Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 01:00 PM


Royal Historical Society of Victoria
239 A'Beckett St
Melbourne, VIC 3184
Google map and directions

Event contact

Gerardine Horgan




Melburnians are invited to celebrate Melbourne Day (30 August) by exploring the role that nature and the environment has played in creating our city’s rich history.


Archaeologist and historian, Gary Presland, will present his fascinating talk, The Natural History of Early Melbourne, at the Royal Historical Society of Victoria on Tuesday 30 August.  


“History is undoubtedly about human action but it is often written as though the actions took place in a vacuum,” explained Gary.


“What is not commonly included in the stories told about the European settlers of the Port Phillip region is anything relating to the physical context in which their activities took place.


“Little heed was paid by the settlers at the time - or, indeed, has been by subsequent generations in the 180 plus years since – to the role of the surrounding environments. 


“Yet many features of the Port Phillip landscapes can be seen as having exerted an influence, in both the founding of the town and in the subsequent development and spread of the built environment.


“In my lecture I will focus on a variety of aspects of the history of Melbourne and illustrate that nature was always an active agent in these matters.”


About the speaker


Dr Gary Presland is an archaeologist and historian and former Head Curator with Museum Victoria. His research interests have long been in the Indigenous history and natural history of the Melbourne region, in both of which he has been published widely.  His most important works are The place for a village: how nature has shaped the city of Melbourne (Museum Victoria, 2008) and First people: the Eastern Kulin of Melbourne, Port Phillip and central Victoria (Museum Victoria, 2010). Gary is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, and an Honorary Fellow of the School of Geography at the University of Melbourne.


About the event


Date:                            Tuesday 30 August

Time:                           1pm – 2pm (tea/coffee from 12.30pm)

Address:                      Royal Historical Society of Victoria

239 A’Beckett Street


Cost:                            free

Bookings:                    t: (03) 9326 9288   e: [email protected]  w:








Additional Melbourne Day events:  Learn the secrets of Flagstaff Gardens


Prior or following Gary’s talk, Victorians are invited to join RHSV experts on a guided tour of the Flagstaff Gardens – the historic heart of the city. Tour Flagstaff Hill to learn about its place in Melbourne’s topography and pre-European history. Discover secrets of its early role as a burial ground, flagstaff signalling station and magnetic and meteorological observatory. An absolute “must do” walk for an understanding of the history and character of Melbourne.


When:             11am and 2.15pm (duration 60 minutes)

Meeting:          at the RHSV office, 239 A'Beckett Street, Melbourne

Cost:                free on Melbourne Day

Bookings:        preferred 9326 9288 or [email protected]


Note – following Melbourne Day, walks will also be held every Monday at 11am and 2.15pm for a cost of $10 per person.


About the RHSV


Formed in 1909, the Royal Historical Society of Victoria (RHSV) is committed to collecting, researching and sharing an understanding of the history of Victoria. Housing the most extensive single information resource on the history of Melbourne and Victoria, collections are open Monday to Friday, 10am – 4pm. The RHSV is a community organisation that relies on membership subscriptions. Join today and help promote and preserve the history of Victoria – You can also keep up to date with the past via the RHSV’s Twitter and Facebook page


Posted by on ,


The History Council of Victoria Incorporated (HCV) is the peak body for history in the Australian state of Victoria. Its vision is to connect Victorians with history and to inspire engagement with the past, their identity and the world today. The HCV champions the work of historians and the value of history. It recognises that history can be written about any place, any person, any period. The HCV advocates why history matters.

Read More


Our calendar lists all upcoming public events arranged by the History Council of Victoria (HCV), plus events in Victoria, Australia, that are added by our Friends and Members.

If you are organising an event that relates to History, we encourage you to publicise it on our website.

Read More


As the peak body for history in Victoria, the History Council makes submissions on current issues. In doing this, the HCV Board is guided by its Advocacy Policy and by the Value of History, a statement developed co-operatively by the HCV and the History Councils of New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.

Read More


Since 2015, the HCV has been pleased to sponsor the Years 9 and 10 category of the Historical Fiction Competition organised by the History Teachers' Association of Victoria.

Read More


Ways to support us:

Subscribe to our free newsletter:
Endorse the Value of History statement:
Find us on socials: Twitter / Facebook / YouTube

Read More



The HCV was formed as an advisory body in 2001 and incorporated in 2003. It comprises representatives from cultural and educational institutions and heritage bodies; history teachers and curriculum advisors; academic and professional historians; and local, Indigenous, community and specialist history organisations.

As the peak body for history, the HCV has both ‘outward-looking’ roles (including advocacy and representation to government and the wider community, consultation, community education, and networking with allied interest groups) and ‘inward-looking’ roles (including member support, information dissemination, and networking between members).



The History Council of Victoria acknowledges the State Library of Victoria and the Public Record Office Victoria for supply of the archival images that appear on this website.

We acknowledge the National Film and Sound Archive for the right to use of the video footage on the home page, titled "Melbourne: Life in Australia (1966)".

Image credits

  • Italian sailors on ship at Port Melbourne 1938, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese procession in Collins near Elizabeth Street 1901, Harvie & Sutcliffe, photographers, State Library of Victoria
  • People’s homes, Aboriginal station Coranderrk 1878, Fred Kruger Photographer, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese nurses at Children’s Hospital under scholarship 1947, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Ladies physical culture class VRI Melbourne c1931, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001, 011/02
  • Melbourne Cup, Derby and Oaks Day, Flemington Racecourse 1936, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001/4802, 372/30
  • Flinders Street viaduct at foot of Market Street with advertisement for McRobertson’s Chocolate on bridge, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12800/P0003, ADV 1342