Personal Reminiscences of John Waugh

Personal Reminiscences of John Waugh, Gentleman,
44 Robe Street, St Kilda (1909)

RHSV Manuscripts Collection (MS 000091)

The late Mr John Waugh was born at Belfast, Ireland, on 27th October 1832. He left his native town, with his parents, bound for Australia, on 9th November, 1838, on the barque ‘Garrow’ … Arriving in Sydney on 3rd March 1839, Mr Waugh’s parents, in the following month set sail with their family for the Port Phillip Settlement, by the ‘John Barry’ … which cast anchor in Hobson’s Bay on 27th April 1839. Mr Waugh died at Westbury Street, East St Kilda, on 16th July 1916. From the time of his arrival here, in his seventh year, he spent the remainder of his long life of 84 years in Melbourne. Possessed of a clear intellect and good memory to the very end, he was a reliable authority as to the early days, and furnished many details to Mr Edmund Finn and other historians. (Dr W.A. Sanderson, from a paper presented to the RHSV in 1931)

Transcription by RHSV Volunteer Karin Ziemnicki. Some minor amendments to punctuation and corrections to original spellings and abbreviations have been made to assist readability. Readers should bear in mind that the manuscript reflects observations and attitudes of earlier times.

RHSV Images Collection (P-386-Pi)
RHSV Images Collection (P-386-Pi)

John Waugh: – born at Belfast – North of Ireland on 27th October 1832. At the age of 6 yrs he sailed with his parents from the city of Belfast for Sydney, New South Wales on the 9th November 1838 in the barque “Garrow” 514 tons under command of Captain Henderson. The vessel carried in all 192 passengers and all from the North of Ireland.

They arrived in Sydney on the 3rd of March 1839. Fever having broken out on board the barque the passengers were put into quarantine, at the Station on North Head for fourteen days: and when that time had elapsed and no further cases of fever they were taken up to Sydney in little sailing boats, and put into tents owing to the scarcity of buildings as so many arrivals had taken place about that time.

Within a few days after their landing a gang of many hundreds of convicts in chains passed the tent, they were walking twenty abreast and the clanking of chains visibly impressed the arrivals. A guard of soldiers (28th regiment) walked on each side of the convicts. It was thought that a convict ship had just arrived and that these were the prisoners.

Things were dull in Sydney at that time and the Government were anxious to settle Port Phillip as Victoria was then called:- so a ship was chartered to induce people to go on to Port Phillip and a free passage offered by the Governor then – Sir Richard Bourke.

The ship was called “John Barry” 524 ton with Captain Robson:- about 200 embarked including some officers of the 4th and 28th regiments and one Dr Patterson who first held the position of Emigration Officer in Port Phillips and retained that office until his death. His house was a wooden cottage in Lonsdale Street and was the only building at that time on the North side of Lonsdale St. The “John Barry”, arrived at Port Phillips Heads on the 27th April 1839 and as there were no pilots or light houses existent then the Captain sent out a boat to take soundings and at the same time a small schooner named the “Paul Pry” from Hobart Town Van Diemen’s Land came in the Heads, so Captain Robson followed her up the channel and dropped anchor in Hobson’s Bay. The only vessels in were a Barque and schooner besides the “John Barry”.

A small steam launch ran from Melbourne to Hobson’s Bay called the “Fire-fly”and Captain Robson tried to arrange with the launch for his passengers to go on to Melbourne, but the terms with the launch could not be met – consequently the men and boys were all landed at Liardet’s beach, (named Liardet after the man who had built the first tavern at the corner of Beach road and the Esplanade). The men and boys walked through the scrub to Melbourne, a very sandy track as far as “Emerald Hill” no road all wild bush. The women and children with all their luggage were put into a large boat and towed up the river by a small boat containing eight sailors; they were landed on the banks of the river in the thick scrub at 11 o’clock the same night. The scrub at that time extended on both sides of the river from the Custom House right down to Williamstown. The children were much frightened by the strange noises from the scrub.

My father had been ashore to try and get a house for my Mother and their four children the eldest only ten years old and the youngest about four months. There was only one house going up in Melbourne at that time, and it contained only two rooms, it was situated behind the present Opera House a little back from Bourke Street, and what is now called Royal Lane. This house had been previously taken by some fellow passengers.

At this time there was only one house on the East side of Swanston Street, which is still in existence (1909) having had a new front put to it in later years. It faces Protestant Hall which is in Stephen St, now called Exhibition Street. A Public House is on the corner and two doors from the corner in Stephen St is a small gate which leads in and the house is at the back of the present building. (The next oldest house in Melbourne was recently taken down “Her majesty’s Theatre” formerly occupied by a Mr Dempster, a plumber well known in early Melbourne.)

We were not left much longer without a roof to cover us – for about midnight a gentleman named Herd came along enquiring for my Mother – he had known our friends at Home, and said that he had that day left an old hut, of one room with earthen floor, it was situated in Bond Street of to-day, behind Queen Street, and that my Father could have it.

Mr Herd afterwards became a large land-holder on the Barrabool Hills. Forest land was all around our new home & within our one room some of the plaster had fallen and my Mother had to put blankets round the walls to keep out the cold wind.

It was three months before another house could be obtained, it was situated at the corner of Queen and Little Collins Streets, where the national Trustee Agency Co. is now built.

A few months after we were settled there a very heavy flood took place in the December of ’39, when a man named O’Shea who had occupied the hut (our first home) after we left it, was up to his shoulders in water; and a wooden house on piles in Queens St (of to-day) and occupied by Captain Berry, a Tasmanian trader was so surrounded by water that standing at the corner of Flinders Lane I saw his wife paddling herself ashore in a tub and landed safely at the N.E. corner where Flinders Lanes meets Queen St.

Business places about Melbourne. –

At that time Flinders Lane was the principal business street from Elizabeth St to Market St. A gentleman named Mr. Crochett (whose son is 85 to-day, 1909) a Presbyterian Minister in Brunswick) he had a shop in Flinders Lane (grocers) bet [between]: Queen and Market Streets.

Mr. Ambrose Kyte had a store in Bourke St at the time of the diggings.

A timber yard ran from Flinders Lane to Flinders Street; it was kept by Mr. Mills whose daughter married Mr A.C. a’Beckett a son of the Sir William a’Beckett, chief Justice.

A brewery next to the timber yard was kept by Mr. Robins, – the Adelphi hotel was next kept by John Thomas Smith who was one of the early Mayors of Melbourne.

A baker’s shop next the hotel kept by one named Aitken, who afterwards held the brewery in East Melbourne.

Further up in Flinders Lane past Queen St., was the “Ship Inn”, two or three more small buildings then another Inn, beyond that was the “Watch House” behind the Custom House of to-day and alongside the W. House were the stocks on the foot-path and made to contain four people. The stocks were opp [opposite] to Market Square. There is a building now at the rear of the Custom House in Flinders Lane, it was ‘The Exchange’ now it is a Govt. office, the stocks were in front – where this building now is – they were four stumps put into the ground about 12 in. in diameter, 1 yd. apart and there were four others place opposite on these others a plank was fixed on its edge with eight hollows sufficiently large to confine four people who sat on the first stumps; another plank was attached on the right-end by hinges at it was cut with the right hollows to meet the first the upper plank was lifted and the prisoner put in then it was locked.

The stocks were open to all weathers and right on the street, frequently women were put in them and those in the stocks were often much annoyed by boys throwing tussocks of grass at them, violent language followed as to what should be done when the prisoner was free, but the boys were then non est.

Passing on to William St, which was like all other streets unformed at this time, convicts were brought later from Sydney to form the streets you came to Murphy’s brewery (J.R. Murphy from Hobart Town. V.D. and other places led on to Batman’s Hill, where was a house owned by two Quaker ladies named Riley whose brother had a wharf alongside the little Dock and Steam Ferry off Spencer St, that house is now Batman Hotel.

A creek ran down William Street across Flinders Street into the Yarra it was called the river Euscoe after a firm who occupied a building close at hand named Thomas Euscoe and James his brother it was next to the Yarra Steam Packet Hotel.

Another creek ran from North Melbourne to the Yarra – it came down Elizabeth Street and joined the Yarra near Fall’s bridge; a pamphlet published by M.L. Hutchinson gives a full a/c of the same (this pamphlet contains a list of the first-land sale with a sketch of same published originally in 1839.)

In wet weather this creek made the streets almost impassable. So much so that Capt. Mathieson, an old veteran who had served under Lord Nelson, suggested that Elizabeth St. should be made into a canal to drain the town. In 1844 during a heavy flood a plank was thrown across the gully at the corner of Collins St. and going to church with my Mother on the Sunday of that flood my Mother was afraid to trust the plank with the rushing water beneath when Superintendent La Trobe who was passing at the time for he always walked into town to his church on the Sunday (St. James’s) came and took my Mother’s hand and helped her across. Supt. La Trobe & in 1851 appointed the first-Governor of Vic. was a man about 5 ft. 8 in. in height; dark complexion – dark eyes – he was a smart active man who walked quickly, very kind of a gentle disposition most obliging, and a religious man. There was only one theatre in Melbourne at that time and Supt. La Trobe would not allow it to be open on Saturday night, because it was so near the Sabbath.

He was a native of Switzerland and a Moravian, his father being one of their ministers. Before coming to Melbourne he was tutor in Lord Glenelg’s family who was Sec. of State for the Colonies, and from him received his appointment as Superintendent for Port Phillip. (Capt Lonsdale had been the first.)

He arrived at Port Phillip about Nov. 1839 in the “Aphrasia”, he left Victoria on 1st July 1854 by the “Golden Age” an ocean paddle steamer.

The Union Bank occupied a two-roomed cottage in Queen Street, the Bank of Australiasia carried on its business in a four-roomed cottage facing Elizabeth Street. The Post Office was held in a two-roomed cottage in Lit. Collins St. bet. Queen and Williams Sts,; there was only one man in charge named David Welsh a Scotchman, and often times when people came for letter, he would tell them to come inside & look for them as he was busy.

The Custom House was a small wooden building at the corner of Queen and Flinders Sts.

The Police Office was situated where Howard Smith’s offices now are; the ticket of leave men were treated so cruelly by the authorities, on day passing along I saw a ticket of leave man outside the court and looking miserable – presently a constable came along and seizing him by the collar hurried him before a Magistrate – a Major St. John an old Waterloo man, & very tyrannical – he waved the prisoner off with fifty lashes – never allowing one word in defence.

The gaol was in Collins St. between William and Spencer Sts., a small brick building with a brick wall, and the barracks next door to the Gaol were occupied by the Grenadier Co. of the 28th Regiment detached to Melbourne from the Head Quarters in Sydney. The Grenadiers were the tallest men in the army and wore white wings for the men and gold ones for the officers; white balls in their hats – their hats at that time were of bearskins.

The 28th Regiment was noted for its bravery under Sir Ralph Abercrombie in Egypt, 1801. The noted 28th defeated the French – the front and rear ranks drove the French before them and since then the 28th bears the regimental number in the front and back of their Shakoes, the only regiment so favoured.

The Survey Office consisting of two rooms stood at the corner of Spencer and Collins Streets.

What was then called Government House, was situated on Batman’s Hill and was Batman’s original House. It consisted of four rooms and verandah, one room was occupied by the Governor another by his Secretary, and two clerks occupied the third floor, the man in charge the fourth. A flag staff was in front where the Union Jack was hoisted each day. The Superintendent La Trobe walked in each morning from Jolimont, and back in the evening.

The Episcopalian Church was a small wooden building in William St., this church got an extra grant of land which extends from Collins to Bourke Sts., and as far as McCracken’s Brewery and across to Bourke St. It was put up by the Presbyterians and Episcopalians who held services alternately till Bishop Broughton happening to visit Melbourne from Sydney in 1838, would not allow the Presbyterians to join any longer as it was English Church Land.

The Presbyterians then built a little school-room in Collins St. and put up a commodious brick building in 1839 where George and George’s is to-day. They appointed two able men as teachers William Abelon and Robert Campbell – the latter holding four positions in the church – Elder, – Teacher, – Precentor, and Librarian. The church at that time provided books for the congregation to read (the bookcase is still to be seen in the vestry at Scots Church 1909). This school was the only Protestant school in town, and was largely attended as it was a mixed school for boys and girls.

The minister was the Rev. James Forbes, the first Presbyterian Minister – a good man and much respected.

The Roman Catholics built a temporary chapel of broad palings on the site of St. Francis’s and they also had a day school in the same building; Father Geoghegan was the first priest. The Episcopalian Minister was the Rev. J. Thompson, and the Heads of these three churches were often seen walking Collins St. linked arm in arm.

The Aboriginals: – In 1839 there were many hundreds of them camped on the present site of the Federal Government House; – it was a green hill covered with grass and large trees and they generally came through the town in parties of about twelve armed with long spears jagged with glass, and with boomerangs. They would enter into the shops and demand tea, sugar, tobacco, and white and black money; at first the shop-keepers were alarmed and would give all asked for, but after they knew them to be harmless they would give them all that they asked for without fear. One day in ’39 a battle took place between two tribes near the South bank of the Yarra. Each tribe stood in line facing the other, rugs were thrown off and war paint on. The battle lasted about two hours – behind each tribe the women were standing to gather up the spears as they fell from the opposite side and gave them back to their own side. A punt which was worked on the river above where Princes Bridge is to-day was so crowded that I could not cross over to the side on which the battle was taking place so waited on the bank where the St. Kilda platform is now and watched the fight from there – several were killed and wounded.

About the same time as this fight occurred (1839) several shepherds were murdered by the natives in the Plenty River district so an expedition was sent out of soldiers, police and civilians, they captured about 100 natives and brought them to town and shut them in the stockade in the rear of the goal.

The Stockade was composed of rough slabs about 12 ft. high nailed to three rails on the outside up which the boys climbed to see the prisoners. It was a simple enclosure without roof.

The trial was held and twelve men old and young were picked out for punishment and the others released; it was a melancholy sight to see the wives and children of those that were detained going down Collins St. crying and sobbing with the clapping of hands – native fashion.

The prisoners were sentenced to transportation for life to Cockatoo Island N.S.W. and were put on board the revenue cutter “Prince George” for conveyance there, while proceeding down the Yarra as far as the junction of the Yarra and Salt Water River and although they were well guarded by armed soldiers and laden with heavy irons 30 to 40 Hs. weight, they jumped overboard – the guard shot several of them and the rest escaped into the scrub. Those who were killed were buried in the Flagstaff Gardens. (Where the Signal Station was) & consisted of a flagstaff and quarters for the men in charge (two). Their duty was to signalize the arrival of all vessels in the Bay, it was supplied with a yard to demote the class of vessel arriving & a ball was placed on different parts to show whether a ship, barque, schooner or streamer was coming in. When a vessel hove in sight a chequered flag was hoisted to the top of the mast to give notice that a vessel was arriving.

People would then walked up to see when and what kind of vessel so it proved to be a pleasant resort especially in summer evenings.

At this time for the better protection of the Whites the Government formed a mounted force of black police. Under White Officers. A review took place on one occasion when about 100 galloped from Batman’s Hill to the Flagstaff Hill practising the sword exercise which they did very well.

In 1840 some shipwrecked sailors landed at Western Port & were murdered by two Tasmanian natives named Bob & Jack. These were executed near the site of the present gaol, which was then heavily timbered forest land with an opening there. These natives held the curious idea that they would go down ‘black fellow’ & come back “white fellow”. Another was executed later on the same spot for spearing Mr Andrew Beveridge one of the pioneer Squatters on the Murray River.

The blacks were very wild on the Murray and a number of the black police were sent up to arrest the murderer and they ascertained that a black man named Roger was the guilty one. In order to get him the police roasted a bullock whole to attract them and a number came in to camp including the murderer, they were entirely without clothing & had rubbed themselves so well with oil that it was impossible to get hold of them; till one Sergeant McClelland a splendid cavalry man who had been sent out for striking his officer, got a rope with a noose, and on the man Roger being pointed out to him, he threw the rope round his neck and held him – all the others vanishing in an instant. Roger was brought to Melbourne and there he suffered the penalty of his crime.

A further incident showing the usefulness of the Black Police was, that a vessel named “The Britannia had sailed from Melbourne to Sydney & was never more heard of – but a figure-head floated ashore on the 90 Mile Beach Gippsland, a report was spread that a white lady supposed to have been a passenger was captured by the blacks.

An expedition was organised to recover her – it consisted of a force of black Police under Captain Dana accompanied by Mr. Wellington Walsh. They set out from the corner of Collins and Swanston Streets where the present time Town Hall is.

Historic Days in early Victoria: –

The first Municipal Election took place in 1842 when Mayor Aldermen and Councillors were elected for the first time. The first Mayor was Mr. Condell (Grandfather to Capt. Vallange, son in-law to the Chief Justice).

One of the gentlemen elected to the council was Mr. Ebden a wealthy Squatter, & after his election he drove his carriage along Swanston Street scattering money amongst the crowd and a Mr. Dobson landlord of the Albion Hotel (Bourke St.) was chaired at the top of Bourke St. and carried down to his hotel while the town band played marches as it escorted him. The same day the landlord of the “Eagle Tavern” put cases of ale out on the foot-path for any to drink, he was Mr. Neil Jamieson.

At the same election a public spirited citizen named Mortimer was elected as Alderman while Mr. J.C. King a very talented man was elected Town Clerk, he was afterwards connected with the Argus.

Another memorable day in early Melbourne was the election of six members for the district of Port Phillip for the first – Legislative Assembly of N.S.W. (1842)

The city had to return one and two candidates were put up for it – Mr. Condell on the part of the Protestants, and Mr. Curr was supported by the Roman Catholics. (Mr. Curr was an English Gentleman who had brought out from England a beautiful yacht name the “Lady of St. Kilda” & possibly led to that suburb of Melbourne being so named & Gurner St., St. Kilda after his son in-law). Great interest was taken in this election and excitement prevailed on the day – a number of special constables were sworn in as the police force was very small. A gentleman named McCrea was crossing from the Post Office to the opposite side of the street when a mob of Temans(?) attacked him knocking him down, and would have killed him but that he was rescued by a number of special constables. The only reason for this was that he had come from the North of Ireland, and they believed him to be an Orange man but he was not. This Mr. McCrea was afterwards a member of the Upper House and his widow resides in Toorak (1909).

Condell was the successful candidate, he was returned by a large majority; that night a riot took place a mob of Irishmen attacked the house of a Mr. Green an auctioneer in Elizabeth St. oppo. the Post Office, he had taken a prominent part in keeping order during the day. The mob smashed his windows, & he fired on them and wounded two.

At that time a company of the 80th Regiment was stationed at Williamstown under the command of Captain Lewis a Waterloo Veteran, they were ordered out to the scene of the riot and were formed two deep from the Post Office (the second one put facing Elizabeth St.) across Elizabeth St. their front extended the whole breath of the street from house to house as there were no foot-paths. They were ordered to fire bayonets & charge, and the mob were driven at the point of the bayonet as far as St. Francis’s Roman Catholic Chapel at the corner of Lonsdale and Elizabeth Street – a building composed of broad palings. Captain Lewis told the mob that they had better disperse, for if his troops were brought down again that night some of the rioters would lose their lives as he would not have his soldiers brought out again for nothing.

In 1845 a riot took place at the Pastoral Hotel corner Queen and Lit. Bourke Sts. the occasion was a dinner which the Orange men purposed holding that evening it being the 12th July. The reason for the formation of an Orange Lodge in Melbourne was when the Municipal Elections took place the voting was open, and the Alderman who presided asked the voter for whom he voted, and generally a row of men stood on each side of the door across the foot-path & composed of Roman Catholics, if the elector had not voted for their candidate he was hustled about and knocked down.

This took place so often that the inhabitants resolved to put an end to it by forming an Orange Lodge which soon effected the object in view. During the day the Orangemen hung their banners out of the Hotel windows – a crowd gathered and smashed the windows, and a number of them broke into a gunsmith’s shop in Queen Street, and took all the firearms that it contained, and rushing up the street yelling like demons – they came to the Hotel and placed a row of women in front and began firing into the Hotel.

The landlady (Mrs. Gordon) a powerful North of Irelander was in the bar parlour when the door was broken open, and those who entered were driven back by her with an axe handle and the door closed. Afterwards she found fourteen bullet holes in the bar window. The mob then broke open the hall door in Queen St. and headed by McGlin a drunken cooper rushed up the narrow stairs where an Orangeman met him named Hamilton who was armed with a sword & cut McGlin down, when his comrades saw that they turned and fled; McGlin was put out into the street and the door closed. One of the Orangemen named Hinds had a brace of pistols – he fired into the street & shot a man named Jerry Connell through both legs and another man was drinking some beer in St. John Tavern (John Thomas Small) when a bullet passed through his cheek.

Melbourne was garrisoned by a company of the 11th Regiment, under Major Blosse and they were ordered out but as the commanding officer was ill Lieutenant Wilton took charge and ordered the soldiers to load with ball and if ordered to fire – to fire low.

They marched down to the scene of the riots and were formed in four sections facing Lit. Bourke Street and Queens Street. The Riot Act was read (for the first time) by Mr. Palmer the then Mayor, and who was afterwards Sir James Palmer, President of the Legislative Council, after the Act was read there was not a man in the Street.

Hinds was compelled for several years afterwards to carry pistols for his protection.

There was no Police uniform in “Tulip” Wright’s time nor in Mr Brodie’s for I remember when the bushrangers were taken in 1842, seeing Mr Brodie, in plain clothes bringing the prisoners from the watchhouse to the Police Office, which was next door, I think the next Chief Constable Mr Sugden, who was a fine stalwart fellow and had been in the London Police, introduced the first uniform, which was a blue uniform in colour with a swallow tailed coat and a bell topper hat with a circular piece of leather on the crown of the hat, and must have been similar to the then uniform of the London Police – Mr. Sugden did not remain in charge of the local police very long, as he opened the Bull and Mouth hotel in Bourke Street afterwards resuming? to a hotel in Kilmore, as there was an immense traffic through that town owning to large extent of the Ovens Goldfields, (which caused a great rush to that quarter). The names of all of the early police were Tulip Wright, Tommy Smith and Charley Waggoner, the latter went to the great rush to California in 1849, and was lynched for stealing, but it was a common thing for these ticket of leave constables to beat the drunken men taken up into insensibility and then rob them. “Tulip” Wright often took out summonses against the inhabitants for some trifling thing such as wheeling a barrow over the side path, and then call round, and say there is a summons issued against you, but you need not go except you like, and turning his back would hold his hands behind him saying I didn’t see anything and most people would put some silver in them to avoid the inconvenience of attending the Police Office, but they had a bad example in the person of the Police Magistrate, Major St. John who it was said, would take a bribe of anything, from a dozen of eggs upwards, for this he was challenged by John Fawkner in his paper the “Port Phillip Patriot”, and in consequence had a libel action, but the jury returned a verdict of justification, and the Citizens subscribed the costs incurred, by Fawkner. Quite a different class of men were enrolled under the new regime, all free people, the names of some were Sergeants Lawrence, Heffernan, and Halliday, and constable McCarton late 51st Reg, Band Corporal Caser, Sergeant Matheson, late 58th Reg, and J Cumming late 11th Reg also Constable Stanton. Heffernan and including many old soldiers. Thus the Police Force were gradually added to, as the town grew larger, until when the [word missing] broke out in 1857, the Government resolved to send home for 5 constables, and this number was chosen out of the London Police but as there was an immense immigration in 1852, when over ten thousand people arrived in one week of Nov that year, and so many young gentlemen came out, and being unsuccessful at the diggings, were stranded, for La Trobe in his kindness, formed a special police corps, termed Cadets whose ranks were filled up by exArmy officers, solicitors, barristers, doctors, for they were stationed in former immigration buildings at the corner of Collins and King streets they had a mess like the officers of a regiment and had servants to attend on them, their uniform was a handsome one, light blue with silver facings they were not long in existence – for the Governor had appointed many of them gold Commissioners, Crown Prosecutors, Police Magistrates and Police Inspectors and other positions were given until they were all observed, almost their last appearance in public was at a large fire in Collins Street when they bought down a small fire engine and assisted in putting it out.

In reference to the sea in Hobson’s Bay, breaking through into the lagoon, I am certain that it was in 1849, for my brother accompanied me to have a look at it, and while we were there, a boat came through the opening, we noticed a small shark close to the beach and called out to the sailors one of whom jumped into the water, pulled the fish out and cut off his tail. Garryowen was not correct in this statement for the flood of /44 was a minor flood, the three greatest that took place since the Colony was settled were 1839, 1849 and 1863 but 49 was not the greatest as owing to the strong gale which blew from the South West fourteen days and nights, the tides could not get out at the Heads and the sea in Hobson’s Bay four feet in height being that much higher in 1863 which was shown by a mark on a tree at Princes Bridge which was ???.

The first band in Melbourne was called Tickell’s band from the bandmaster who was a talented musician it consisted of I. Tickell and W. Griffiths, key bugles, N Picknell, and another player clarinets, I. Drane piccolo, I. Hawley flute, G. Milstead, and I. Oliver trombones, N. Anderson (known as Black Bill) base drum. I. Hamilton small drum and S. Marsh triangle player, had the latter lived in ancient times, he would have been qualified not only as a member of the Federal Parliament, but also a member of the Labour Executive, as he was a bricklayer’s labourer, which recently appears to be the best qualification for office. They made their first appearances Christmas morning 1839, and marching up Bourke Street made their way to Lonsdale Street between William & King Streets, which was the fashionable quarter, then there were three fine villas at that time (two of which are still in existence) one occupied by a – sporting solicitor named Carrington, who when the band played some airs in front of his residence, tossed out a cask of wine for the people to drink, who were accompanying the band they went along Spencer Street, and passing by the prisoners’ quarters (who had been sent down from Sydney to lay out the streets) being ticket of leave men, they all turned out in their dishabille, to listen to the music, the band then proceeded to the Ship Inn in Flinders Lane, whose landlord was named Jack Lee wound up their proceedings by playing the old English glee, “Dame Durden”, they had previously played many popular airs as the “Sea” the Lass of Richmond Hill, Rory O’Mere, Copenhagen Waltz and Hokey Pokey & British Grenadiers – My Boat is on Shore, Such a getting up stairs???. This band was much in requisites for public dinners, regattas, races and the bandmaster was often engaged to play his key bugle, at many of the numerous land sales.

Mrs McCrea’s address is Toorak Road opposite the tram terminus and next the Presbyterian church but she is an old lady now upwards of 80 years of age and recently has been very ill.

The Russell Street Temperance band was organised in 1847. M. Tickell was the first bandmaster and the band consisted at first of T. Tickell and W. Morris key bugles, G. Milne and R Heales afterwards premier trombones, R. Knox ophiecleide, A. Meiklejohn trumpet, Ian Knox, W. Weaver, W. Skinner & other clarinets, T. Croft and W. Lacy french horns, N Stoneham piccolo, J. Woods flute J. Marris flute S. Porlett base drum, I Gascoyne small drum, I Marsh triangle and afterwards the Hue family the first sax horns seen in the Colony joined the band P Hue being bandmaster, T. Hue trombardier P Hue & R Hue cornets, S. Hue flathorn, Jas Waugh trombone, and John Waugh clarinet. A public meeting usually took place in the Temperance Hall Russell Street, and the band would usually meet at the corner of Collins and Elizabeth Streets, to draw a crowd to the meeting, then use a popular lady lecturer on temperance in those days, Mrs Dalgarno, the wife of Capt Dalgarno of the barque “Loch-na-Garr”, who when the vessel was in port, spoke every Tuesday evening, amid much applause. When the diggings opened up at Ballarat in 1851 and nearly all the men in Town went off there, the band was disbanded and never was reorganised, the instruments lay for many years in a cupboards in the Temperance Hall and were at last sold for old brass although they had cost £120 when bought from England. I have already given almost a similar account of this band to Garryowen at his request.

In reference to the old buildings near Princes Bridge they were first erected by the Government at a considerable expense, in 1852 to accommodate some of those who came out then. The buildings did not extend beyond the present limits and the 12th Regt with the headquarters and band, were stationed there for two years, I have seen them marching into the Domain which was then bush for parade purposes – I have not notice the buildings much of late years, but think that some of the wooden buildings were there in 1854. As you are aware some brick buildings were erected later on and since the Military have gone away.

The first land sale I remember was in 1840, there was a tent erected at the intersection of Collins and Queen Streets, and the sales were conducted by an auctioneer named I think Williams, who gave a champaign lunch each day, the Wesleyan Church was then being built, and the workmen went there for their lunch, instead of going to their homes, on my way to the Scots’ School in Collins Street, I heard allotments of land in Collins Street sold at the rate of one pound per foot but this was not extraordinary, as my Father was offered the site of the Queens Arcade for £50, by the original purchaser – J Moore. T. Power and Co had rooms in Queen Street next [to] the corner of Collins St and they also held daily sales of land, always providing a free lunch. Mr G. Sinclair Brodie a noted auctioneer in the olden time, had an office at the corner of Little Collins and Queen Streets where large quantities of land were also sold – For many years after Melbourne was founded the streets were is a state of nature, as much so that a ship captain who visited in 1844, said that it was noted for dust in summer, and mud in winter, after a heavy rain the streets near the Post Office were a quagmire, for when the creek which then ran up Elizabeth Street flooded over after heavy rains. The street was often under water and an old veteran who served under Lord Nelson, Capt Mathieson, told me he thought that a canal should be made to drain the town. There was also a watercourse in times of rain that ran from the Carlton Gardens, and came out at the corner of Swanston & Bourke streets, where the Orient Hotel is now, situated, an old colonist Michael Dawson told me that when he commenced building a hotel there that the foundations fell in twice, owing to the rottenness of the ground. He said that he purchased the corner allotment in 1842 for fifty shillings a foot and the next lot at 25/- per foot, and that the opposite corner on which the Royal Mail hotel is built, cost three guineas per foot, and a further lot was sold at one pound per foot, and was bought by a carpenter named Egan, who said now I will keep it until I get £100 per foot of course he was laughed at, but he really sold it during the great land boom for £300 per foot – Referring to the suburbs, one of our shipmates bought some acres of land in Chapel St Prahran at about £2 per acre in 1841, there were very few houses in that quarter remember a carpenter named Galbraith building the first house in that district for Mr Breneter, a barrister and Mrs Galbraith asked that I should be allowed to go with her for company, being (then about 8 years old) the bush very very dense then, and many black about, their principle camping place being the site of Government House. The first house at St. Kilda was built by a very respectable man, named Mr Murtrie, on an allotment near Acland Street, he told me that he generally went out to the building on Monday morning, and remained there until Saturday afternoon. Mr Murtrie was father in-law to Hon W. Knox – about 1845, I often went out to the Pound, which was situated in Elizabeth Street corner of Queensberry Street, and wondered if Melbourne would ever come out that far, the first home in N. Melbourne was built by two brothers named Foster, who arrived here in 1852. There was a hotel in Flemington near Mavis bridge, which stood in the bush by itself, this bridge was only made of logs thrown over the creek and the only one between Bendigo and Melbourne, when the gold rush took place, there was a punt over the Salt Water River in 1840, and Footscray then consisted of two or three cottages, Liardet had a wooden building for a hotel in 1838, and the vicinity was known as Liardet’s Beach – during the rush to the diggings, he and four sons were very busy in bringing passengers and their luggage ashore, the family were very prone to aquatic pursuits, and when regattas took place (which was very often) they always took a leading part, on one occasion there was a whale boat race from the Queen’s wharf, to Hobson’s Bay, and they won the event. Mr Liardet and his stalwart sons were typical Englishmen, I think they came here from Devonshire/Sir Francis Drakes County, it was it was stated that their ancestors owned large portion of Portsmouth in Charles 2nd time, but I suppose they had lost their estate, and came away here – it was never know until a few years ago that Liardet was a baronet, but had dropped his tithe, they went away to New Zealand in the gold rush of 1861, since which time nothing has been heard of them, only a marriage announcement in a paper referring to one of the family –

Mr Hoffman a noted butcher was the first one to build a villa in Sandridge, and it stood in the heart of the bush, and ti-tree scrub which was very dense there at that time, in 1852 an iron building was put up for a public house named, the Half Way House, situated on the Sandridge road to accommodate travellers on their way to town, it afterwards had a new brick front erected and the licence was taken away last year but the building is still easy to be identified. The old name of South Melbourne, Emerald Hill, was given it by a Pic Nic party of the Father Matthew’s Temperance Society, when they camped out on one occasion in memory of old Ireland, as the grass was so beautifully green, and the forest so pleasant to see. The site of Richmond was plentifully bestrewed with big blocks of blue stone, interspersed with crabholes, which made driving very difficult and a gully ran from the Fitz Roy gardens across the Richmond road, which caused trouble at times. In 1848 there was one cottage on a tan yard, near the railway bridge in Church Street, there were very few houses in Richmond then.

Referring to the early brick yards near Princes Bridge, several excavations were made but not very deep, in the various floods which took place they were filled with water, and were to be seen for many years in the form of ponds, near the boatsheds, also near the Immigrants Home, they have been filled up within the last few years, and now form a portion of Alexandra Parade. There was no lighting of the streets for many years and when oil lamps were used the pillars small and low and, small tin lamps filled with sperm oil, were used which only made darkness visible, as they were few and far between, out family going to the Independent Church on Sabbath evenings, always took a little oil lamp with them, which one carried in front in order to avoid the gullies as there was a very deep one in Russell Street corner of Bourke Street at that time –

The first mettled road was that to Heidelberg, perhaps the reason was, that the first Supreme Court Judge Willis lived there also some other old colonists, such as D.C. Macrthur, head manager of the Bank of Australasia, Dr Martin, R. Laidlaw, who recently passed away, and others, at that time much wheat was grown out there, and there was a flour mill belonging to B. Barber, quantities of potatoes were also grown and were esteemed to be the best in the Colony.

Much speculation was indulged in the very early times and the first land boom collapsed in 1842 when all the merchants in town became insolvent, except three firms. Heape & Grice, W. Westgarth, and Turnbull brothers, and in consequence prices of property were low, and employment scarce for about seven years, when things again began to revive aided by a large emigration from the old Country, even before the discovery of gold but during this interval money was very scarce, and little was done by the Corporation for want of means, if shop keepers wished they were allowed to place a plank in front of their premises where the channel ought to be, and have a few loads of gravel placed on the footpath, at their own expense as late as 1853 bullock teams could be seen bogged in Elizabeth Street, a little beyond Lonsdale Street, when either they had to be unloaded, or other bullocks put in to draw them out. The first good job done by the council was in paving the Australian Wharf with cubes about 1853 up till that time the road from Queens’s Wharf downwards, was a veritable slough of despond, the mud was feet deep, and the tops of bags and cases, could be seen in many places peeping out of the mud, but improvements went on the streets were properly formed, and macadamized and when some flagging imported from Wales was laid down near the old Town Hall, numbers of people came to have a look at the unusual sight of a footpath, being paved; Swanston & Elizabeth streets in times of heavy rain were subject to inundation, and in the latter street many of the shop keepers had boards filled to keep out the water, travellers often had to pay a cabman sixpence to be ferried across, within the last 35 years, I have seen Swanston Street near Lonsdale street one sheet of water which was only got rid off, when underground drains were laid, and thus was got rid of for ever the flooded streets of Melbourne. There were not letter boxes in the olden times, and no delivery of letters & for some years, about the year 1847, two postmen were put on Mr Short went over all the town east from the Post Office, and Martin Henley, did the same of the west. It was singular that they both became publicans, when they left the Post Office. short had the hotel in Bourke street corner of McKillop Street, and Henly had the Kilkenny Arms, corner of Lonsdale and King Street; about 1849 great improvements were made owning to the increase of population, and so on the splendid service of to-day –

In the early times nothing was more feet than the town water supply, it was all carted from the Yarra, and gave employment to many men, but the expense caused the colonists to be very careful in using it, consequently there was no such thing as a bath in town, if anyone wanted a dip in the briney they had a long walk through heavy sand, from Emerald Hill to Sandridge, and the exertion of it coming back, would take away nearly all the benefit, in the cause of time, a pontoon was moored in the Basin, near the falls, fitted up with banks for undressing and having a footbridge, connecting it with the shore, there was an opening in the side to allow bathers to go out to the River, and many availed themselves of this great convenience, for the Summers were very hot then it not being unusual to have five or six hot wind days in succession, and very little rain came between August, and the following April, except a thunder storm now and then, which the inhabitants were so glad to see that many stood under the rains to have the pleasure of feeling cool, even for a little, in those days in the Summer butter was almost like oil, and customers coming to grocers shops bought basins with them to contain their purchases – this shortness of water lasted up until about 1852, and it was impossible to get a cool drink as the water being kept in water buts was almost lukewarm and filled with the larvae of mosquitoes so much so, that when a drink of water was taken the teeth were kept closed when drinking to swallow as few mosquitoes as possible – at last a company was formed, who built tanks with sufficient hose to supply about a dozen water carts at once, the premises were at the corner of Flinders & Elizabeth Streets, and were connected by pipes, with the Yarra from where the water was pumped by steam power this supplied a great want and as the population was increasing immensely, a large number of water carts were employed and often the line of those waiting for their turn extended along Elizabeth Street up to St. Francis church, but the water was very expensive, about ten shillings a load to any part of the City, and one pound per load to Collingwood – an agitation set in for providing a water supply, which was provided in the course of time, by bring water from the Yan Yean, and Plenty River, there was great rejoicing in town when this supply was turned on by the acting Governor about the middle of 1856, there was much ceremony, a guard of honour and Band of the 40thRegt being present, the place was at the central gate of the Carlton Gardens, facing Nicholson Street, the Citizens could scarcely believed for some days that they could have as much as they required by simply turning on a tap, and since then they have been blessed with an abundant supply of water. Many of those born in the Colony had never seen a railway, and wondered what it was like, the nearest approach to railway noises, was the Railway Galop, played by the Band of the 99th Regt. in the Flagstaff gardens, when they were stationed here, and the young people looked eagerly forward, to the opening of the Hobson’s Bay Railway, which opened the previous year as the Waterworks, on the opening day, a small engine and truck were started off to the strains of the Military Band in attendance, but the engine stopped on the bridge and men had to push it over rather an ignoble beginning for the splendid Railway system the Colony now possess, at that time all the railways were constructed by private enterprye, the first to commence running being from Geelong to Williamstown – the next being from Melbourne to Sandridge with a branch to St. Kilda, with one stopping place at South Melbourne, a line was also constructed to Brighton having a loop line to St. Kilda, but the company got into financial difficulties, and collapsed, the St. Kilda branch having been given over. there was a small line to Essendon established, which ran trams several times a day the staff consisting of two men on the engine, and a guard who sold the tickets to travellers but the line did not pay, and eventually the Government purchased it.

Books were very scarce in the early times, and some public spirited gentleman, formed a society to build a Mechanics Institute, and provide reading matter for the inhabitants, the building was erected, and in a small room at the head of the stairs, a library was established, which gave much satisfaction, the reading room was supplied with Home, and Colonial newspapers and magazines and many a happy time was spent there by those, who had time to spare, and not only was reading matter provided, but the large hall was often made use of for concerts; lectures & -. The Philharmonic Society for many years giving concerts there, besides which singers like Mrs Testu, and Sara Flower, often provided pleasant evenings for the Citizens – the most popular lectures ever given were those of Dr Macadam, on the time when Sir Henry Barkly was Governor who was often present – The building some years ago was rebuilt at a considerable expense, and a large debt incurred, which never has been repaid, and since the Government began lending books out of the Public Library gratis, a great blow was given to the Athenaeum, (as it is now called) which it has never received and subscribers were very few in number since then in comparison with former times. The names of the secretaries from the beginning of the Institution, were Messrs Paterson, Roycroft, Thompson, and Curtis, who recently passed away.

The St Kilda road ran behind the Military Barracks and through the Albert Park lagoon then a swamp.

Further Reading:

Sanderson, W.A. Mr John Waugh’s reminiscences of early Melbourne in  Victorian Historical Magazine, Vol. XV, pp. 1-18 (Available via State Library of Victoria digital collections)

Waugh, J. Old time memories : Seventy-four years in Melbourne : Reminiscences of Mr John Waugh (arranged by Miss A.J.H. Campbell) in Leader,  30 December 1911, p. 45 (Available via Trove newspapers)