The First Settlement site, Sullivan Bay, is a mere kilometre east of Sorrento, Victoria. The site was chosen as a strategic location near the entrance of the bay for Europeans to first settle permanently in what is now Victoria.
While rumours were rife in 1803 that the French planned to claim the southern coastline of Australia first, the British ‘won the race’ with Lieutenant Colonel Collins arriving with free settlers, marines and 300 convicts. Initially a simple makeshift town of tents, cleared land and rudimentary huts, the little village soon had all the trappings of a young community. Sadly, it did not last. Barely four months later, the group uprooted and headed to Tasmania, then known as Van Diemens Land. European history might have begun on the peninsula in 1803, but people have walked these lands for thousands of years.
The history of the Boonwurrung people dates back many thousands of years to a time when Port Phillip Bay was a large flat plain extending to the ocean, where the Boonwurrung hunted kangaroos and cultivated their yam daisy. According to tradition, the land has always been protected by the creator Bunjil who travels as an eagle and by Waarn who protects the waterways and travels as a crow. Bunjil taught the Boonerwrung to always welcome guests. The Boonwurrung people continue their tradition as the proud custodians and protectors of this land and their culture remains alive today. We acknowledge the traditional owners, past and present and encourage all visitors and locals alike to nurture and care for this land as the Boonwurrung people do.