Contour Map of Mornington Peninsula.

Contour Map of Mornington Peninsula.


Alexander Black

Published Dec.1891, Melbourne

Size: 30.25" X 39.5"

Condition: Very good. Printed on linen. Exhibits light wear along original fold lines.  The Daily Telegraph Gazetteer War Map (No. 4) adhered to verso.


A rare map of Australia’s Mornington Peninsula in the former Colony of Victoria.  This lithographic map was prepared specially for the use of the Australian defence department.  The topographic detail offers much information for this strategic entry point into the heart of one of Australia’s most important socio-economic hubs as well as providing early ownership details for some of the lots depicted.
It has been observed that this map was printed on waxed linen most likely because it was meant for field use.
Although the Mornington peninsula is now often associated as a scenic tourist destination and an outlying suburb of greater Melbourne, some 40km away, its historical significance to the region is still evident.  The first European Settlement in 1803, in what would eventually become the colony of Victoria in 1851, was on the Mornington peninsula in what is the present day city of Sorento on the Western shores near Point Nepean, some thirty years before the foundation of Melbourne in 1835.  As Melbourne grew in importance, especially with onset of the gold rush in the 1850s and its subsequent independence from New South Wales, its defence rested substantially on the fortifications protecting the entrance to Port Phillip Bay.  These fortifications consisted of Fort Queenscliff becoming the headquarters of a series of Forts, such as Fort Nepean and Eagles Nest, that were built starting in 1878 and completed in 1891.  It is important to note that the completion of these defensive fortification coincides with the printing of this map.  It has been said that Port Phillip Bay would end up being one of the most, if not the most, heavily defended harbours in the British Empire.  As an interesting aside, the first shots of the Allied Forces at the onset of both World War I and World War II occurred at Fort Nepean.
The map is also intriguing for what it does not show.  The map does not seem to show any railways.  Yet, it is the advent of the rail system in the 1890s that could now connect the colonies of Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria, that led Major General Bevan Edwards to survey the colonial military defences, including that of Port Phillip Bay.  His recommendations following this study of Australian defences, which the map is most likely part of, led to the overhaul of all colonial defences  of rapid mobilization of stranded brigades as opposed to the the static defences based on coastal forts. It is also worth noting that it was the fear of imperial German interests in the Pacific that forced such a defensive posture, and ultimately led to Australia becoming a Commonwealth in 1901.
In looking at the nomenclature of the map, the viewer quickly realizes the extant of Anglo Saxon place names, in what had originally been settled by the indigenous population associated with the  Boonwurrung people less than a century earlier.  However, the indigenous population, by the time that this map was issued, had long been dispossessed of their traditional territory and lands, and thus the dearth of indigenous place names.
As such, this map is of historical significance because it provides the cartographic depiction of the major defensive structure for one of Australia’s major metropolises, and also because it shows the extant of the loss of indigenous presence following the arrival of European Settlement.