Historical information

This photograph was captured at an undisclosed location and at an unidentified time but likely dates to approximately 1870. The photographer's details are not recorded and the identities of the men in the image are also not known. This image depicts a group of 10 men in typical miners fashion. Four of them are sat on a large log with one holding a small dog. Six miners stand behind those sitting. All these men are wearing a white button-up shirt and tan coloured work trousers. They wear heavy boots and seven have included a dark vest over their shirt. The man holding the dog has a pipe in his mouth. Two of these men are clean shaven with the remainder sporting a moustache and two with a beard. The ages of these men vary from late 20s to middle age.

This group of men are located in a mining location with what appears to be an open cut mine in the background of the image. The ground is muddy and has elements which can help identify it as a mining location based on the condition of the landscape. The bottom of the men's trousers are muddy which provides the assurance that these men were working in this location when their photograph was captured. In the background there is one structure, possibly a dwelling, and bush which identifies the location as Australia.

Open cut sluicing is a method used to extract gold and other precious metals from beneath the surface of the earth. This technique involved the use of high-powered hoses which broke down the soil enabling miners to come along and search this soil for gold. After the gold rush of the early 1850s, diggers had to enlist the assistance of heavy machinery and techniques like hydraulic sluicing in order to reach gold because the surface alluvial gold had already been discovered and removed. This heavy machinery was not used until after 1853.


The search for gold is ingrained into the history of Victoria and therefore, images like this one which portray an open cut sluicing site can reveal important information for society and technology for the date when the photograph was taken. This image is of important historical significance for its ability to convey information about sluicing and the methods used to find gold in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It also shows a location where sluicing was undertook which provides insight into the impact of sluicing on the environment at a time when it was done.

Images, like this one, of Australian gold rush history can reveal important information about the social and environmental impact of this period. This image depicts diggers standing in a mining location and therefore, this image has the capacity to reveal or support significant information for researchers studying the fashion and social status of diggers in Australia in approximately 1870. It can also provide information on the landscape of Australia in this period and the impact of mining for gold on both society and the Australian landscape.

The Burke Museum is home to a substantial collection of Australian mining photographs which can be used to gain a deeper understanding into life on the gold fields, technology used in mining, the miners themselves and the impact of the gold digging on the environment.

Physical description

Sepia toned rectangular photograph printed on matte photographic paper mounted on board.

Inscriptions & markings