Kealba

In the 1860’s, Queen Victoria – she for whom the colony was named – was driving most members of her government and serving staff mad. Her extravagant grief over the deaths of her mother and husband (both of whom died in 1861) made her nearly impossible to deal with. (Unless you wanted to name something after her husband, that is. That was always just fine with her mourning Majesty.) Not only did she take to wearing mourning black, a style of dress she would maintain for the rest of her life (almost forty years), but she took to hiding away in the various royal residences throughout the (increasingly less) United Kingdom. About the only thing that would draw her out was to go to her husband’s grave site.

Prince Consort Albert was buried in Frogmore Mausoleum, with space set aside for his wife to eventually join him. But the Queen, although not the kind of person to take her own life, did not want to wait. She spent many an hour inside the Mausoleum, and probably would have moved in if she could. That she did was the result of the intervention of John Brown, a Scotsman who was the Queen’s closest friend. He arranged for locksmith who designed the locks to emigrate to Melbourne with a generous cash incentive, and sent with him the key to the Mausoleum, telling Victoria only that it had been ‘misplaced’. The locksmith was under strict instructions to surrender the key only to Brown himself or to a man who would identify himself as Brown’s emissary and provide the requisite passwords.

The locksmith, whose name is lost to history (almost certainly due to Brown’s machinations), moved to Victoria where he founded a good sized farm on the banks of the upper Maribyrnong, and named the property to signal to Brown where the Key to Albert’s mausoleum might be found. Upon Brown’s death in 1883, the mission passed to the Queen’s Physician-in-Ordinary, Sir William Gull. Gull’s death in 1890 saw the key temporarily lost, until it turned up by express post, sent direct from the antipodes, a few week’s after Victoria’s death in 1901 with detailed instructions as to its purpose. The servants of the Queen breathed a sigh of relief that it had been found, and thought no more about the matter. And the property of Kealba was subdivided into smaller lots shortly after the Great War, though even today the name abides.

Suburbs near Kealba: