Online Exhibitions | Victorian Archives Centre

Online Exhibitions | Victorian Archives CentreOnline Exhibitions | Victorian Archives Centre

Public records, or government state archives, are a preserved record of Victoria's development.

These online exhibitions and galleries tell some of Victoria's most significant historical stories.

View online at the Victorian Archives Centre

Melbourne Victorian Archives Centre


The Villers-Bretonneux School Photograph Collection features items of various formats that document the role of the Victorian Department of Education and the school children of Victoria in the rebuilding of the school at Villers-Bretonneux, France after its destruction in 1918 during World War 1.

Re-named 'Victoria College', the Ecole de Garcons (Boys School) in Villers-Bretonneux was destroyed along with much of the town on the 25th April 1918 when the Australian 13th and 15th Brigades under Brigadier-General Glasgow and Brigadier-General Elliot respectively recaptured it from the Germans in a battle in which over 1,200 Australian soldiers were killed.

The school was rebuilt with donations from Australia. School children and their teachers helped the effort by asking for pennies- in what became known as the Penny Drive -while the Victorian Department of Education contributed 12,000 pounds to the War Relief Fund.

Forgotten faces

Forgotten faces: Chinese and the law is an online exhibition based on a series of nineteenth century photographs of Chinese prisoners held in Public Record Office Victoria's collection. Together the photographs and text help us to understand what it must have been like to be a Chinese settler in nineteenth-century Australia.

Transporting art

Melbourne's trams have always been regarded as one of the city's greatest assets and an international drawcard. It was therefore unsurprising that in the late 1970s a group of prominent Melburnians began to talk about using trams in a public art project.

Gardens of Melbourne

After its inauguration in 1842, the Melbourne Town Council took up the call for the reservation of parkland. The Council expressed its view in a petition to Superintendent La Trobe: 'It is of vital importance to the health of the inhabitants that there should be parks within a distance of the town where they could conveniently take recreation therein after their daily labour'.

Letters to La Trobe

Charles La Trobe arrived in Australia in 1839 to become Superintendent of the Port Phillip District (now known as Victoria). He helped create the City of Melbourne and oversaw Victoria's separation from New South Wales. Letters to La Trobe is an online timeline of some key correspondence that La Trobe received as Superintendant between 1839 and 1851 as he built major buildings and public spaces across Melbourne.

School days

The online exhibition, School Days, developed by Public Record Office Victoria and launched at Old Treasury Building in March 2015, is a history of more than 150 years of schooling in Victoria. This resource is a history of the 1872 Education Act and early schooling in Victoria, Australia. The Education Act was the most significant education reform in Victoria, and a world first! It is a history of early schooling, migrant schooling, Aboriginal schools, women in education, rural education and, of course, education in war time (1914-1918).

Battle to Farm - soldier settlement

When thousands of World War One soldiers returned home to Victoria the State Government created 'settlement' schemes to help soldiers earn an income. One scheme, known as Soldier Settlement, involved subdividing large rural estates and leasing blocks to 11,000 returned servicemen and women. It dramatically transformed the Victorian landscape.


Petitions are a way for individuals or groups to officially present their concerns to Parliament and ask for action to be taken. Signed petitions are a vital feature of democratic societies as they provide an opportunity for citizens to have their voices heard. This series of petitions are currently held within Public Record Office Victoria, Australia (the state government archives). This exhibition displays a range of historical petitions presented to the Victorian Parliament over the past 150 years. These petitions were chosen to reflect the social concerns of the time.

Melbourne Zoo and you

Melbourne Zoo and you is an online story on the Culture Victoria website created by Public Record Office Victoria and tells the story of the Melbourne Zoo over its 150 year history. This online story explores the Zoo's transformation from its early days of collecting and displaying species for public viewing to its current role in fighting extinction.

Lucy Bell

Lucy Sarah Bell's story is representative of many nineteenth-century women. A farmer's wife, and mother to several children, Lucy did not lead a public life. We do not even have a photograph of her. Yet we can re-tell Lucy's story because she, like other ordinary people, used and relied on the services of government.

Eureka on trial

The Eureka Rebellion of 1854 was an historically significant rebellion of gold miners from Ballarat, Victoria (Australia). They revolted against the colonial authority of the United Kingdom. Provoked by an unpopular licensing scheme, the rebellion resulted in show trials that failed to convict any of those charged. Some historians believe Eureka shaped the defining values of the young nation of Australia. Here are some of the most significant government records about the characters and the story of Eureka.

West Gate Bridge collapse

These pages explore Victoria's (Australia) worst-ever industrial accident: the collapse of the partially completed West Gate Bridge, as told through official archival records held by Public Record Office Victoria.

Ned Kelly

Outlaw criminal, victim, he is part of the spirit and character of Australia. 'As game as Ned Kelly' used to rank with 'Has the heart of Phar Lap' as a way of describing what it was to be Australian and proud. Ned has, through his trademark iron helmet and his impassioned rhetoric, has an extraordinary ability to hold our attention. This online exhibition tells the story of the hunt for Ned Kelly using original police records and other archives.

Sailing into Melbourne

The history of the Port of Melbourne reflects the social and economic progress of the city. Initially Melbourne's lifeline to Europe, this harbour near the mouth of the Yarra River has evolved into an international port, and is now Australia's most important maritime trade hub.

Water stories

Drawing on archival records from Public Record Office Victoria, this is the story of Melbourne's water supplies, waterways, parks, gardens, drainage and sewerage systems and how they shaped the 'garden state'.

Streets of Melbourne

Melbourne is considered one of the most livable cities in the World. Its wide streets and parks have enabled a continued ease of movement and livability despite its continued growth. In 1837 Robert Hoddle (1794-1881), the officer in charge of producing a survey of the Port Phillip District, designed Melbourne's city 'grid'. He turned out to be a visionary town planner.

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