Historical information

This specimen was recovered from Moonambel, Donkey Hill, Victoria. Established in the early 1860's, Moonambel is a small town in the Pyrenees region of the Australian state of Victoria. In the 1850s the location of Moonambel was part of the ‘Mountain Creek’ pastoral run, but in 1860 reports began to appear of a gold-rush at McKinnon’s ‘Mountain Creek’ station. By 1861, a township had developed on the diggings site, and on 21 October 1861 the “municipal district of Moonambel, on Mountain Creek” was proclaimed. The name 'Moonambel' is believed to be an aboriginal word meaning 'hollow in the hills'.

Slate is a stone with a fine grain that is noted for its persistent strength and ability to naturally split into slabs. It forms under low temperatures and is most often created from clay. Pyrite is a crystallising compound that occurs naturally in grey and blue-black slate that is colloquially referred to as slate-rust as it resembles regular rust.


This specimen is part of a larger collection of geological and mineral specimens collected from around Australia (and some parts of the world) and donated to the Burke Museum between 1868-1880. A large percentage of these specimens were collected in Victoria as part of the Geological Survey of Victoria that begun in 1852 (in response to the Gold Rush) to study and map the geology of Victoria. Collecting geological specimens was an important part of mapping and understanding the scientific makeup of the earth. Many of these specimens were sent to research and collecting organisations across Australia, including the Burke Museum, to educate and encourage further study.

Physical description

Pyrite is iron sulphide (also known as “fool's gold”) which is commonly found in slates.

Inscriptions & markings

Existing label:
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