240 wealthy Europeans held all the pastoral licences then issued in Victoria.
The first petition for the separation of the Port Phillip District (or 'Australia Felix') from New South Wales, was drafted in 1840 by Henry Fyshe Gisborne and presented by him to Governor Gipps. Gipps, who had previously been in favour of separation, rejected the petition. The British Act of Parliament separating Victoria from New South Wales and naming and providing a Constitution for the new colony, was signed by Queen Victoria on August 5, 1850. Enabling legislation was passed by the New South Wales Legislative Council on July 1, 1851.
In 1851 gold was first discovered in Clunes and Buninyong near Ballarat and subsequently at Bendigo. Later discoveries occurred at many sites across Victoria. This triggered one of the largest gold rushes the world has ever seen. The colony grew rapidly in both population and economic power. In ten years the population of Victoria increased sevenfold from 76,000 to 540,000. All sorts of gold records were produced including the "richest shallow alluvial goldfield in the world" and the largest gold nugget. Victoria produced in the decade 1851-1860, twenty million ounces of gold, one third of the world's output.
Immigrants arrived from all over the world to search for gold, especially from Ireland and China. Many Chinese miners worked in Victoria and their legacy is particularly strong in Bendigo and its environs. Although there was some racism directed at them, there was not the level of anti-Chinese violence that was seen at the Lambing Flat riots in New South Wales. However, there was a riot at Buckland Valley near Bright, in 1857.
In 1854 there was an armed rebellion against the government of Victoria by miners protesting against mining taxes (the "Eureka Stockade"). This was crushed by British troops but some of the leaders of the rebellion subsequently became members of the Victoria Parliament and the rebellion is regarded as a pivotal moment in the development of Australian democracy.