Early oil search, Gippsland Victoria, Australia

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Location: East Gippsland, Victoria, Australiamap
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Profile manager: Neil Croll private message [send private message]
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The main reason for the first settlement of Victoria was agricultural. Land was opened up and cleared for farming and cities sprang up as market centres for the distribution and shipping of agricultural products and farm supplies. This initial period was followed by the discovery of gold, the flooding into the Colony of large numbers of would-be miners and the traders and artisans who were needed to support mining, and rapid development of the whole range of industrial and financial activities that were needed to maintain the balance of a modern state.

Especially because of the need for energy sufficiency to fuel industrialisation, it was recognised that if a local supply of oil could be discovered the economic benefits to the State and the country as a whole would be enormous, possibly ending the reliance on overseas suppliers. Therefore the government decided to provide strong support to any oil search activities that might be commenced. Geologists identified East Gippsland as a likely location for oil discovery, so the Gippsland oil search was initiated. Although there had been strong indications that oil might be found in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, the first oil field as such was discovered at Lake Bunga, in the Gippsland Lakes area of East Gippsland, Victoria (see image on this page).[1]

The search involved drilling a large number of bores. Some of these revealed the presence of oil sands, but it was finally decided that the technology available at the time would not allow commercially viable extraction. Several bores struck good flows of potable water, and at least one bore was connected to the Club Hotel, Lakes Entrance[2]. An account of the whole search, including the various survey reports, is available from [National Archives of Australia]. Croll-284 21:32, 6 February 2021 (UTC)

Oil Search in Victoria[3]
Activity is being displayed by the Mines Department in relation to the search for oil in this State. A sum of £5,000 was provided by the Victorian Government, and this with a Commonwealth contribution of a similar amount, means that £10.000 is available for scout boring work, which is at present being conducted in the Gippsland area. Two drills, each working three shifts, have almost completed a north and south line of bores from Fernbank to Seaspray. The cores which are being obtained are microscopically examined in an effort to determine geological structure favourable to the occurrence of oil.

Recently the Lakes Entrance Oil Field, which at 31st December last had produced 90.931 gallons of crude oil, was visited by members of the Commonwealth Oil Advisory Committee accompanied by Mr. Baragwanath, Director of Geological Survey, Dr. K. Washington Gray, who recently, while attached temporarily to the Staff of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, conducted an investigation into the possibility of finding commercial quantities of mineral oil in Australasia, also visited this field on a number of occasions.

During Dr. Gray's stay in Australia he was assisted by Mr. I. C. H. Croll, B.Sc., a Field Geologist on loan from the Victorian Mines Department. Arrangements have now been made for Mr. Croll to resume duty with this Department on 15th July. The unique opportunity of serving under such a well-known authority on oil geology, coupled with extensive field work and research in Australia and New Zealand, will make Mr. Croll's services of considerable value to those searching for oil in this State, and it is hoped that they will avail themselves of his specialized knowledge of geology as applied to petroleum exploration.

Gippsland Oil Search[4] Mr. J. L. Breheny, secretory of the Gippsland Oil Propaganda League, when recording through "The Ago" of May 31 his appreciation of tho services rendered the cause of oil production in Gippsland by the gentlemen named, unintentionally, I am sure, omitted the nnme of Mr. A. Allnutt, member for Mildura, from the list. Tho Industry, as now safeguarded Is Indebted to Mr. Allnutt for ills outstanding Interest and ability as displayed when introducing to and piloting through the Legislative Assembly the much needed Petroleum Bill. — I. KERR, manager Monkey Creek Oil Syndicate, N.L.

I have read with pleasure Mr. J. H Breheny's letter re oil in Gippsland. The Oil Propaganda League has done good work, but unfortunately they may have no technical knowledge, it is a peculiar fact that all the bores put down around the Gippsland lakes, and completed, have been put down on the svncllne. It is a still more peculiar fact that the advisory committee has spent the £10,000 in proving what was taught to the children doing intermediate geography in 1929, and a still brighter fact that the advisory committee is going to use the expensive machine they have imported to still go on boring on the syncllne. Are our experts right in this matter? OBSERVER (Richmond).

GIPPSLAND OIL SEARCH[5] Over 36,000 Feet Bored Since 1936 the Victorian Government has allocated £11,500 to the search for oil, and the Commonwealth Government has provided, a similar amount. The £23,000 is being used to carry out boring operations in the search for oil in Gippsland.

Two scout boring plants have been operating for the past four years, and have completed 34 bores, the total footage drilled being 36,684 feet. These two plants are now boring in the Lakes Entrance area to obtain cores of the oil-bearing sandstones for testing purposes.

In addition to these two plants, a large Commonwealth-owned deep drilling plant, employing 12 men and capable of boring to'a depth"of 5000 feet, began operations in June, 1938.
To date, four bores have been' put down with this plant, three being to a depth of approximately 3300 feet in each case.

The fourth bore, which has just been completed near the Pilot Station at Lakes Entrance, was bottomed to 1509 feet. This plant has now been moved to a new site at Hollands Landing, near Seacombe, about 30 miles from Lakes Entrance.

GIPPSLAND OIL SEARCH[6] GIPPSLAND OIL SEARCH CANBERRA, Wednesday. - A bill introduced In the House of Representatives to-day by Mr. Nock. Assistant Minister for the Interior, validates arrangements by which the Commonwealth and Victoria co-operate in the search for oil in Gippsland. It authorises the Commonwealth to pay Victoria money toward cost of the search.

GIPPSLAND OIL SEARCH[7] GIPPSLAND OIL SEARCH In the search for oil In Gippsland the scout boring plant two miles north of Lakes Entrance has reached a depth of 1018ft in micaceous marl containing bands of lime stone The deep drilling plant has been transferred from Holland's Landing to a new site at Lakes Entrance where the plant is still in course of erection The second scout boring plant is being dismantled at Kalimna for transter to Lakes Entrance where It will be used lo put down a bore to obtain a supply of water for the deep drilling plant.

Croll-284 03:34, 3 February 2021 (UTC)


  1. Government of Victoria: Earth Resources accessed 20 Dec 2021.
  2. I Croll: personal oral communication
  3. Mining and Geological Journal. June 1937, p16
  4. National Library of Australia - Trove The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954) Tue 7 Jun 1938 p10
  5. National Library of Australia - Trove Gippsland Times (Vic. : 1861 - 1954) Thu 25 Apr 1940 p7 GIPPSLAND OIL SEARCH
  6. National Library of Australia - Trove The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) Thu 9 May 1940 p11
  7. National Library of Australia - Trove The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) Wed 18 Dec 1940 p10

See also:

  • Crespin I. 1956. Micropalaeontolical investigationns in Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics, 1927-52. Melbourne: Commonwealth of Australia, Department of National Development, Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics
  • National Library of Australia - Trove Croll ICH. 1935. Bendigo - Heathcote. Section C : ANZAAS geological excursionI
  • Croll ICH. 1939. 'Some Physical Properties of the Reservoir Rock at Lakes Entrance' in Government of Victoria. Mining and Geological Journal'. V 2, No 1, July 1939.
  • Croll ICH. 1940. 'Notes on Gippsland Oil Bores' in Government of Victoria. Mining and Geological Journal. V 2, No 3, September 1940 pp159-163.
  • National Archives of Australia
  • Mines Department of Victoria. 1936. Gippsland East; Its Geology and Mining Development (Including Lakes Entrance Oil Field) Melbourne: Mines Department Victoria.



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