In September 1854, with his wife Arabella and their infant daughter Marian, Dowling moved to Victoria. By November he was settled in Geelong, where he obtained employment with a commercial art gallery specialising in photography, and where he was responsible for painting oil portraits and tinting photographs.
From Geelong, Dowling painted portraits of pastoral families from the Western District of Victoria. Some of these show Aborigines in close social interaction with the European settlers. His portrait commissions include those from the Ware family, the McArthur family and Mrs Adolphus Sceales.
He also posed group images of the famous Victorian Aboriginal Weerat Kuyuut and the Gunditjmara people of western Victoria.
He returned to Launceston in September 1856, and began painting a poignant series of historic recreations of the Aborigines of Tasmania. In London, in 1859, he painted a further work, Aborigines of Australia 1859, which he gifted to the citizens of Launceston in 1860. It has been on public display in Launceston almost continuously since then.