Ships and shipping

Find technical information, pictures, logs and histories of passenger and cargo ships.

Historical ships' movements

Logs, diaries, journals & letters

Log of logs is a catalogue of logs, journals, shipboard diaries, letters, and all forms of voyage narratives, 1788 to 1988, for Australia and New Zealand and surrounding oceans by Ian Nicholson in 3 volumes.

As the Library has collected many shipboard diaries and letters since Log of Logs was published, it is also worth searching our Manuscripts collection via the catalogue:  

Australia New Zealand UK mails  The primary focus of this two-volume work is to show how packet mails between the UK and Australia/New Zealand travelled and how such letters were rated to 1900. In doing that it includes a wealth of information on the shipping lines involved, the ships and the routes that they ran.

Explore some often overlooked aspects of an immigrants' journey, with our Ask a Librarian video, 'To the land of hope! Mid 19th century voyages from the UK to Victoria'. Topics include: motivations for emigrating, making preparations, leaving home for the last time, arriving at the port of departure, the voyage and life on board the ship. 

Ships' medical journals

Convict ships, medical journals - 1816 to 1867 lists medical journals for many convict ships and some emigrant ships. These medical journals have been copied as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) and subsequently digitised by the National Library of Australia (NLA), which means you can now view them online. 

The medical journals are from two different 'classes' of the Public Records Office (PRO) Series:

Admiralty Class 101 - 1816 to 1856
Journals kept by surgeons on convict ships, travelling to Australia, 1816-1856, emigrant ships bound for Australia and New Zealand, 1825-1853, and selected journals from naval vessels. The journals may contain an account of the treatment of medical and surgical cases, and usually a copy of the daily sick list, statistical abstracts of the incidence of diseases, and general comments on the health and activities of the ship's company.

Ministry of Transport Class 32 - 1858 to 1867
Series MT 32. Admiralty Transport Department. Surgeon superintendents' journals of convict ships, 1858 - 1867
Records inherited and created by the Ministry of Transport, Shipping Divisions. Surgeon Superintendents' Journals of Convict Ships...


To view the medical journal from convict ship Lincelles:

1. Go to AJCP Series MT 32, Admiralty Transport Department. Surgeon superintendents' journals of convict ships, 1858-1867

2. Locate Lincelles in list of convict ships and click on thumbnail image of journal entry (see below)

3. Choose a page to view and double-click for larger image

The AJCP reels are also available on microfilm here at the Library. Note the reel and piece number references given in the Convict ships, medical journals website to help you quickly locate the correct reel and journal during your visit.


Newspapers are a good source of shipping information, especially arrivals and departures, as historic newspapers often include a shipping column, sometimes called shipping intelligence. For example, The Argus newspaper had a daily column that lists ships arriving and departing Melbourne, as well as some other shipping news, such as shipwrecks.

For more information about finding shipping information in newspapers look at the guide How to find items in newspapers.

Newspaper shipping indexes

Use shipping indexes to find references to ships in newspapers.


Ozships provides details of shipping movements for Australia and New Zealand from 1788 to 1968.

The lists are far from complete, but provide details that have not been readily available in other places, such as background information about the trip, where available.

Victorian Live Ships Map

The  Marine Traffic website provides information about current geographical positions of ships as well as other related information, whenever available, such as: 

  • ships’ details,
  • their destination,
  • estimated time of arrival,
  • photographs,
  • port traffic statistics,
  • weather conditions,
  • points of interest, etc.

Journal of Commerce of Victoria & Melbourne

The digitised Journal of commerce of Victoria & Melbourne (1858-1932) includes many references to ships and shipping movements, especially the 'fortnightly trade review column'.