Digging deeper: The archaeology of gold mining in Queensland


  • Geraldine Mate Queensland Museum and College of Arts, Society and Education, James Cook University




From the 1860s mining has been a key feature of the economic landscape of Queensland. In excess of 40 investigations into historical goldfields in Queensland have been undertaken since the late 1970s, falling predominantly into two fields – historical examinations and cultural heritage surveys. This review of archaeological work on historical gold mining in Queensland examines the geographic areas investigated, the approaches used and analyses undertaken. The results presented indicate there are limitations in our current understandings and interpretations of the archaeology of historical goldfields. Studies have primarily focussed on identification of industrial heritage, rather than encompassing both industrial and domestic domains. Work predominantly comprises brief cultural heritage surveys or historical studies with supplementary reference to material remnants rather than full-scale comprehensive and systematic survey or excavation. Despite the range of investigations, there are few syntheses capitalising on the body of work undertaken and little in-depth research of people, place and behaviour is being carried out. This overview is used to suggest possible frameworks for more detailed analysis, allowing a fuller understanding of social, cultural and industrial facets of these settlements.