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Discovery: Pre-Surfing


Pre - 1798 - Aboriginal people lived for thousands of years on the Mornington Peninsula. There is evidence all over the place of their involvement with ocean, primarily in the collecting of shell-fish. At Flinders, for example prior to European settlement the Boonwurung Aborigines occupied the area

January 1798 - Western Port Bay discovered by George Bass. oldmap.jpg (8470 bytes)The journey down the coast was somewhat arduous, with bad weather forcing the whaleboat to put into shore on several occasions. Passing into unexplored waters on December 31st, Bass and his party followed the coastline past what is now known as the 90 mile beach, and on towards Wilson’s Promontory.

Winds and currents forced Bass to the south, towards Van Diemans Land, before eventually heading northwards again on January 3rd, concerned that his boat was taking in some water. 

On the 4th of January Bass moved up the coast of   Wilsons Promontory and on the morning of the 5th he wrote:

"At 7, seeing a large break in the land, we stood in for it and found a strong outset of tide. Many shoals were breaking in different parts of the entrance, so that we could not see where the channel was. I therefore landed to look for it, and found that we were at the back of a long spit which we could not now round, as the tide of flood was beginning to make in strong; we therefore waited until high water, and then crossed the spit and entered a very extensive harbour."

Read more about the early history at Westweb

1803-1804 - The first settlement in Victoria established at Sorrento from October 1803 to January 1804. The short-lived settlement suffered from a shortage of fresh water. The Aboriginal name for Sorrento was bullanatoolong (meaning the stretched skin of a kangaroo)

1847 - First casualty at Quarantine. The pilot's cutter 'Corsair' was wrecked at the site of this great left hander in this year. Corsair Rock was named after the cutter.

1830s - 1870 - Early History of Flinders: (from Walkabout.com)

Squatters began to move into the Mornington Peninsula late in the 1830s and Henry Tuck settled in the immediate district in the mid-1840s. James Smith took up land now occupied by the Flinders Golf Course in the late 1840s. Farming later emerged in the hinterland. Fishermen were working on the foreshore of West Head (originally known as Black Head) by the 1850s.

During the gold rush days of the 1850s Chinese immigrants disembarked at Flinders to avoid paying the 10-pound immigration tax levied at official ports. In 1856 110 were living on Flinders Beach, approximately where the yacht club is now situated. They fished and established market gardens.

Post office services commenced in 1863 and a pier was constructed in 1864-65 which facilitated interchange between local producers (of bacon, dairy products and railway sleepers) and the Melbourne markets. A school was established in 1865 and church services commenced in the school in 1867. The first town allotments went on sale in1866 and a general store was established on the first block to be sold. A village of fishermen's huts later emerged on the foreshore.

In 1869, Flinders became the site of a telegraph station which connected Tasmania and the mainland via an underwater cable. In the 1880s Flinders began to promote itself as a health and recreation resort and guesthouses started to emerge, along with the Flinders Hotel, established in 1890. Fishing, farming and tourism have remained the focus of the local community which supplies large quantities of abalone, crayfish and mussels.

Meanwhile Point Leo was originally called Bobbanaring Point after a rainmaker of the Bunerong tribe. The name resurfaced later in the 1970s as surfboards made by Warren Partington.

Merricks was originally spelt Meyricks, after the Meyricks cousins, some of the first white settlers in the area. The Merricks Beach was a residential subdivision in 1926, formerly known as the Manly Beach Estate. Mr Weston of the Merricks Post Office named Merricks North in 1931

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