The letter from Sam Anderson

1SamAndersonIn 1835 Sam Anderson settled on the eastern side of Western Port near the present Phillip Island turn off. He wrote this letter in 1840.


Western Port
14th July, 1840

His Honour
C. J. La Trobe, Esquire


As I daresay, every addition to the Geography of the country, however small will be of interest to your Honour, I have taken leave to send you a brief account of a journey which I took lately in company with Mr. Thom a friend of mine in search of a cattle run. The country to the eastward of Western Port being nearly quite unknown, we started in that direction and after forcing our way among the ranges to the North East for a week, we only succeeded in penetrating about fifty miles when dense scrub and lack of water obliged us to turn – From the point where we turned we steered south by west for the coast which we reached in three days on the shore of a large shallow inlet which lies between Cape Liptrap and Cape Patterson : along this inlet we directed our course with the view of getting around the head of it, and so inland of Cape Liptrap towards Wilson’s Promontory, at the head of it however we found a river, which (Mr Thom being unable to swim) effectively stopped our progress for the present – We travelled along the banks of the river for one day in hopes of finding a crossing but without success, and having become entangled in almost impassable scrub we were glad to retrace our steps and to content ourselves with ascending a heathy ridge above the bank from which we could have a good view of the surrounding Country- having satisfied our curiosity, we turned for home, which we reached after an absence of about three weeks during which we had travelled 140 miles (225 km) though never more than 50 from my station. The whole of the Country through which we travelled is I am sorry to say is of very bad quality consisting of a succession of barren heathy plains divided by broad belts of the most horrid scrubby forest I have ever seen. In many places with the utmost exertion we could not get on more than 4 to 500 yards (366 to 457m) in an hour, and destitute of water, that for three days at one time and two days at another we could not find a drop.

The inlet, the mouth of which is marked on Flinders’ chart and extends parallel with the coast to the South East about twelve miles (19km) till it comes within a few miles of Cape Liptrap- The river, which falls into the extreme end of it was fresh at low water 2 miles (3 km) from its mouth, 50 to 70 yards (46 to 64m) wide and evidently very deep, and had the adjoining country been such as I hoped it would prove, would have been a valuable discovery. The view from the neighbouring hills however was most unattractive – nothing to be seen for more than twenty miles (32kms) in every direction but extensive heathy plains and hills, and all along the banks of the river covered with impenetrable scrub of tea tree and prickly mimosa – the tops of the ranges seen about 30 miles (48 Kms) off appear as thickly wooded as those which turned us to the South West – altogether I have never seen a more worthless tract of country, there not being I believe in a span of 5 to 600 square miles (805 to 966 Sq Kms) grass to feed even a single bullock. As I believe the river I have described to be hitherto unknown to Europeans, I think myself entitled, as the discoverer, to give it a name, and as I know no one more entitled than your Honour to such a distinction , I with your permission will call it La Trobe. Trusting that your honour will excuse my troubling you at such length

I have the honour to remain
Your most Odeb’ – Hble servant

Sam Anderson


  • Before
  • Settlement Begins
  • Early Travel
  • Ckearing The Land
  • Building a Home
  • Fencing the Land
  • Living Conditions
  • Early Communities