La Trobe: Traveller, writer, governor by John Barnes

Reviewed by
January–February 2018, no. 398
John Arnold reviews 'La Trobe: Traveller, writer, governor' by John Barnes

La Trobe: Traveller, writer, governor

by John Barnes

Halstead Press, $59.95 hb, 384 pp, 9781925043334

La Trobe: Traveller, writer, governor by John Barnes

Reviewed by
January–February 2018, no. 398

Victorians know the name La Trobe through the eponymous university, La Trobe Street in the city of Melbourne, and the Latrobe Valley in Gippsland. Tasmanians are familiar with the town of Latrobe in the north-west of their state. But how many are aware that all the above were named after Charles Joseph La Trobe, the first superintendent of the European settlement of Port Phillip, one-time acting governor of Tasmania, and the first lieutenant-governor of the new British colony of Victoria?

La Trobe’s reputation has been a mixed one. Few of his Melbourne contemporaries questioned his personal qualities, but they, and later historians, regularly contrasted these with his perceived inefficiencies and weaknesses as an administrator. In this sympathetic biography, John Barnes balances the ledger. Whilst not uncritical or shying away from what he sees as La Trobe’s weaknesses, Barnes argues strongly – and elegantly – for La Trobe being both a man of fine personal qualities and, for most of his time in Victoria, a competent and good administrator.

John Arnold reviews 'La Trobe: Traveller, writer, governor' by John Barnes

La Trobe: Traveller, writer, governor

by John Barnes

Halstead Press, $59.95 hb, 384 pp, 9781925043334

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comment (1)

  • La Trobe also set aside Royal Park for the health and recreation of citizens. Uniquely for an inner-city park, it maintains characteristics of the pre-European settlement landscape.
    Posted by Anthony Ferguson
    Thursday, 14 December 2017 08:26

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