The South Australian Maritime Museum preserves the oldest nautical collection in Australia. In 1872 the Port Adelaide Institute began a museum collection to complement its library and its educational and social programs. That collection grew over the following century reflecting the seafarers and the ships that visited Port Adelaide. It is now held in trust at the South Australian Maritime Museum.

The Maritime Museum’s collections ranges from the Port Adelaide Lighthouse that was first lit in 1869 to a plaque that explorer Matthew Flinders left at Memory Cove in 1802 to mark the loss of eight seafarers. It includes figureheads, nautical instruments, bathing costumes, shipwreck artefacts, paintings, models and vessels.

Our scope is the maritime heritage of South Australia from the coast to inland waters. The collection of over almost 20,000 objects and over 20,000 images is at once a window to the heritage of the local community and to the ships of the world.

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HMCS Protector Collection

The collection of personal memorabilia and official material captures the history of South Australia's colonial naval vessel HMCS Protector. The vessel was built for the South Australian government in response to a directive from the British government that the colonies acquire gunboats or torpedo boats and man these with locally recruited men to protect the major ports. Protector arrived in South Australia in 1884. The collection comprises more than 90 artefacts relating to the history of this specific vessel including paintings, photographs and documents, and personal mementos.