Image 'Panorama of Challicum, No. VI', c1850

TLF ID R3260

This is a watercolour measuring 17.2 cm x 26.2 cm showing the twin peaks of Mount Langi Ghiran rising behind the smaller tip of Conical Hill. Two distant mountains on the right are Ben Nevis and Mount Buangor. A camp of Indigenous Djapwurrong people, consisting of two bark and wood dwellings, is situated on the edge of sparse forest. Several spears are embedded into the ground near two fires, alongside four people. Four other people are foraging or hunting. The artist, Duncan Cooper, included this painting as the fourteenth watercolour in his field sketchbook and inscribed the title 'Panorama of Challicum, No. VI' on its mount. The watercolour is the sixth of nine panoramas which together form a cyclorama of the Challicum area.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset depicts a squatting run (illegally occupied Crown land) called Challicum near Fiery Creek, 130 kilometres north-west of Geelong and 12.8 kilometres south-west of Mount Cole in Victoria - as virtually no comprehensive pictorial records were kept by squatters, this watercolour offers a unique historical illustration of the area around a squatting run in the 1850s.
  • It illustrates the northern view of Challicum, a squatting run occupied by brothers George and Harry Thomson and their partner, Duncan Cooper.
  • It shows an area of land that the Thomson brothers and Cooper gained possession of by purchasing a flock of sheep from Alexander and Colin Campbell - squatting runs were unable to be sold since they were not freehold land and, according to the custom of the time, occupation of land came as part of the sale of the sheep.
  • It shows a squatting run in an area outside the Nineteen Counties (the Counties were the only areas in the Colony of New South Wales that had been surveyed and where it was legal to buy land); Victoria was part of NSW until 1851; in 1835 grazing licences to manage squatting, were introduced at a fee of £10 each (a considerable sum in 1835), but were difficult to enforce; in response to demands by squatters for more secure tenure, the 1847 Orders in Council allowed a 'holder' the right to purchase a homestead area with a pastoral licence for adjoining land in the settled districts (the Nineteen Counties) and provided for pastoral leases with terms up to 8 years in intermediate districts and 14 years in unsettled districts.
  • It reveals a Djapwurrong camp as it appeared in 1850 - although early European explorers recorded that Indigenous people of the area lived in semipermanent camps, these shelters appear to be much more temporary structures; their presence indicates that Cooper and the Thomson brothers had good relations with the local Indigenous people; some other squatters in the area refused to allow the local people to camp on their runs.
  • It possibly depicts some of the Djapwurrong people, who were custodians of a sacred site of major significance - at an unknown period in the Dreaming, a creature that the Djapwurrong people believed to be a bunyip died on the banks of Fiery Creek; the outline of its shape was preserved and the turf removed; the outline was annually renewed and by the mid-1850s the shape was about 9 metres long.
  • It shows Djapwurrong people engaging in hunting and foraging, with the women probably collecting roots and tubers - their numbers are relatively few; by the 1850s they had been ravaged by introduced diseases, driven from their land and, in one case, 17 had been killed by one of the squatters in the area.
  • It possibly shows some of the Djapwurrong people who were employed at Challicum after all the station hands deserted to join the Clunes gold rush of 1851 - had it not been for the aid of the Indigenous people, lambing would not have been successfully completed in that year.
  • It features the fourteenth watercolour in Duncan Cooper's field album, a visual record of the early squatting years in Victoria - Cooper (c1813-1904) named the album 'The Challicum sketchbook' and described it as 'a collection of drawings made at Challicum, Fiery Creek, Victoria, Australia, from my first settlement there, January 1st, 1842 till 1853'; the album, measuring 26.5 cm x 37 cm and containing 34 paintings, is a prized item in the collection of the National Library of Australia.
  • It shows the sixth in a series of nine watercolours that, when viewed as a series, provide a cyclorama of Challicum and neighbouring squatting runs as they were around 1850 - a cyclorama is a cylindrical painting designed to provide a viewer, standing in the middle of the cylinder, with a 360-degree view and this cyclorama is unique in Australia's squatting history; Cooper began his cyclorama facing approximately south-south-east and for this watercolour had turned to face north to encompass 346-025 degrees; this is the master point in the cyclorama for orientation since it shows the view approximately due north.
Year level

F; 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • History
  • Studies of society and environment

Other details

  • Author
  • Person: Duncan Cooper
  • Description: Author
  • Contributor
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Description: Content provider
  • URL:
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: Duncan Cooper
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: National Library of Australia
  • Organization: National Library of Australia
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
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Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and National Library of Australia, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements