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Victoria's first German settlement, Westgarthtown was etablished in March 1850 on 640 acres (256 ha) (Section 25, Parish of Keelbundoora), 10 miles (16 km) north of Melbourne in present-day Thomastown and Lalor. William Westgarth, a Melbourne merchant, had initiated German emigration to Port Phillip after observing the 'industry, frugality, sobriety and general good conduct' of Germans in South Australia. Whilst in Europe from 1847-49, he visited Germany to promote emigration to Port Phillip, having also persuaded the British Government to offer a bounty to encourage German emigrants.

Westgarthtown's immigrant founders arrived in Australia during 1849-50. The original 16 purchasers were the Franke, Graff, Groening, Gruenberg, Heyne, Kawerau, Knobloch, Maltzahn, Siebel, Timm, Wanke, Wehner, Winter, Wuchatsch, Ziebell and Zimmer families. The Graff, Grutzner, Rosel, Wuchatsch and Zimmer families were Wends, a minority Slavonic race whose homeland is Lusatia, a mainly rural region south-east of Berlin. Most established farms or market gardens, although some were carpenters, masons and shoemakers. Dairying was the main farming activity for over 120 years. In 1934 Albert Siebel established the Pura Dairy at Preston to sell Westgarthtown's milk.

Ten acres (4 ha) were set aside for a Lutheran church (1856), school (1855-76) and cemetery (1850). The bluestone Lutheran church is now Victoria's oldest and Australia's second oldest. The school building has been demolished but the graveyard, which contains tombstones with both English and German inscriptions, remains open to descendants and congregation members.

Despite Westgarthtown's subdivision for housing, many features remain including the Lutheran Reserve and several old bluestone homes including Ziebell's farmhouse (around 1851), Victoria's oldest German immigrant building, now owned and restored by Whittlesea City. The Wuchatsch (1850s), Siebel (1860) and Graff (1873) farmhouses also survive, along with bluestone outbuildings, drystone walls and paths. Westgarthtown's unique German heritage is protected by inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register.

Robert Wuchatsch

Wuchatsch, Robert, Westgarthtown, the German settlement at Thomastown, R.N. Wuchatsch, Melbourne, 1985. Details