Melbourne started as an illegal settlement. Despite opposition from the government in Sydney, sheep farmers from Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) crossed Bass Strait in search of new pastures.
In May 1835, a syndicate led by John Batman explored Port Phillip Bay, looking for suitable sites for a settlement. Batman claimed to have signed a 'treaty' with Aboriginal leaders, giving him ownership of almost 250,000 hectares of land. Three months later, another syndicate of farmers, led by John Pascoe Fawkner, entered the Yarra River aboard the Enterprize, establishing the first permanent settlement.
New South Wales Governor Richard Bourke declared Batman's treaty illegal and the settlers to be trespassers. But within two years, more than 350 people and 55 000 sheep had landed, and the squatters were establishing large wool-growing properties in the district. Bourke was forced to accept the rapidly growing township.