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(excl. public holidays)
The second and last Saturday of every month
We will be closed on Monday 26 January for the Australia Day Public Holiday

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.





What to archive? What not to archive? Share your views

girl_thinking_arms_crossedWe invite you to review and comment on the proposed Appraisal Statement for Public Records required as State Archives. This is your opportunity to tell us whether this statement will ensure that we collect and preserve the records which are important and valuable to Victorian people and communities, well into the future.

This is in order to:

  •  preserve evidence of past decisions and actions;
  •  support transparency, openness and accountability in government;
  • preserve the documented memory of government and its citizens;
  • support research by providing documentary evidence for academic and research communities and the general public;
  • support individuals and communities to reconnect and preserve identity and memory and facilitate redress, recovery and reconciliation.


Help us do that! Provide your comments on the Draft Appraisal Statement for Public Records as State Archives. 

Comment period has now closed.



A key recommendation of the Public Record Office Victoria Disposal Review called for the development of a comprehensive appraisal statement that sets out the areas of government activity that required permanent retention as State Archives, and this statement guides the identification of permanent records.  

 The draft statement draws on appraisal concepts outlined in pre-existing Public Record Office Victoria documents Developing RDA Guideline and Appraisal Guideline, with enhancements drawing on the work of the National Archives of Australia, National Archives UK and Queensland State Archives.

The statement forms one element in the development of a new framework for disposal authorisation in Victorian government. It is intended to sit alongside a high-level macro appraisal policy that identifies significant functions of government and provides guidance to support a risk based approach to disposal.

The document sets out the characteristics of permanent value records and provides for illustrative purposes examples of records from the Public Record Office Victoria collection that demonstrate the characteristics.

Comment period has now closed.

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 

Current challenges of recordkeeping

Data storage. Laptop and file cabinet with ring binders. 3dThis blog post from Thinking Records explores the challenges of records management in modern organisations.

The blog post identifies that the key issue for recordkeepers is the tension between the need for stable records management and the need to keep technology up to date. This need is not an Information Communication Technology demand for the latest toys, but a response to the inevitable evolution of product.

Old versions of software are insecure, difficult to integrate into modern systems, and eventually stop working. To manage this records need to be migrated from system to system. This process requires a good records management system, otherwise records risk being left behind.

A related problem is the integration of records management systems with business systems (such as email systems). Without integration recordkeeping is dependent on users manually saving records. The customisation of business systems that is necessary to ensure integration is successful  is also slow and expensive to build and maintain over time.

Unfortunately the blog post doesn’t identify solutions to these problems, but it does offer an interesting  discussion about the challenges we face as recordkeepers. This is an area that we in the Government Services team are actively working on.

latest news

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.

New Records Transfers

New PROV logo BLACKThe below records have been transferred into the PROV collection and are now available for ordering and viewing in our North Melbourne reading room.

VA 4204 Court of General Sessions, Melbourne [1852-1968]
VPRS 17020/P2 Criminal Presentments and Final Orders, Melbourne [1937-1938]

VA 3752 Thiess Enviro Services
VPRS 17413 / P2 Water Course Level Height Measurement Files
VPRS 17413 / P3 Water Course Level Height Measurement Files
VPRS 17414 / P1 Water Course Discharge Measurement Notes  
VPRS 17414 / P2 Water Course Discharge Measurement Notes

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