Customs houses in South Australia – Fact sheet 92

The Old Customs House in Robe, South Australia, 1974
Old Customs House in Robe, South Australia (A6135, K19/3/74/64)

Prior to Federation in 1901 the South Australian colonial Customs Department maintained a number of offices at points of entry to the colony for the collection of customs duties.

The most important Customs House was located at Port Adelaide. Other Customs houses were at Beachport, McDonnell Bay, Port Augusta, Port Pirie, Robe, and Wallaroo. These buildings, along with customs and excise related properties at locations such as Semaphore, and Terowie, were transferred to the Commonwealth at Federation. Properties at Robe and Beachport were returned to South Australian government ownership in 1920.

Records of Customs House buildings

The National Archives office in Adelaide holds records relating to a number of the Customs House buildings. Information about the National Archives holdings relating to other Australian customs houses is available in the following fact sheets:

Architectural drawings

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemSemaphore Boarding Station1824–1958D1051, NN
ItemWallaroo Customs House1862–1911D1051, NN
ItemPort Pirie Customs House (old Court House)1882–1970D1051, NN
ItemPort Augusta Customs House1884–1919D1051, NN
ItemPort Germein Customs House1890D1051, NN
ItemPort MacDonnell Post Office and Customs House1908D1051, folder 113A drawing 1
ItemCustoms and Excise quarters – Reynella1932D1051, folder 24A drawing 1
ItemCustoms and Excise quarters – Renmark1933D1051, folder 24A drawing 5
ItemCustoms and Excise quarters – Tanunda1935D1051, folder 24A drawing 8
ItemCustoms and Excise quarters – Nuriootpa1936D1051, folder 24A drawing 6
ItemCustoms and Excise quarters – Lyndoch1936D1051, folder 24A drawing 4

Correspondence records relating to Customs Houses in South Australia

Records held by other institutions

State Records of South Australia holds many nineteenth century records relating to Customs Houses. These include correspondence records of the Colonial Secretary's Department and drawings of the Colonial Architect. The South Australiana photographic collection at the State Library of South Australia is also a valuable source.

State Records of South Australia
GPO Box 464
Adelaide SA 5001

Tel: (08) 8343 6800
Fax: (08) 8204 8777

Research Centre:
115 Cavan Road
Gepps Cross SA 5094

State Library of South Australia
Corner North Terrace and Kintore Avenue, Adelaide

GPO Box 419
Adelaide SA 5001

Tel: (08) 8207 7250
Fax: (08) 8207 7247

Records of Customs control of Murray River trade

Very few records of South Australian Customs control of pre-Federation trade on the Murray River are known to have survived. This subject has been covered in the following article:

Ewins, Ken, ‘Murray Trade and Customs Control’, Australian Customs History Journal, no. 3, 1991.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017