Early Days

Chapter 43

Published Feb, 2015

The selection acts of the 1860s were the result of pressure to unlock the land held by the squatters. The acts encouraged closer settlement and increased agricultural production, by allowing former leaseholders and settlers of limited means to locate themselves on land which they could call their own. Image credit S.T. Gill, 1865, National Library of Australia

…the Wurundjeri Willam people of the Kulin Nation are recognised today as the traditional owners and occupiers of land that now comprises Nillumbik Shire…

In February 1836, Joseph Tice Gelllibrand set out to explore the northern and eastern sections of land claimed by the Port Phillip Association under the Batman Treaty. His party included Stewart, one of Batman’s ‘Sydney natives.’

The Governor of New South Wales, Sir Richard Bourke, declared Batman’s treaty with the aborigines to be ‘null and void as against the rights of the Crown’. He did however advocate early official occupation of Port Phillip.

In May 1836, following receipt of a despatch ‘authorising the settlement of Port Phillip’, Police Magistrate George Stewart  of the Goulburn district, was sent to prepare a report on the settlement and neighbouring country. He was accompanied by two Sydney policemen. He met with a large group of aborigines and found a population of less than 200 Europeans spread over ‘about 100 miles of country’. In his report of 10 June 1836, Stewart referred to the town as ‘Bearbrass’. The Port Phillip settlement was officially named Melbourne during a visit by Governor Bourke in March 1837.

Following Gellibrand’s visit in 1836, Henry Arthur set up his head station below the Nillumbik lagoon at Diamond Creek, which he held until 1841.

Soon after arrival at Port Phillip in 1841, John Bear purchased freehold land at Yan Yean where he established his New Leicester Farm. He also leased an extensive tract of land to the east of the Plenty River.

On 1 January 1844 Patrick Reid took over the squatting licence for the Stewart’s Ponds run, held by McLachlan and Campbell from 1841 to 1843. He changed the name of his eight square mile run to Hazel Glen. Bill Payne records in The Plenty, that ‘When Patrick and Agnes Reid and their family came to live at ‘Hazel Glen’; a large party (of aboriginals) was camped nearby. Agnes was terrified, but Patrick persuaded her all would be well, and so it proved to be.

Other leaseholders residing in the district during the 1850s included the Smith brothers of ‘Glen Ard’ on the upper Arthurs Creek and Archibald Macfarlane of ‘Ardchattan’ on the Running Creek.

At this time, there were many shepherd huts and water holes scattered throughout the district. Some considered the country to be occupied by the shepherds, who were employed by local squatters to look after their sheep. Working with sheep was of a labour intensive nature, particularly with the requirement of sheep washing before shearing and the demand of English wool firms for clean, non-greasy wool.

The selection acts of the 1860s were the result of pressure to unlock the land held by the squatters. The acts encouraged closer settlement and increased agricultural production, by allowing former leaseholders and settlers of limited means to locate themselves on land which they could call their own.

‘Dummying’ and ‘Peacocking’ were used by some squatters to oppose selection and retain control of the land. ‘Dummying’ involved the use of non-existent free settlers to purchase land with money provided by the squatter. The land was handed over to the squatter, once the title had been completed. Sometimes the squatter was caught out and the dummy kept the land.

‘Peacocking’ involved picking out the eyes of the land, by selecting or buying choice pieces and water frontages, making the adjoining territory practically useless to anyone else.

Under the Duffy Land Act, which came into force on 10 September 1862, pastoral leases in the Arthurs Creek district were cancelled and the land surveyed and thrown open for selection. The first selectors at Arthurs Creek were John Ryder and Charles Draper of ‘Charnwood’. Draper and Ryder were friends and are said to have ‘tossed up for first pick’ of the allotments. It was objected by the land officers that the site was too near Melbourne to be taken up under the act, but that objection was soon overcome.’

Aboriginal people fishing and camping on Merri Creek, by Charles Troedel, 1864 - Souvenir Views of Melbourne and Victorian Scenery, Melbourne, 1865. Credit State Library of Victoria. The Wurundjeri are an Aboriginal Australian nation of the Woiwurrung language group, in the Kulin alliance. They occupied the Birrarung (Yarra River) Valley before British colonisation and managed lands extending over approximately 12,000 square kilometres, including what is now known as Arthurs Creek. One of the early settlers, Captain Harrison, remembered his sister Kate being saved from drowning by some Wurundjeri women. Walter Thomas at the Bridge Inn, Mernda, said they had taught him to swim
Historic view across 'Charnwood' and the Running Creek valley to Mt. Sugarloaf. Photo credit Draper family
Afternoon tea at ‘Hazel Glen’ (c 1915). The homestead was situated at Stewarts Ponds. Photo credit Reid family
The old peach garden at 'Glen Ard' 1920. Looking across Arthurs Creek to Mt Sugarloaf. Photo credit Apted family
'Ardchattan' homestead, 1912. Photo credit Macfarlane family
Running Creek near Ardchattan. In the early days, the Parish of Linton encompassed the rolling hills and creek flats at the junction of the Deep Creek, Running Creek and Arthurs Creek. Photo credit Bruce G. Draper, September 2003
Junction of Diamond Creek and Arthurs Creek, 2003. Photo credit Bruce G. Draper

Got a question or some interesting facts?  Leave a comment and we’ll reply.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Research Tools

Click here for links and descriptions that may be helpful for those doing their own research, or for those who simply want to know more about some of the topics touched on in Up the Creek Victoria


Abbey FamilyAirey FamilyAlfred DeakinAllen FamilyAllwood StationAlma Shanahan (1923-2015)A Mountain Muster by Ian StapletonApologies & Appendages by Ian StapletonApted FamilyArdchattan StationArthurs Creek CemeteryArthurs Creek Cemetery: a History (Revised Edition) by Lindsay MannArthurs Creek Cricket ClubArthurs Creek Football ClubArthurs Creek Fruit GrowersArthurs Creek Mechanics Institute at a GlanceArthurs Creek Mechanics Institute by Bruce G. DraperArthurs Creek Mechanics Institute HallArthurs Creek Methodist ChurchArthurs Creek Post OfficeArthurs Creek Primary SchoolArthurs Creek Rifle ClubArthurs Creek Uniting ChurchAtkinson FamilyAustralian Garden History SocietyBarr FamilyBarton Hill StationBassett FamilyBatman TreatyBear's CastleBear FamilyBegoniasBoadle FamilyBoer warBraeside StationBrain FamilyBrennan FamilyBrock FamilyBushranger BurkeCharnwood StationChristian FamilyChurch of the Irish MartyrsClarke FamilyCleir Hills StationCorr FamilyCraigie Lee StationDeep CreekDishleigh StationDoctors Gully RoadDoreen VillageDraper FamilyDuffy Land ActDunolly Scent FarmEarly BlacksmithsEllis Cottage Historical Precinct by Nillumbik Historical Society on WikinorthiaEltham District Historical SocietyFay Thomas Collection by Yarra Plenty Regional LibraryFernvale StationFlintoff FamilyFrank Dalby DavisonFriends of Burnley GardensFrom Drovers To Daisy-Pickers by Ian StapletonFrom Fraser's To Freezeout by Ian StapletonFrom Laggan To Arthur’s Creek by Ross McDonaldFruit Cool StoresGillian FamilyGlen Ard StationGlenburn StationGlen Donald StationGray FamilyGreen FamilyGrimshaw FamilyHairy-Chested History by Ian StapletonHall FamilyHazel Glen CemeteryHazelglen HallHazel Glen SchoolHazel Glen StationHazel Glen Wesleyan ChurchHealey FamilyHeidelberg Historical SocietyHenry ArthurHerbert FamilyHeyfield GippslandHickey FamilyHickey’s CornerHowitt FamilyHulme FamilyHurrey FamilyHurst FamilyJohn LoxtonKenneth JackKirkliston StationLaidlay FamilyLang Fauld StationLeon Saper (1928-2005)Linton CemeteryLinton FamilyLinton Grange StationLobb FamilyLobbs HillLodgeLodge FamilyMacfarlane FamilyMacmillan FamilyMacpherson FamilyMann FamilyMcDonald FamilyMcKay FamilyMcKimmie FamilyMcLelland FamilyMills FamilyMountain Rescue 1944Murdie FamilyMurphy's CreekMurphy FamilyMuseums Victoria CollectionsNillumbikNillumbik Heritage GuideNillumbik Historical SocietyNillumbik Reconciliation GroupOf Pioneers & Perseverance by Ian StapletonPeter Laycock (1927-2009)Pine Hill StationPioneers and Painters: One hundred years of Eltham and Its Shire by Alan MarshallPlenty RiverPresswell FamilyPublic Records Office VictoriaRAAF Base East SaleReid FamilyRobert (Bob) Mair (1943- )Ronald FamilyRoyal Historical Society of VictoriaRoyal Horticultural Society of VictoriaRunning CreekRussell FamilyRyder FamilyRyders Flat ReserveSchultz FamilyScrubby CreekSeeds of Yesterday : the Fruit of Tomorrow by Pam GoodeyShire of Nillumbik Local Historical SocietiesSlabon FamilySmith FamilyState Library VictoriaSteer FamilyStewart's PondsStewart FamilyStubley FamilyThe Andrew Ross MuseumThe Last Cry by Mick WoiwodThe Melbourne Book written by Clive Turnbull ; drawings by Kenneth JackThomas FamilyTregowan StationTroveUnderwood FamilyUp the Creek : Early Days in the Arthurs Creek District by Bruce G. DraperVersdale StationVerso FamilyVictorian CollectionsVictorian Collections Eltham District Historical SocietyWaitui StationWeatherbeaten Wisdom by Ian StapletonWhittlesea Agricultural SocietyWhittlesea ShowWikinorthiaWild Horses BrumbiesWilliam Jock FraterWinter Majetin AppleYan Yean : A History by Dianne EdwardsYan Yean Primary SchoolYan Yean ReservoirYarra Plenty Local HistoryYarra Plenty Regional Library