Water History

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 331–347 | Cite as

Flows of water on a nineteenth-century Australian goldfield

  • Peter DaviesEmail author
  • Susan Lawrence


The goldrush in Victoria during the 1850s and 1860s created new awareness of the many meanings and values of water. Most mining technologies required substantial quantities of water to power machinery and separate gold from the earth, but available supplies were often inadequate. Miners responded by constructing dams and lengthy races to capture, store and distribute water to mining claims. In the process they created extensive landscapes of water management, where the natural flow of water was layered with industrial, legal, commercial and social flows as well. Experience in water manipulation on the Victorian goldfields played an important role in the later development of water laws and state water management.


Gold Water History Victoria Australia Sluicing 



We are grateful to the Archaeology Program at La Trobe University and the Australian Research Council for support of our project, ‘Cultural Landscapes of Colonial Water Management in Victoria’s Central Highlands’. Jodi Turnbull has conducted much of the primary archival research and is responsible for GIS-mapping. We also acknowledge the assistance of the following institutions and individuals for their advice and assistance: Heather Bice (Ballarat), Don Henderson (Hepburn Shire Council), Kevin Tolhurst (University of Melbourne), State Library of Victoria, Victorian Archives Centre (Ballarat and Melbourne) and Katie Wood (University of Melbourne Archives).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Archaeology ProgramLa Trobe UniversityBundooraAustralia

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