March Lecture – Harry Roberts
DIMINUTIVE but significant

Geelong’s First Custom House

Geelong’s First Customs House was the topic presented by Harry Roberts. His presentation began with the establishment of the Port Phillip District and the settlement of Melbourne in 1836 when the area was controlled by the colony of New South Wales. The large influx of settlers required a customs presence which led to Melbourne’s Customs House being established and then one at Geelong.

Harry spoke about the issues associated with Melbourne being the only place customs duties being paid, meaning the local Geelong building was little more than an office. Its size of 10 feet by 10 feet meant in could be placed on wheels and moved about the dock.

The little building served the community well between 1837 and 1844 when it was replaced by a second, more substantial building on Corio Terrace (now Brougham Street). Harry then spoke of the building’s role as Geelong’s first telegraph office in 1854 and its final move to Geelong’s Botanic Gardens in 1889. It is now considered to be Victoria’s oldest building.

The First Custom’s House was small, being only 10′ x 10′.

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