It was at the
beginning of the 19th century that the then British government decided to
establish a settlement at Port Phillip, with Sullivan Bay being chosen because
of its strategic location being near the entrance of the Bay. This settlement
was significant, as it was the first attempt to settle Europeans permanently in
what is now Victoria.
The Collins Settlement Historic Site is just east of
Sorrento and is the place where Lieutenant Colonel David Collins, accompanied by
civil officers, marines, free settlers and 229 convicts landed in October 1803.
The colonists quickly discovered that water was scarce and suitable timber
could not be found. The treacherous entrance to the bay made the site unsuitable
for whaling and with not enough marines, the settlement was vulnerable to
attack. Collins decided to abandon the settlement and move on to Van Diemens
Land (Tasmania) in January 1804. Today, there is little evidence that the
settlement existed, with just four graves on the eastern headland, and parts of
barrels, leg irons, bottles and other items being all that remain. These items
can be seen in the Sorrento Museum.