Author: Public Record Office Victoria

Soldier On: WW1 Soldier Settler Stories features records from the state archives of Public Record Office Victoria revealing previously untold stories of the Victorian soldier settler experience.

Between 1918 and 1934 the Soldier Settlement Scheme helped settle some 11,000 returned soldiers on farming land across the state through government leases.

Through original archival records, as well as first-hand video and photos, the exhibition will take visitors through the establishment of the WW1 Soldier Settlement Scheme in Victoria and the harsh realities of life on a soldier settlement farm. 

Here we've collated a snapshot of some of the archival photos to be found in the exhibition:

Handbook cover depicting a man using three horses to pull a plow
Handbooks circulated in the 1920s providing cheerful and optimistic advice to immigrants and returned soldiers. A 'land fit for heroes' was the promise: propserous farms, contented families and thriving regional development. Image courtesy of the Victorian Government.


Photo of a farmer with horses in a field
The families and soldiers that moved onto the blocks had to rebuild their lives from scratch: building houses, erecting fences and looking after crops and stock. Life on a Victorian soldier settlement block, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 14517 P1 Unit 34 L536.
men standing in front of piles of mine with sign promoting mice catching fences
In the lottery for land, some soldier settlers were lucky enough to secure a good block. Some farms remained free from the ravages of pests and disease – others were not so lucky. Image of the mice plagues courtesy of the Victorian Government.
photo of a crowd on a train with their backs to the camera
Settler women were helped by initiatives such as the ‘Better Farming Train’, which featured demonstrations on household affairs. Image of the Better Farming Train courtesy of the Victorian Government.


Soldier On: WW1 Soldier Settler Stories was presented by Old Treasury Building in partnership with Public Record Office Victoria, and supported by the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary Arts and Culture Fund.

Visit oldtreasurybuilding.org.au for more information or discover your WW1 soldier settler ancestors at soldiersettlement.prov.vic.gov.au

Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples