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Home > Stories > Treasures of the Library: the first map of Melbourne's CBD

Treasures of the Library: the first map of Melbourne's CBD

23 August 2021

In the first episode of our Treasures of the Library video series, Senior Librarian Sarah Ryan takes us through two pieces in the Library’s collection by Melbourne’s first appointed surveyor Robert Russell.

The survey and watercolour reveal what Melbourne looked like in 1837, specifically the area around the Yarra River and the grid of Melbourne's central business district. Most significantly, the works illustrate the natural environment of Melbourne at the beginning of European settlement, including tea tree scrub and She Oaks along the waterways.

Russell sketched a series of famous first views of Melbourne and produced painted replicas of them until the last decade of his life. The vantage point of this watercolour is the south side of the Melbourne falls, now the site of Queens bridge, where Russell's cottage was situated. 

Watch the video above for a close look at the works, which reveal the natural landscape of pre-industrial Melbourne.

About Treasures of the Library

This video series, designed for members and hosted by expert librarians, delves into the Library’s collection to highlight some of its most fascinating and precious items.

Become a member today to receive early access to stories like these, plus plenty of other benefits and behind-the-scenes experiences with the Library.

Watch more episodes of Treasures of the Library.

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