Real Beginnings of Victoria

Hume-Hovell Centenary. Approaching Celebrations. "Real Beginnings of Victoria."

The Argus, Melbourne

7 November 1924

Widespread interest is being manifested in the approaching centenary celebration of the journey of Hume and Hovell to Port Phillip in 1824.

The observances will include a series of unveiling ceremonies to be conducted by an expedition, which, leaving Melbourne on November 15, will visit all the places, which the explorers passed on their journey.

Among the interesting contributions published in a recent number of "One and All" (a school periodical) is a message from the Governor-General (Lord Forster). "It is most desirable," he says, "that the achievements of our intrepid pioneers should be recognised, and commemorated. As time passes we are too apt to take our present surroundings for granted and to give no thought to how and by whom they were created."

We owe it to those men and women of sterling and unselfish character who devoted their lives to exploring arid civilising unknown lands that Australia and the other great Dominions have been developed under that great symbol of liberty, the Union Jack, in accordance with the British ideals of liberty and justice."

The Governor of New South Wales (Sir Dudley de Chair), one of whose predecessors (Sir Thomas Brisbane) dispatched Hume and Hovell on their journey, sent the following message to the Beechworth district schools:-

"This year is the centenary of the first meeting of a Legislature in Australia - the first gift of constitutional government granted by the Motherland to this country. The year 1924 also marks the centenary of the Hume and Hovell expedition. This was a great event in Australian exploration, and should have a double interest for the people of Victoria, because it resulted in an era of settlement In Victoria. . . . The memory of the expedition should not be allowed to fade, and I rejoice to learn that the Education authorities in Victoria are alive to the importance of impressing it on the minds of the young. . . ."

In its numerous articles describing the explorers' journey, the publication draws striking comparisons between the accomplishment of Hume and Hovell, and the recent explorations of Australia by aviators, and Lord Stradbroke's holiday tour by motor across the continent from Adelaide to Darwin.

Importance of Expedition. "The expedition itself was not hazardous," says Professor Scott in a contribution to the journal. "It was not very well conducted. The explorers simply 'got lost,' and both of them believed that they were overlooking the waters of Westernport, when, in fact, they were camped upon the shores of Corio Bay. .

But it was the published accounts of the journey, and especially a narrative of Hume in 1833, that induced John Batman, in 1834, to form the Port Phillip Association; and from that move emanated the beginnings of the colonisation of Victoria. .... John Batman himself said that it was because Hume had represented the land in the neighbourhood of Port Phillip as being 'of the best description' and because 'this information had dwelt on his mind,' that he became anxious to 'verify the truth or otherwise of the report.'

In celebrating the centenary of the Hume and Hovell expedition, therefore, we are not merely recalling a highly important piece of exploration which took place exactly 100 years ago, but we also celebrate the real beginnings of Victoria."

A brief account of the expedition records that it left its base (Hume's home), at Appin, near Lake George, New South Wales, on October 17, 1824.

The journey was undertaken at the request of the Governor (Sir Thomas Brisbane), but delays and difficulties were met with on every hand. The Government would not equip the party properly, and consequently Hume and Hovell were forced to supply a great deal of their own material.

Thus the organisation was short of what it might have been, but, despite that fact, the expedition was thoroughly successful. . . . Hamilton Hume was aged 27 years, and Captain William Hilton Hovell 38 years.

Hume had the reputation of a fine bushman; Hovell was a sea captain who had settled on the land. Six men were taken as servants.

The Murrumbidgee was crossed by means of a cart-body with a tarpaulin fastened round it. This was used as a boat.

The Murray was crossed in a similar manner, except that a framework of wattles was used in place of the cart. The Murray was followed for some distance upstream from the present site of Albury.

This spot is close to Hume's Crossing school, near Bethanga. Other rivers, the Mitta Mitta, Ovens, and King, were crossed, the party veering away from the difficult mountainous country on the east. At last the explorers arrived near the present site of Geelong.

On the return journey Hume showed his wonderful bushcraft by leaving his first route and recovering it near Carboor School at Hurdle Creek, to the south-east of Wangaratta, thus saving 150 miles.

For the rest of the way the previous track was followed, and a journey of nearly 1,000 miles, was completed in 15 weeks without loss or hurt to a-single man.

Unveiling Memorials. A committee composed of representatives of the Education and Lands departments, the Historical Society, the National Parks Association, the Tourists' Resorts Committee, and the Automobile Club of Victoria has been formed in Melbourne to co-ordinate and enlarge the steps that have already been taken for celebrating the centenary. Sir James Barrett is the chairman.

The itinerary is as follows:-

Saturday, November

15  - Leave Melbourne for Wangaratta.

16 -Leave Wangaratta for Mount Buffalo and unveil tablet at The Horn (3 o'clock).

17 - Leave for Bright and unveil memorials at Myrtleford -(11.30), Whorouly (1), Everton (2.30), Murmungee (4.30). Proceed to Beechworth.

18- Leave Beechworth and unveil memorials at Stanley (10.30), Back Creek (12), Allan's Flat (1), Staghorn Flat (2), Bethanga (3.15), Ebden (4.30). Proceed to Wodonga or Albury.

19 -Attend ceremonies at Albury. First party leaves for Wangaratta. First Party, November

20.-Leave Wangaratta for Benalla and unveil cairns at Warrenbayne (11.30), Violet Town (12.30), Euroa (2.30), and Avenel (11.30). Proceed to Seymour.

21 -Unveil cairn at Seymour (11), and leave for Broadford to unveil memorial (1.30). Second Party, November

19 - Leave Albury for Wangaratta. unveiling ceremonies at Moyhu (2.30), Hansonville (3.30), Molyullah (4.30). Proceed to Benalla.

20-Leave Benalla. Party divides. First division unveils cairns at Swanpool and Barjarg, if desired. Second division unveils cairns at Tatong (11) and Samaria (12.30). United party lunches at Doon and unveils cairns at Woodfield (3) and Yarck (4.30).

21-Unveil memorials at Yea (11), Strath Creek (12.30), and join first party at Broadford.

On Saturday, December 6, a memorial at Upper Plenty will be unveiled, and there will be a district excursion from Wallan to Mt. Disappointment. 

A further series of unveilings of memorials will be celebrated in the shires of Kilmore, Broadmeadows, Bulla, Keilor, Braybrook, Werribee, and Corio, commencing on December 13.