Historical information

White metal medal issued to commemorate Melbourne's centenary 1934-35. This medal was given out to Victorian school children; 325,600 white metal medals were struck. There were also a few VIP pieces in other metals, including two in gold. The medal references Portland, the location of Victoria's first settlement. The Henty brothers, entrepreneur farmers and whalers, established the state's first permanent European settlement in Portland in 1834. Melbourne was established the following year by a party of settlers led by John Batman.

In 1934, as Melbourne planned to celebrate the centenary of European settlement, it seemed to some that there was little to celebrate. The financial strains of the depression, unemployment and the scandal of the city's slums all undercut claims of unbridled progress. Perhaps because of such troubles, the organisers of the centenary celebrations tried doubly hard to be positive. The themes of the celebrations were conservative, reflecting the desire of some Melburnians for security in troubled times. The widely promoted image of the 'Garden City' and 'Queen City of the South' emphasised the idea of Melbourne as a very British city. A visit by the Duke of Gloucester, son of George V, the ageing king, provided a reassuring strengthening of Melbourne's imperial connections. The presented view of Melbourne's history stressed the 'myth of the pioneer', embodied in the person of John Batman. Elevated to heroic status, he was reinvented as a courageous pioneer whose life exemplified the rewards of self-improvement. Such a portrayal ignored Batman's dubious 'treaty' with local Aborigines and the less savoury details of his personal life. Melbourne's indigenous people were excluded from this triumphant view of Melbourne's past. The centenary celebrations now seem dated, but the image of Melbourne as a conservative city largely influenced by Britain has been more enduring.


Details the settlement of Portland, Melbourne and Victoria, 1834 - 1935

Physical description

Double sided round white metal medal, featuring on front face, the bay of Portland showing a ship in the harbour. On the reverse side of the medal is John Bateman overlooking the city of Melbourne and the Yarra river.

Inscriptions & markings

The front is inscribed, "CENTENARY OF VICTORIA" 1934, across the top, bottom right has the words "PORTLAND 1834". Reverse side shows "CENTENARY OF MELBOURNE 1935", and the date 1835 at the bottom.