The Rock and Ore Collection consists of several large components that probably contain approximately 100 000 specimens. These components are the reference rock collections, the reference ore collections, the University of Melbourne research collections, and the CSIRO ore collection acquired in August 2005.
Like the mineral collections, the Rock and Ore Collection dates back to the establishment of the National Museum of Victoria. It contains some very significant suites of specimens from Victorian mines that are no longer accessible and from classic and/or remote localities, both in Australia and overseas.
Constituting the most significant collection of Victorian material in existence, they are used sporadically for exhibition and research, with an emphasis on Victorian topics.
The collection consists almost entirely of hand specimens, with some larger pieces that show particular structures or textures selected for exhibition. Many older samples, particularly those from overseas and many from the early Geological Survey, have been shaped into rectangles.
Rock types cover the full spectrum of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary categories, and this forms the basis of the systematic storage system, with sublevels based on localities. Of particular significance is a collection of ‘indicators’ from the goldfields of central Victoria. Off site, at Moreland, the Geological Survey rock collections are arranged systematically in S38 cabinets, but these have not been registered so the precise number of specimens is not known.
The reference ore collections contain a range of hand specimens from deposits across the full spectrum of the economic metals and from localities around the world. The collection is arranged either in suites from particular mines or in specimens showing particular ore types. The latter is the basis for the significant Victorian component of the ore collection.
There is a particularly large coal collection, reflecting early colonial interest in this resource. Suites of specimens from overseas mines are a feature of the Mawby–Rio Tinto Collection, but much of these remain to be amalgamated with the existing ore collections.
The most recent addition to the ore collections is that compiled by the CSIRO Division of Ore Mineralogy during the first half of the 20th century. It consists of a large range of studied ore suites, mainly Australian, and contains many scientifically significant specimens. It has only just been transferred and has yet to be unpacked.