Australia Land and Property

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Online Records[edit | edit source]

New South Wales Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Queensland Online Resources[edit | edit source]

South Australia Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Tasmania Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Victoria Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Western Australia Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Finding Land Records in Australia[edit | edit source]

  • Many land records are held in the states’ Land Title Offices.
  • Land Title Offices also have parish maps that can be used as plat maps to identify your ancestor’s land holdings, as well as to identify the land owned by other individuals in the surrounding areas. Parish maps are divided into areas that provide names of the original grantees and landowners.
  • Land records may also be held in major archives and libraries in Australia. For a listing of archives and their addresses, see the "Archives and Libraries" article in this wiki.

Finding Land Records in the FamilySearch Library[edit | edit source]

The FamilySearch Library Catalog can be searched for some land records from Australia. Search for land records by looking in the Place Search under:

  • For all of Australia: AUSTRALIA - LAND AND PROPERTY
  • For State records: AUSTRALIA, [STATE]) - LAND AND PROPERTY
  • For possible records listed by town: AUSTRALIA, [STATE], [TOWN] - LAND AND PROPERTY

Using Land Records[edit | edit source]

Land records are primarily used to learn where and when an individual lived in a specific area. They often reveal other family information, such as the individual’s spouse, heirs, other relatives, or neighbors. You may learn where an individual lived previously, about his or her occupation, and about other clues that may help with further research.

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

To find land records in Australia, it helps to know some of the history and development of Australia as it was settled. The following is a brief chronology of land dealings in Australia:

  • 1788: Governor given power to grant land at his discretion.
  • 1790: Privates, noncommissioned marine officers, and free settlers given free land grants.
  • 1804: Rich settlers given grants if they will make major improvements to land.
  • 1824: Sale of crown lands begins; free land grants limited to 2,560 acres.
  • 1831: Free grants halted; public auction of lands begins.
  • 1836: Squatters enter lands outside original 19 counties of New South Wales.
  • 1843: English Crown Lands Act regulates price of land.
  • 1847: Sale of Waste Lands Act creates settled, intermediate, and unsettled classifications for land, opening new possibilities for settlement by the general population.
  • 1858: Torrens system of land conveyance and registration in South Australia provides title registration for first time; other states follow.

Listed below are the dates that land records began in each state:

Australian Capital Territory 1901
New South Wales 1792
Northern Territory 1886
Queensland 1862
South Australia 1836
Tasmania 1827
Victoria 1838
Western Australia 1829

Methods of Transferring Lands[edit | edit source]

Initially all land in Australia belonged to the Crown, which used three basic methods to dispose of the land:

  • free grants,
  • sales, and
  • license and leases.


Alienation is the term used to describe the passing of land from the government to an individual on a permanent basis (i.e., free grants or sales). Licenses and leases allowed the government to come back and possess the land at a future date.


  • Crown Land Grants: 1788–1831. A grant gave, without compensation, an individual or company a parcel of land for private use. Some land grants required that the land be improved within a certain time period. These grants from the Crown are the most valuable records to use when searching for early settlers. All grants, from the first one recorded in 1790 to the time when free grants were halted in 1831, are held in the Lands Title Office in New South Wales. These records generally give the grantee’s name and occupation and identify the land being granted. Other records relating to grants are military volunteer land grants, lists of occupants of Crown lands, land orders, and registers.
  • Sales. In 1824 a new system was initiated that allowed the sale of Crown land to settlers. When land was passed from the Crown to an individual or from one individual to another, a document known as a deed was written to record the event. It listed both parties involved, their occupations, and places of residence. Early deeds are held in the Lands Title Office in New South Wales. Later deeds are held by individual state land titles offices. Other records available regarding sales of lands are registers, applications, description books, schedules of lands sold, memorials, and deeds for the transfer of land.
  • In 1831, when land grants were halted, disposing of land by auction was introduced. This system created new records, including records of lands leased by auction, registers, and applications. As Australian settlement began, no commercial or industrial establishments existed. Availability of vast areas of land gave rise to what became the largest commercial effort in Australia: the grazing of cattle, sheep, and horses. The lands used for this purpose are known as pastoral lands. These lands were seldom alienated (sold or granted) but were licensed and leased, which allowed individuals to use the lands while the Crown retained ownership.
  • Licenses. Settlers were permitted to occupy Crown lands for grazing purposes if they obtained a license that could be renewed annually. The first of these licenses was the Ticket of Occupation, which was granted in about 1820. These licenses gave owners rights to grazing land within two miles of their residence. Later, depasturing licenses gave owners rights to the vacant Crown lands beyond the limits of the owners’ homes. (Today, depasturing licenses can be used as census substitutes.) The applications for depasturing licenses list:
  • Name
  • Trade or calling
  • Residence
  • Land applied for
  • Marital status
  • Number of children
  • Name and condition of the person under whom stock are to be placed
  • Real or personal estate possessed by applicant

    Licensing impacted not only the grazing industry, but the mining industry as well. Mining licenses began with the gold rush in 1851. Mining is still licensed today.
  • Leases. As the wool industry progressed, squatters began to illegally overrun Crown lands to pasture their sheep. In 1836 a squatter was allowed the use of his "run" if he paid an annual licensing fee. In 1847, the Crown instituted a lease system which offered a more secure occupancy for the squatter. Leasing allowed the squatter to legally occupy the land for longer than a year and, if desired, to buy it at a fixed price. Records dealing with this period include leases and squatters directories.

Additional Details[edit | edit source]

Land Grants[edit | edit source]

  • Governor Phillip, in 25 April 1787, was empowered to grant land to emancipists. Each male was entitled to 30 acres, an additional 20 acres if married, and 10 acres for each child with him in the settlement at the time of the grant.
  • To encourage free settlers to the colony, Phillip received additional Instructions dated 20 August 1789 entitling non-commissioned Marine officers to 100 acres and privates to 50 acres, over and above the quantity allowed to convicts.
  • Other settlers coming to the colony were also to be given grants.
  • In 1825, the sale of land by private tender began.
  • In a despatch dated 9 January 1831, Viscount Goderich instructed that no more free grants (except those already promised) be given. All land was thenceforth to be sold at public auction. [1]

Depasturing Licenses[edit | edit source]

Settlers were permitted to occupy Crown lands for grazing purposes if they obtained a license that could be renewed annually. The first of these licenses was the Ticket of Occupation, which was granted in about 1820. These licenses gave owners rights to grazing land within two miles of their residence. Later, depasturing licenses gave owners rights to the vacant Crown lands beyond the limits of the owners’ homes. (Today, depasturing licenses can be used as census substitutes.) The applications for depasturing licenses list:

  • Name
  • Trade or calling
  • Residence
  • Land applied for
  • Marital status
  • Number of children
  • Name and condition of the person under whom stock are to be placed
  • Real or personal estate possessed by applicant

Licensing impacted not only the grazing industry, but the mining industry as well. Mining licenses began with the gold rush in 1851. Mining is still licensed today.

Soldier Settlement[edit | edit source]

  • Soldier settlement, also known as the Soldier Settlement Scheme or Soldiers Settlement Scheme, administered by the Soldier Settlement Commission, was the settlement of land throughout parts of Australia by returning discharged soldiers under schemes administered by the state governments after World War I and World War II.
  • By 1924, 23.2 million acres (93,900 km²) had been allotted 23,367 farms across Australia.
  • Other than supporting soldiers and sailors that were returning from those wars, the various governments also saw the opportunity of attracting both Australians and specific groups of allied service personnel to some of the otherwise little inhabited, remote areas of Australia.
  • The states took responsibility for land settlement and thus enacted separate soldier settlement schemes.
  • In addition to soldiers, nurses and female relatives of deceased soldiers were also able to apply for the scheme.
  • The procedure of supporting such soldiers was repeated after World War II with all Australian state governments.[2]


References[edit | edit source]

  1. "New South Wales, Australia, Land Grants, 1788-1963", at Ancestry, https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/5117/, accessed 8 March 2022.
  2. "Soldier settlement (Australia)", in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soldier_settlement_(Australia), accessed 8 March 2022.