Sunday, 11 December 2011 06:03

Timeline 1800-1900

Written by

Before 1800

Yalukit-Willam, a sub-branch of the Boon Wurrung territorial group within the Kulin Nation, were the traditional owners of Euroe Yroke (now known as St Kilda) until European colonization.  Aboriginal people have lived in south eastern Australia for up to 60,000 years or more. Shellfish was cooked in middens or campfires at Point Ormond, huts were built beside Albert Park Lagoon, axes sharpened at the sandstone cliffs (the Esplanade) behind St Kilda Beach and gatherings held at the ancient Corroboree (red gum) tree at St Kilda Junction.


1802  A naval exploring ship with colonial-surveyor Charles Grimes on board visits from Sydney and describes the St Kilda coastline. Two emus are sighted at Elwood.


1835  A whaleboat from the schooner  Enterprise, privately  financed by J.P. Fawkner, lands  at Elwood on its way to founding an unofficial civilian settlement on the banks of the Yarra River which will later be called Melbourne. 

1839  First grazing lease granted to Benjamin Baxter who builds a stockman’s hut in what is now Alfred Square. St Kilda Hill is known as Green Knoll.


1840  Scottish immigrants on the Glen Huntly fever ship are confined at Point Ormond which becomes Victoria’s first Quarantine Station and, after the death of three passengers, St Kilda’s first graveyard.

1842  Jan & Feb, twenty two allotments of land are officially surveyed and the area called “Village of Fareham” after the seaside village in Hampshire probably by the surveyor Thomas H Nutt. 

The name is changed when Superintendent La Trobe, at a champagne picnic on the Green Knoll overlooking the bay, suggests that the area be called ‘St Kilda’ after the schooner-yacht  Lady of St Kilda anchored off the foreshore.  The yacht, in turn, had been named in 1834 by its then owner Sir Thomas Dyke Acland as a tribute to his intrepid wife who, in 1812, was the first English Lady to be rowed ashore to the remote Hebridean (Scottish) archipelago of St Kilda.

First Government land sales held on 7th December 1842.  Acland Street named after Sir Thomas Dyke Acland. Captain James Ross Lawrence who had sailed the Lady of St Kilda out from England for its new owners buys the first allotment of land in St Kilda, cnr Acland, Fitzroy and Esplanade.

1847  Jan 1 & 2, the first St Kilda Cup race carnival is held at the St Kilda Racecourse near the Village Belle. This becomes an annual event until 1869. The running of the Cup is later transferred to the Caulfield Racecourse.


Gold is discovered and many depart St Kilda for the diggings. Tens of thousands of new immigrants arrive in Melbourne from overseas seeking their fortune, causing an acute housing shortage and booming prices. When the surface gold runs out many return penniless and the boom collapses. 

1851  The Premier Omnibus Company offers return trips from the Bull and Mouth, Bourke Street to the Royal Hotel, Esplanade in horse drawn vehicles with two services a day at one shilling each way.

1852  Oct 16, bushrangers rob nineteen people on the sandy track now called Brighton Road.

1853  The St Kilda Pier and Jetty Company is formed to construct the new pier. Mrs Ford provides the first bathing facility south of the pier. A year later, Captain Kenny establishes his baths just north of the pier. 

1854  The foundation stone of Anglican Christ Church in Acland Street is laid and the building opened 3 years later. This is the first of a score of churches that later include Presbyterian (1855), Congregationalist (1855), Wesleyans (1857),  St Mary’s Catholic Church (1859), Free Presbyterians (1864) and Baptist (1876). 

1857  May 13, the railway line opens linking St Kilda to Melbourne. The professional classes can now easily commute to the city for work, making the area a popular place to live. St Kilda’s first elected Municipal Council meets at the Junction hotel at St Kilda Junction. Early November the Terminus Hotel opens opposite St Kilda station, to be renamed The George Hotel in July 1866. 

1859  St Kilda’s first town hall is constructed at the rear of the courthouse, corner of Grey and Barkly Streets.


As the decade progresses, St Kilda rapidly becomes one of the most fashionable place to live in Melbourne with many beautiful mansions and large gardens like Barham House (later Eildon, now Alliance Francaise de Melbourne). Trains and horse-drawn ‘omnibuses’ bring people from the city to experience Melbourne’s most accessible seaside resort including its fifteen hotels.


New sea bathing facilities are constructed to compete with Captain Kenney’s. Wetlands are drained to make Albert Park Lake.

1871  The thriving Jewish community builds St Kilda Synagogue, the first of at least four Jewish congregations in St Kilda.

1874  Marcus Clarke of Inkerman Street publishes ‘For the Term of His Natural Life’.

1875  St Kilda’s State School on Brighton Road is opened.

1878  Esplanade Hotel built. A hundred years later it is one of Australia’s most important live music venues.


Many churches and synagogues are constructed and now become prominent St Kilda landmarks. Melbourne, including St Kilda, is experiencing a great land boom.

1882  St Kilda Park Primary School opens in Fitzroy Street.

1888  June 1,  contract let to Georage Higgins, CE for filling in the Elwood swamp for £40,000.

1889  May, contract let to Messrs Hendon, Clarke & Anderson for constructing a channel for £14,000.


An economic depression ensues after the financial crash of the late 1880’s continues. Numbers of wealthy St Kilda families are ruined and lose their houses. Many of the mansions on the Hill are sold and turned into boarding and guesthouses. Catani Gardens created by filling in beach shallows.

1890  The new St Kilda Town hall, a palatial boom-style palace by William Pitt (1855-1918) architect, is completed on the corner of Carlisle Street and Brighton roads, on a former wetland where Aboriginal people once camped.

1891  New brick retaining wall with vaults constructed to widen the north end of the Esplanade.
New cable tramway from Windsor station to the St Kilda Esplanade is opened, bringing thousands of day-trippers to St Kilda beaches. 

1897  St Kilda Football Team joins the VFL from its home base at Junction Oval.


Last modified on Tuesday, 26 February 2019 05:53
More in this category: Timeline 1900-1950 »

The St Kilda Historical Society respectfully acknowledges:

Yalukut Weelam clan

The traditional lands of the Yalukut Weelam clan and the continuing relationship of the Boon Worrung people to our local area

City of Port Phillip

The continuing support of the City of Port Phillip


The contribution made by past and present volunteers

© 2019 St Kilda Historical Society Inc. ABNº 25 188 646 275. All Rights Reserved.