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Defenders of the Queen: Imperial and Colonial Defence 1850 – 1901 – One Day Conference

November 5, 2023 @ 8:30 am - 5:00 pm

Registrations open NOW!

The period of the British colonies in Australia and especially during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), saw British Army regiment garrisons until 1870 and a Royal Navy station which remained through to 1911. In the meantime, coastal fortifications were built at key points on the Australian coastline to defend the colonies from foes, real and imaginary. The colonial militias gradually grew larger and evolved along with the technology driving changes to weapons and equipment. Local military leaders emerged who came to fore especially after the departure of the British Army. Maritime frontier wars and Victorian Era wars developed in New Zealand, Sudan, China and South Africa in which Australian volunteers, militia and infant naval forces were involved. Many of those who served in South Africa would go on to serve in World War 1.

In this conference, historians and experts on the era will present on both the strategic and the tactical. It will explain how and why the Imperial strategies evolved and in turn affected colonial thinking in the day, both land and maritime. The internal security battle at Eureka and the development of Governor La Trobe’s ‘army’ after the colony of Victoria was declared in 1851 will be examined along with the involvement of Australian volunteers and armed settlers in the New Zealand wars. A paper on the engineer who planned some of the most iconic coastal forts will be examined – and supported by a National Archives of Australia facsimile display of some of those original plans. Details of a colonial training exercise in Victoria in the late 1880s will show how local leaders and military technology had developed by the late 1880s, as well as a discussion around some of the first mounted troops deployed to South Africa in 1899.

Download the Conference program here.

View Presentation Abstracts and Presenter Biographies here.

A special NAA exhibition –

“The Russians are coming! Colonial Victoria’s coastal defences”

will be on display during the conference and is included in your booking.


November 5, 2023
8:30 am - 5:00 pm


Waverley RSL Sub-Branch Inc
161 Coleman Parade
Glen Waverly, Victoria 3150 Australia
+ Google Map
03 8558 4700
View Venue Website

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