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Ships and maritime history: Shipwrecks and shipping losses

The State Library has one of the best shipping and maritime history collections in Australia. It includes books, periodicals, newspapers, shipping registers and several substantial pictorial collections.

Shipwrecks and shipping losses

PRG 280/1/15/235
Lifeboat from the steamer Clan Ranald 1909. View more information about this image hereNo known copyright restrictions Conditions of use

In South Australia there is no centralised primary source of information on shipwrecks and losses. Details for vessels lost usually have to be researched through secondary sources.


The State Library has two main indexes to shipwrecks in South Australian and Australasian waters. These indexes are available for use in the Library only. If you would like Library staff to check the index on your behalf, please Ask Us.

Wrecks and casualties concerning Australia and New Zealand : compiled by Ronald Parsons from contemporary newspaper reports, records of the Registrar of British ships in Australia and New Zealand and other official and semi-official sources. This annotated index is much more reliable and comprehensive than any published works on the subject.

Temme Collection : a 28-volume series of research notes relating to shipwrecks on South Australian coasts from 1836-1990, and its companion card index which may be used to access this information. Compiled by Ronald Temme, the research notes comprise copies of mostly newspaper reports, occasional articles from magazines and books, and extracts from official documents related to shipwrecks and shipping incidents. The Temme Index of SA Shipwrecks is a companion card index containing alphabetical and chronological lists from 1836-1991. Cards give ship name, date, and usually the nature of the shipwreck or shipping incident.

Australian primary resources

The Australasian Underwater Cultural Heritage Database (AUCHD) includes all known shipwrecks in Australian waters. Features include the capacity to attach images to shipwrecks, the ability to link shipwrecks to relics recovered from shipwreck sites, site environment information for divers and site managers and a history field with the ability to attach documents that include names of passengers and crew.

Search the Passenger arrival records held at the National Archives of Australia.

Trove This provides access to Australian digitised fulltext newspapers - available to search for free online.