IT'S taken years to carefully catalogue 4500 pieces of Bendigo's mining history and a team including Marianne Midelburg still has a mountain more to do.
Volunteers have spent more than a decade organising the Central Deborah Gold Mine archives, sorting sheds once filled with precariously piled tools, models, books, maps and even the stretchers used to rescue injured miners.
The work is taking on added importance as Bendigo Heritage Attractions brings its museum up to speed with modern customers' expectations.
The building's displays are outdated and Kirkland Lake Gold - which operates Fosterville's gold mine - is financing a revamp, Bendigo Heritage Attractions' Evonne Oxenham said.
"We want to make the story we tell more relevant to the school groups that come through here. We are currently telling the mine's story but we want to show the wider picture on Bendigo's gold," she said.
Displays will also include information modern day mining in Victoria, which has enjoyed a resurgence largely because miners in Fosterville have struck such large bodies of gold missed by previous generations of miners.
Last week alone Kirkland Lake announced record quarterly production driven largely by the 191,893 ounces dug out of Fosterville.
Costerfield's mine produced 4794 ounces of gold and 684 tonnes of antimony last quarter, owners Mandalay Resources revealed on Thursday, meaning both major gold operations in the region are enjoying success.
The museum's revamp is expected to be completed in the second half of the year, but longer term Ms Midelburg hopes for enough space for rotating exhibitions of the archive's collection.
"You've got to look at the big picture and that will be down the track," she said.
The museum is constantly discovering new things about the huge number of mining-related pieces it has amassed over the decades.
Attempts to catalogue every piece in the archives started in the 1980s but had lost momentum and been abandoned, Ms Midelburg said.
"There have been two or three goes. This is the first time it has stuck and we have actually got it to work," she said.
This push - currently driven by six volunteers - began with "boxes and boxes of dumped stuff" no one had known what to do with.
That was in 2008, Ms Midelburg said.
"A lot of it had been dumped in a back shed. It was dangerous in there. Things were almost falling on you," she said.
"So when I started it was making sure things were safe and that the pieces were protected.
"It's a huge archive. We've put 4500 pieces on the database at this stage. There's thousands to go."
Work is currently focused on everything in sheds, but at some point will turn to the many huge engineering marvels that currently sit outside.
"I'm going to have to process the poppet head one day," she said.
In the meantime, even the nuts and bolts need to be numbered, photographed and boxed.
"Right now I'm working on our 'small rusty metal bits' collection. They are all from that back shed and are all pieces of mining equipment," Ms Midelburg said.
"A woman called Sue Kimpton and I sorted out everything in the back shed into small rusty metal bits, medium rusty metal bits, big rusty metal bits and enormous rusty metal bits.
"I've create walls of boxes for them and other pieces in the archive."
It is not a love of history or engineering that drives her.
"I wouldn't know about the conservation or the historic side of it. I'm really into making sure things are safe and boxed up," Ms Midelburg said.
"I'm into wrapping and cleaning - the fun bits.
"I've got this incredibly methodological brain. I set up lists of stages and then I work through them step by step by step by step."
Her approach has served her well since 2011, when she began volunteering at the archive.
Ms Midelburg comes in three mornings a week for three hour stints.
"If I can get nine or 10 items done in a three hour session, that's good going," she said.
Her current focus - the shed's small rusty metal bits collection - has proven a somewhat unexpected highlight.
"There's a quirky nature to it. We don't come across things like them every day," Ms Midelburg says.
"We've had old lamps, milk pails, you name it."
She often finds herself approaching staff members and expert volunteers to discover more about the pieces she catalogues, which are often unknown outside mining and history circles.
Ms Midelburg has been volunteering in one form or another for years.
She retired in 1996, when she became a community artist helping organise exhibitions.
"What I really like about here (the Central Deborah Gold Mine) is that the volunteers are treated like staff," Ms Midelburg said.
"No-one is looking over my shoulder, or anyone else's, tut-tutting and telling us to work faster, or that we are not doing it properly.
"We are thanked and our work is really appreciated.
"Some places you volunteer staff can look down on you because they are paid - that sort of situation. But it's like a big happy family here."
To find out more about ways to volunteer in Bendigo contact the Bendigo Volunteer Resource Centre on on 5441 1404 or email email@example.com