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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Collins Historical Settlement, Sorrento

These pix were taken on March 15, 2012, on a visit to the Collins Settlement Historic site, Sorrento.

Sullivan Bay lies 60 km due south of Melbourne on Port Phillip Bay, 1 km east of Sorrento. It was established as a short-lived convict settlement in 1803 by Lieutenant Colonel David Collins, who named the bay after the Under-Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, John Sullivan.

The site was chosen because of its strategic location near the entrance of the Bay. The settlement is significant because it was the first attempt to settle Europeans permanently in what is now Victoria and is a key link in the expansion of the colony of New South Wales into Tasmania and Victoria, and the control of Bass Strait as a trade route.

In April 1803 the HMS Calcutta and the transport ship Ocean were sent from England, via the Cape of Good Hope, carrying officers, a marine detachment, free settlers and convicts to Port Phillip. They arrived on October 10 1803.

The new colonists quickly discovered that water was scarce, and suitable timber could not be found. The treacherous entrance to the bay made the site unsuitable for whaling and with few marines, the settlement was vulnerable to attack. Collins decided to abandon the settlement and move to Van Diemens Land (now Tasmania) in January 1804 where John Bowen had established a settlement at Risdon Cove in 1803. They were moved as two parties, the second group leaving on May 20, just over seven months after the settlement had been established.

During the brief occupation, 21 convicts escaped. One of these was William Buckley who lived in the area around Geelong for 33 years before meeting with John Batman's party in 1835.

Little evidence of the settlement exists. Four graves on the eastern headland, and parts of barrels, leg irons, bottles and other pieces are all that remain.

The Collins Settlement Historic Reserve is protected under the Victorian Heritage Register and the Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme.

There are good coastal views from two Lookouts near the site, reached by a walking track from the Information Centre just off the Nepean Highway.

Information Boards along the Track describe the early settlement of the district, with some interesting heritage photos.

See the complete set of  Photos of my visit, and my YouTube video!

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