People and Places

Investigation 1

What was life like in Victoria in the late 1800s?
Resource Sheet 1

Investigation 2

What were Victorians like in the late 1800s?
Resource Sheet 2

Investigation 3

What was the Australian Natives Association?
Resource Sheet 3

Investigation 4

Who were some Victorian political figures that played a role in the Federation movement?
Resource Sheet 4

Investigation 5

Who were some of the Victorian women that made important contributions to social and political change in the late 1800s?
Resource Sheet 5

What are you thinking now?

Additional activities and exercises to explore in the classroom.


The colony of Victoria, like Queensland, was named after Queen Victoria. She ruled the British Empire – including the six Australian colonies – from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. Her reign lasted 63 years and seven months.

Before the first British settlers arrived in Victoria, Indigenous Australians had already lived there for thousands of years. They had established ways of land management that allowed their communities to thrive. But, this changed dramatically for the worse as British settlement became established in the colony.

Victoria’s first, short-lived British settlement was in 1803 when Lieutenant-Governor David Collins set up a camp at Sullivan Bay, just inside Port Philip Bay. The oldest permanent European settlement was established along the colony’s west coast at Portland in 1834. The land around Portland and Warrnambool was eventually occupied by farmers and graziers who were attracted by the rich grasslands.

At this time, Victoria was part of New South Wales, and was known as the Port Philip District. Victoria became a separate colony in 1851, and in 1855 it achieved responsible government, with a parliament elected by the people. Prior to this, Governors were appointed by the British Government to rule the colony.

Wool was the most significant rural industry for many years, but the discovery of gold in 1851 brought enormous social and political change. Victoria’s population grew from 77,000 people in 1851 to 540,000 in 1861 as eager gold miners from Europe, China and other Australian colonies surged to the new goldfields. By the mid-1850s, Victoria had become the most populous of the Australian colonies.

Formed in 1871, the Australian Natives Association became very influential and was a powerful voice in favour of Federation. Membership was restricted to Australian-born offspring of British ancestry. By 1901, with 484,103 residents, Melbourne had the largest population of the six colonies’ major cities, a distinction it held until 1905. During the 1890s’ depression, it reverted to being the second most populous colony after New South Wales.