Ruth Gooch is a Victorian regional historian and writer. Her published works include the following:


Frontier French Island,


PMI Press, Melbourne, 2006, xiv, 335 p., ill., ports, facsims., bibliography, index, 25 cm.
'Highly Commended' for the Melbourne University Publishing Award, Fellowship of Australian Writers National Literary Awards 2007.

[The author's] history of French Island is a model local history. It is extremely well researched, the illustrations are excellent, and it is written with great warmth.
‘Very few small community histories could match the range and breadth of this material’, Don Gibb, Victorian Historical Journal, Vol. 79, no. 1, June 2008.

french island

Seals Rocks; and Victoria's Primitive Beginnings,

Warrangine Word, Hastings, 2008, ix, 160 p., ill., maps, ports, bibliography, index, 25 cm.

'This book is about more than [the] Seal Rocks that lie at the western end of Phillip Island. They serve as a symbol for a wider examination of the coming of sealers to the Victorian coast, the relationships between sealers and indigenous women, the subsequent development of the fishing industry and its opposition to the claimed rise in seal numbers, and scientific studies of the protected species. Well documented, indexed and illustrated'. History News, no. 280, April/May 2009, Royal Historical Society of Victoria.


'The Wildest Bit Along the Coast; a History of Cape Schanck, Victoria' (Book )

The Wildest Bit along the Coast; a history of Cape Schanck on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Hastings, Warrangine Word, 2013, 282 p., Illustrations,, portraits, photographs, 25 cm., includes notes and bibliography (pp. 221-270), and index.

…lively stories of the early settlers, the best or luckiest of whom profited from their sheep and cattle to become gentlemen farmers…On the rapid decline in Boon wurrung numbers and well-being [Gooch] draws comparisons with clans across Australia to challenge the prevailing views of academia.

the wildest bit aIong the coast

'Quail Island, Western Port, Victoria', Warrangine Word, 2017 (Spiral Bound Book )


'Puzzling Over the Early Flinders' Charts',

Victorian Historical Journal, v, 78, no. 1, May 2007, pp. 5-22.

From the introduction to the issue: 'The first two [articles] by Ruth Gooch and Trevor Lipscombe, concern the charting of the Victorian coastline and debates about who was the first to do so. The focus of Gooch's piece is Western Port while that of Lipscombe is the Frenchman Baudin's mapping of the coast west of Port Phillip. Both articles discuss in some detail problems arising from the sources, and, in addition to throwing new light on the main issue, concur on the confusion created by Matthew Flinders'subsequent accounts, as well as on the contribution of early sealers to contemporary knowledge'.

'Sandstone Island',

Victorian Historical Journal, v 74, no. 1, April 2003, pp. 46-66.

Sandstone Island is a little Western Port island comprising only about 22 hectares and is now only inhabited by wild goats, but it has been peopled in the past. One of the discoveries made by the author in her research for the article was that there were rabbits in Victoria long before the legendary release of rabbits by the Austin family at Barwon Park.

‘Another Look at Marn grook’,

Sporting Traditions: journal of the Australian Society for Sporting History, vol. 32, no. 1, May 2015, pp. 39-57. To view the published pdfarticle click here

‘Why did Aboriginal Guides Co-operate?’,

Settlers and Guides in Victoria, 1835-1845’, History Australia, Vol. 15, no. 4, December 2018, pp. 785-803.

‘Ruth Gooch offers a revisionist assessment of the agency of Indigenous guides and other Indigenous people during the period of settlement.  Foregrounding local and personal motives, she argues that the Aboriginal people who assisted European settlers did not envisage that their efforts would lead to the wholesale loss of their territory.  Gooch argues that, before a widespread sense of the necessity of pan-Indigenous solidarity had developed, many Indigenous guides viewed early settlers individually rather than as the vanguard of a settler colonial wave, and sought to maximise their individual interests accordingly’.    Editors, History Australia.




Published in Tirra Lirra, Nation Review, Writing, Melbourne Herald.

Manuscripts Held:

First draft of Frontier French Island 

Comprises some 180,000 words, and contains a significant amount of unpublished material, mainly family history, not included in the published book.
Minute Book of the French Island Progress Association, 1916-1924. Badly water stained, but some of it is legible. See attachment under 'Transcript' tab

‘10 of the Best Australian Aboriginal History Titles’

To view press here