Before the arrival of European settlers, the area was occupied for an estimated 31,000 to 40,000 years by under 20,000 hunter-gatherers
from three indigenous regional tribes
: the Wurundjeri
. The area was an important meeting place for the clans of the Kulin
nation alliance, as well as a vital source of food and water. The first European settlement in Victoria was established in 1803 on Sullivan Bay
, near present-day Sorrento
, but this settlement was abandoned due to a perceived lack of resources. It would be 30 years before another settlement was attempted.
In May and June 1835, the area that is now central and northern Melbourne was explored by John Batman
, a leading member of the TasmanianPort Phillip Association
, who negotiated a purchase of 600,000 acres (2,400 km2
) with eight Wurundjeri elders. Batman selected a site on the northern bank of the Yarra River, declaring that "this will be the place for a village", and returned to Launceston
(then known as Van Diemen's Land
). By the time a settlement party from the Association arrived to set up the new village, a separate group organised and financed by John Pascoe Fawkner
had already arrived (on 30 August 1835) aboard his ship the Enterprize
and established a settlement at the same location. The two groups ultimately agreed to share the settlement.
with the Aborigines was annulled by the New South Wales
government (which at the time governed all of eastern mainland Australia), which compensated the Association. Although this meant the settlers were now trespassing on Crown land, the government reluctantly accepted the settlers' fait accompli
and allowed the town (known at first by various names, including 'Batmania' and 'Dutergalla') to remain.
The Port Phillip District became the separate Colony of Victoria in 1851, with Melbourne as its capital.