Paper given at the June
2020 online Conference
Portland, Victoria - A Story Via
Some Significant Medals
The Gunditijmara are the traditional owners of south-western Victoria including Portland. They were present when the early, commercial sealers, including
William Dutton, arrived. The Dandeyallum clan of these people occupied the Portland Bay area. Gunditijmara still reside in and around the district.
Coming of Europeans
34 years prior to the European settlement of Portland, Royal Navy Lieutenant James Grant was en route to Sydney NSW on the brig Lady Nelson when he
named Portland Bay for the English Secretary of State, the Duke of Portland.
A medal (Carlisle 1834/8) commemorating 100 years since the founding of Portland depicts this naming of Portland Bay in 1800.
Lieut. James Grant names Portland Bay
The next European to come to the area was William Dutton, born in Sydney in 1811, He first came to Portland in 1828 as a crew member on the sailing ship
Madeira Packet. He camped then but returned and built a house to which he returned after various sealing trips. He began a whaling industry. Alas no medals
are known bearing the name or image of William Dutton. After 13 years he moved to Narrawong.
The medallic history of Portland begins with a 32 mm medal in white metal, silver and gilded bronze commemorating 50 years since the arrival of Edward Henty.
Edward Henty Centenary medal (obverse of above medal)
Henty visited William Dutton but is regarded as the first permanent settler mainly because Dutton was regarded as itinerant by identities in Portland. Edward
Henty arrived in Portland onboard the 'Thistle’ from Launceston in 1834. The main attraction to the area for him was the soil quality. The first permanent settlement
was a pastoral one. Henty’s struggle with poor ground in the Swan River colony in Western Australia probably affected his appreciation of the new country.
Henty Jubilee medal, in white metal, reverse. This is the earliest of the Portland medals. (Carlisle 1884/1). The obverse is a portrait of E. Henty similar to that on
the medal above.
A Sydney coin dealer MR (Bob) Roberts produced a medal in 1984, for E. Henty’s sesquicentenary. A historian living in Portland Bernard Wallace asked that
the medals be made. Medals were made in silver and gilded bronze and featured in the monthly newsletter NumisNews for June 1984.
A problem was noticed by Bernard Wallace though in that the design did not mention Portland! The MMR company did not realise that Edward Henty was the
founder of Portland. Mr. Wallace explained Henty’s importance and after the design was amended, the medals were produced.
MR Roberts Portland 150th anniversary in gilded bronze. obverse
MR Roberts Portland 150th Anniversary in gilded bronze, reverse.
MR Roberts Portland 150th Anniversary in silver, obverse.
MR Roberts Portland 150th Anniversary in silver, reverse
Incorrect dates were put on reordered medals. These medals are an interesting variety.
MR Roberts Portland 150th Anniversary obverse 1884(1834 is correct)-1984
MR Roberts Portland 150th Anniversary reverse 1935 (1835 is correct)-1985
Another Centenary medal shows the Henty arrival of 1834, silvered, obverse. (Carlisle 1834-35/1)
Centenary of Melbourne, reverse of above medal
The next event for which Portland produced medals was the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria. (Carlisle 1887/86)
There is a lot of variety in design although basic elements are constant. The medals were issued in gilt bronze and silver.
Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee medal with a plain hole instead of an elaborate suspension and without the usual ’s (Carlisle 1897/86)
Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee medal in silver with ornate suspension and the usual ’s, obverse.
Queen Victoria Golden Jubilee medal, reverse.
Two years later there was a major function which produced some medals-the Portland Industrial and Art Loan Exhibition.
This was a massive undertaking and was open for three weeks and brought 15000-18000 visitors. There were various categories of exhibit and proficiency
prizes were awarded. (Carlisle 1889/7)
Portland Industrial and Art Loan Exhibition-proficiency award for tile production. Silver, reverse.
Portland Industrial and Art Loan Exhibition-a gold medal given to the Executive Commissioner of the Exhibition.
When W.T. Pile was mayor, medals (above) were produced for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee the same man but as ex-mayor funded small medals for
her Diamond Jubilee. On some of these medals he is given the initials ’W.S.’ A plaque at the Cape Nelson lighthouse nearby has ‘W.T. Pile mayor’. Other
documentation seen by this author also has W.T. Pile. (Carlisle 1897/11)
Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee medal, obverse.
Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee medal, reverse
A long time gap and a new queen required a new medal. In 1953 Portland shire commemorated the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II with medals in silver
and bronze. (Carlisle 1953/34)
Shire of Portland. Queen Elizabeth II medal, obverse.
Shire of Portland Queen Elizabeth II medal, reverse.
The next medal was not sponsored by government but by industry. It began a series of four aluminium medals by Alcoa and later by Portland Aluminium.
Alcoa Australia medal, obverse announcing the future aluminium smelter.
Alcoa Australia medal, reverse showing aluminium being poured into molds.
Portland Australia medal, obverse.
Portland Australia medal, reverse
Other Portland Aluminium medals will be shown later in this article in date sequence.
The program booklet of activities to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the founding of Portland.
A selection of medals issued for the 1984 sesquicentenary celebrations is shown in the following images:
Common obverse used on many 1984 medals of Portland.
This 1984 medal was sold in the area.
The City has an emblem which reflects its whaling past and two major current activities. The emblem comprises a whale passing through a triangle. The
emblem is the winning entry of a 1979 competition organised by Portland’s 150th Anniversary Committee. The three corners of the triangle represent
phases of Portland’s development 1. from its past based on whaling and associated products, 2. Portland’s rural activities including growing trees for
paper pulp, breeding sheep and cattle, and 3. Portland’s ties to industry and the Port development which is related in many ways to industry including the
aluminium plant and its supporting industries. These supporting industries fabricate electrolytic cells and graphite anodes. Alumina, obtained by refining
bauxite, is shipped to Portland from Western Australia.
This reverse is the symbol used by the state of Victoria. Carlisle 1984/26 combines this with the whale and triangle (Portland) obverse.
This medal was given to 1984 celebrations committee member.
Two more important medals were minted in 1985-the year of a royal visit on which Prince Charles and Lady Diana proclaimed Portland a city. Before that
Portland was part of the Shire of Portland.
Portland Shire medal, obverse. (Carlisle 1985/61)
Portland Shire medal, reverse.
Portland proclaimed a city, obverse. (Carlisle 1985/87)
Portland proclaimed a city, reverse
Portland Aluminium produced two production milestone medals.
Portland Aluminium’s first production milestone medal, obverse. (Reverse similar to Portland Aluminium medal Carlisle P13)
Portland Aluminium’s second production milestone medal, obverse of uniface issue.
Mary Mackillop spent some early years (1862-1866) as a governess and teacher in Portland.
Medals in her honour were made in an aluminium alloy and in three colours-copper, silver and gold.
Bernard Wallace-a historian living in Portland-referred to them as the medals that never were.
The medals were not accepted by the designers and were not distributed. Most were melted down in 1994.
Mary Mackillop medal-silver coloured, obverse.
Mary Mackillop medal-silver coloured, reverse, a Port scene.
Mary Mackillop medal-copper coloured, obverse.
Mary Mackillop medal-copper coloured, reverse, a Port scene.
Mary Mackillop medal-gold coloured, obverse.
Mary Mackillop medal-gold coloured, reverse, a Portscene
Portland Primary School 489 was honoured with a medal for its 150 years on the one site.
Portland Primary School 489 medal, in pewter, obverse.
Portland Primary School 489 medal, reverse.
Bernard Wallace 2016, Mary Mackillop’s Portland Years, 2nd Edition, 67 p. B.A.Wallace, Portland
Wiltshire, J.G. The True Story of The Hentys, 91p. E. Davis & Sons Pty Ltd, Portland
Portland Primary School, Palmer Street, 2006, Portland. Three Men and a Lady, 110 p.
Portland Observer, 23 August, 2019
Carlisle, L.J. 2008 Australian Historical Medals 1788-1988, Leslie Carlisle pub., 681p.
Return to ANS Main Page