The ruins of Victoria Settlement bear a poignant reminder of hardship and desperation of the early years of colonisation.
In 1818 Captain Phillip Parker King explored and named Cobourg Peninsula and Port Essington. His surveys also determined the locations of the first European settlements in northern Australia: Fort Dundas (Tiwi Islands) Fort Wellington and Victoria.
With the fear of Dutch and French expansion in the southern East Indies, the British Government decided to establish a settlement along Australia's northern coastline. After the failure and abandonment of two settlements, Victoria was constructed.
Shortly after its establishment in 1838, Victoria had developed the appearance of a considerable village. A Governor's house, church, hospital and a collection of military building created a British colonial character. (Cornish actually - see the shape of the chimneys in photos) Next to each cottage small gardens supplemented the settlement's main garden with crops of pumpkin, cabbage and a variety of fruit.
By the seventh year of its existence, progress on the settlement had ceased. Expectations of trade had not been met and over the following years supplies became infrequent (a fairly typical Government response even now) and fever and death more common. Gradually the long periods of isolation, together with the oppressive conditions and climate, drained the settlers of spirit and life. Buildings were no longer maintained and the fate of Victoria was sealed.
The settlement was abandoned in November 1849.
Information taken from Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, Victoria Settlement, leaflet. My comments are in brackets. Photos in separate album.