Friday, August 26, 2016

Findmypast grant free access to entire Australian collection to celebrate the release of new passenger lists

Victoria Coastal Passenger Lists provide a fascinating snapshot of life during the Australian Gold rushes and beyond

Findmypast has today announced its largest release of Australian records to date, giving first-time online access to records from one of Australian history’s most exciting periods, the Gold Rush. Released in partnership with FamilySearch and Public Record Office Victoria (PROV), the 3.3 million records consist of Victoria Coastal Passenger Lists spanning 1852 to 1924 and can only be found on

In the early 1850s, a number of significant gold discoveries were reported in Australia, sparking a mass wave of migration from around the country and internationally, as men, women and children uprooted their lives to travel to Victoria to make their fortune. The population of Australia exploded; in 1852 alone, 370,000 immigrants arrived in Australia, and 1.7million people had made the journey by 1871.

Daniel Wilksch, Digital Projects Coordinator at Public Record Office Victoria says "These records document the passenger lists for ships entering and leaving Victoria from the mid nineteenth century until the early twenties, providing a vital missing piece of the puzzle for anyone wanting to track their ancestors' movements into and around Australia during this particularly fascinating time in the country's history. We are delighted to be part of making these records more accessible to the public."

The new records reveal that the average passenger arriving into Australia via a long and treacherous journey by sea was 30 years of age, and the most active ports were Melbourne, London, Sydney, Marseille (France), Cape Town (South Africa) and Colombo (Sri Lanka). The top occupation noted in the 1850s was some form of ‘gold miner’ or ‘gold seeker’ whilst ‘tourist’ was most popular in the 1920s.The variance in occupations during these periods reflects the mass migration caused by the gold rush, and in 1852 there are eight times as many men than women listed as passengers. This correlates with the knowledge that a number of men abandoned their families in their search for gold, leading to a spike in crime and vagrancy among the wives and children left behind, evidence of which can be found in the Victoria Prison Registers, also available on

Other records available on findmypast also shine a light on some of the amazing success stories from the rush, including the 1869 discovery in Victoria of the ‘Welcome Stranger’, the biggest alluvial nugget ever found. The ‘Welcome Stranger’ weighed in at a whopping 97kg and would have been worth AUD $4,934,858 in today’s money. Records available on contain the birth, marriage and death details of Richard Oates and John Deason who discovered the nugget, allowing us to know that Oates returned to England to marry, but emigrated back to Australia and eventually died on his 800 acre farm in Marong in 1906. Deason made some poor investments in gold mining and died a storekeeper in Moliagul in 1915.

Vicki Dawson, Country Manager at says "These 3.3 million new records will be added to's existing database of over 8 billion records, from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland and the US. has all the technology in place to allow you to begin your fantastic genealogical journey from the second you enter our website with straightforward templates to allow you to start building a family tree."

From August 26 to 29 are giving FREE access to their entire collection of Australian records – including the newly released Victorian coastal passenger lists to help Australians to connect with their family both past and present.

About is the sister-site to leading UK family history website, which launched in April 2003. It was the first website in the world to publish the UK’s England & Wales birth, marriage and death records online in 2003 and has since published hundreds of millions of family history records online to customers around the world. Findmypast owns and operates a number of other leading family history websites including GenesReunited, they have years of experience in operating family history websites that help make your family history easier, and managing hundreds of millions of records online. works in partnership with all the leading experts in UK family history, including The National Archives of the United Kingdom on pioneering projects such as the 1911 census for England & Wales, outbound UK passenger lists and British Army pension records; the Federation of Family History Societies on parish records dating back to 1538; and the Society of Genealogists on special collections.

About PROV

Public Record Office Victoria is the archives of the State Government of Victoria. We hold approximately 100kms of records from the mid 1830s to today, which we manage for use by the Government and people of Victoria.
The Collection includes memories of events and decisions great and small that have shaped the history of the Colony and State of Victoria, as well as records of immigration and shipping, criminal trials and prisons, premiers and governors, royal commissions, boards of inquiry, wills and probates and more. Visit for more information.