Last updated:

July 22, 2022

What do I need to know?

The following information may help you find records of interest to you:

Note:  We recommend viewing our Historic maps collection on our Map Warper Tool laid over a contemporary map. To find a map in Map Warper:

  • Enter the contemporary or Parish place name in the search field and click 'Search'.          
  • Or, Go to the 'Find Maps by Location' tab, type the contemporary place name into the search field and click 'Find Location.'
  • Click on your chosen map and go to the 'Preview' tab to view the map placed over its contemporary location. You can use the transparency slider to change the opacity of the map. 

How do I search?

You can search this record series online for a particular plan by parish, town, type or other place name. Some maps include a surveyor name (e.g. Hoddle).

About these records

The historic plans collection consists of over 11,000 early surveys and other kinds of maps dating from 1836 to the 1980s. It is an important resource for exploring the beginnings of European settlement in Victoria, and changes in land use over time. Forty-eight different classification codes were assigned to groups of map and plans - for example Cemeteries (CEM), Miscellaneous Coastal Survey (MCS) and Explorers Routes (EXP). These provide a guide to the content of the plans and divide this large collection into smaller groupings.

Who created these records?

The records were received, created and maintained by various agencies responsible for land management from 1836 until the 1980s. 

Next Steps

The majority of the physical plans are closed to public access for preservation reasons, however you can view digitised images of the plans online by searching above.

What are in these records?

While these plans are mainly concerned with recording ‘cadastral’ information, or the boundaries of properties, there are many sequences and plans that record other types of information as well.  You might find:

  • early descriptions of soils and native vegetation
  • location of huts, fences, gardens and other capital improvements made by squatters
  • location of other buildings
  • tracks used by colonial settlers
  • reserves set aside for public use
  • early place names
  • location of pastoral runs
  • ship wrecks
  • the general progress of European settlement at various times
  • progress of cadastral, geodetic and physiographic surveys at particular times

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting.

PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples.