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DNA & Genealogy

Australian state-based genealogy resources

Australia’s state-based online information resources can provide vital records to help you grow your family tree or relocate living relatives.  If you are just starting your family history research, read about Australia's free national resources first, to locate records of any interactions your family may have had with the government - such as immigration, military service, naturalisation, and patent applications.  Also look for news or family announcements published in newspapers.


NAA service record

Details revealed in Australia's national resources may provide clues to help you pin-point and refine your searches in the relevant state records, and vice versa.


Information to be found in the free national records may include addresses or states, occupations and skills, employment sponsors, character references, physical descriptions, medical records, details of next-of-kin, parents, spouses and children, place of birth, letters, signatures, and sometimes even photos.


States & Territories

Australia consists of six states and two main territories, with each administering their own government information resources and providing different levels of coverage and online access to historical records. Some online offerings are very generous, and some quite limited.

For early periods, note the evolution of the states and territories, as it may impact your research (eg. Victorian records prior to 1851 and Queensland records prior to 1859 may be included in NSW).


1899 Map of Australia

"SKETCH MAP OF AUSTRALIA." West Australian Sunday Times
(Perth, WA : 1897 - 1902) 2 Apr 1899: 5. Web. 7 Jun 2014


Search Strategy

The timeframe for searching will be different for every family, and in every state, but the starting point for state-based family research in Australia is generally the state registries of births, deaths and marriages, and state archives/records offices and libraries (see links further below).


To trace your Australian families backwards, start with yourself and follow the BDM certificate trail for each line, combined with clues from other records to locate the various families’ places of origin.

  • Utilise immigration records, naturalisation records, obituaries, wills and probate documents, cemetery and headstone records, land records, employment and education details, newspaper articles and family notices, children’s birth/marriage records, and photo collections online.
Living relatives

To locate your living relatives or their descendants in Australia, start tracing forwards from clues in immigration records or early electoral roll information.

  • BDM certificate availability is restricted for recent generations/decades, although some states publish marriages indexes up to 1965, deaths indexes up to 1988, and will & probate records to more recent years.
  • Electoral rolls are available online at Ancestry and FindMyPast for most states up to 1980, so children born up to late 1962 may be included, possibly with their parents.
  • More recent electoral rolls are available in some local and state library collections.  Current electoral rolls (in electronic form) can only be inspected in person at any Australian Electoral Commission office (no photos or digital copies can be taken).
  • Electoral rolls include full names and occupations, and addresses that can be cross-checked with current telephone directories to see if a family member still resides at the same address.
  • Search social media profiles and school reunion sites.
  • Contact me for assistance in tracing living relatives.


Search Tips

Search online family trees for clues and connections.


Table Talk newspaper header


State-based Resources



New South Wales




Victorian death certificate


Western Australia


South Australia



  • Tasmania has combined its state library, archives, heritage and other community information services into one online service, LINC Tasmania.
  • LINC includes free digitised content such as convict records, directories, photos, passenger & ship arrivals, early census indexes, inquests, naturalisations, wills, and more.
  • Linc Tasmanian Archives & Heritage Office Commons have published great photo resources on Flickr.
  • Linc Tasmania Family History Guides
  • Tasmanian Birth, Death and Marriage early indexes are now available to browse for free on FamilySearch, but are not indexed. Indexes are available at FamilySearch (Births & Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths & Burials). [See Gould Genealogy’s Blog for helpful instructions]. A link to forms and fee information for ordering certificates is also on the Tas BDM site.

 Sample convict description


Northern Territory


Australian Capital Territory



Note that some of the indexes listed above are included in Ancestry, FindMyPast and FamilySearch, and are also accessible at many local libraries (online, CD or microfilm/fiche).

If you can’t locate a record in one particular index, try another, as their different search criteria and algorithms can produce or prioritise different results.


Additional Resources

Sample will from PROVSupplementary to the state-based government records are resources provided by genealogy, family history, local history and historical groups and societies.

Genealogy portals such as Cyndi’s List Australia and Cora Num’s Websites for Genealogists provide further links to Local History Resources, Family History Societies & Groupscemetery indexes (useful for monumental inscriptions), the Ryerson Index (death, funeral and obituaries index from recent newspapers), and numerous other useful sources.


Reconstruct & Connect

Every family history is unique, so there is no ‘one formula’ that works for everyone in tracing either their ancestors or their living relatives.

Link all the information and clues found using the above state-based resources, together with the free national resources, the non-government sources and commercial/subscription database resources, to reconstruct your families.

Strategic use of the above resources – particularly immigration, naturalisation, birth, death and marriage indexes and certificates, electoral rolls and newspaper announcements – can usually rebuild your family tree backwards enough to countries of origin and forwards enough to find and reconnect with living relatives.


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