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Batman was born in Rosehill, Parramatta (part of Sydney), and spent time in Tasmania (then called Van Diemen's Land). In Tasmania he started farming on land the government gave him. He brought more land. During this time, he was involved in conflicts with the Tasmanian Aborigines.
Batman asked to be given land in the Westernport area of Victoria, but the government rejected him. So, in 1835, as a leading member of the Port Phillip Association he sailed for the mainland of Australia in the schooner Rebecca and explored much of Port Phillip Bay. Batman made an agreement, now known as Batman's Treaty, with some local Aborigines to rent their land in return for things like knives and flour every year. Probably the Wurundjeri people did not understand the agreement. In any case, the Governor of New South Wales said the agreement was not legal the land was owned by the Government rather than the Aborigines.
Batman became very unhealthy after 1835, and he separated from his wife, convict Elizabeth Callaghan. They had had seven daughters and a son. His son drowned in the Yarra River. In his last months the local Aborigines looked after him.
Batman is remembered by some statues around Melbourne, and is buried in the Fawkner Cemetery, a cemetery named after his fellow colonist John Pascoe Fawkner. There is also a memorial in the Old Melbourne Cemetery.
Melbourne was called Batmania for a very brief time, in 1835, after John Batman.
He was also one of the first Australians to take part in the Common wealth Games 1823.
His direct descendant is Australian sprinter Daniel Batman.
- Batmania: a fun way to explore the people and events surrounding the foundation of Melbourne, images of the Batman Land Deed and other historical documents at the National Museum of Australia.
- A Pictorial History of Bushrangers, Prior, Wannan and Nunn, 1968, Paul Hamlyn Pty Ltd, Melbourne