The administration of Crown Lands including provision for their alienation and occupation and the provision and management of reserves was a major responsibility of the Department of Crown Lands and Survey from its establishment. The administration of this function has also been undertaken by a succession of local land authorities including Commissioners of Crown Lands, District Surveyors, Land Officers, Bailiffs of Crown Lands, Local Land Boards and District Land Offices. Information about the operations of these authorities which were responsible to the central Department of Crown Lands and Survey may be found in VRG 27, District Land Offices.
By 1859, responsibility for this function entailed making recommendations to the Board of Land and Works concerning the sale of crown lands by auction; conduct of land sales; granting of sites as reserves for public purposes such as schools, churches and cemeteries and for recreational purposes; issue of Deeds of Grant for lands sold and for reserves; consideration of applications for occupation licences, tenders for pastoral runs, applications for permission to exercise a pre-emptive right to purchase part of a pastoral run; collection of licence fees and revenue from the sale of land and prevention of unauthorised occupation of crown lands.
The Land Acts (1860, 1862, 1865 and 1869) provided for the sale of Crown Lands and for the occupation of land for a variety of agricultural and pastoral purposes. Applicants were able to select land and apply for permission occupy the land under the provisions of a variety of leases and licences, many of which subsequently afforded a right of purchase. The Department of Crown Lands and Survey was responsible for administering these and subsequent Land Acts.
The Department had also been responsible for the issue of mining leases for metals and minerals other than gold (subsequently known as mineral leases) and water right licences which authorised the construction and use of races, dams and reservoirs for mining purposes. In 1865 responsibility for these functions was transferred to the Department of Mines (VA 2719).
Although the provisions for alienation and tenure of crown land changed, the responsibilities of the Department of Crown Lands and Survey remained essentially the same. In summary it was responsible for the survey and subdivision of agricultural land; regulation of the alienation of crown land by auction and selection; settlement of disputes regarding alienation and occupation of crown land; issue of occupation licences and leases and ensuring compliance with the conditions of such licences and leases; issue of Deeds of Grant for alienated land and for reserves granted for public purposes; control and management of public parks, gardens, reserves and commons; issue of licences for pastoral occupation and determination of rents and prevention of the unauthorised use of crown lands. From 1928 the Department became responsible for the issue of licences authorizing the occupation of unused roads and water frontages which had previously been a responsibility of the Public Works Department (VA 669).
VPRS 1294 is a register of Commons 1861 to 1886. This series lists Town, Farmers and Goldfields Commons. Petitions were often created by Farmers or Miners in the hope of obtaining land, or objecting to conditions invoked by the government. The following is a transcription of a petition re Campaspe Common signed by 25 farmers who resided at Campaspe and Runnymede.
Correspondence re the Campaspe Farmers’ Common 20 August 1865
T. Lucas, for Farmers, enquired what the legal objections are to a Common being set apart.
Farmers’ Commons can only be proclaimed for use of selectors in any agricultural area after a specified proportion of such area has been selected. Since the Act 1862 no commonage can be given to farmers holding land not in agricultural areas.
23 August 1865
August 25th 1865
A short time since, had the Honor of addressing a letter by an accompanying memorial of the Farmers in the Parishes of Campaspe and Runnymede praying that a Common of Pasture might be granted them.
Campaspe and Runnymede Farmers Common
To the Honorable James Macpherson Grant President of the Board of Land and Works and Commissioner of Crown Lands and Survey
The Memorial of the Farmers of the Parishes of Runnymede and Campaspe
Show to your Honorable Board that they are Farmers Resident upon and cultivating farms in the said Parishes varying in extent from one to three hundred acres. That they are and have been in a great extent prevented from tilling their farms as advantageously as they might do from the circumstances of their having no Pastoral Lands.
Whereon to depasture a sufficiency of working stock for such purposes or for keeping the number of cows required for the comfort and maintainance of their families. The Memorialists would therefore request this Honorable Board that they would grant them a sufficient Common of Pastures whereon they might depasture same and as under the Provisions of the Land Act they are enabled under.
The Memorialists would humbly refer this Honorable Board the ?? if the purchased land this District of which your Honorable Board would have a more full known and better opportunity of as a stand than they can have.
And your Memoralists would humbly hope that in case there was any ?? in their mode of application this Honorable Board will appease them of their proper mode of proceedings to attain their abject and not preclude them from any informality they might be entitled to from their ignorance of forms. And your Memorialists as in duty bound will ???
In answer to which I have had a letter from the assistant Commissioner stating that for their information that Common could not be legally granted. I have duly informed them of the contents of the reply and they beg to repectfully to ask that they legal object to the grant.
Hoping this Common will not be considered important or in??
I have the Honor to
Petition Signed By:
Frank Lucas, Runnymede; Thomas Powles, Runnymede; Michael Cunneen, Runnymede; Paul Guichtch, Runnymede; William Stone, Runnymede; Martin ??, Runnymede; Stephenson, Campaspe; Michael Nihill, Campaspe; John McKenzie, Campaspe; Robert Orr, Campaspe; Cornelius Kegan, Campaspe; Charles Malley, Campaspe; Patrick Byrne, Campaspe; Thomas OConers [sic], Campaspe; R Hogbern, Campaspe; Filiain Berthoud, Runnymede; C Money Raven, Runnymede; Thomas Craigie, Runnymede; John McMahon, Runnymede; Michael McMahor, Runnymede; George Jackson, Runnymede; John Ewan, Runnymede; Thomas Baker, Runnymede; Q. M. Barrow, Runnymede; Thomas Lucas, Runnymede.