At Ancestry.com there are searchable Census Records for New South Wales (NSW) but no other states - are these available elsewhere?

I am particularly interested in any from South Australia (but other states too) because I have hundreds of ancestors and relatives from there (dating back to at least 1849) and would like to fill in the story of where they lived, and what they did to a level of detail greater than Births, Deaths and Marriages (which I am also occasionally missing). I can get some of that from digitised newspapers at Trove but with Census records of England and Wales for the same period being so accessible, I had hoped Australian access might be comparable.

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    Hi Poly, one suggestion. You could edit your question to also describe a specific problem you're trying to solve. This would give the question context and also help answers give you resources that will hit the target/not be things you've already tried that didn't work. This would also avoid the answers just being a list of things. Hope this helps! :)
    – jmort253
    Oct 17, 2012 at 22:06
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    @jmort253 - I've updated Question with more context - it's not one or a few Census Records I hope to find but potentially many hundreds.
    – PolyGeo
    Oct 18, 2012 at 1:26

2 Answers 2


Each Australian state (at the time colony) was responsible for their own census before federation in 1901. In most cases, not much exists now.

The State Library of Victoria has a comprehensive survey of early census and census substitutes for all states, but most detailed for Victoria (click on the state names on their heading).

Their South Australia page says the only surviving SA census is for 1841. There's a name index (without addresses) at Adelaide Proformat. It's a commercial site that then offers details for a fee, or a CDROM can be purchased.

1841 is probably a bit early for you. The State Library of South Australia Family History page has some more pointers, but very little of what they link to is online.

The births, marriages and deaths are (as you probably know) well indexed for the later 19c century. For others who may not know, see the "online databases" page at Genealogy SA.


I would recommend that you begin at the State Library of Victoria research guides that provide a good overview of the situation in all colonies and a number of relevant links.

The book Tracing Your Family History in Australia: A National Guide to Sources, 3rd ed., by Nick Vine Hall (ISBN 1864043849, 9781864043846) includes detailed coverage of early census records.

You need to be aware that in the early days of the colonies, authorities were less concerned with who people were than with how many of them and where they were. You will probably find records that enumerated by did not name individual people. The first Census of Queensland was conducted in 1861 and the surviving report is rich in statistical summary but short on personal detail.

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