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Victorian Archives Centre public opening hours

Monday to Friday: 10:00 am to 4:30 pm
(excl. public holidays)
The second and last Saturday of every month

Thomas’ Map of Lost Place Names for Port Phillip

Hand Drawn Map by William_Thomas_citation_VPRS 6760PO, Unit 1, Item 1Picture1

Thomas’ hand drawn map of Western Port District of Port Phillip Bay 1830s – Click to enlarge

 William Thomas, Protector (1839 – 1849)

 On his first morning camped with the Bunurong tribe,  in July 1839, William Thomas (Aboriginal Protector from 1839 – 1849) noted in his journal that while reading his morning Psalms the admired Aboriginal hunter Poleorong (known as Billy Lonsdale) poked his head through Thomas’ tent. Poleorong insisted on sharing his bread, tea and sugar with the new protector, and had built Thomas a fire the night before.

Despite disease rapidly decimating the Aboriginal people living around Port Phillip Bay in the 1830s, Thomas decided to set up camp with the local tribes he was employed to protect.

William Thomas was brought from England to be employed as one of four assistant protectors of Aborigines for the Port Phillip District of Australia, from April 1839 until 1949. Thomas kept detailed diaries of his expeditions of the area, observations of camp life, the death of Aboriginal people by massacre and disease.

Capturing Memory

One of the tasks of the assistant protectors was to gather information about the customs and languages of the Aboriginal people of the Port Phillip District. The result were some government records of Aboriginal languages and geography, including this map of the Westernport District made by Thomas in 1841, no doubt informed by the time he spent living with Aboriginal communities. The map is a record of his understanding of the original place names, geographical features and land use of the area, including his record for the Aboriginal name for Port Phillip, more commonly known as Nerm or Neerim.


 The protectorate was short-lived. The huge social and economic changes brought about by the gold rush coincided with a lack of policy for Aboriginal people. The consequences were dramatic with only 2,000 Aboriginal people remaining by the 1850s. Records and reports from this period are held at the Public Record Office of Victoria. Its main holdings are records created by the office of Chief Protector of Aborigines, Agency number VA512 (1838-1849) and Guardian of Aborigines (1850-1860) Agency number VA 513.  

Rare Records on Display

This record is currently on display at the Victorian Archives Centre Gallery until 31 July 2014, as part of the exhibition walata tyamateetj: Carry Knowledge exhibition.


Image: A map of Westernport District made by William Thomas, Assistant Protector of Aborigines, in 1841. The map identifies both Aboriginal and European names.
Citation: Public Record Office Victoria, PROV VPRS 6760/PO, Unit 1, Item 1

Written by Kate Follington, Contributions by Tsari Anderson. Diary, William Thomas, Thomas Abstract for July 1839, CY 2604, item 2, frame 59, Mitchell Library.





Request for Feedback: New Draft Guidelines to support implementation of PROS 11/01 Storage Standard

We would like to invite you to review the eight new draft Guidelines developed to assist with the implementation of the Storage Standard (PROS 11/01).

Please provide any feedback to by COB Friday 25 July 2014.

Documents are available for download at the following link and are:

  • PROS 11/01 G5 Shelving Guideline
  • PROS 11/01 G6 Records Storage: Location and Construction Guideline
  • PROS 11/01 G7 Records Storage: Preservation and Safety Guideline
  • PROS 11/01 G8 Records Storage: Identification and Control Guideline
  • PROS 11/01 G9 Records Storage: Security Guideline
  • PROS 11/01 G10 Records Storage: Maintenance Guideline
  • PROS 11/01 G11 Records Storage: Disaster Preparedness and Management Guideline
  • PROS 11/01 G12 Records Storage: Authorisation and Inspection Programme Guideline

Please be aware that the documents are draft only. The actual changes made will be based on the feedback received and any additional investigations required. We would like the draft Guidelines to be practical and easy to use, and to achieve that aim your feedback is invaluable.



Homage To A Music Star – The Palace Theatre

Black and white photo of interior hallway of the Palace Theatre, Melbourne

Palace Theatre, Melbourne

Just like the performers who have graced her stage, The Palace Theatre took on a myriad of identities throughout her 154 years of operation, experiencing arson, the depression, the ‘talkies’, musical theatre and some of the best live music acts from Australia and abroad. Sadly, at the end of May, the Palace Theatre had her final curtain call, bringing to a close many years entertaining Victoria.

Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) holds the Public Building files for the Palace Theatre.





These records reflect the less romantic side of managing a long running performance space, but tell fascinating tales of health inspections, elaborate building plans, arson, criminal proceedings and health concerns from the 1920s until the late 1980s.

Here is just a peek behind the curtain of the iconic Palace Theatre.

Sir Benjamin Fuller the Vaudeville King

Before 1920 the Palace Theatre had several guises; most notably as the Douglas Hotel which burnt to the ground in 1911. Its new owner, theatre entrepreneur Sir Benjamin “Ben” Fuller, launched The Palace Theatre in 1916 and kept it running until it could no longer compete with the spread of popular film. Sir Benjamin Fuller started on the stage at the Savoy Theatre in London before crossing the seas and settling in Sydney.  Sir Benjamin and his brother John became the directors of John Fuller & Sons and prospered in the pantomime and vaudevillian business, bringing vaudeville to Melbourne and the Palace Theatre.


‘On careful reflection I’d say that Sir Benjamin Fuller was the greatest of all Australian proprietors-managers,’ claimed illusionist ‘Doctor’ Richard Rowe. ‘He controlled more theaters at one time than any man here, his shows ranging from Punch and Judy to grand opera. There were times when he juggled hundreds of acts between Perth and the Bluff, New Zealand. (Live Performance Australia, Hall of Fame)


Re-modelling for Cabaret and ‘The Talkies’

In 1922 the brothers went into partnership with American actor and producer Hugh J. Ward and remodelled the Palace and the Princess Theatres in Melbourne. Remodelling included an application for ‘the use of the basement as a cabaret club’ and an ‘unauthorised doorway between the dress circle foyer and the stairway’, as well as an unsuccessful application for a revolving stage. How scandalous!

By the mid 1930s the Fuller brothers, gave the Palace Theatre another facelift with the aid of D. F. Cowell Ham and changed its name to the Apollo Theatre.

In 1936 the Apollo Theatre was not just changing its name but also its purpose. Prior to it becoming the Apollo, the theatre was used predominately for theatrical stage performances. However, by 1937, with an unsuccessful season of Noel Coward’s Fallen Angels the owners made the move to ‘show pictures permanently’.  

The depression had presumably taken its toll on live theatre. In 1940 Sir Fuller made an application to the Health Department about the proposed alterations regarding improvements to the Apollo Theatre. ‘I don’t want to stress the obvious and I don’t want to make this a sob story, but I would like to point out the extremely bad time the legitimate theatre has gone through in the past few years and with the expenditure of ₤6000 I will not only be giving employment, but I consider I shall be adding to Melbourne’s social amenities.’

Photo Slideshow: Black and White Photos of Public Records about Palace Theatre, Melbourne.

Metro Theatre and the Rat Problem

With the era of film came new names. Firstly St James’ Picture Theatre in 1940 (open until 11pm) and a decade later, The Metro. The US company Metro Goldwyn Mayer first became the sole lessee and then purchased the space in 1951 from the Fuller brothers.  The beginning of a new decade brought new problems including a rat infestation. The rat infestation drew complaints from customers as they were seen ‘racing across the centre aisle from one side to the other then would go under seats, and on to an empty seat.’ Mrs Trinnick from Northcote had not been the first to witness these rogue rodents in the theatre, which had made their way in from the eateries on Turnbull Alley and had been an ongoing problem for the Health Department and guests alike.

A sign of the times also included a limit on wheelchairs: only one was allowed at any one time, and definitely not on Saturday nights.

1970s Musical Theatre

It wasn’t until 1971 that the theatre was hitting the headlines again. After a successful season in Sydney, the musical Hair transferred to Melbourne and to the Metro Theatre. Drama had followed the controversial stage play about conscription into the Vietnam War, and Melbourne’s season was no exception.

By December the producer of Hair, Harry M. Miller Attractions, was engaged in legal proceedings with the Melbourne City Council. The Council had banned the use of naked kerosene-fuelled flame on the stage, which Mr Miller had ignored. Naked performers however didn’t appear to contravene any by-laws.

From Church Hall to Music Hall

By the end of the decade the Metro ceased to operate but was saved from demolition when it was bought by the Melbourne Revival Centre and became a house of worship.  It was then refurbished again into the Metro Nightclub, before finally and most graciously, being returned to its ‘heyday’ name of the Palace Theatre, where Australian and international acts have been performing up until now.

And So We Bid You Farewell

The famous landmark has witnessed many dramatic events. With rumours of a ghost haunting its visitors and a tunnel connecting the theatre with Her Majesty’s Theatre for horses and chariots to appear on stage. If the walls of the theatre could talk this iconic Melbourne venue would tell tales of thespians, musicians, vaudeville stars and the backstage antics of local and international stars spanning 100 years.  

Written by Phoebe Wilkens, Access Services Officer, Public Record Office Victoria.


You may also be interested in this Provenance Article on The Regent Theatre.

To view any of the records used in the above flickr set, please order these records online and view them in the Melbourne Reading Room or contact our research staff directly by email.

VPRS 7882/P1/95

VPRS 7882/P1/96

VPRS 7591/P3/289 547/776

VPRS 28/P4/1941 547/776

VPRS 8044/P3/690


Energy efficiency of cloud computing

iStock_000020128095Small_cloudcomputingAt Public Record Office Victoria we are very interested in the energy efficiency of digital recordkeeping as we move into an era when government services will be hosted in the cloud.

A new paper by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories and North Western University provides some interesting clues about the energy efficiency of digital records.

The paper investigates the energy efficiency of streaming video content versus viewing DVDs. A variety of DVD delivery methods are considered (mail ordering, buying from a shop and renting). Their headline conclusion is that streaming is substantially more energy efficient than viewing DVDs, but dig deeper and some suggestive findings emerge.

  • Most of the energy usage in both modes occurs when viewing video and most of the efficiency of streaming is due to more modern and efficient viewing devices. This suggests that agencies should carefully consider the age of their desktop systems and the energy efficiency of any replacement technology.
  • Transmission requires significant energy use. Video streaming has roughly the same energy costs for delivery as the use of using cars to pick up DVDs, and substantially more than the delivery of DVDs by mail. This is interesting for agencies that need to ship records around and for archives that require researchers to travel to the archive to physically view records. In the future we may be considering ‘energy miles’ as well as ‘food miles’.
  • For streaming, the data centre uses <1% of the total energy usage. This indicates the possible energy efficiency of using very large specialist data centres (i.e. the cloud) where the economics of scale allow for a variety of energy saving technologies. However, it also indicates that the greatest energy savings occur in delivery and viewing, not in storage.

To read the paper click here.

Many strings to a Record Management professionals’ bow: Records Management Network (RMN) meeting, May 2014

iStock_000019297055Small_datadigitalHow do I respond to the rising flood of unstructured data in a records management context?

What steps should I take to protect my organisation’s records in the event of a disaster?

How should I licence my agency’s intellectual property under creative commons?

These were some of the key questions explored by a team of expert presenters at the Record’s Management Network (RMN) meeting in May, hosted by Public Record Office Victoria (PROV).

Held at the Treasury Theatre, East Melbourne, the event featured five guest presenters and was well attended by 130 records and information management professionals.

Alan Kong, Manager Standards and Policy at PROV explains that the wide range of topics covered at this year’s first RMN reflects the increasing complexity of the records management landscape. Technological change and the move to a digitally-dependent economy call for a range of strategies and tools to ensure good records management practices.

Want to know more?

The program had a ‘Do-It-Yourself’ flavour with advice from the presenters about how agencies themselves can manage risk and improves systems in areas such as information governance, disaster preparedness planning and intellectual property assets. The presenters’ slides are available here.

 If you would like to join the mailing list to receive further information about future RMN events, please email 

VERS Renewal Draft now released for comments

We have shrunk the revised VERS Standard and Specifications to be less than 40 pages, and we are now asking for comments on the draft.

The focus of the revision is to:

  • Make the Standard simpler (and hence easier to understand and cheaper and easier to construct VERS objects)
  • Making the Standard more suitable for storing long term information within agencies
  • While retaining the long term preservation principles of the original VERS Standard

The draft can be found at

We are specifically interested in comments about

  • The detail of the proposed and Standard and associated Specifications
  • Any places where the text is unclear or could be better expressed
  • Any implementation issues that could occur

Please send all comments or questions to This consultation phase will conclude on 31 May 2014.

The Town That Was – Yallourn

Establishment of a Township at Yallourn

Plans for an S.E.C Garden City

Records of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria

VPRS 8916/P1 - Unit 267 (1921) - Detail taken from Report – Establishment of a Township at Yallourn

VPRS 8916/P1 – Unit 267 (1921) – Detail taken from Report – Establishment of a Township at Yallourn


VPRS 1585 P3 Unit 3 - Early photo of Yallourn (date unknown)

VPRS 1585 P3 Unit 3 – Early photo of Yallourn (date unknown)


Today, located near the Morwell River in the LaTrobe Valley is Australia’s largest open cut coal mine. However this site was once inhabited by a thriving self-contained community called Yallourn. Between the early 1920s and 1950s the State Electricity Commission of Victoria (S.E.C) built the town of Yallourn to house employees at the nearby Power Station complex. Establishment of a Township at Yallourn, located in VPRS 8916 Subject Files, gives a sense of the early planning that went into its construction.

The design of the town was influenced by the Garden City movement coming out of the UK at that time. A method of urban planning, this movement saw value in self contained communities that had an equal balance of industry, green areas and agriculture. Much of what is specified in the report reflects this, for instance it stipulates that each house should have room to grow vegetables.  

Up until 1947, the S.E.C was the sole administrator of the town. This means that in addition to providing housing for their workers, they managed the majority of all other buildings. In addition to housing there were significant green areas, sporting facilities, schools, a hospital and a theatre.

While the town may not have developed in the idyllic manner that the early plan envisioned, a sense of community grew. This was until further coal resources were discovered to be lying beneath the town. By the early 1980s the town had been closed and removed from the site.

At the Public Record Office of Victoria we hold a significant collection of records created by the State Electricity Commission of Victoria (S.E.C) including many relating to the township of Yallourn. These date from the company’s inception in 1919 up until it was disbanded and its responsibilities dispersed in 1994. Prior to this the S.E.C maintained its own archive and library providing access to the records. 


Yallourn Technical School, VPRS 15785/P3 – Unit 5 (date unknown)

Yallourn Technical School, VPRS 15785/P3 – Unit 5 (date unknown)

VPRS 15785p3 unit 2 Yallourn Theatre

VPRS 15785 P3 Unit 2 – Statue of John Monash, with Yallourn Theatre in the background 1947


VPRS 8916 Subject Files

VPRS 15785 Photographic Images, Prints…

Creating Agency:

VA 1002 State Electricity Commission of Victoria

Georgia Harris, Access Services Officer

New Record Openings


Newly opened records within our collection for you to now search, order and view within our reading rooms.

VPRS 30/P0 Criminal Trial Briefs VA 2550 – Office of Public Prosecutions (Known as Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions from 1983-1995) units 2749 – 2808 1938
VPRS 260/P0 Children’s Court Register VA 678 – Ballarat Courts unit 3 1913 – Aug 1914
VPRS 264/P1 Capital Case Files VA 2825 – Attorney-General’s Department (previously known as the Law Department) units 12 & 13 1937 – 1938
VPRS 283/P2 Divorce Case Files, Melbourne VA 2549 – Supreme Court of Victoria units 265 – 283 1938
VPRS 515/P0 Central Register of Male Prisoners VA 1464 – Penal & Gaols Branch unit 91 1937 – 1938
VPRS 521/P0 Register of Names, Particulars and Personal Descriptions of Prisoners Received VA 863 – Pentridge Gaol units 65 – 68 1937 – 1938
VPRS 526/P0 Index to Register of Prisoners Received VA 863 – Pentridge Gaol unit 7 1937 – 1938
VPRS 1792/P0 Children’s Court Register VA 590 – Richmond Courts unit 7 March 1913 – Jan 1914
VPRS 1941/P0 Children’s Court Register VA 4101 – Prahran Courts unit 4 Oct 1912 – Feb 1914
VPRS 2400/P9 General Correspondence Files VA 724 – Victoria Police (including Office of the Chief Commissioner of Police) unit 1 1938
VPRS 2473/P0 Children’s Court Register VA 442 – Oakleigh Courts unit 1 1907 – 1914
VPRS 3524/P0 Criminal Trial Brief Register II VA 2550 – Office of Public Prosecutions (Known as Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions from 1983-1995) unit 46 1938
VPRS 3524/P1 Criminal Trial Brief Register II VA 2550 – Office of Public Prosecutions (Known as Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions from 1983-1995) unit 46 1938
VPRS 3581/P0 Children’s Court Register VA 745 – Ballarat East Courts unit 3 Aug 1912 – Jul 1914
VPRS 3848/P0 Master Patient Index Cards VA 901 – Alfred Hospital units 90 – 96 1937 – 1938
VPRS 4527/P0 Ward Registers VA 475 – Chief Secretary’s Department units 105 – 110 Dec 1913 – Nov 1914
VPRS 5334/P1  Divorce Cause Books VA 2549 – Supreme Court of Victoria  unit 7  Dec 1936 – May 1938
VPRS 5335/P4  Index to Divorce Cause Books VA 2549 – Supreme Court of Victoria  unit 2  1933 – 1938
VPRS 6063/P1 Children’s Court Registers VA 2303 – Fitzroy Courts units 6 – 7 June 1913 – Aug 1914
VPRS 7440/P2 Head Attendant’s Daily Report Books – Male Department VA 2840 – Kew Mental Hospital unit 10 July 1937 – 1938
VPRS 7477/P1 Register of Applicants for Permanent Positions VA 2865 – Department of Mental Hygiene unit 3 1920 – 1938
VPRS 7534/P1 Applications for Admissions and Licences for Belmont and Glen Holme and Other Papers VA 2865 – Department of Mental Hygiene unit 1 1910 – 1938
VPRS 7680/P1 Register of Patients VA  2840 – Kew (Asylum 1871-1905; Hospital for the Insane 1905-1934; Mental Hospital 1934-c.1970’s; Mental/Psychiatric Hospital c.1970’s-1988) unit 12 1928 – May 1938
VPRS 7692/P1 Head Nurse’s Daily Report Book – Female Wards VA  2840 – Kew Mental Hospital unit 19 Oct 1937 – Oct 1938
VPRS 7856/P1 Bound Circulated Photographs and Criminal Offences of Convicted Persons VA 2967 – South Australia Police Department units 36 – 37 Nov 1937 – Nov 1938
VPRS 8714/P1 Children’s Court Registers VA 2638 – Cheltenham Courts unit 1 Oct 1907 – June 1914
VPRS 9303/P1 Dockets [Offender Histories] VA 724 – Victoria Police (including Office of the Chief Commissioner of Police) units 131 – 148 1938
VPRS 10263/T2 Workers Compensation Agreements, Awards and Determinations VA 686 – Public Record Office [also known as Public Record Office Victoria from c.1996] units 1 – 71 1973
VPRS 12739/P1 Tramway Employees Record Cards VA 2694 – Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board units 51 – 53 1957 – 1958
VPRS 13531/P1 Accident Compensation Claim Register, Claims Branch VA 2876 – Victorian Railways unit 17 1957 – 1958
VPRS 13531/P3 Accident Compensation Claim Register, Claims Branch VA 2876 – Victorian Railways unit 1 1952 – 1958
VPRS 15746/P1 Minutes, State Film Centre Council VA 2325 – State Film Centre units 1 – 3 1984 – 1997
VPRS 16484/P1 Board Minutes VA 1350 – Physiotherapists Registration Board of Victoria (I) (previously known as Masseurs Registration Board of Victoria 1923-1978) unit 2 Sept 1960 – June 1963



2014 Privacy Law Reform

The Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 (Privacy Amendment Act) introduced significant changes to the Privacy Act. These changes commenced on 12 March 2014. The Privacy Amendment Act enhances the protection of privacy in Australia.   For more information please visit the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s privacy law reform page

So how will this impact the Victorian public sector?
Below is an excerpt taken from the media release published by the Office of the Victorian Privacy Commissioner;

Acting Victorian Privacy Commissioner, David Watts, has welcomed the recent changes to federal privacy laws. “These changes came about as a result of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s 2008 report on their review of Australian privacy laws,” explains Mr Watts.  “One of the benefits of privacy laws is that they give people the right to know why an organisation is asking for their information and what they are going to do with it. These rights have been strengthened for organisations bound by the federal laws. This benefits both consumers and the organisations themselves who can have a better relationship with their customers,” says the Acting Commissioner.

“It is important for the public and Victorian government organisations, local councils and contracted service providers to understand that the federal changes do not affect the Victorian Information Privacy Act 2000  which is administered by the Victorian Privacy Commissioner. This includes when state contracts made with private organisations or Commonwealth agencies include provisions relating to personal information,” Mr Watts says.

“Personal information collected and used by the Victorian Public Sector is covered by the Victorian Information Privacy Act 2000. This law requires organisations to be transparent with their customers and staff when collecting personal information and to ensure that personal information sent outside Victoria is accompanied by appropriate privacy protection. The law also provides the opportunity for a person to make a complaint if they believe their personal information has been improperly administered,” explains Mr Watts.

Detailed information about the Victorian Information Privacy Act can be found at

To read the media release, please visit

The Electrification of Melbourne’s Suburban Railway Network

The Electrification of Melbourne’s Suburban Railway Network

“Photo Album: Electrification Scheme”


VPRS 12397/P1 – Unit 1, Image of Six Car Standard Train

VPRS 12397/P1 – Unit 1, Image of Six Car Standard Train


In 1919 the first Suburban Electric Train Services started in Melbourne.  At the time Melbourne was the largest city in Australia, and was the first to electrify its Train Services.  By 1923 most of the Suburban Train Services were operated by Electric Trains.  It was an immediate success, with patronage soaring as a result of the quicker travel times and increased services which had all been achieved at a reduced cost.

This was the conclusion of a large investment by the Victorian Railways into the new Electric Traction Technology which was to replace the Steam Train Passenger Services of the time.  The Electrification Scheme adopted was from the recommendations of a Report in 1912 which had been noted by a UK Electrical Engineer by the name of Charles Merz.  The Scheme was to be the first application of 1,500 V DC using overhead current collection in the World at the time, and boasted the largest Power Station in the Southern Hemisphere.

This series is a photo album which contains photos relating to the electrification of the Melbourne Suburban Railway System.  The subjects of photographs include buildings such as the Jolimont as well as Caulfield Sub-Stations, the Newport Power Station, promotional shoots of Victorian landmarks and countryside, over line bridges, and track structure.


VPRS 12397/P1 - Unit 1, Image of Port Campbell
VPRS 12397/P1 – Unit 1, Image of Port Campbell


Work on the electrification of the railways commenced c.1912; however there are no dates on the records in this series.  The series date range is an estimation which has been established due to similarities between this series as well as other promotional or publicity material prepared by the Victorian Railways c.1919.  The photographs have been bound together in an album and labelled.



VPRS 12397 Photo Album: Electrification Scheme

Creating Agency:

VA 2876 Victorian Railways (also Victorian Railways Commissioners 1883-1973, Victorian Railways Board 1973-1983)

Agency currently responsible:

VA 2984 Public Transport Corporation, 1999 – cont

                                                                            Sasho Talevski, Access Services Officer

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