Land, Place and Local History – Parish and Township Working Plans Online
This PROVguide outlines how to access online Parish and Township working plans in VPRS 16171 Regional Land Office Plans Digitised Reference Set. The series contains digitised copies of parish and township working plans, as well as closer settlement, land settlement, soldier settlement, county and other miscellaneous working plans.
Parish and Township working plans were maintained by regional land offices to record details about the use of Crown land. They are copies of ‘record plans’, the formal legal record of Crown land status (whether alienated from the Crown or not), that were maintained centrally in Melbourne. Like the record plans, the working plans often provide names of people who purchased or were granted Crown land, as well as details that can assist researchers to locate files relating to particular allotments. Working plans may also contain much other information about: leases and licenses to occupy; Crown reservations; changes to road alignments and allotment boundaries; and the sale of land.
The plans cover all of Victoria, and may record information dating from the earliest European settlement up until the time of scanning (2001 – 2004). The plans were collated and digitised by the Bendigo regional land office (VA 4554 Department of Sustainability and Environment).
PROV, VPRS 16171/P1, Hamilton Township Plan, Imperial measure 5364
VPRS 16171 is divided into three parts (called consignments):
- Consignment P1 Parish and Township plans: This is the largest set and contains plans that show allotments in Parishes and Townships across Victoria.
- Consignment P2 Closer and Soldier Settlement Estates: These plans show the allotments that were created under the Closer, Soldier and Land Settlement schemes that were enacted in the first half of the twentieth century.
- Consignment P3 Parish and County Index plans: This is a small set of maps of Victoria that show all parish names and boundaries, and help to locate the right parish or township plan.
Accessing plans online
The plans can be downloaded from our online catalogue. The following search pages can be used to find plans by location:
- Find By Number: Type in 16171 and select Series (this is selected by default). The search will return the Series Description page which provides more information about the plans. Selecting the ‘Accessing the records in this Series’ tab allows you to browse the complete list.
- Search within a Series: Type in 16171. Then enter either the name of the parish or township you are interested in, or alternatively search by a four-digit parish and township number, available from this list:
When looking at the plans, there are a few things to bear in mind:
- Consult the Index maps in Consignment P3 to confirm parish names if you know the area but not the parish.
- Many Parishes will be split across multiple plans. These plans are numbered: Angora –1, Angora –2 and so on.
- Parishes, Townships Counties and Land Districts sometimes share names. For instance a search on Ballaarat (note the spelling!) will find over 200 results. Reduce this list by using Search within a Series and entering the parish or township plan number as described above.
- Metric and Imperial versions. Generally, the Imperial plans are the quickest way to get historical information about a property. The Metric measure plans (created after 1967) have had the name and file information that was on the plan split off into a separate sheet, called a ‘schedule’. Consulting both may highlight changes to a property’s status over time.
If necessary, the Advanced Search screen can be used with a plan name and the word ‘Imperial’ to exclude metric plans. Remember to tick the box for ‘digital’ records.
The plans are in PDF format and can be saved to any computer. Common PDF viewer software contains controls to zoom in on sections, move around the plans and print them.
To understand the various annotations on the plan, consult the sample map and explanation sheet on the PROV web page www.prov.vic.gov.au/landsguide.
The correspondence files relating to land transactions are not digitised. Visit the Victorian Archives Centre reading room to view them in person, or hire a search agent (see PROVguide 15 Search Agents). Note that PROV does not hold a complete record of lands correspondence; material relating to particular areas and/or time periods may not have ended up in PROV custody.
See PROVguide 55 Land Records for information about commonly used land records held by PROV.
PROV holds a set of microfiche copies of central record plans. See PROV’s guides to Microfilm, Microfiche and Online Resources at the Victorian Archives Centre, and Microfilm, Microfiche and Online Resources at the Ballarat Archives Centre for information.
The DSE Landata website (www.landata.vic.gov.au) also has a set of digitised record plans online. These PDF-format plans can be downloaded for free, but you will need to register your details and log in to access them. Select Central Plan Office Records from the main screen.
Both the State Library of Victoria and the National Library of Australia are digitising their collections of Victorian parish plans that were printed and sold to the public. These printed plans have not been marked up or annotated with changes.
Consult PROV’s Guide to finding records of Crown lands at Public Record Office Victoria for detailed information. The Lands Guide is available for use in PROV reading rooms.