Thursday, September 19, 2013

Darke and Sandridge

William Darke gave the name Sandridge to the area now known as Port Melbourne. He was one of three surveyors sent by Governor Bourke in 1836 to survey the shore of Port Phillip Bay and plot the course of the Yarra River. The name described the 'mile upon mile of sand dunes' that were a defining feature of the foreshore.1 Liardet painted this charming picture full of interesting detail of Darke at work.
State Library of Victoria
Examine it closely and you can see the familiar picture of a surveyor at work outside the caravan home. It was said that he even had a cottage piano in this quaint dwelling.1
Where did all that sand go? To build Melbourne. Sandridge sand became part of the fabric of the brick and masonry buildings built through the 1850s. So much sand was removed that in time Sandridge actually became quite devoid of sand and the landscape became severely degraded.2  Sand carters took the sand away, leaving many great holes that filled with stagnant water. In Turnbull and U'Ren's words 'Whereas Sandridge had always been flat, it was never quite as flatly flat as it is today' from all the sand that was taken away.3 Removal of stabilising vegetation, including the ti tree shown in the painting, led to ongoing issues with sand drift and wind blown sand. The errant practices of sand carters dominated the Council agenda for many years.
Sandridge became the formal name of  the Municipal District on 11 July 1860, and remains associated with the Sandridge Ward in the City of Port Phillip.
Now the name Sandridge will apply to a new precinct of the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area - a name dislocated from its original context.

1 Liardet's watercolours of early Melbourne: introduction and captions Susan Adams edited by Weston Bate on line at the State Library of Victoria
2 The Fisherfolk of Fishermans Bend Allan Meiers
3 A History of Port Melbourne Nancy U'Ren and Noel Turnbull


  1. Interesting to see early environmental impacts of European settlement - it's hard to imagine mile upon mile of sand dune and ti-tree in modern day Port Melbourne!

  2. Totally agree - I have become intrigued by how that sand made its way into buildings which perhaps in their turn have returned to their constituent elements


Please note: We are no longer adding articles or taking comments on this version of the PMHPS blog. All past and future articles will be on our new website -

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.