Founding Victoria

Kelpies in a Utility Truck (Ute)Kelpies in a Utility Truck (Ute)

Before 1851, the southern part of the then Colony of New South Wales was settled by squatters. From around 1835 the Port Phillip Association was also formed. Part of this eventually became the City of Melbourne. On July 1st 1851, when the Imperial Parliament in London made a Declaration that separated Victoria from New South Wales. Consequently, any settlers who grabbed land from the Aboriginal people before this date, acted against British Law. That is why today we call the early settlers described below 'squatters'.

The First Squatter

In 1834 the first squatters to grab land from the Aboriginal people in what is now Victoria were Edward and Stephen Henty. They arrived in Portland after a tumultuous 34-day journey, by ship across Bass Strait from Van Diemen's Land. Gale force West-North-West winds blew them back to King Island six times! Their cargo included labourers, bullocks for transport and all provisions necessary for them to survive. One month later, Edward and Stephen were joined by a third brother, Francis. By 1835 Stephen imported 15 sheepdogs into areas where Australia's native dog, the Dingo had roamed freely for hundreds of years. The cross matings which would  have undoubtedly occurred was the beginning of our Australian Kelpie.

By 1837, the Henty brothers had squatted on more land and built Merino Downs[4]. Situated 80 kilometres northeast of Portland, by 1848 the Hentys and other British families had grabbed 77,000 acres (over 120 square miles) from the Aboriginal peoples and ran around 30,000 sheep. The conflict that followed meant Dingos were blamed for killing sheep.

The Second Squatter

Pyrenean Mountain DogPyrenean Mountain Dog

In 1837 the second squatter Irishman Samuel Pratt arrived in what is now Victoria. He also sailed from Van Diemen's Land to Portland with sheep. From there he travelled northward to the Wannon River in Victoria's Western District where he established his sheep station.Uniquely, from 1841,he used a French breed of Livestock Guardian Dog, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog, in their traditional role.These dogs protected the sheep from being stolen by prospecting gold miners or maimed by cross breed Dingos.

The Third Squatter

Also in 1837 George Gray became the third squatter to grab land from the Aboriginal people in the southern part of the Colony of NSW.  His son, George Gray II travelled down from to an area now known as Wangaratta and became one of the first Victorian High Country cattlemen. By 1841 stockmen Jim Brown and Jack Wells had made Cobungra their home. In 1851 they negotiated Victoria's first Lease after Victoria was separated from NSW by the Imperial Parliament in London. The lease on Cobungra required a rental of 10 pounds per annum with an additional 2 pounds ten shillings for every thousand (head of cattle) above 4,000.