The Australiana Collection

The Australiana Collection started with the donation of several rare items on Australian history to the Newman College Library in 1919 by Councillor John McMahon. Later in the same year, this section of the Newman Library was substantially increased with the purchase of the collection of Dr L. Bevan.


The Australiana Collection was formed with a donation in 1919 to Newman College from John McMahon (mayor of Fitzroy 1880-81; 1891-92). McMahon was a keen student of early Australian history, and amongst his donation were several rare items on Australian history. In 1919 Newman College purchased the collection of the late Dr. L. Bevan (1842-1918), a Congregational minister and a leader of Protestant intellectual life in Melbourne. This purchase included books on Australian exploration and literature, and rare pamphlets. Of particular interest is the twelve volumes of G.M. Mathew’s Birds of Australia, together with the narratives and illustrations of the voyages of Cook, Dampier and Flinders.

Scope of the Collection

The Australiana Collection has been further enriched with subsequent donations and acquisitions. It comprises material either on or about Australia published before 1920. The collection of over 1800 items includes books, serials, facsimiles and pamphlets. It is a rich collection, particularly in the areas of Australian exploration natural history, literature and early narratives of colonial life.

The Australiana Collection is not being actively developed.

Donations are only accepted at the discretion of the Centre Director.

How to access the Collection

The Australiana Collection is housed behind locked cabinets in the Maria Jens Australiana Room (Tutorial Room 6) on Level 4 of the Academic Centre. Access to the Collection is restricted due to the age, uniqueness and value of the material. Items may be used by scholars and researchers on-site by arrangement with the Centre Director.