How can I research my ancestors coming by ship to Australia?

SA Maritime Museum Passengers Database

The place to begin researching ancestors coming to South Australia is our Passengers Database. It includes entries for 250,000 passengers who arrived between 1836 and 1961.

Museum volunteers are continuing research to bring the Database to 1975 when the Australis brought the last assisted immigrants to South Australia. You can access the database by visiting the Museum or searching online at

You can search by the name of the ship or a passenger. The entry will give you information including the dates it visited South Australia the names of passengers, the owner of the ship and the ports it visited.

With that information you can research further. With the date that the vessel was working you can refer to Lloyd’s Register which was published annually since 1775. 

Other passenger data bases online

There are data bases in some other states and overseas that you may find helpful.

Britain’s National Archives presents an online database of passengers leaving the United Kingdom for ports including Australia, New Zealand and others outside Europe. The database, called Ancestors Onboard, is free to search but there is a small charge to view records. You can visit it at

State Records NSW offers a number of searches online for passengers arriving in NSW as convicts, or assisted immigrants. You can visit

Queensland State Archives includes several indexes to passengers arriving in particular periods of the state’s history. You can visit

Public Record Office Victoria includes indexes to passengers arriving through most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. You can visit:

The Archives Office of Tasmania offers indexes to convict records online at