Maritime records held in Hobart

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

Title or description of record Date range Series number
Registers of British Shipping for the Port of Launceston 1846– P559
Ships' registration papers for the Port of Hobart 1873–1982 P1087
Ships registration papers for the Port of Launceston 1875–1947 P560
Merchant Shipping Act correspondence files 1927– P558

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. See Passenger records held in Hobart for further information.

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

Collection references

Title or description of record Date range Series number
Passenger lists and crew lists (outward) – Port of Hobart 1903–51 P2004
Passenger lists and crew lists (inward) – Port of Hobart 1903–51 P2005

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 and shipwrecks)
  • Antarctic voyage reports
  • an extensive collection of material relating to Tasmanian lighthouses, such as log books, lighthouse service forms and correspondence files. Please see Lighthouse records held in Hobart.