Kilmore confirmed Victoria’s oldest inland town

By Eden Hynninen

CAREER research scientist and previous Kilmore resident Martin Williams has discovered – after 164 years of speculation – that Kilmore is the oldest inland town of Victoria.

Mr Williams has done something that previous historians and writers have not done – cross reference newspaper articles, books and first-hand accounts dating back to 19th century in minute detail.

“What I’ve done is gone back and had a look at primary source documents at the State Library and the Public Records Office. I also found much of this information on the Trove online database,” he said.

“It seems in about 1855 there were questions in the Kilmore Standard of Freedom newspaper itself that people thought Kilmore might become the oldest inland town in Victoria. It already was and by a long way. It came up again and again through the 19th and the 20th centuries. The oldest documents that exist now prove without any doubt that Kilmore is the oldest town.

“Kilmore was the only place for a 10 year period where you could lease or buy small arable blocks of land from 1841-1851 in inland Victoria. In 1851 the population was over 2000 and the nearest town of Seymour was only 138 – it was a great deal bigger than anywhere else. This was mentioned in a lot of newspapers in Victoria on a big scale.”

Kilmore was discovered by the famous Overlander and explorer of South Australia Charles Bonney on about March 21, 1837.

“He did two things that are really impressive. He blazed the trail on Sydney Road with a tomahawk between Kilmore and Melbourne.

This is proven in newspapers and maps, he also found this unique local area called the Kilmore plains,” he said.

“There are three permanent creeks running through this area and with its volcanic soil, it was extremely fertile. Bonney actually made the first sheep station on the Kilmore plains. He took the best of it and built one of his sheep/out stations exactly on Kilmore.

Mr Williams said he became interested after reading Bonney’s well-known biography.

“He actually referred to the fact that among the most important things he’d ever done, it was finding the fertile district of Kilmore and blazing Sydney Road. I twigged that Kilmore was so important to him because he knew that it was the first inland town,” he said.

“Previous writers and historians knew that Bonney had something to do with it but they had no certainty – they hadn’t done enough cross referencing with the original newspapers that verified works written often vaguely in books.”

Mr Williams has updated the Wikipedia information on Kilmore’s history and had suggested the Council recognise officially, in its own right, that Bonney was the founder of Kilmore and the Sydney Road through it.

“They should say that we as a council should name something after him. Now that people are aware of this information he is more important to Kilmore than previously known,” he said.

“Many well know writers referred to Bonney finding fertile land in Kilmore and the blazed trail of Sydney Road. Writers like Ernest Favenc and George Barton in 1897 referred again in their writing that Bonney had found the fertile land of Kilmore and blazed the trail of Sydney Road – these are things that people missed.

“A further recognition could be made that that the second holder of the Kilmore Plains was Dr Richard Julian Hamlyn who took over Bonney’s outstation right on Kilmore town, at the site of the old State School, and not at Kilmore East as previously speculated.”

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