Maritime records held in Hobart – Fact sheet 37

The National Archives Hobart Office holds maritime records dating from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These records were created by the Tasmanian colonial government and then the Commonwealth Government from 1901. They include records relating to functions such as customs administration, vessel registration, passenger arrivals and departures, lighthouses and navigation, as well as a range of other matters associated with shipping activities in and around the island state of Tasmania.

The records come in a variety of formats including individual documents, registers, maps and files.


Many of the famous vessels which plied (and in some cases still ply) Tasmanian waters are referred to in the records. The better known vessels include the Hobart ferries Cartela, Moonah, Togo, Endeavour and Derwent, the schooners Alma Doepel, Rooganah and Kermandi, the ketches May Queen, Huon Chief, Foam, Heather Belle and Good Intent and the barque James Craig.

The records relating to vessels include:

  • declarations of ownership
  • certificates of survey
  • certificates of British registry
  • British shipping register volumes
  • builder’s certificates.

Records relating to Tasmanian maritime vessels

Examples of record series dealing with Tasmanian maritime vessels are listed below.

Collection references

Passengers and crew records

Also held are the registers and lists of passengers disembarking and embarking at Tasmanian ports in the early twentieth century and lists of crew aboard the vessels. These are an invaluable aid to family historians as well as recalling an era when steam ships such as the SS Athenic, SS Corinthic and SS Arawa regularly paid visits to Tasmania.

Arrival and departure records of passenger and crew for the port of Hobart are listed below. Details of passenger arrival records held for other Tasmanian ports are also available in our Hobart office.

Records of passenger arrivals for the period before Federation are held at the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office.

Collection references

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesPassenger lists and crew lists (outward) – Port of Hobart1903–51P2004
SeriesPassenger lists and crew lists (inward) – Port of Hobart1903–51P2005

Other subjects

A variety of other maritime-related records are also held. These include:

  • registers of wrecks and disasters
  • letter books
  • Certificates of Competency
  • some Admiralty charts
  • inquiries into maritime related incidents (eg collisions, sinkings, shipwrecks)
  • Antarctic voyage reports
  • an extensive collection of material relating to Tasmanian lighthouses, such as logbooks, lighthouse service forms and correspondence files.

Availability of records

All the records described in this fact sheet are available for public access once they enter the open access period.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019