The Chief Protector
Location: Yarra Trail, Alexandra Avenue, South Yarra, east of Chapel Street
In 1838, the Secretary of State, Lord Glenelg, appointed George Augustus Robinson, the Commandant of the Flinders Island Aboriginal Settlement, to the position of Chief Protector of Port Phillip district. Robinson (1788-1866) lived in what is now known as the City of Stonnington from 1839 until his return to England in 1852.
In late July 1840, Robinson purchased at auction, for £744, eight hectares on the south bank of the Yarra, on the hill at the bottom of Chapel Street, a 15 minute ride from Melbourne. Robinson noted that the name ‘South Bank of Yarra’ was the ‘name of suburban section No. 8 on Yarra Yarra, south side’. Local Aboriginal people told Robinson the locality was known to them as ‘Terneet’.
Robinson established a grand residence at Terneet and moved in on 14 October 1843. He was known to use several names for his residence including ‘Terneet’, ‘Claremont’, and ‘Rivolia’, sometimes written as ‘Tivolia’ or ‘Tivoli’. The Terneet estate was highly regarded in Melbourne society. Many Aboriginal people visited his home and on occasions camped near his private residence. Protectorate officials and other public officers also visited Robinson’s home to transact official business.
From 1839 until 1842, Robinson was responsible for the welfare of about fifteen Aboriginal people of Van Diemen’s Land and Charlotte, a South Australian woman who was living with sealers in Bass Strait and came to Port Phillip from Flinders Island. Robinson’s charges included: Walter George Arthur (Friday), Mary Ann Arthur, Lalla Rookh (Truganini), Matilda (Maria Matilda Natapolina / Maytepueminner), VDL Jack (Napoleon / Pevay / Jack Napoleon Tarraparrura / Tunnerminnerwait), Wooreddy (Doctor / Mutteellee), Fanny (Fanny Waterfordia / Planobeena), Timmy (Robert / Maulboyheener), Thomas Thompson, Isaac (Probelattener / Lackley), Johnny Franklin, Rebecca (Meeterlatteenner), Thomas Brune, David Brune (Myyungge / Dowwringgi / Leati) and Peter Brune (Droleluni). Some of these people lived at Terneet.