Historians have always been aware of the importance of localism or local loyalties in political life. This paper discusses in detail a number of large and small gold and base metal mining communities in the southern mining region of New South Wales during the nineteenth century. Aspects considered include the role of institutions such as progress associations and other more ephemeral gatherings, the nature of community debate and conflict, and the physical and economic environment. In gold mining settlements there was a much greater role for the independently minded working miners, the majority of whom fell within an aspirant middling class. By contrast, the vast majority of base metal miners and workers were employees. Localism was sometimes shaped by the hegemony which elites were able to exercise. It is argued that the specific nature of a mining community has important implications for the expression of localism.