Port Esssington MemorialPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Chris McLaughlin
The memorial commemorates service personnel and civilians who died or were killed in the call of duty at the ill fated Port Essington (Victoria Settlement) between 1824 -1849.

Port Essington is an inlet and historic site located on the Cobourg Peninsula in the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park in Australia's Northern Territory. It was the site of an early attempt at British settlement, but now exists only as a remote series of ruins.

In the early 19th century, the British government became interested in establishing a settlement on Australia's northern coastline in order to facilitate trade with Asia. In 1824 Port Essington was proposed as the first such settlement, but was later passed over in favour of Fort Dundas on Melville Island and Fort Wellington at Raffles Bay. In 1831, a small station was constructed in the area, on Wurango clan land, in the hope of using it as a stopping point for ships, but it was rarely used. When both Fort Dundas and Fort Wellington failed within several years, the Port Essington site was revisited. As a result, a settlement, officially named Victoria Settlement after the young Queen Victoria, but popularly known as Port Essington, was established by Sir J. Gordon Bremer in 1838 and surveyed by Charles Tyers in 1839. It consisted of 24 houses and a hospital. A description of the harbour and settlement was communicated to the Royal Geographical Society, London, in 1839

While the British government intended to establish Port Essington as a major trading port, along the lines of Singapore, the new settlement suffered from the same adverse conditions that had previously plagued Fort Dundas and Fort Wellington. The settlement lacked resources and supplies and skilled labour. While some prefabricated buildings were brought from Sydney, many had to be built with what materials could be found in the area, and due to the unskilled nature of the builders, many of these were of poor quality. Disease was also rampant among the small population, and living conditions were poor. Consequently, it struggled to attract settlers, and the post was much-disliked by the troops stationed there. Finally, in 1849, Port Essington was, like the two previous attempts, abandoned. The demise of the settlement saw the end of British attempts at occupying the north coast.


Address:Victoria Settlement, Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, Cobourg Peninsula, Cobourg, 0822
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -11.361637
Long: 132.153663
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:Government
Approx. Event Start Date:1824
Approx. Event End Date:1849


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Thursday 2nd August, 1990
Front Inscription

This plaque was erected jointly by the Royal Commonwealth Society N.T. and the Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory and dedicated for the love of God by the Anglican Bishop of the NT, the Catholic Bishop of Darwin Diocese and the  Moderator of the Uniting Church of the NT

In memory of those servicemen and civilians who lost their lives in the call of duty

Unveiled by the Hon. Steve Hatton MLA. Minister for Conservation on 2nd August 1990

With thanks given to the Chairman and members of the Gurug Management Board

Persons listed as having died at Port Essington or buried at ex ships arriving, or having departed this port

[ Names ]

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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