Australia Emigration and Immigration

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Ship Bega of the Illawarra Steam Navigation Company

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Guide to penal transportation records: Ireland to Australia, 1788–1868

The Irish Ancestor[edit | edit source]

There are many Indexes in The Irish Ancestor, of convicts requesting wife and children to be sent out to Australia, at the government's expense.

New South Wales[edit | edit source]

Queensland[edit | edit source]

Victoria[edit | edit source]

South Australia[edit | edit source]


Tasmania[edit | edit source]

Western Australia[edit | edit source]

Australia Offices to Contact[edit | edit source]

National Archives of Australia
National Office
Kings Avenue
Parkes ACT 2600

Phone:02 6212 3600

  • Research Guides

Finding the Town of Origin in Australia[edit | edit source]

If you are using emigration/immigration records to find the name of your ancestors' town in Australia, see Australia Finding Town of Origin for additional research strategies.

Australia Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

"Emigration" means moving out of a country. "Immigration" means moving into a country.
Emigration and immigration sources list the names of people leaving (emigrating) or arriving (immigrating) in the country. These sources may be passenger lists, permissions to emigrate, or records of passports issued. The information in these records may include the emigrants’ names, ages, occupations, destinations, and places of origin or birthplaces. Sometimes they also show family groups.

Immigration into Australia[edit | edit source]

  • Between 1788 and 1900 over 1,000,000 people immigrated to Australia. Most of them were from the British Isles, but some were from Europe and Asia.
  • Prior to 1900 there were four classes of immigrants to Australia:
  • Convicts sent to Australia after they were tried and convicted for crimes committed in the British Isles. Tasmania and New South Wales were the states that received most of the convicts before 1830.
  • Bounty immigrants were chosen by Australian colonists to come from the British Isles to Australia.
  • Assisted immigrants came to Australia through the financial assistance of the government, organizations, or wealthy individuals.
  • Paying passengers came to Australia through their own means.

General[edit | edit source]

The National Archives of Ireland has a searchable index database on the Internet for transportation records of Irish convicts sent to Australia between 1788 and 1868. Over 38,000 names are indexed on the Ireland - Australia Transportation Web site.

Ship Passenger Lists for all areas in the 1800's

For the period before 1825, check local newspapers.[1]

Family History in South Australia[edit | edit source]

Australia with South Australia highlighted.png

South Australian Shipping Lists 1836 - 1851
[edit | edit source]

Our aim has been to gather as many South Australian passenger lists as possible between 1836 and the 1860s.  To December 2004 we have over 2000, most of which are now available for you to view.  We also have a number of passenger lists for ships which arrived in South Australia after the 1860s. A Database has also been created from all these passenger lists currently 52,000 families. We are currently considering how to make this available to you as a searchable database (possible on a CD).

This site also has searchable databases, you will need to have the year and the name of the ship in order to locate passenger lists.  There doesn't appear to be a searchable passenger list available.

Passengers in History : An initiative of the South Australian Maritime Museum.

19th Century Australian Shipping[edit | edit source]

19th Century Shipping

Into South Australia - list of ships only

This site provides resources for family history research on South Australians and includes a searchable database of SA Passenger Lists up to 1850 for more than 1200 voyages.

The ShipsList website, online since August 1999, will help you find your ancestors on ships' passenger lists. We also have immigration reports, newspaper records, shipwreck information, ship pictures, ship descriptions, shipping-line fleet lists and more; as well as hundreds of passenger lists to Canada, USA, Australia and even some for South Africa. Be sure to check the "special projects" section.

We have over 3,000 totally free access web-pages with new databases added regularly,
To make best use of your visit, use the Navigation-bars (buttons and text) which are on the top of every page, to help you find your way around.

This is another new project of immigrants arriving in South Australia, from Germany. It is currently up to 1856.  These lists have been transcribed from the original passenger lists, by Robert Janmaat of Adelaide, who has generously shared them with The Ships List. Where available, extracts regarding a particular ship have been included, from the Sydney Shipping Gazette and the South Australian Register. The South Australian Government Gazette (return showing deaths on board Emigrant ships 1849 to 5th June 1865) has also been consulted.

note: the original lists were created by an individual unfamiliar with German names, so name spellings from the Biographical index SA (BISA) have been included in brackets. The list below has been compiled from a variety of sources such as the BISA, the Birth-Death-Marriage (BDM) index, the newspaper list (above), online research and has also been cross-checked to a list by Dulcie Love, long time convenor of the Germanic research group at the South Australian Heraldry Genealogy Society (SAGHS). There are a few gaps in this list, but from my experience in researching German passenger lists, I have found that quite a few German settlers migrated from South Australia to Victoria and Queensland.  Robert Janmaat

Clicking on the hyper-links for each year highlighted, will take you directly to the list of ships for that year. Clicking on each ship will give you a passenger list, with in some cases the maiden name of the wife, the list also gives the age of the person.  You will find that young adults are listed separately from their parents and siblings.

Other[edit | edit source]

Links to other South Australian Resources (clicking on off-site links will open a new browser window)

Where available, extracts regarding a particular ship have been included, from the Sydney Shipping Gazette and the South Australian Register. The South Australian Government Gazette (return showing deaths on board Emigrant ships 1849 to 5th June 1865) has also been consulted.

Name Search:[edit | edit source]

Even if you have the basic details, you may still be unable to locate information since some passenger lists have not survived to present day. Over time, a number were lost or accidentally destroyed. Fires caused by lamps and candles were responsible for the destruction of many early South Australian records.

Passenger lists for ships travelling between the colonies are scarce as these records were not required by immigration and remained the property of the shipping companies. As ship travel declined, shipping companies either closed or amalgamated and their records were lost in the process.

The movement of people travelling overland within Australia, as a general rule, was either not recorded or has not survived. The State Library does hold a limited amount of information regarding immigration to some of the other colonies.

Despite these limitations, thousands of immigrant names are available at the State Library for your perusal.

South Australian Shipping and Immigration

Notes and tips:[edit | edit source]

From the source material (Official passenger lists mainly of immigrants arriving in South Australia under UK assisted passage 1845-86) formerly known as Source 313, then GRG35/48a and now GRG35/48/1 at State Records (SA), this section lists the vessels whose records survive in some form from 1836 to 1886.

The number of voyages with surviving records number just 749 and the material available for each list varies considerably. The material you do locate may include any of the following:

An embarkation list prepared by the agent or emigration agents.

A passenger manifest prepared by the captain.

Certificate of arrival prepared by the immigration officials.

Sundry lists created for other purposes such as fee-payers, land-holders.

Hint: Read the first page header of the shipping list carefully to determine what you are looking at!  Problems include:

  • Survival rate of lists is poor.
  • Lists may not be a true indication of the immigrants who actually arrived.
  • Writing is often difficult to decipher.
  • Useful information on origins is rare.
  • Teenagers in families are split off and listed as single men or single women.
  • Departure and arrival date may vary from record to record.
  • Fee-paying passengers usually not recorded.
  • Crew never recorded except in manifests.

Emigration and immigration records, such as the ones previously described, are deposited in Australian national archives, state archives, and other local repositories and archives. Click on the state archive link in the Archives and Libraries article to learn more.

Emigrants Leaving Another Country[edit | edit source]

Some information about emigrants leaving country were also kept. These outward-bound records include the names of passenger and crew members and sometimes additional information such as an individual’s age, marital status, occupation, and nationality.

Between 1848 and 1850 over 4,000 adolescent female orphans emigrated from Irish workhouses to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide on the other side of the world. Their emigration has become known as the ‘Earl Grey scheme’ after its principal architect, Earl Grey, Secretary of State for the Colonies in Lord John Russell’s Whig government at the time of the Great Irish Famine.

The Australian Famine Orphan Monument lists lists the names of 400 of the girls brought to the colonies of Australia from Ireland under this scheme.

National Archives of Ireland also has records of Irish who were transported to Australia.  Enter 'Australia' in the search box to discover the many subjects covered .

Britain Outward Passenger Lists from Britain On-line 1890-1960. Departure records before 1890 have not survived.

From Germany In an article by Karl Werner Klüber were listed emigrants from Hamburg bound for Australia in the years 1849-1851. The lists of passengers can be found in the periodical GENEALOGIE Heft 4, April 1966 page 186, available through the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah (FHL book number  943 B2gf .)

Greek Immigration to Australia

Books about Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

  • Vine Hall, Nick. Tracing Your Family History in Australia: a guide (Family History Library Call Number 994 D23V . There are also several source books about how to find emigration and immigration records. These books are listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:


To find these records at the Family History Library, look in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog for a lengthy listing of sources under:




Indexes of emigration and immigration records are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog under:




A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

  • Listen to the podcast: Transportation to Australia Over 162,000 British and Irish convicts were transported to Australia between 1787 and 1868. Roger Kershaw explores the reasons behind the policy of transportation and looks at the experiences of the people who were shipped beyond the seas, using case studies from the archives.

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Australia,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1990-1999.