Each ship chartered by the Colonization Commissioners had what was called a 'Charter Party', which on larger vessels could consist of a:

  • Surgeon- Superintendent
  • Schoolmaster
  • Hospital Assistant
  • Nurse
  • Matron
  • number of Constables (both male and female, selected from the emigrants themselves)
  • Cook and a Cook's Assistant
  • Issuer of Stores.

Records Held

We hold many records relating to immigration to South Australia from 1836 onwards, with a full set of digitised passenger lists from 1845 - 1940.

This page focuses on the records about ships arriving in South Australian ports. We also hold records relating to:

National Archives of Australia has records of:

  • Passenger lists for all Australian ports from 1924
  • Passenger lists for arrivals in South Australia from 1941, and
  • British and Foreign crew from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Access conditions

Given the time that has already passed, most of these records are open for general public access.

Researching the records

If you already know the name of the ship, or the year of arrival, you can use these indexes to identify passenger list or source of other information about the ship's arrival.

If you don't yet know the name of the ship or year of arrival, try searching the Indexes to passenger lists or immigration schemes first.

Indexes and Digitised records

By year - 1836 to 1849

This is an index of the names of ships arriving in South Australia from overseas, arranged chronologically.

Entries within the index have been taken from newspapers, printed sources and government lists. Make note of the key to source references at the front of the index.

GRG 56/68/4 - Chronological list of ships arriving at South Australian ports from overseas ports 1836 - 1849

By year - 1849 to 1885

This series consists of papers related to ships chartered by the Colonization Commissioners to convey assisted emigrants to South Australia between 1849 and 1885.

This index is arranged chronologically by year, and then alphabetically by the name of the ship. It is only a partial list of the passenger ships arriving in South Australia.

Index to GRG 35/48/2 - Immigrant Ships' Papers, 1849 – 1885 >

Digitised copies of these records are available on FamilySearch - Immigrant ships' papers 1849-1885 (GRG 35/48/2)

By year - 1888 to 1940

This series contains official passenger lists of ships arriving in Port Adelaide from overseas.

This index is arranged chronologically and then alphabetically by ship's name.

Index to GRG 41/34 - Index to ships (by year) and Passenger Lists (by number) 1888 - 1940

This index was compiled by former State Records staff during the 1970s and 1980s while assisting researchers with shipping enquiries. The index acquired its name due to the index cards being filed in a small cake tin.

References point to sources now in both State Records ('GRG' references) and the State Library of South Australia (all other references).

This index is arranged alphabetically by the name of the ship.

GRG 56/68/48 Miscellaneous references to immigrant ships, c.1836 - c. 1900   A - Z

Shipwrecks by region - 1836 to 1976

This index to shipping casualties divides the state into regions, and describes the major shipwrecks that have occurred in each region.

This list is arranges the state into 19 sections.

GRG 56/68/34 Shipping Casualties: Regional Index 1836 - 1976

Page last updated: 5 September 2022