Communications Officer Tara Oldfield

Author: Tara Oldfield

Communications Officer

Over the last couple of years some of our volunteers have been busily digitising loose photographs contained within the Melbourne Harbour Trust collection.

The collection features black and white as well as colour photos providing a visual record of the development of the Port of Melbourne between 1880 and 1976. Photos range from portraits of Melbourne Harbour Trust Commissioners to shots of conferences, special events (such as Moomba!) and the physical development of the Port of Melbourne area. There are also aerial and street photographs of Melbourne and Sydney peppered throughout the collection.

photo of flinders street station
Undated photo of commuters outside Flinders Street Station. VPRS 8357 P1 Unit 4 Item 1/3.


photo of Melbourne from the sky
Undated aerial view of Melbourne. VPRS 8357 P1 Unit 4 Item 2/108.


women in uniform walking along the dock
Undated photo of Harbour Trust staff, taken by Cliff Bottomley, Australian News and Information Bureau. VPRS 8357 P1 Unit 8 Item 2/19.


photo of port
Undated photo of the Harbour. VPRS 8357 P1 Unit 13 Item 4/50.


photo of construction
Construction of World Trade Centre. VPRS 8357 P1 Unit 13 Item 1/5.


Most recently occupying the digitising lab were Joy and Yasmin.

Volunteers can choose from a range of digitising and indexing projects at PROV. As artists and photographers themselves, Joy and Yasmin were quick to put their hands up for this special project.

Joy is a sculptor, photographer and director of the Sue Ford Archive and has been volunteering at PROV since early 2017, while Yasmin is also a photographer volunteering at PROV since June 2016.


photo of the volunteers
Joy and Yasmin in the digitisation lab with one of the photographs they've digitised (VPRS 8357 P1 Unit 13 Item 3/33).


Yasmin says she has a particular interest in seeing photos from around Melbourne, having come from Newcastle, she feels she is getting an education of the City. Joy herself has photographed the Port extensively for her own art projects and so enjoys seeing how things have changed over time. Both agree that some of the most fascinating photos within the collection are the ones that feature interesting angles of boats on the harbour as well as showcasing fashions of decades past, and Joy is most interested in photos of the built environment.  


photo of yasmin holding her favourite photo
Yasmin with her favourite photo from the collection (VPRS 8357 P1 Unit 13 Item 4/13). 


Many of the photos are undated and unlabeled, taken by photographers employed by the Trust. Part of the fun for researchers will be to look for clues in each image in order close order Definition Physical records can be ordered for viewing in PROV’s reading rooms.  When a user orders a record, it is reserved solely for their use. to be able to pinpoint the era and location of each one.

The full suite of digitised images will be loaded to the website in the next six months. In the meantime you can view some highlights via our social media channels.

Thank you to all the volunteers who have been working on the digitisation of these images over the last few years. To learn more about volunteering at PROV visit the volunteers section of our website.