50 Australian Websites For Family History

23 December 2009

Christmas Greetings! There are numerous ‘best of’ lists but rarely do they include Australian websites. This list reflects my own interests but I would welcome suggestions and would love to make it a Top 100 list.

Some websites fitted more than one category, especially the State archives and libraries as some of them have very active access and digitisation programs. However I have only included them in one category so be sure to explore the whole site and not just the section I chose to feature.

Lists are in alphabetical order as it was too hard to prioritise! Have a safe and happy festive season with family and friends and check out this list if and when you need time out for you. Enjoy!

Archives & Libraries

City of Sydney Archives

Some really interesting material here if you have an interest in early Sydney especially the Old Sydney Burial Ground.

National Archives of Australia

Great site for World War One dossiers (digitised and free access) and immigration post 1900 plus other records that might surprise people. Their Fact Sheets help to suggest further ideas for research.

National Library of Australia (TROVE)

TROVE is the new way to search the NLA’s collections all at the same time – changing the way we research. Bring it on!

State Library of Queensland  (John Oxley Library)

A sentimental favourite (I worked there on two occasions in the early 80s and again in the early 90s) – great photographs, oral history and manuscripts. Check out the State Library of Queensland while there too.

University of Melbourne Archives

A wealth of information here on a wide range of subject areas but I particularly like the Trade Unions and Women links. I just have to slip in some URLs here Australian Trade Union Association and Australian Womens Archive Project. There’s another two categories of websites – perhaps I need a bigger list?

Births Deaths & Marriages

New South Wales

Official BDMs free to search, and you can purchase online for $28 instead of the standard fee of $37


Searching of official BDMs is online and free but you can’t order online, you need to print and mail the form, cost $34

South Australia

Official BDM indexes are not online but the South Australian Genealogy & Heraldry Society have some very useful death and burial indexes and a new transcription service for BDMs.

Tasmania (Colonial Tasmanian Family Links Database)

Again another State where the official BDM indexes are not online. This  database can be quite useful but do read the introduction carefully as the Archives do not guarantee their accuracy.

Western Australia

Official BDMs are online, free to search but can’t be ordered online. Cost $31


Brisbane City Council Grave Location Search

This allows a search for all those buried in Brisbane cemeteries and it’s free and easy to use. Includes Bald Hills, Balmoral, Brookfield, Cedar Creek, Hemmant, Lutwyche, Moggill, Mount Gravatt, Nundah, Pinnarook, South Brisbane and Toowong.

Melbourne Necropolis

Includes Springvale Botanical Cemetery and St Kilda Cemetery. Free and easy to use.

Perth Metropolitan Cemeteries Board

Includes Guildford, Karrakatta, Midland, Pinnaroo and Fremantle. Free and easy to use.

South-East Queensland Cemeteries Headstones Photo Collection

This collection of headstone and memorial photos relates to cemeteries where there are no online lists of names. Compilers are based in Brisbane which explains the area covered. They try to photograph all memorials at a site and transcriptions are generally limited to genealogical information.

Tasmania Millington’s Southern Cemeteries

Includes Cambridge, Cornelian Bay, Derwent Valley, Eastern Shore, Huonville, Kingston, Moonah, Mornington and Southern Midlands. Simple to search and free.


Archives Office of Tasmania

Tasmanian convict records have been digitised and are online free of charge. Not the easiest to use but you can still see the images without travelling to Hobart.

Dead Persons Society (Perth)

Convicts to Australia: A Guide to Researching Your Convict Ancestors – a really useful place to start with convict research.

State Library of New South Wales (First Fleet archive)

An interesting illustrated look at the convict system, mostly on the First Fleet.

State Records New South Wales

Useful indexes and finding aids for anyone with convict ancestors in NSW and Norfolk Island.

State Records of Western Australia

Useful introduction to indexes and finding aids for WA convicts.

Digitised Records & Online Indexes

Australian War Memorial

Simply the best  for anything military in Australia. Also think we could have a Top Ten Australian military sites category without too much thinking. Maybe that category next time?

National Library of Australia eResources

Did you know that you can register with the NLA for subscription based eResources and have free access to a range of databases eg London Times 1785-1985, one of my favourites. 157 resources under Genealogy alone so check it out!

Public Record Office Victoria

Another sentimental favourite as I was part of the move into digitisation of records. PROVguide 23 lists online indexes, databases and digitised records. Don’t miss the free digitised wills and probates from 1841-1925. Also check out PROV’s online catalogue Access the Collection (ATC).

Queensland State Archives

Yes another old workplace and sentimental favourite but has wide range of indexes online and a copy service if you can’t visit.

State Library of Western Australia

Western Australia post office directories 1893-1949 are digitised and free. Great for anyone in WA. POD’s for some of the other States can be found in the Pay To View sites below.

Gateway Sites

Australian Cemeteries

A useful listing of cemeteries in Australia and whether online or not.

Australian Libraries Gateway

Another NLA resource but useful to find a library within Australia and also useful to find which libraries hold a particular book.  Pathways to Australian Information are really good for discovering what collections are out there. Serendipity plus!

Australian Society of Archivists – Directory of Archives

A useful list of archives in Australia including government, school, religious, business, sport and university archives. The Society is in the process of updating the Directory.

Cora Num – Websites for Genealogists

An Australian gateway site for tracing family history.

Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet – Australia

A USA based gateway site with an extensive category list which highlights  a wide range of resources and links for Australia.

Genealogy and Family History Societies

(This was a tough category so I have opted for the places I have lived and been a member plus where I did the Diploma of Family Historical Studies. It also has six entries not five as I have a rule that I join the major societies where ever I live and if there are two in that State, I join both. Plus I usually have friends in both.)

Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies

Based in Melbourne, has a range of members services and resources for website visitors.

Genealogy Society of Queensland

The usual members services plus a useful Directory of Links to Australia, UK, NZ and USA.

Genealogy Society of Victoria

Has an online bookshop, a range of interesting resources and services and a members only section including GIN (Genealogical Index of Names) with nearly 4 million entries. Some of the latter can also be accessed via Find My Past (see below in Pay to View).

Heraldry & Genealogy Society of Canberra

As well as the usual members services, the Society has a useful and interesting database relating to the Boer War.

Queensland Family History Society

Has an online bookshop, the usual members services and is a commercial partner with World Vital Records Australasia (see below in Pay to View).

Society of Australian Genealogists

A range of interesting resources and services to members and the casual website visitor including an online bookshop. SAG is a commercial partner with Find My Past (see below in Pay to View).

Immigration & Shipping

Australian National Maritime Museum

Has some very useful research guides including the Vaughan Evans Digital Library and online copies of Evan’s indexes to the Illustrated Sydney News 1853-1889; Illustrated London News 1842-1891; and Australasian Sketcher 1873-1889.

Lenore Frost’s Home Page

Another one of my personal favourites as Lenore has similar interests to me – shipping, women, military etc. Browse the whole site but don’t miss Ships Logs and Journals Aust & NZ.

Passenger Lists Arriving in Australian Ports

This is another Perth DPS project and worth a look.

Shipping and Passenger Records

This site is compiled by the Ballarat & District Genealogy Society and has some interesting and out of the ordinary links. Well worth a look.

State Records of South Australia

Passenger lists have been indexed directly into their online catalogue . Not the easiest to find on their website so I have given a direct link to it as well as the home page.

Newspapers and Photographs

Argus Online (Index)

This is an index online to the Argus (Melbourne) for 1870-1879.

Australian Newspapers

Absolutely magic site for digitised copies of Historic Australian Newspapers 1803-1854, a work in progress – I have found so much just by using keywords already.

Australian Newspapers Online

This is a useful listing of newspapers online, including contemporary newspapers. Very good if you want to find a newspaper or advertise or place an article in an existing newspaper. Not to be confused with the Historic Australian Newspapers site above.

Picture Australia

Search a wide range of cultural institutions for illustrations and photographs. So easy and free. Find that elusive photograph of your ancestor’s ship.

Ryerson Index

This is an index to contemporary death notices and obituaries in Australian newspapers. Over 2 million entries and 168 newspapers.

Pay to View Sites


Australian collection includes convicts, electoral rolls, immigration, directories etc. Subscription based with a range of payment options.

BDMs Victoria

The only pay to view the  indexes online  site in Australia. You can also order certificates online and receive digital copies.

Find My Past (FMP)

Not easy to find Aussie content but any Australian society who had contributed data to the Federation of Family History Societies  Family History Online , which was taken over by Find My Past in 2007 has content in FMP I believe. If anyone can enlighten me on how this works for Aussie content, it would be appreciated.

World Vital Records Australasia

Relatively easy to identify content State by State and very good for Queensland as QFHS is a commercial partner.


I should have a 5th Pay To View here but I have covered the main ones I use and I did slip 6 into the Genealogy & Family History Societies category so to keep it at 5o websites I am leaving this blank. At least that’s my story.


The above list is my frequently used  Top 50 Australian websites but I could easily add another 50. I would be interested to find out what others think and use. In fact there could be quite active debate on this topic.

Perhaps the next list will be a Top 100 Australian websites!

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  1. All for Aussie genealogy lists, you beaut. Hopefully this list will end up on page 1 of google.

  2. I was disturbed that The State Library NSW and State Records NSW did not appear in the first two categories until I saw them under convicts. NSW is more than convicts!!!

    Also State Records NSW has started to put images of passenger lists online, so it should be under immigration too!

    Another website that I use quite often is the NSW Dept Lands – for the historical parish maps, the current maps, and the copies of old titles – http://www.lands.nsw.gov.au. It’s not intuitive to navigate. And while I am on land records Google Maps has Australian portions marked on the maps, so you can find the portion and then go to satellite view to see what’s there now. I don’t know if it does that for other countries, I’ve never seen it mentioned.

    It’s a good list, I am struggling to come up with any additions!

  3. Great list. I also love the new Archives Office of Tasmania Index to Wills & Letters of Administration 1824-1989 – can also download images of the documents.

  4. Hey Shauna! Long time now speak!

    Just thought I might suggest another couple of State Library of Queensland resources that would be useful in your list:

    1. http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/info/fh – our Information for Family Historians page – includes links to a number of online indexes put together by State Library staff and volunteers over the years;
    2. http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/info/fh/convicts – the Convict transportation registers database – a searchable database for over 123,000 of the 160,000 convicts sent to Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries.

    Hope everything is well with you, and have a good Xmas!


  5. I did say that I struggled to fit the major State archives and libraries into only one category because they have so much to offer. Reflecting on my list I have got the NLA in many categories and my old friend Steve in his comment gave more refs to State Library of Qld. I will do an additional category for those who fit multiple categories. All I need is a catchy name for it. Suggestions please!

  6. Thanks for additional refs – see also response to Carole. Good to see you are still at SLQ and reading this blog! All the best in 2010. Shauna

  7. Thanks all for comments and suggestions – already working on the update! Most appreciated. Shauna

  8. hi Shauna

    Great list. You asked about the Australian info on Findmypast: it appears to be under parish records (though fairly well hidden). This blog elaborates: http://blog.findmypast.co.uk/2009/06/australian-records-are-here/

    My extra sites would include the various cemetery ones:
    http://www.catholiccemeteries.org.au/ (for Sydney especially Rookwood, Catholic)
    http://www.rookwoodindependent.com.au/deceased.aspx (again Rookwood)
    and one of the earliest grave search possibilities:
    http://ww2.toowoombarc.qld.gov.au/index.php?option=com_gravefinder&view=burials&Itemid=2 (Drayton & Toowoomba cemetery)
    You’re right -it would be very easy to hit a magic 100


    Hope this helps

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