The Melbourne Athenaeum will be closed on Tuesday November 7 for the Melbourne Cup public holiday.

We will be open regular hours on Monday November 6 and Wednesday November 8.

1839The Early Years

European settlers arrived at Port Phillip in 1835. When Governor Sir Richard Bourke of New South Wales was given authority to acknowledge the settlement in 1836, a census of that year showed there were 13 buildings, 142 men, 35 women, 26,500 sheep, 57 horses and 100 cattle. Click here to view a digital copy of the article.

Soon after the settlers and their sheep arrived, there came merchants and mechanics (builders, stonemasons, carpenters, tilers and other workmen). The mechanics, proud of the new town they were building, understood the need to plan for a better future and formed a Union Benefit Society. At their first meeting, the society's members discussed the need for a mechanics institute - to provide opportunities for everyone in the settlement, for education and self-improvement; a time and place for the meeting was set.

In 'Long may Minerva reign from her niche overlooking Collins Street' Pam Baragwanath discusses the role these important community enterprises played in the past, and continue to have, around the world.