Aboriginal Victorians, the indigenous Australians of Victoria, Australia, occupied the land for tens of thousands of years before European settlement. Aboriginal people lived a semi-nomadic existence of fishing, hunting and gathering, and farming eels in Victoria for at least 40,000 years.
Victoria, like Queensland, was named after Queen Victoria, who had been on the British throne for 14 years when the colony was established in 1851.
After the founding of the colony of New South Wales in 1788, Australia was divided into an eastern half named New South Wales and a western half named New Holland, under the administration of the colonial government in Sydney. The first British settlement in the area later known as Victoria was established in October 1803 under Lieutenant-Governor David Collins at Sullivan Bay on Port Phillip. It consisted of 402 people (five government officials, nine officers of marines, two drummers, and 39 privates, five soldiers' wives and a child, 307 convicts, 17 convicts' wives, and seven children). They had been sent from England in HMS Calcutta under the command of Captain Daniel Woodriff, principally out of fear that the French, who had been exploring the area, might establish their own settlement and thereby challenge British rights to the continent.
In 1826, Colonel Stewart, Captain Samuel Wright, and Lieutenant Burchell were sent in HMS Fly (Captain Wetherall) and the brigs Dragon and Amity, took a number of convicts and a small force composed of detachments of the 3rd and 93rd regiments. The expedition landed at Settlement Point (now Corinella), on the eastern side of Western Port Bay, which was the headquarters until the abandonment of Western Port at the insistence of Governor Darling about 12 months afterwards.
Victoria's next settlement was at Portland, on the south west coast of what is now Victoria. Edward Henty settled Portland Bay in 1834.
Melbourne was founded in 1835 by John Batman, who set up a base in Indented Head, and John Pascoe Fawkner. From settlement, the region around Melbourne was known as the Port Phillip District, a separately administered part of New South Wales. Shortly after, the site now known as Geelong was surveyed by Assistant Surveyor W. H. Smythe, three weeks after Melbourne. And in 1838, Geelong was officially declared a town, despite earlier European settlements dating back to 1826.
Creation of separate colony of Victoria
On 1 July 1851, writs were issued for the election of the first Victorian Legislative Council, and the absolute independence of Victoria from New South Wales was established proclaiming a new Colony of Victoria. Days later, still in 1851 gold was discovered near Ballarat, and subsequently at Bendigo. Later discoveries occurred at many sites across Victoria. This triggered one of the largest gold rushes the world has ever seen. The colony grew rapidly in both population and economic power. In 10 years, the population of Victoria increased sevenfold from 76,000 to 540,000. All sorts of gold records were produced, including the "richest shallow alluvial goldfield in the world" and the largest gold nugget. In the decade 1851–1860 Victoria produced 20 million ounces of gold, one-third of the world's output.
Immigrants arrived from all over the world to search for gold, especially from Ireland and China. By 1857, 26,000 Chinese miners worked in Victoria, and their legacy is particularly strong in Bendigo and its environs. Although some racism was directed at them, the level of anti-Chinese violence was not as great as was seen at the Lambing Flat riots in New South Wales. However, a riot at Buckland Valley near Bright occurred in 1857. Conditions on the gold fields were cramped and unsanitary; an outbreak of typhoid at Buckland Valley in 1854 killed over 1,000 miners.
In 1854 at Ballarat, an armed rebellion against the government of Victoria was made by miners protesting against mining taxes (the "Eureka Stockade"). This was crushed by British troops, but the discontents prompted colonial authorities to reform the administration (particularly reducing the hated mining licence fees) and extend the franchise. Within a short time, the Imperial Parliament granted Victoria responsible government with the passage of the Colony of Victoria Act 1855. Some of the leaders of the Eureka rebellion went on to become members of the Victorian Parliament.
The first foreign military action by the colony of Victoria was to send troops and a warship to New Zealand as part of the New Zealand Wars. Troops from New South Wales had previously participated in the Crimean War.
In 1901, Victoria became a state in the Commonwealth of Australia. As a result of the gold rush, Melbourne had by then become the financial centre of Australia and New Zealand. Between 1901 and 1927, Melbourne was the capital of Australia while Canberra was under construction. It was also the largest city in Australia at the time.