Remembering the Past Australia

Edward Henty

The First 'Abiding' Settler on Victorian Soil (Portland) 19th November 1834

Published in 'Victoria in 1880'
Author: Garnet Walsh

Edward Henty c. 1860

Edward Henry c. 1860

State Library of South Australia B3071

Excerpt: Fortunately for the future of the Great South Land, there were those within her borders, men of independent spirit, active mind, and practical resource, who were ever on the alert to push their own fortunes and those of their adopted country. Such a ready-handed, clear-headed Fate-compeller was Edward, eldest son of Thomas Henty, a settler near Launceston, in Tasmania. In July, 1833, Edward Henty, when on his way from Western Australia to Tasmania, in a trading schooner, called in at Portland Bay, on the south coast of the Australian continent and impressed with the many advantages of the locality, determined to found a settlement there. He accordingly returned to Launceston, and loaded his schooner with agricultural implements, building materials, whaling gear, and live stock; and, landing at his desired haven on 19th November, 1834, earned for himself the honour of being the first abiding settler on Victorian soil. “Edward Henty,” says Victorian Men of the Time, “was not twenty-five years of age when he put together the first plough that ever broke Victorian soil, and welded with his own hands the chains by which it was drawn. His roof-tree was more than 500 miles form the nearest house, and he was often put to straits in dealing with the wild cannibal blacks surrounding him, but on no occasion did he ever have need to fire on them.” A month later he was joined by his brother Francis.

These two pioneers of civilisation were amply rewarded for their enterprise, for not only did their flocks and herds thrive apace, and the virgin soil yield abundantly, but a rich harvest of the sea was also theirs. The Southern Ocean then abounded in whales, both sperm and black, which frequently visited Portland Bay; and the Hentys, with their well-trained crews, had grand sport amongst the leviathans — so much so, indeed, that the proceeds of the first year’s catch is given at no less than 700 tuns of oil, besides a large quantity of whalebone. The Henty family still remain wealthy and respected landowners in the Portland district.

North Bluff, Portland

North Bluff, Portland c. 1834

British Library, 003831767

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.