Italian Migration

31 January, 2009

Question: My parents migrated from Italy fifty years ago this year. They would like to collate information about their migration journey to share with the family. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: In the first instance, you may like to obtain a copy of the official documentation of your parents’ journey from Italy to Australia. The National Archives of Australia is the central repository for Australian Commonwealth Government records, including immigration documents. The original passenger lists for your parents’ journey to Australia would include information such as their names, ages and other information about their migration circumstances.

Castel Felice passing down Port Phillip Bay towards the Heads from Queenscliff to Sorrento

The Castel Felice ventured to Australia as an immigrant ship on a total of 101 voyages between 1952 and 1970, carrying over 100,000 immigrants to Australia and New Zealand. She was commanded by an Italian crew and carried passengers from many different countries including Italy, Germany and Britain.
Photographer: Mayor Dennis. Source: State Library of Victoria.

Your parents may like to discuss and share stories about their physical journey to Australia. In particular, the book Australian Migrant Ships 1946 – 1977 by Peter Plowman contains information on a number of different immigrant ships including some voyage information and pictures. The website Journeys to Australia contains more general information about shipping routes, the distance travelled and conditions of travel in different migration periods.

You may be interested to consider your parents’ migration stories within the broader role that migrants have played in shaping Australian society since World War Two.  A perfect starting place for information on Italian migration to Australia is the book The Australian People by James Jupp. A brief overview of Italian Immigration history is also accessible through the Museum Victoria website Origins: Immigrant Communities in Victoria.

Your parents may like to compare their own migration stories with those of other Italians who have migrated to Australia post World War Two. The Migration Heritage Centre of New South Wales, has developed an online exhibition website entitled Belongings, where migrants share their different stories and experiences of settling in Australia.

It may also be a good idea to contact the Australian Italian Historical Society, CO.AS.IT. The mission of the Society is to “collect, preserve and promote the history of Italian immigration to Australia”. They hold many records and stories of Italian immigration which may encourage your parents to share and recollect their experience more broadly with their family.

Comments (33)

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Tiarna Sabrina 11 August, 2009 09:29
this was great
konam 28 August, 2009 14:52
this is great,i really liked it.
Zac 28 April, 2010 14:40
this is great information :)
Alex Crook 29 April, 2010 12:35
Very Good information but it doesnt tell me what I am looking for
unknown 21 July, 2010 19:31
not the information i am looking for. im looking for information that tells me their experiences(jobs, recreation, Discrimination and housing) but thanks any way.
Robert 24 August, 2010 14:13
One of my fav school sorces!
Roberta 25 November, 2010 08:27
Amazing adventures for these immigrants during those years.
Pen15 21 May, 2011 13:13
this was such a wonderful and helpful source, thanks you very much! :D
unknown 20 June, 2011 09:50
great information to tell many what they need to look for but not very much information on italian migration to Australia facts.
james 26 June, 2011 15:41
nice information guys
Me 27 June, 2011 10:46
Im confused about this info
Amilia 12 November, 2011 10:55
I need to find out Famous person who immigrated to Australia from Italy
Discovery Centre 16 November, 2011 13:01
Hi Amilia. Naturally, there would be many famous Italian immigrants but it’s a matter of knowing how to find them! MP Franca Arena comes to mind, as does the author Nino Randazzo, poet Rosa Cappiello, journalist Paolo Totaro, and the Melburnian builders and businessmen Bruno and Nino Grollo. For further names, your first port of call might be Co.As.It and their Italian Historical Society. It might also be useful to go through some of the staple secondary texts, such as: Castles, S et al. (eds) 1992, Australia’s Italians: culture and community in a changing society; and Gianfranco Cresciani, 2003, Italians in Australia.
Channy 18 November, 2011 14:53
I havent read the info but acording to the comments it sound pritty good :)
Emily Duff 28 March, 2012 11:27
while this was interesting, it didnt give me the information i needed. why do people migrate to australia today?
Loren 2 February, 2017 19:17
Emily, people that migrate to Australia today do it for pretty much the same reason they did back in the 50s, for a better life and future or for an adventure but more so for the 1st reason.
Discovery Centre 1 April, 2012 12:56

Hi Emily,

That’s a very complex question, and might be better answered by another link. We suggest you consult our Origins website for facts on why separate ethnic groups and nationalities have (and continue to) migrate to Victoria:

As you can see, today people migrate to Australia for a number of reasons, depending on their personal circumstances: to escape persecution, for economic reasons, or family reunion.

George Capistrano 16 May, 2012 11:08
Hi my great grand fathers Giuseppe & Antonio migrated from Sorrento, near Napoli to israel, so i would like to gather more informations about them,thank's
Discovery Centre 19 May, 2012 14:10

Hello George,

The following websites might be useful in your research.

Israel State Archives

National Library of Israel

Israel genealogical Society

National Archives of Australia


Boo boo 1 August, 2012 20:55
What route did the Italian migraters use?
Discovery Centre 7 August, 2012 16:14

Hi Boo Boo,  the Italian Historical Society COASIT published a book in 2005 title “Per L’Australia”, which makes reference to some of the immigrant ships used during the 1950’s.  Using the ship name Neptunia, we searched Trove and found an advertisement in the Argus newspaper dated Monday, 7 March 1955, for Lloyd Triestino’s “three big white sisterships, Australia – Oceania – Neptunia.”  The route is listed as Fremantle, Djakarta, Columbo, Aden, Port Said, Naples and Genoa.  The article can be found at the following link: 1957&searchLimits=


Emerson 9 September, 2012 15:21
Really Helped Loads Of Info Thanks
Conor MacMillan 5 November, 2012 19:14
Great information and the links helped for my research assignment on migrants, I chose Italian Migrants as my group to research and so this was very helpful. It would be nice if I could find a website with all the information I needed such as the time the group migrated, the cities of origin and arrival into etc. But this and it's links were extremely useful and I got an A according to my teacher's early check of it as we were not supposed to hand it in yet. Thank you!
Rebeckah 1 May, 2013 17:43
Thank you very much for this information!!! Very useful.
Awesome dude 3 September, 2014 10:23
What hardships did the Italians face on the way here?
discoverycentre 3 September, 2014 12:32

Regarding your enquiry to the Immigration Museum’s Discovery re the hardships Italians may have face on the way to Australia, I feel there could be more success in finding some answers for you if you could give us some more details about the particular period in which you are interested; if you are looking for a comparison between hardships Italians may have experienced on board ships as opposed to other migrants or perhaps the reasons Italians left Italy and what disappointments or satisfactions they experienced on arrival in Australia.

yolo 17 August, 2015 15:02
I'm looking for what kind of ships they used to get to Australia
Discovery Centre 17 August, 2015 16:51
Hi Yolo,

A good starter resource for migrant ships in the 1900s are these two books. We have them in our Immigration Museum Discovery Centre for you to visit, as well as many other resources in our library.
Amy 3 November, 2015 18:21
hi justr want to say great information it really helped! :)
anonymous 27 June, 2016 07:30
Hi, i was jus wondering whether u could answer my question. When in the 1900's did the most italians migrate to Australia? Thx for your time
Discovery Centre 29 June, 2016 12:01

Hi anonymous, 

Italian migration peaked in the 1950s with as many as 193,791 Italians settling in Australia. Source: Co.As.It

Feel free to explore more information on and history regarding the Italian-Australian community using Origins.

griffin 31 October, 2016 21:36
when was the picture of that ship taken?
Discovery Centre 1 November, 2016 12:13

Hi Griffin

This picture supplied from the State Library Victoria was taken by Dennis Mayor in February 1969. 

Hope this info is helpful! 

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