The sources below are held in the museum library and are very useful for those researching discovery ships in Australian waters and the voyages they made.


Australian encyclopedia
REF Encyclopedias
This encyclopedia is an essential resource. The Library holds five editions, which you will find on the reference shelves. Simple concise articles perfect for school projects.

Ships of the Royal navy.Vols 1 and 2
J.J. Colledge. Newton Abbot David and Charles, 1969-70.
359.3250942 COL
The best reference source for Royal Navy ships. Alphabetically arranged, it includes dates of build, brief histories, specifications and fate (where known). Entries for discovery ships are annotated to help you differentiate between ships of the same name.

The discovery and exploration of Australia
Erwin H.J. Feeken. Melbourne. Thomas Nelson, 1970.
994.01 FEE

The discovery of Australia
G. Arnold Wood. Melbourne. Macmillan of Australia, 1969.
994 WOO

The discovery of Australia
George Collingridge. Facsimile ed. Gladesville. Golden Press, 1983.
919.4041 COL

Encyclopedia of exploration. Vol. I. to 1800. Vol. II 1800-1850. Vol III 1850-1940
Raymond John Howego. Potts Point. Hordern House, 2003-2006.
REF 910.903 HOW

Tips for finding more specific titles:

  • Additional library holdings on the discovery of Australia can be found by checking the subject index of the library catalogue under 'Australia--discovery and exploration'.
  • For more specific works, for example on the French discoverers, can be found using the subject index of the catalogue under 'Australia--discovery and exploration--French'.
  • For specific explorers, refer to the subject index and search using names, for example 'Torres'.
  • Finally, to find works specifically on a discovery ship, search the subject index by its name (for example, 'Endeavour', “Duyfken”).

Historical records of New South Wales
REF 994.4 HIS
This title is a collection of relevant historical records relating to the foundation of New South Wales and can be used as a basic information source for any research on this topic. Volume 1 is a particularly useful source for information on the Endeavour as it provides crew lists, a list of provisions, official accounts, letters and more relating to the voyage.

Looking to buy books? Shop online at the museum store.


The Library doesn't have copies of official logs or crew lists however it has a fairly good collection of published accounts of voyages of discovery to Australia.

Check the subject index of the library catalogue by the name of the captain or leader of the discovery voyage or if known, use the author index to search for particular titles. Searching under 'Matra' will help you locate James Mario Matra's account of the voyage of the Endeavour, for example.


Ship portraits are not very common, even for famous discovery ships. Most of the available illustrations will have been used by authors in books on the topic.

The Trove pictures search will cover all of the above plus many more places including the Museum’s pictorial collections online.

Australian Libraries with excellent pictorial collections include:

Our library research guide Pictures of ships in the Australian trade may also be of assistance.

Journal Articles

Mariner's Mirror.
Library has Vol. Vol.18, no. 1 (1932)-.
This authoritative magazine has published articles on various discovery ships over the years (not just ones associated with Australia) and is useful for determining technical details, sail plans, and so on.
Vol. 1 onwards is also available online to museum staff and visiting researchers in the Library.

Web-based Resources

The following websites are recommended:

Information on Shipwrecks

Information on the early discovery vessels wrecked in Australian waters can be found using the sources below and/or the Australian National Shipwreck Database.

Australian encyclopedia
On the library reference shelves.

Australian shipwrecks
Charles Bateson. Vol.1. 1622-1850. Sydney. Reed, 1972.
910.4530994 BAT

Unfinished voyages: Western Australian shipwrecks 1622-1850
Graeme Henderson. Nedlands, W.A. University of Western Australia Press, 1980.
910.4530994 HEN

For further assistance, our library research guides on Shipwrecks, Royal Navy ships and Ship models may be useful, especially if you are looking for illustrations or plans.

Useful Links