1835 John Batman reportedly sailed up the Yarra River and found the ideal site for a village. By December, 1839, a number of the residents of the still small village had met and decided that the colony of Port Phillip should be graced with a Masonic lodge. On March 25th, 1840, the Lodge of Australia Felix was consecrated meeting held on May 7th, 1844, record the reading by the master of a portion of a letter from London, a letter which he refused to release for general perusal because, he claimed, it contained matters appertaining to the Royal Arch. He is also recorded as having read the Royal Arch warrant. The master may well have read the copy of a warrant and the letter probably did refer to Royal Arch matters but it was certainly not the warrant for a chapter in Melbourne, as is implied by the minutes on a casual reading, and there is no confirmation as to the contents of the letter as even the Junior Warden who was a Royal Arch mason, was denied access.
The master was John Stephen. He had had the honour of being elected a Grand Steward of the United Grand Lodge of England by his lodge well out of his turn as he was about to emigrate. (An error the lodge was to rectify). In 1826 he arrived in Sydney where he became a past master and a past first principal. He journeyed to Melbourne, where, while not necessarily the driving force behind the first lodge, he was the consecrating and dedicating officer, installed the master and invested the officers. He was, in 1840, the only past master in Melbourne.
On the 5th November, 1844, Stephen chaired a meeting which he had called at the Royal Exchange Hotel, and the seven present voted to apply to London for a Chapter to be attached to the Lodge of Australia Felix. The petitioners now acted quite irregularly in that they commenced work and exalted a number of applicants. The lodges had acted in the same way and it was certainly ignorance that led to the brethren working the degrees before the arrival of the warrant rather than a deliberate breach of the law. The warrant duly arrived in August, 1947, and seems to have inspired the end of a call off which occurred between July, 1846, and October, 1847.
In October, 1850, the chapter borrowed £30 from the parent lodge to meet its debts. In June the following year the era of the gold rushes, which severely depleted the craft lodges, began, and the chapter was all but destroyed. For a few years Royal Arch Masonry lived only as a Chapter of Instruction until the first wild enthusiasm of the gold rushes died and stability returned to Melbourne. Late in 1855 the Australasian Chapter was restored to life. The