Rivers are cultural artefacts that have been transformed by significant human intervention. During the nineteenth century the gold-mining industry deposited large quantities of soil in rivers across South Eastern Australia. This project uses industrial archaeology, geomorphology and environmental chemistry to find out what happened to the rivers as a result. How much soil was moved? Where is it now on floodplains and in river beds? How far downstream did it get? Do the mine sediments contain contaminants that might be dangerous to people, plants and animals? Increasing our understanding of the impact of mining on rivers in Victoria leads to better management of catchments, more effective strategies to revegetate and control erosion, better information about implications for public health, and improved management of Aboriginal cultural heritage. It gives us a window into the long-term consequences of human activities that contribute to reshaping the Earth’s systems.