The HMM collections have high social significance to the community; several community organisations have entrusted their records to the Archives and Museum, especially those that have become defunct with the decreasing population and prosperity of the town following the disappearance of tin mining. Even though the organisations have faded away, they are still important to the families whose members were involved in them. The most significant from the point of view of a mining museum are the artefacts and records of the Herberton and District Rock Drill Club, donated to the HMM ten years after the last competition. Herberton’s long tradition of small underground mines encouraged the sport. The collection includes rock drills, the cement filled pipes used for drilling, a compressor, a collection of 25 trophies, some of them more artistic than the usual shield, a starter pistol, and four boxes of records. Rock drilling competitions – both hand and machine drilling – occurred at such community celebrations as sports days and later, the Tin Festival, and were hotly contested. The Herberton and District Rock Drill Club was formed in 1983 and competitions were run during the annual Herberton Tin Festival. The “Battle of the Pubs” was an annual face-off between the Royal Hotel Herberton and the Australian Hotel
Irvinebank. Competitions were also held at Irvinebank and the smaller towns such as Watsonville and
Bamford from the first decade of the 20th century.
The Tin Festival collections similarly celebrate an important social occasion. They began in 1965 when tin mining was booming, involving both large companies employing many residents and the small miners who had once dominated the field. These consist of an archive collection and trophies and Festival Queen crowns. The number of families who passed through any mining field is high in comparison with the
population at any one time, because of high turnover, particularly during early rush periods or when the town is booming. The Archives is therefore important for family historians all over Australia.
© Herberton Mining Museum History Association 2023