Bushfires in Victoria

Find books, government reports, websites, statistics, newspaper articles and images about Victorian bushfires from 1851 to today.

How to research Victorian fires

There are a range of resources that can help you to find information about fires in Victoria. These include:

Research using the Library's catalogue

To find books, government reports, manuscripts and pictures relating to Victorian bushfires, browse this guide's lists of resources by year of fire, or search our catalogue using words that describe your topic of interest, like fires or natural disasters or wildfires and Victoria.

Histories of a particular town or region may also include relevant information, including firsthand accounts of fires in the area. The word fire may not appear in the catalogue records for these publications, so if you are not finding any resources about the fire you are interested in, try searching the catalogue more broadly using the word history, adding a place name.

Use the tabs at the top of this page to discover more useful resources, printed and online.

Research using newspapers

Newspapers may include articles of interest, such as personal accounts, and news of community and government responses to fires. While most articles are published in the months following a fire, some articles and reminiscences may also be published on significant anniversaries (for example the tenth anniversary or fiftieth anniversary of a fire). 

Our guide to finding items in newspapers explains the range of tools available (including indexes and online archives) to make your search successful.

Many articles relating to the 1939 fires, from Melbourne and country newspapers, are transcribed on the ABC's Black Friday website (archived).

Research using the Library's indexes

The online Australiana Index gives references to to published material, such as newspapers, journals and books, as well as referencing in-house files of clippings and ephemera. Material relevant to both recent and earlier fires can be found in the Index.

Card indexes in the Arts Reading Room also include extensive references. The Illustrations Index includes entries for many bushfires throughout Victorian history up to the early 1990s. The Australian Subject Index also has quite a number of entries and there are smaller numbers of entries in the Periodicals Index and the Kenyon Press Cuttings Index. For all of the card indexes, the material is entered under the subject heading Bushfires.

Information about newspaper indexes can be found in our guide to finding items in newspapers.

Find websites

Search engines such as Google are excellent sources of government, news, industry and personal websites on your topic of interest. For example, a search for the words 2009 bushfires victoria causes electricity finds over two million results.

Government websites include official research, reports and media releases from government departments and inquiries.

Personal websites and blogs can be an interesting source of memories, opinions, and individuals' research into the causes and effects of recent bushfires.

A number of libraries across Australia suggest these types of websites for inclusion in PANDORA: Australia's Web Archive. Try searching PANDORA for 2009 bushfires to view archived copies of websites relating to the Black Saturday fires.

The Bushfire Education website provides online teaching and learning resources to support the provision of bushfire education from the early learners through to Year 10.

If you used a helpful website in the past, but the site no longer seems to work, it may be archived in the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine (you will need to know the website's address to access the archived copy of the site).

Research using government records

Advice on finding government reports about major Victorian fires can be found in the section of this guide dedicated to a particular fire. Use the tabs at the top of this page to discover these resources.

There have been inquiries into the management of fires and bushfire emergencies in Victoria which do not necessarily relate to a specific event, and these are listed in this guide's Other Reports tab.

Detailed information may be found in the reports and publications of various government departments - you will need to do some preliminary reading to figure out which departments were responsible for bushfire prevention and relief at a particular date (see the tabs at the top of this page for suggested readings). Once you know the name of the relevant department you can search for their reports in parliamentary papers, and check our catalogue for their publications.

The Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) collects records created by Victorian government departments and agencies. They hold many records relating to Victorian bushfires, including:

The following guides explain how to use PROV's inquest records:

PROVisualizer

Public Record Office Victoria’s PROVisualizer is an interactive archival data visualisation. It is a handy tool to get a sense of the kinds of public records PROV holds. You can search by keyword or by government function and then click through to see the series within the collection.

Major Victorian fires

These resources detail locations and losses of major Victorian fires.

Statistics

To find statistics about the deaths, losses of property and houses, costs and causes associated with Victorian bushfires, check:

Fire ecology

These books provide further information about the ecology of bushfires: