About the subject:
Charles Joseph La Trobe (1801– 1875), colonial administrator, travelled widely in Europe and America, cultivating a wide range of interests before beginning his colonial career in the West Indies in 1837. Two years later he was appointed superintendent of the Port Phillip District, in which capacity he was answerable to the governor of New South Wales, George Gipps. Lending no direct support to hopes for separation, La Trobe had some difficulty administering a disparate collection of separatist free settlers who resented control from Sydney, and was attacked in the Town Council and the Argus as the 1840s wore on. However, strongly opposed to transportation to Port Phillip, he gained popularity in 1849 for forwarding a cargo of convicts to Sydney in defiance of the Colonial Office. In 1850, when Victoria became a separate colony, La Trobe was appointed its lieutenant-governor. Gold was discovered the following year, and his new government had to scramble to rise to the nightmarish administrative challenge of the gold rush. Though he kept the government functioning and preserved social order, La Trobe never gained much public or personal confidence in his performance as governor. He left Victoria in 1854, having established the Melbourne Botanic Gardens and having provided key support for the foundation of several important public health and cultural institutions, including the hospital and the university.