Gold miners and mining

Find information about gold miners, mining companies and daily life in historic Victorian goldfields.

Gold mining companies

After the initial rushes cleared most of the readily accessible gold from Victoria, mining companies were formed to follow deeper leads. The Library's Ergo website gives more information on the rise of company mining.

The CD-ROM Mining shareholders index (1857 to 1886) gives details about companies and their shareholders that were originally published in the Victoria government gazette, including:

  • name of shareholder
  • address of shareholder
  • (after 1872) occupation of shareholder
  • number of shares purchased
  • value of shares
  • name of company
  • location of mining operations
  • date
  • gazette reference

You can sort this information by shareholder or company name.

The microfiche Ashley mining index is another useful source for researching mining companies. It is an alphabetical index to 18,864 records of names of shareholders, legal managers, witnesses to signatures and applications for registration of mining companies in Victoria 1860-1864. Most of the information has also been sourced from the Victoria government gazette.

The book A contribution to the bibliography of the economic geology of Victoria to the end of 1903 (available online) lists references to books, reports and articles about mining companies and operations. These references are organised by town/goldfield name, and the names of major mines are also indexed. Most of the items referenced in this bibliography are available at the State Library. Some items may need to be pre-ordered for use.

The 1872 Bendigo goldfield registry (available online) describes local mines and mining companies.

The Public Record Office Victoria houses a range of mining sources including registers of claims, Courts of Mines records, registers of applications for mining leases, surveyor’s field books, registers of surveys and correspondence. Their book Private lives, public records (2004 edition) gives more information about finding applications for gold mining leases (from 1859), and mining company registrations (from 1871).

The book Money pits: British mining companies in the Californian and Australian gold rushes of the 1850s provides information about a number of companies that operated in Victoria.

The two volume Register of gold nuggets found in Victoria 1868-1972 (Melbourne Museum collection) include localities and descriptions of the nuggets – they also name who discovered nuggets (but more often this is listed by company name, rather than a person’s name). The volumes are arranged by date and are not transcribed.

Newspaper articles

Newspapers online

Historic newspapers are an excellent source of information about the fortunes of mining companies. See for example this report on the New North Clunes Gold Mining Company (The Star, Ballarat, 27 January 1864, page 4), which reports on the progress of the company, and gives the names of all of its officebearers.

A gazetteer of newspapers from the central Victorian goldfields (1851-1901) (PDF, 567 kB) is available online. Many of the newspapers that it lists are in the Library's collection.

Many gold rush era newspapers can be searched and accessed through the free Trove website. Many issues of the following newspapers are available to search and read online:

Newspapers on microfilm

There are many gold rush era newspapers available in microfilm format at the State Library of Victoria.

Newspaper indexes

Useful newspaper indexes include:

Australian subject index (see box on the right for more information)

Ararat and Pleasant Creek Advertiser
1857 to 1924, 1928 and 1949 to 1983

An index to newspaper items for Stanley and surrounding districts
This index is arranged by subject, including mining, people and hotels

Indexes to Melbourne newspapers are listed in our How to find items in newspapers research guide.

Accessing newspapers

For more information about accessing newspapers, visit our How to find newspapers research guide.

Images

Watercolour, shows above-ground workings and mullocks, railway track, chimney stack and tower with flag on top, the red flag has a Union Jack in upper left corner and 'Park' printed on the right.

Park Gold Mining Company, H84.259

Search the catalogue to find drawings, etchings, paintings and photographs of mining companies in Victoria. To locate images, search using:

  • company name, or
  • place name, and the word 'mining'

Prospectuses

The Library holds a significant number of prospectuses for mining companies. Prospectuses usually include information about initial share prices, names of company directors, maps and descriptions of the area to be mined, diagrams showing test bore sites, geological information and more.

Many prospectuses have been digitised, such as the Prospectus of the Walker's Freehold Gold Mining Company, Craigie (1879), the Prospectus of the Clunes Proprietary Quartz and Alluvial Gold Mining Company (1890) and the Prospectus of the Thistle Gold Mining Coy., Thistle Reef, Diamond Hill, Bendigo (formerly the Pick o' the Field-English Company) (1905).

To find prospectuses, search the catalogue by company name.

You can also find prospectuses published in historic newspapers, many of which can be read online on the Trove website.

Maps and plans

Maps like this digitised Plan shewing the relative positions of the Frenchman's, White Horse, Terrible, Cobbler's and Long Gully Leads, Ballaarat, Victoria, Australia show where mining companies' operations were based. Thousands of historic maps can be viewed online via our catalogue. Search the catalogue by place or company name.

Company records

Search Trove and the Guide to Australian Business Records to find Victorian mining company archives.

Australian subject index

The Australian Subject Index (card index) includes a mixture of references to articles on major mining companies, information in the Library's Victorian local history files, and the occasional press cutting.

The index is currently in closed storage. For access to this index please use the Ask a Librarian service.

For example, one index entry refers to an accident (22 drowned in a shaft) in 1882 at the New Australasian gold mine at Creswick. The index tells you that an article commemorating the centenary of this event appeared in The Age newspaper, 9 December, 1982, page 3. This newspaper is available on microfilm in the Library's Newspaper Reading Room.

Print, wood engraving, reswick mining disaster: - scene at the head of the shaft - the braceman announcing the death of the miners

Creswick mining disaster: - scene at the head of the shaft - the braceman announcing the death of the miners, IAN23/12/82/193

State Library Victoria

LIBRARY CLOSURE  

In line with the stage 3 restrictions announced by the Premier, State Library Victoria closed on Thursday 9 July.

We will advise when there is any update to this situation.

Our Ask A Librarian  reference service is still available to assist with your research inquiries.