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Council commemorating La Trobe’s 200th on Latrobe City’s first birthday

Print of La Trobe portrait , painted by Sir Francis Grant, to be framed and hung in the Council Gallery.

By Latrobe City Council - 3rd April 2001 - Back to News

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The 200th anniversary of Charles Joseph La Trobe has not escaped Latrobe City’s attention, with Council announcing on the eve of the City’s first birthday that a print of the portrait of La Trobe, painted by Sir Francis Grant, was being procured to be framed and hung in the Council Gallery.

Latrobe City Mayor, Councillor Brendan Jenkins said that considering the municipality had been named after the first Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria, it was fitting that a reproduction of La Trobe’s portrait together with some associated historical information should be visible and available to citizens and municipal visitors.

“Latrobe City will be one year old on Wednesday 4 April 2001, and this is a very fitting way of celebrating that occasion, and the 200th anniversary of the man after whom the municipality is named,” Cr Jenkins said.

“Charles Joseph La Trobe was the Superintendent of the Port Phillip District of New South Wales from 1839 to 1850. La Trobe was at first warmly received in Melbourne, as the residents of Port Phillip were calling for separation from New South Wales since they considered their needs for buildings, roads and other necessary services were not listened to in Sydney, and La Trobe supported their position,” Cr Jenkins explained.

“The tide of popularity turned against him as he was perceived as not acting as assertively or as rapidly as the Port Phillipians wished. However, he continued to make representations to the government in Sydney on their behalf.

“On the proclamation of the southern section of New South Wales as Victoria in 1851, La Trobe was appointed as the first Lieutenant-Governor. It was the same year that gold was discovered in Ballarat and Bendigo and a shortage of workers for farms and industry developed throughout the state as men flocked to the goldfields to try their luck. La Trobe asserted the right of the Crown to all the gold located and proclaimed a licence fee of thirty shillings a month, which he lifted to three pounds in January 1852, in the hope of attracting men back to Melbourne. The miners protested so loudly about this increase that he withdrew it after only two weeks.

“Well aware of his increasing unpopularity, La Trobe resigned in December 1852. He left Melbourne in May 1854 for England and was reunited with his children. Charles Joseph La Trobe died on 4 December 1875 at Clapham House in the village of Litlington near Eastbourne in Sussex. He is buried in the local churchyard,” Cr Jenkins added.

Latrobe City Cultural Planner, Di Goulding, said that La Trobe’s actual date of birth was still something of a discussion point.

“Most authorities now accept that Charles Joseph La Trobe was born on 20 March 1801, though there are still some who claim 30 March 1801 to be the true date,” Ms Goulding said.

“While Charles Joseph La Trobe is fairly well known for his role as Victoria’s Lieutenant Governor, few people know that he was also an accomplished artist, producing over 437 watercolours depicting the landscapes and scenery encountered in his travels. While only a portion of his work has been exhibited, with the remainder generally inaccessible to the public, a volume exhibiting all his known works has become available and Council will procure a copy so that municipal visitors can share the artistic talents of the man whose name has become an every-day word in our region,” Ms Goulding said

“The spelling of La Trobe is far more contentious than his date of birth, with ‘Latrobe Street’ in Melbourne spelt as one word, the town of Latrobe in Tasmania spelt that way, and of course our own Latrobe River, Latrobe Valley and Latrobe City. Interestingly, the one-word version is also used by many of his descendants,” Ms Goulding added.

“The ‘Latrobe’ version in this region became the accepted standard from October 1949, when the then State Government of the day initiated a focus on regional planning that required more definitive regional boundaries than just Gippsland, and created the ‘Latrobe Valley’ describing the region surrounding the Latrobe River.

On 4 April 2000, at the same time as our municipality was granted City status, the name of the municipality was officially gazetted by the Victorian State Parliament as ‘Latrobe City Council’,” Ms Goulding concluded.


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