In 1802 the Governor of New South Wales, Philip King, instructed his Surveyor-General Charles Grimes to travel from Port Jackson to the Port Phillip Bay area and to explore and survey the area, and report on any suitable sites for settlement.
Their ship entered Port Phillip Bay on 20th January 1803. His party found the mouth of the Yarra and proceeded to explore both the Saltwater (Maribyrnong) and the Freshwater (Yarra) Rivers. Grimes explored the Yarra by boat for several miles until he reached Dight's Falls on 8 February 1803. His survey chart is extremely detailed.
One of his party, James Flemming (described as an "agriculturist"), noted "The most eligible place for a settlement I have seen is on the Freshwater (Yarra) River." However, Charles Grimes reported less enthusiastically upon his return to Port Jackson, and no further exploration was undertaken. Matthew Flinders had also surveyed Port Phillip Bay in 1802 and included features from the Grimes chart when finalising his maps for publication (the Matthew Flinders 1802 map is available on this page).
In April 1803 another official attempt was sent from England to find a suitable place to settle in Port Phillip Bay, but the party, lead by Captain David Collins, settled near present-day Sorrento in October 1803, where they found the soil too poor for crops and no fresh water. (For some reason, Grimes' detailed survey showing where there was plenty of fresh water was not made available to Collins.) During the attempt to settle, four convicts managed to escape, one of whom was William Buckley. He survived for 32 years in the bush around Port Phillip Bay, mainly living with the indigenous people. The settlement was abandoned after a few months on 31st January 1804, and Collins and his party relocated to Van Diemen's Land where they established Hobart in February 1804. Buckley eventually left the wilderness in 1835, when he introduced himself to Batman's party, who were camped at Indented Head on the Bellarine Peninsula.
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