Learning Sequences

For History teachers and students

Developed by HTAA (The History Teachers' Association of Australia)

Unit 3 - Foundation Story - Melbourne

Batman's Monument 1

The image below shows a monument to John Batman erected near where he was buried in Old Melbourne Cemetery. The cemetery is now the location of Queen Victoria Market and the monument stands on the edge of a car park. Erected to commemorate a significant person and event, the monument raises some interesting questions about historical significance, perspective and how we reconstruct the past. The activities below are intended as a guide for exploring the history of how the monument came about.

Batman's Monument

Born at Parramatta, N.S.W, 1800,
Died at Melbourne 6th May, 1839.
He entered Port Phillip Heads
29th May, 1835,
As leader of an expedition which
He organised in Launceston, V.D.L.,
To form a settlement, and founded one
On the site of Melbourne then unoccupied.

This monument was
By public subscription in Victoria,


  1. Look closely at the image of Batman's monument and its inscription (also available as a separate student resource, Batman's Monument, SR 2).
    1. Write down a list of details you learn from the monument.
    2. Write down a list of questions you have about the monument. Include questions about unfamiliar words. Keep these questions in mind as you complete the remaining activities and raise them in class discussion if they have not been answered by the end of the unit.
    3. What do you think was the purpose of this monument?
  1. Refer to Foundation Sources 1 (SR 3) and answer the following questions:
    1. What type of book do you think Source A is taken from? When was it published?
    2. Do the details in Source A match the details provided in the inscription on Batman's monument? What new information do we learn?
    3. What is the author's attitude to Batman's 'treaty'?
    4. How long after the event they depict were Source B and Source C produced?
    5. Compare the two images. How accurately do you feel they depict the past?
    6. How might the time at which these images were produced have influenced the artists?
    7. Assess the usefulness and limitations of these three sources in allowing us to understand how Melbourne was founded.
  1. Refer to Monument Sources 1 (SR 4) and answer the following questions:
    1. Read Source A and Source B and the first paragraph of Source C. Making reference to these sources, write a half page history of how Batman's Monument came to be erected. (Numbers have been added to the original paragraphs in Source C.)
    2. Through class discussion or research, answer these questions:
      • What was the value of 'a shilling'? (Source B)
      • Who were the 'old colonists'? (Source C, par. 1)
      • What might have been the reason for laughter during the ceremony? (Source C, par. 3 – 4)
      • What does 'iron roads' refer to?(Source C, par. 4)
      • Who was Marcus Clarke? (Source C, par. 5)
      • What does the 'Black War' refer to? (Source C, par. 5)
    3. Use Source C to argue that there was widespread support in Victoria for the erection of the Batman Monument. On the other hand, to what extent could this same source be used to argue that support did not come from the whole community?
    4. To what extent does Source C provide evidence of Victoria's prosperity in the 1880s?
    5. Compare Source D and Source E. How do these images add to our understanding of the history of the monument and its significance?
    6. How is Source F different from the other sources in this selection? What explanation does the author suggest for the erection of the Batman memorial? To what extent is this supported by your own understanding of the historical context and reading of the other sources?


'Monuments often tell us more about the attitudes of those who erected them than they do about the people or events they are commemorating.'

Discuss this statement in relation to the Batman Monument.

In your discussion, refer to evidence from the sources.