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Tue 16 Oct: Evening Lecture: Lost Flocks & Distraught Shepherds : Captain Charles Swanston

Evening Lecture
Lost Flocks & distraught shepherds: Captain Charles Swanston


Time:                 5:15pm drinks for a 5:45pm lecture
Cost:                  Free for RHSV Members; $10 for Non-Members.
Booking:           Register your attendance.

Melbourne by 1856 was growing in confidence and grandeur, as Henry Gritten’s fine painting of Swanston Street depicts. Captain Charles Swanston, the man after whom the bustling thoroughfare was named, would have been gratified. Swanston—heroic soldier of the Honourable East India Company, Van Diemen’s Land banker, legislator, pillar of Hobart Town society, fomenter of the squatting rush to Victoria—could always recognise a good commercial opportunity. His business tentacles stretched around the globe. Yet following the catastrophic collapse of the Derwent Bank, his desperate dash to the California goldfields and his mysterious death at sea, he was virtually expunged from the public record. In reviving Swanston’s remarkable story from a dusty, almost forgotten treasure trove of bank archives, Eleanor Robin brings to light his considerable contribution to the economic, political and social life of Van Diemen’s Land and his leading role in the settlement of Melbourne.

Dr Eleanor Robin started life as a journalist, working with the Canberra Times, in the federal parliamentary bureau of the Sun News-Pictorial, and for the Sun-Herald and Sydney Morning Herald. Highlights of her later career in Canberra included nine years (1980-1989) as head of the information section of the Australian Heritage Commission and many stints between 1992 and 2001 as a writer with the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. At the ANU she studied anthropology and Australian history. Being a keen naturalist, she also holds qualifications in Ornithology from Charles Stuart University.

While living recently in Tasmania, Eleanor became fascinated by that state’s maritime history and the stories of the early capitalists’ wild optimism, ambition and bold enterprise. This led into her doctoral research at the University of Tasmania and publication of her book SWANSTON Merchant Statesman.