NO_IMAGE_T.JPG William Dean : 0000 - 0000

February 1 - William Dean(e) is the first person to fly a lighter-than-air craft in Australia when he ascends in the balloon 'Australasian' made for George Coppin by C. H. Brown and/or Henry T. Coxwell of Tottenham, England. The 'Australasian' is made of 500 yards of 42inch French material and is 60 feet high, 40 feet in diameter and uses 31,000 cubic feet of gas.

Originally to have taken both Brown and Dean aloft, at the last minute when the balloon was failing to lift Brown jumps out and Dean alone ascends from the Cremorne Gardens on the northern bank of the Yarra River just east of Punt Road. Dean floats seven miles across Melbourne landing near the Cambridge Arms Hotel in Sydney Road, Brunswick? [Copley p.2] [Carroll p.11]


The first balloon ascent in Australia was made by Englishman William Dean in the 60 foot high "Australasian" built for the Hon. George Coppins by Mr H. Coxwell of Tottenham, England. Dean ascended from Cremorne Gardens, Melbourne and landed approximately seven miles away Dean's partner C. H. Brown left the car before release, there being insufficient gas to lift the two men. The balloon, with a capacity of 31,000 cu. ft. of coal gas, was partly inflated at the Melbourne Gas Works and filled at Mr Coppins' residence. It was made of a fabric envelope coated with a special varnish; when inflated it was 40 feet at its max. diameter.

On trying to trace the 'Cremorne Gardens', the following was supplied by Robyn Jackson of the Richmond and Burnley Historical Society, 415 Church Street, Richmond, Victoria via Megan Lawson, Customer Service Specialist, 'Information Victoria'...

"The Cremorne Gardens no longer exist. They were situated in Cremorne and bounded by the following - Cremorne Street, Balmain Street, the railway and the Yarra River. The Gardens opened around 1856 and closed in the 1860's. The site then became home to a lunatic asylum which was closed in the mid 1880's. The land was then subdivided."


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Fear of Circuses: Founding the National Museum of Victoria

by David Goodman

"...When in 1853 Melbourne acquired its first permanent menagerie, the animals took their place in a context of spectacular entertainment. James Ellis' Cremorne Gardens, on the northern bank of the river Yarra in the suburb of Richmond, displayed foreign and native animals in an amusement park filled with wonders of all sorts, thrown indiscriminately together.

The garden's heyday was between 1856 and 1863, when it was owned and run by the great actor and entrepreneur, George Coppin 1. Ten acres of land were laid out in the manner of a botanical garden, dotted with attractions - the large 'Parisian' dancing platform on which, in 1853, instruction was being given nightly 'on that last new and very exciting dance "Pop Goes the Weasel"'; the walks 'brilliantly illuminated' by gaslight; the landing stage conveying guests to and from Princes Bridge in gondolas; two hotels and a bar; a maze; a theatre for presenting concerts from the resident orchestra and vaudeville.

An open air theatre for summer entertainment, including trapeze artists, foreign gymnasts and performing animals; a collection of sideshows, Juan Fernandez, who nightly put his head into a lion's mouth, a Fat Boy, a Bearded Woman, some Ethiopians, Wizards, as well as Billiards, Shooting Galleries, Punch and Judy shows and Bowling Saloons.

A lake with hire boats; a kiosk selling refreshments; a fine collection of statues; a 25,000 sq. foot panorama of Naples, the work of four artists, later replaced by scenes of Canton and Sebastopol; nightly displays of fireworks, which re-enacted suchspectacular events as the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius; provision for the holding of 'monster' lotteries; a balloon platform from which the first ascent in Australia was made by two especially imported English aeronauts, Captain Deane and Professor Brown; Mr Higgins' pantechnicon, and the menagerie containing emus,wallabies, kangaroos and possums, as well as lions, elephants, monkeys and parrots. [35]

The Argus [newspaper] described the atmosphere as 'Ellisian'. [36]

The gardens were said to be patronised by all classes, and admittance was free; though occasionally a night was set aside for the 'fashionable and wealthy' to experience the pleasures on their own. [37]

On New Years Day 1854, 5236 people were at Cremorne. The gardens were both popular and respectable - but they were clearly entertainment. What gave a unity to the assortment of objects and activities within their walls was a shared novel, curious, or spectacular quality. 'I like to seethings because they are novel, or because they are unusual, as well as on the ground of their being attractive or important,' wrote the approving reporter for My Note Book. [38]

Coppin promised 'rare and astonishing novelties'. His menagerie was subsumed into the theatre of the place - his animals were not there to be labelled, but to excite...."


[35] J. Alexander Allan, 'Coppin's Cremorne', Argus, April 8, 1933; Alec Bagot, Coppin the Great - Father of the Australian Theatre (Melbourne, 1965) pp.212-213.

[36] Argus, December 12, 1853.

[37] On the first such night, in 1858, My Note Book recorded the presence of 'a thousand to twelve hundred ladies and gentlemen enjoying the entertainments'. My Note Book January 30, 1858, p.463.

[38] My Note Book, February 6, 1858, p.471.

1 Coppin, George Selth, 1819-1906, actor, entrepeneur. Born in England. Went to Sydney in 1843. Acquired theatres, hotels, and the Cremorne Garden in Richmond, Vic. MLC, 1858-63. Toured extensively, including USA and England [ADB]. Plant/seed and animal donor to the Botanic and Zoological Gardens, Melbourne.


Allen John (Ed.), Entertainment Arts In Australia. pub. Sydney, Paul Hamlyn 1968 p/b. cr.4to.obl. pp.160.

Stirling, Alfred Old Richmond. Based on an address delivered to the Royal Historical Society of Victoria [ 239 A'Beckett St. Melbourne cnr. William St.], this history of Richmond surveys the scene prior to 1900. pub. Melbourne, The Hawthorn Press 1979 1st.ed. d/w. 8vo. pp.56.

Copley, Greg, Australians In The Air. pub. Adel. Rigby 1976 1st.ed. d/w. 4to. pp.290.

February 15 - C. H. Brown ascends in the balloon 'Australasian' and floats for 44 minutes from Collingwood Stockade to Brunswick [Copley p.4]


C. H. Brown in "Australasian" made the second ascent. Taking off from Cremorne Gardens, Melbourne, he floated for 44 minutes and landed between Collingwood Stockade and Brunswick where he was attacked by onlookers. He claims to have risen to a height of 2 miles.

March 25 - William Dean and C. H. Brown (technically Australia's first air passenger), make the first lighter-than-air night flight of one hour from Cremorne Gardens to Emerald Hill (now South Melbourne) [Copley p.4] [Carroll p.12]


Dean and Brown made the first night ascent in Australia when they ascended from Cremorne Gardens, Melbourne (in Coppins' "Australasian") at 10pm and landed in Emerald Hill an hour later.

December 13 - William Dean and C. H. Brown are first to fly a lighter-than-air craft in Sydney. The ascend from the Domain and float across Sydney Harbour [Copley p.4] [Carroll p.12]


Ascending at 5pm from the Outer Domain Sydney, Brown and Dean floated across the harbour in "Australasian" and landed at Neutral Bay. The balloon was inflated by coal gas supplied by the Australian Gas Light Company in a two hour operation.


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