The following announcement was written by the folks at Findmypast.com:
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 findmypast.com.au.
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 findmypast.com.au.
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 findmypast.com.au 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 findmypast.com.au says “These 3.3 million new records will be added to findmypast.com.au’s existing database of over 8 billion records, from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland and the US. Findmypast.com.au 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 findmypast.com.au 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.