Geelong, Dinner for Captain Hovell

The Sydney Morning Herald  

27 December 1853

Victoria - We have Port Phillip papers to the 20th. The Colonial Secretary had introduced the New Constitution Bill with an able speech.

The Scab in Sheep Bill, which the Argus characterises as a "Bill to legalise the sale of salivated mutton," was thrown out on the second reading.

A dinner had been given at Geelong to Captain Hovell, on the anniversary of its discovery.

Public Dinner to Captain William Hovell. (From the Geelong Advertiser.)

On Friday evening, the 16th December, being the 29th anniversary of the discovery of Geelong and the surrounding district, the friends and admirers of Captain Hovell, one of the celebrated discoverers of this part of New Holland, met in the spacious banqueting room of the Imperial Hotel, Corio terrace, to commemorate the occasion by inviting the gallant captain to a sumptuous dinner.

Those who have witnessed preparations of this kind by Mr. Hooper may have some faint idea of the superb manner in which the affair was not up.

The hall has been thoroughly embellished and beautifully ornamented since it lately changed hands. The attendance was both numerous and influential, the wines and viands of the first description, and the tout ensemble such as is not every day experienced out of England.

At half-past six his Worship the Mayor entered the banqueting room, supporting Captain Hovell on his right arm.

Upon taking up his post at the end of the table, his Worship in a very cordial manner introduced the guest of the evening to the company.

Thomas Sheppard, Esq., J.P., filled the vice chair.

Such was the enthusiasm with which the name of the discoverer was received, that it was upwards of five minutes before the applause subsided.

After the good fare had been done justice to by about sixty-five or seventy gentlemen, the chairman, who was supported on his right by Captain Hovell, read a communication from Lieutenant-Governor La Trobe, apologising for his absence, and excusing himself on account of preparing for an early departure to Europe.

The Chairman then gave the usual loyal toasts, commencing, of course, with her most gracious Majesty the Queen, which, together with the Royal Family, was well responded to.

The health of his Excellency the Lieutenant Governor was next drunk, amidst a greater degree of warm feeling than has often been observed.

The Chairman, in proposing the health of Captain Wm. Hovell, the guest of the evening, observed that in doing so he should combine with it the name of his worthy coadjutor, Mr. Hume.

He could wish that he possessed the eloquence of a Cicero or a Demosthenes, he might then, reasonably hope to do those two great men justice.

Twenty nine years ago that day, Captain Hovell came in sight of Geelong, then inhabited by the ruthless savage and the wild kangaroo.

What changes had occurred since that eventful period.

The native still remained amongst us, it was true; but the spread of civilisation and intelligence had so altered the face of the country that Captain Hovell or Mr. Hume would have some difficulty in recognising their first view of Geelong, were it not for the beauty and grandeur of the surrounding scenery.

He was glad to find so many there that evening to met this great and enterprising man - this patriarch of the present day, to whom we owed all that we possessed in and out of Geelong.

The indomitable courage and firm perseverance of these early pioneers had made us what we were.

Had a Hovell or a Hume faltered on their journey, we should not - perhaps not one of us - be present in Geelong to enjoy the benefits of a fine country, and the advantages of one of the most prosperous commercial towns appertaining to the British Crown. (Cheers.)

How grateful, then, he repeated, should we feel towards the old veteran, who, in all the vigour of ripened manhood, stood now before them crowned with the satisfactory and delightful thought that all the prosperity end happiness around him has been procured chiefly by his instrumentality, (Loud cheers.)

He begged leave to propose health and prosperity to Captain William Hovell, the discoverer of Geelong. The toast was drunk with all the honours, amidst the most unbounded applause.

Captain Hovell returned thanks by observing that, from the enthusiastic manner in which his name and exploits, as well as that of Mr. Hume, had been adverted to, it caused him no little embarrassment when he rose to address them.

Added to which he had been slightly indisposed these last few days and the company would, perhaps, so far indulge him as to allow his making a few remarks with which he came prepared on paper.

The captain read from a narrative to the following effect:-

About this time twenty-nine years back my brother traveller, Mr. Hamilton Hume, and myself were talking over what had passed during the journey, the present prospects and the future.

The spot on which that conversation took place was at or near the point opposite the Bird Rock.

Thirst kept us awake, and we listened to the sound of thousands of water fowl, which were then sporting on the waters of the bay before us. I

n the morning, while nine-tenths of mankind slept, we were on our feet, watching for the light to show us the beauties which were then breaking in upon our view.

When it did come, what was our delight to find with what success our outward journey had terminated!

The eleven weeks of toil and anxiety was compensated by the result, and we considered ourselves the two most fortunate travellers on record; we therefore simultaneously embraced each, other, and with extended arms returned thanks to God for the shield of protection which he had thrown over us.

We then went in search for water, and after an hours walk, in nearly a N.N.W. direction, we met with it at Kennedy's Creek, now called Limeburner's Creek.

Here we remained one day, the shortness of provisions and the mustering of the natives warned us that a longer delay would not be prudent; but the day spent here was one of the happiest of our lives, for we had done that which a published record had declared to be impossible.

We, however, proved the contrary, and there are those present who, having read our little work, profited by it, by fixing their abode on the very land over which we had travelled Fancy that this land should be that which had been denounced as uninhabitable, and unfit for the purposes of civilised man, and this the land which is now the richest in the world.

See, gentlemen, how cautious a traveller ought to be before he ventures to describe or guess at what he has but little or no opportunity of knowing; he should confine himself to that only which passes under his own observation.

The next happy day (five Weeks after) was when we arrived among our family, to the surprise and astonishment of many, for there were those who would have been glad that we had returned unsuccessful.

That party was an influential one, and therefore operated against us, in a pecuniary way, with the Government.

I have been asked what object we had in view in undertaking such a journey. My answer has been because it had been given out that it could not be done; and, from what I recollect, I believe it was that statement and for the glory of the undertaking which were the only objects we had in view.

The next happy day, in connection with that journey, is the present.

That I should live to be among the children of the land of my adopting, after so many years' absence, is to me a pleasure of no ordinary kind; but that these children should, with one accord, meet and acknowledge me as the discoverer of their fine country, shows that they can appreciate the services of the venerable parent.

Gentlemen, when we first saw this land it was an unoccupied wilderness; I yet hope to see it a garden, intersected with railways, and electric telegraphs, that with lightning speed shall communicate with the furthest end of the land.

This land that fed only kangaroos is capable of producing food, both animal and farinaceous, sufficient to feed half the world, wool to clothe half the world, and gold enough to buy half the world.

This land, that I and my brother traveller, Hume, were the first to tread, is capable of all this.

A tree with my name cut on it, bearing date 17th November, 1824, and standing at the crossing-place on the Hume river, is yet alive, fenced round.

When that has fallen into decay, I propose building something in its place.

The Pioneers of Victoria, the Mining Interest of Victoria, the Mayor and Corporation of Geelong, the Ladies, the Press, and several other toasts were drunk and responded to.

The party broke up at an early hour.