Here at the State Library, we collect many things that illustrate and preserve the history of Victoria. Look on our shelves or in our archives and you’ll find everything from letters and diaries to theatre programs and music scores, as well as our collection of over five million physical books. We even have one of Captain Cook’s waistcoats.

How do you keep a record of something as elusive as a temporary website though? Along with other state libraries around Australia, State Library Victoria has been contributing to PANDORA, Australia’s web archive, since 1998. PANDORA is essentially a way of preserving online publications and websites. Most websites we select are updated regularly to show changes in content and design over time, but some may just be a one-off snapshot.

Some pretty quirky websites have made their way into our collection. Take this one from 1999, documenting the Coburg/Pascoe Vale community’s fight against a new McDonalds. Have a browse around the site and see why they objected.

Residents Against McDonalds website screenshot

Residents Against McDonalds website

This is an early example of this type of campaign being run online. Before the advent of the web, this would have been done with local press, physical protests and flyers. By adding this website to PANDORA, we’ve now got a record of all sorts of activities organised by the protesters. There are even photos of the houses that were bulldozed to make way for the restaurant and poetry written by residents and supporters.  Archiving this is especially important given that the website no longer exists—it’s a primary historical source.

We’ve also archived some of our own webpages, like the virtual exhibition Life on the Goldfields.  As the name suggests, these items from the Library’s collection look at the journey of the prospective gold seeker, from arrival in Melbourne to camp life and the friendships forged through shared hardship. Without PANDORA, we would have no way of preserving this temporary exhibition that existed only on the internet.

Life On Goldfields website screenshot

Life on the Goldfields website

You can find all sorts of weird and wonderful information on PANDORA, including Jeff Kennett’s pioneering use of the emerging World Wide Web during his 1999 election campaign (it even had a video game!).

Jeff Kennett website screenshot

Jeff Kennett website

Know a Victorian-based website you think is worth preserving? Send us an email at [email protected]. We’re always on the lookout for websites to add to PANDORA, especially if their continuation is uncertain.

More to explore

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Pandora: Australia’s web archive


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