Coranderrk 1890 – courtesy of State Library Victoria
Significant Historical Events
1835 John Batman arrives in Victoria and a treaty is signed by leaders of the Kulin Nation to 'purchase'
land around Port Phillip Bay. Melbourne is founded.
1838 A protectorate is established to defend the interests of the Aboriginal population.
1840 Lieutenant Governor La Trobe issues orders banning Aboriginal people from Melbourne.
1842 Victoria is occupied by over 12,000 settlers as well as 100,000 cattle and 1.5 million sheep.
1843 Ngurungaeta Billibellary requests land to be reserved for the Woiwurrung clans. His request is not granted.
1846 Billibellary dies and is succeeded as Ngurungaeta by his son Wonga.
1849 The protectorate is disbanded. William Thomas was employed as ‘Guardian of the Aborigines’.
1851 Victoria becomes a separate colony from New South Wales. The population of settlers explodes due to the discovery of gold.
1850s William Thomas and Simon Wonga strive to obtain a parcel of land for the remnant Kulin population, at Acheron Station.
1855 Victoria now has its own Parliament.
1857 John and Mary Green arrive in Victoria from Scotland.
1858 Anne and Jon Bon arrive in Victoria and settle at Wappan Station, on Taungerong country.
1859 A recommendation to establish several reserves to house and ‘civilise’ the surviving Aboriginal population. A deputation of Taungerong men, together with Wonga request land at Acheron, on Taungerong country. They are successful.
1860 The Central Board to Watch Over the Interests of the Aborigines is formed. The Taungerong clans are forcibly removed from Acheron. They are relocated to Mohican Station.
1861 John Green is appointed Inspector for the Central Board.
1863 40 Kulin people, together with John and Mary Green, abandon Mohican Station and settle at a site which they name Coranderrk, in the Yarra Valley outside present-day Healseville. It is gazetted as an Aboriginal reserve (2300 acres) on 30th June. Green assumes management of the station without pay.
1864 The township of Healesville is established in the proximity of Coranderrk.
1866 Coranderrk’s population grows to approximately 100. A further 2550 acres of land extends the site to a total of 4850 acres.
1869 The Aboriginal Protection Act 1869 (Vic) is passed and the Central Board is renamed the ‘Board for the Protection of Aborigines’ (The Board).
1872 The Board recommends that Coranderrk should focus on the cultivation of hops and takes control of agricultural development of the station.
1874 Board members visit Coranderrk to inspect the station. John Green is harassed into offering his resignation.
1875 Wonga dies and Barak becomes Ngurungaeta, leader of the Coranderrk people, who now number close to 150. Barak leads a deputation of seven men to attend a Board meeting in Melbourne. Their complaints about station management are ignored. A group from the Board again inspect Coranderrk. They report that the station should be abandoned due to the cold climate and residents should be relocated to a warmer location on the Murray River. Christian Ogilvie is appointed temporary manager of Coranderrk.
1876 Barak leads a second protest deputation into Melbourne, this time going directly to the Chief Secretary to protest Ogilvie’s management and ask for Green’s reinstatement. Ogilvie resigns as manager of Coranderrk. Hugh Halliday takes his place.
1877 In response to the Coranderrk debacle, a Royal Commission to investigate the condition of the Victorian Aboriginal reserves. It recommends they should be maintained, under missionary supervision. A general election is held in Victoria, giving a massive majority to the radical party led by Graham Berry.
1878 Barak leads another deputation into Melbourne to meet with Chief Secretary Berry to complain of Halliday’s management and Green’s removal. Reverend Strickland replaces Halliday as manager of Coranderrk.
1880 Coranderrk is in a state of ‘revolt’. The residents strike and write letters in protest against Strickland’s management.
1881 Coranderrk wins award for high quality hops. Barak leads a deputation of 22men into Melbourne. They spend the night at Anne Bon’s house in Kew. The following day they urge Chief Secretary Berry to abolish the Board and allow them to manage Coranderrk together with John Green. Barak travels into Melbourne with his son, David who has tuberculosis, to hospital. David dies soon after. Graham Berry loses office. The Government Gazette announces that a Parliamentary Board of Inquiry has been appointed to enquire into the management of Coranderrk. The local MLA Ewan Cameron is appointed Chairman; and Anne Bon in named as one of the Commissioners. The Enquiry begins: the first two hearings are held at Coranderrk. Anne Bon holds her ‘unauthorised’ hearing at Coranderrk. Cameron refuses to include the evidence in the official minutes. The 3rd, 4th and 5th hearings take place in Melbourne. The Enquiry returns to Coranderrk. The 7th hearing is held in Healesville. In total 10 hearings are held.
1882 The Commissioners submit their final report to the Chief Secretary. Following Strickland’s removal, William Goodall is appointed manager of Coranderrk.
1883 Graham Berry wins the election and returns to office. Barak travels to Melbourne to submit a petition asking Berry to implement the recommendations of the Inquiry.
1884 Berry orders that Coranderrk be permanently reserved ‘as a site for the use of the Aborigines’.
1886 Berry retires from Parliament and prepares to return to England. Barak leads a deputation of 15 men to farewell and thank him for his support over the years. The Aboriginal Protection Law Amendment Act, otherwise known as the Half Caste Act passes both Houses of Parliament. No longer considered as ‘Aboriginal people’, all ‘half-castes’ between the age of 15 and 35 are ordered to leave the reserves.
1893 Taungrong clan head Thomas Bamfield dies. Only 17 men and 14 women remain at Coranderrk. Government cancels the reservation of 2400 acres of Coranderrk to create the Badger Creek settlement.
1901 Federation of the Australian colonies. Australia becomes a nation.
1903 William Barak dies at Coranderrk.
1908 Robert Wandon and John Green die.
1920 Sir Colin MacKenzie, a leading medical researcher, leases 78 acres from the Aboriginal Protection Board to begin his work in comparative anatomy with Australian fauna. This was the catalyst for the creation of the Healesville Sanctuary.
1924 Coranderrk is officially closed as an Aboriginal reserve.
1930s Elderly residents are permitted to stay.
1934 Anne Bon re-dedicates her husband’s headstone in honour of Barak’s memory; an unveiling ceremony takes place in Healesville.
1936 Anne Bon dies in Melbourne.
1948 The Coranderrk Lands Bill is passed revoking the reservation of Coranderrk’s remaining land and setting it aside for solider resettlement. No Aboriginal sliders are eligible for the land.
1955 Barak’s headstone is relocated to the Coranderrk cemetery, where it still stands.
1991 Coranderrk Cemetery handed back to the Wurundjeri people (Wurundjeri Council).
1992 Wurundjeri acquire 38 hectare former Army School of Health (on former Coranderrk land) (Wurundjeri Council).
1999 The 200 acre parcel of Coranderrk was handed back to Wandoon Estate Aboriginal Corporation – WEAC.
2013 Walk to Coranderrk and Coranderrk Festival, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Coranderrk.
2014 Walk to Coranderrk and Coranderrk Festival.
2015 Walk to Coranderrk.
2016 Performance at Coranderrk of the play: Coranderrk: We Will Show the Country.
The Coranderrk Property Management Plan is developed and work starts on regeneration of the farmland.
2018 The Plants of Coranderrk project is commenced (completed September 2020).
2019 The Coranderrk River Restoration Project is commenced. Art installation untitled (seven monuments) is launched at Coranderrk.
2020 The Coranderrk Bush Food Garden and Orchard project is commenced.