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Victoria - Concept

Port Phillip District (1836 - 1851)


Port Phillip District was a district of the Colony of New South Wales from 1836 until 1851. The Port Phillip District achieved independence from New South Wales in 1851 and became the Colony of Victoria. Prior to 1836 the Port Phillip District had been governed by multiple Indigenous groups under many different names.


Prior to 1851 Victoria was a district of New South Wales known as the Port Phillip District. In 1835 a group of 15 Tasmanian colonists formed the Port Phillip Association and commenced 'purchasing' large amounts of land off the Indigenous peoples of Victoria. The New South Wales Governor declared that the colonists were trespassers and their 'purchase' of land from Indigenous Australians to be invalid.

In 1836 the Governor gave up the battle against settlement in what would become Victoria, and in an effort to regain control of the territory, appointed William Lonsdale as Chief Agent of Government, Police Magistrate and Commandant of the Port Phillip District. Colonists living in the District continued to petition to gain independence from New South Wales.

Some of the arguments made for separation from New South Wales included concerns about law and justice. The inhabitants of the Port Phillip District wanted their own Supreme Court Judge and building. Inhabitants were also angry that the taxes from land sales went to Sydney and New South Wales rather than funding the development of the Port Phillip District.

In 1850 on 1 July the petitioners were successful and under the passing of the Australian Colonies Act were granted separation from New South Wales. At this time, the Port Phillip District also changed its name to the Colony of Victoria.


 1836 - 1851 Port Phillip District
       1851 - 1901 Colony of Victoria
             1901 - State Government of Victoria

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Online Resources

Sources used to compile this entry: Law Research Service, Melbourne Law School, Law Library, The University of Melbourne. 'Find and Connect Project - Victorian Legislation', 1 February 2013, held in the project files at the University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre.

Prepared by: Elizabeth Daniels and Christine Moje