Significant Items in the Museum

An  assessment of significance of the Herberton Mining Museum collection conducted by Dr. Jan Wegner and Dr. Dave Phoenix in October 2021 has identified 71 items of International, National, State and Regional significance.

Significance values include:

Historic                        Click to see more details

Aesthetic                     Click to see more details

Scientific/Research     Click to see more details

Social or Spiritual       Click to see more details

Provenance                  Click to see more details

Rarity                            Click to see more details

Representativeness     Click to see more details

Interpretive Potential  Click to see more details

Intactness/Integrity     Click to see more details


Risley sculpture (International significance)

Tom Risley’s works are in public and private collections
internationally. It is an important early work by the artist and one of his rare commissioned works.

Location: Gordon Gardens south of Mining Museum

Dredge Collection (National significance)


The dredge collection  has  historical, research, and interpretive significance.

It is rare in Australia to have a complete archival record for dredges.

Location: Dredge Room


Leffel water turbine (National significance)

The Leffel water turbine is an ‘open’ type requiring a penstock for operation.
At least 15 were imported in the 1880s and 1890s to run flour mills, water supply pumps, hydro-electric plants and ore crushing mills,
mostly in Victoria and Tasmania. No others of the open turbines in Australia seem to have survived. There
are several still extant in the U.S., and at least one in the U.K.

Click here to see more on Water Power display.

Location: To right of pathway to Museum

Mazlin pick (National significance)

James Mazlin a local miner modified the common miners pick and invented the ‘Mazlin Pick’. Mazlin designed his pick with removeable chisels, which when blunt, could be replaced with a sharp chisel in the mine. In 1907 he patented this pick as Patent No.9857. It meant a significant increase in efficiency for the local miners who still had to work with relatively primitive technology. The concept of having replaceable components on machinery is now a common practice.

Location: Mining room


3 1/2ft wooden gin wheel and bearings (Regional significance)

A gin wheel is a smaller version of the sheave wheels that normally sit at the top of a mine headframe. It can be used for whips and
whims, or to change the direction of a rope, or to haul loads underground.  It required some skill and possibly, poverty to motivate a miner to make this wheel.
The timber gin wheel is historically significant as an example of informal miner ingenuity and skill. It is also rare, as most gin wheels were of iron or steel.

Location: Metals Room


Roger Taylor Collection (National, potentially International significance)

Dr Roger Taylor is a highly respected geologist who graduated with a PhD in 1964 from Imperial College, London, and was employed by Aberfoyle Tin until he joined James Cook University in 1967 as a teaching and research academic, ending his academic career as an
Associate Professor. He was in charge of the Economic Geology Research Unit at James Cook University, Townsville, from 1993-1998. He then moved to a consulting career as a mine and exploration geologist. The Taylor Collection has particular importance as it is a geologic collection that illustrates the various modes of tin mineralisation in most of its forms. The Collection includes representative samples from every major tin producing area in the world, with a particular focus on north Queensland deposits. It is rare for any museum to have a geologically focused collection, let alone one dedicated to a specific metal.

Location: Minerals Room


Thomas Horan notebook and records (State significance)

The Archives  hold handwritten notes by Surveyor Horan for work on the Herberton and Hodgkinson fields, and a surveyor’s book dated 1879 to 1880. Thomas Patrick Horan came north in 1878 not long after Cairns was founded in 1876. He was responsible for laying out the towns of Thornborough and Herberton, and many mining tenements, including the Great Northern in 1880. His notebook and records are of historical importance as an early example of surveying in the region.

Location: Archives Room (no admittance to public)


Local mines collections (regional significance)

These Archives collections contain hand drawn maps and sketch plans, field note books,
survey field books, geological reports, mine plans, financial records, lease deeds, sampling
records, wages books, mill records, mine managers’ reports, drilling reports, rope tests,
certificates of inspection for engines, and machinery manuals for individual mines in the
region, dating from 1915 through to the 1980s. They are: the Jack Skennar donation; Bill
Evans Collection; Eddie Cohen Collection (which also includes a timber box labelled “E.M.
Cohen, Consulting Geologist” containing an instruction manual Topcon Mirron Stereoscope,
Tokyo; stereoscope for topographic mapping from aerial mapping; thin sections in a box,
with letter, Loloma Mining Co.; aerial photos in sets; canvas pouch with lettering stencil,
round protractor, triangular protractor; and Atlas Copco slide rule for conversions); Frederick
L. Stamp Collection; Madrid Collection; Ellis Hughes Collection; Jessop Collection; and NQ
Monto Mining Collection. These records have high significance for their
research potential,
as they are very important for the history of mining in the local region.

Location: Archive Room (no admittance to public)

Mareeba Mines Office (ex Herberton Warden's Office) Collection (State Significance)

These official records date from the 1880s to 1979. They cover notifications of mine manager
appointments 1890s to 1959; Powers of Attorney 1902-1907 for various tenements;
appointments of agents 1964-1979; declarations of trust (including John Moffat’s) 1902 –
1908; certificates in lieu of declarations 1902-1920; lien notices 1908-1915; memoranda of
mortgage 1901-1929; transfers of mining leases 1906-1929, and claims 1907-1911;
certificate of registration of rules and agreements 1915-1933; correspondence re lease
applications 1976-9; Mines Department circulars 1934-1972 including index 1959/60; and
registration of liens 1882, 1908. Many are very fragile. They have high
research potential for
understanding the arrangements for transactions affecting mine ownership.

Location: Research Room (entry by arrangement)

Herberton and District Rock Drill Club Collections (National significance)

The Archives collection consists of pamphlets, competition results, certificates,
administrative records, clippings, correspondence, Cairns Show material, minutes of
meetings 1981-5, constitution and rules, photos and negatives. The artefact collection consists
of trophies, a port with starter pistol, air compressor, drills, concrete filled pipes for
competitions, and the stands for them.
Rock drilling competitions as noted under section 7.4, ‘Social Significance’, were important
to miners in every hard rock mining district to demonstrate their skills in competition. Until
the formation of the Club, these contests occurred at sports days in Herberton. The Club,
formed in 1983, held its competitions at the annual Tin Festival which occurred from 1965.
The collections have high
social significance for the mining community, and appear to be
rare as the sport has declined considerably all over Australia in the past 10 years and unless
organised into a club such as Herberton’s, has left no significant records or artefacts.

Location: Artefacts – Outside Museum and in Mining Room.

Records – Archive Room (no admittance to public)

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