Sullivan Bay, Victoria

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For more details on the 1803 British settlement, see History of Victoria.
Map of Sullivan Bay, Victoria
Map of Sullivan Bay, Victoria

Sullivan Bay lies 60 km due south of Melbourne on Port Phillip, one kilometre east of Sorrento, Victoria. It was established as a short-lived convict settlement in 1803 by Lieutenant-Colonel David Collins,[1] who named the bay after the Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, John Sullivan.

The site was chosen because of its strategic location near the entrance of Port Phillip Bay. The settlement is significant because it was the first attempt to settle Europeans permanently in what is now Victoria and is a key link in the expansion of the colony of New South Wales into Tasmania and Victoria, and the control of Bass Strait as a trade route.

History[edit]

In 1802, Lieutenant John Murray discovered Port Phillip Bay and claimed it for the British Crown, and Matthew Flinders further explored the area that same year. The British government was impressed with their positive reports, and were also worried that the French might try to establish colonies there. It decided to get in first. In April 1803 the HMS Calcutta and the transport ship Ocean sailed from England, via the Cape of Good Hope, carrying officers, a marine detachment, free settlers and 301 convicts to Port Phillip, and some wives and children. They arrived on 10 October 1803.

Shortly after arriving, a party led by James Tuckey was dispatched to explore Port Phillip Bay. It reported that the land was poor and there was little fresh water. Explorers failed to find the Yarra River. They also reported that suitable timber could not be found. The treacherous entrance to the bay made the site unsuitable for whaling and with few marines, the settlement was vulnerable to attack. Collins asked Governor King for permission to abandon the site, and was eventually given permission to do so. On 30 January 1804, Collins and some of the convicts left in the Ocean and Lady Nelson to Van Diemens Land (now Tasmania) where John Bowen had established a settlement at Risdon Cove in 1803. They were moved as two parties, the second group leaving on 20 May, just over seven months after the settlement had been established. Records show 30 people died at the settlement.

During the brief occupation, 21 convicts escaped.[2] One of these was William Buckley who lived in the area around Geelong for 33 years before meeting with John Batman's party in 1835.

Little evidence of the settlement exists. Four graves on the eastern headland, and parts of barrels, leg irons, bottles and other pieces are all that remain.[3] The Collins Settlement Historic Reserve, comprising about 2km of coastline, is protected under the Victorian Heritage Register and the Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Collins, David (1756–1810)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1. MUP. 1966. pp. 236–240. Retrieved 6 June 2008. 
  2. ^ "Escape From Prison To Join The Blacks.". Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954) (Qld.: National Library of Australia). 19 August 1952. p. 2. Retrieved 18 January 2012. 
  3. ^ "Collins Settlement Historic Site, Sorrento", Park Notes (Parks Victoria), July 2003, retrieved 2011-11-01 
  4. ^ "Collins Settlement Site, Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) Number H1050, Heritage Overlay HO255". Victorian Heritage Database. Heritage Victoria. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Marjorie Tipping. Convicts unbound : the story of the Calcutta convicts and their settlement in Australia South Yarra, Vic. Viking O'Neil, 1988
  • Crook, William Pascoe, (1983), An Account of the Settlement at Sullivan Bay, Port Phillip 1803,(ed John Currey) The Colony Press, Melbourne.
  • Bonwick, James, (1883), Port Phillip Settlement, Samson, Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington Publishing, London.
  • Angell, B, (1984), Voyage to Port Phillip 1803, Neapean Historical Society, Sorrento.
  • Cotter, Richard (2001) No place for a colony: Sullivan Bay, Sorrento & the Collins Settlement.
  • Coutts, J. F. (1981) Victoria's first official settlement: Sullivan Bay, Port Phillip. Victoria Archaeological Survey, Ministry for Conservation.

Coordinates: 38°20′52″S 144°45′38″E / 38.34778°S 144.76056°E / -38.34778; 144.76056