the original Australian search engine

Web Wombat is Australia's oldest search engine, developed by Rod Ashcroft and co-founder and technical director Phillip Bertolus, and launched in 1995. In 1996 they had an index of more than one million Australian websites -2016 they indexed more than 30 pages. The target audience is Australian users looking for Australian websites. In addition to web search, they also offered their search technology to companies. - [The site is still available, but no longer offers web search.]

Language English

Launched 1995
Closed 2016

Developer Ashcroft, Rod and Phillip Bertolus

Country of Origin Australia

1995 - [...] WebWombat Pty Ltd.

Topic Universal

Region Australia

Technical functionalities
Robot/Crawler based, algorithmic search

Used SeEn WebWombat

Robot: The Web Wombat (Source)

Older Version Internet Archive / WebCite

»Not as widely used ... but is one of Australia's oldest search engines.« Source

Australasian Legal Information Institute : »The Web Wombat is a spider or web crawler, traversing the web to find and index every word it finds on pages (ie not just the existence of web sites but their content) Web Wombat is one of the leading locally-developed Australian search engines and directories. Information on its site indicates that it has the largest online database of searchable information on Australia, with references to more than 11.5 million documents. It also includes an Australian directory for Law Resources. Searches using the Web Wombat such as the ‘family law’ search below do produce very relevant results - in that case, hundreds of relevant documents were found.« »There no longer seems to be any manual or help pages available for the Web Wombat, so it is difficult to say with precision what types of searches will work best. Some tips and featured searches (examples of searches) are given if you click on ‘Advanced Search’. Web Wombat automatically expands search terms, so you should only search for the ‘stems’ of words. For example, to search for cryptography, cryptographic etc, a search for ‘cryptograph’ is best; There is no need to use search connectors like AND and OR, and they are ignored anyway. Just type in the search terms one after another. For example to search for documents concerning cryptography and privacy, a search for ‘cryptography privacy’ will suffice; Phrases can be searched for using double quotation marks eg "freedom of information"; Web Wombat does rank the items it retrieves according to a simple rule of relevance. For example, if you search for 4 search terms, it will first display all those containing all 4 search terms, then those containing 3, and so on. As this is a very simple method of ranking, you will often need to look at all items retrieved, and do not stop if you start seeing irrelevant items; Searches can be either ‘search all Australia’ or limited to government or education websites; To obtain an overview of your search results (which is necessary because of the ranking method described above): increase the ‘Number of results per page’ field so that you get 50 or 100 items returned.« Source

OnlyMelbourne: »Australia's oldest search engine, Web Wombat provides search for 20,000,000+ Australian web pages. Web Wombat has been awarded a patent as a result of its research and development efforts in the area of Internet search engine spiders. Named Mass Distributed Spider Architecture (MDSA) the invention provides a means of scanning Web pages at an unlimited rate.« Source

Merging Universes: »Mr Ashcroft is a co-founder of Web Wombat Pty Ltd, which operates the Australian search engine - one of Australia's oldest commercial websites. Developed in 1994, Web Wombat was one of the first search engines in the world, created shortly after Lycos, and about five years before Google. Mr Ashcroft raised seed funding in 1998 to commercially develop the Web Wombat online search technology and search portal.« Source

IBM (2001):»In 1994, when the Internet was still in its infancy, one enterprising engineer and a visionary journalist from the land down under hooked up their home PCs in the garage to cobble together a Web server and a search engine. At that time there were no more than 100,000 Australian Web sites, and a 28Kbps modem connection provided all the bandwidth needed to search the Web. Today, that same search engine has indexed more than 100 million Web sites in its data warehouse, attracts more than 100,000 unique users every month and, on average, performs 30,000 searches a day. Web Wombat, one of Australia’s largest search engines, may have begun small, but its growth trajectory has been positively explosive. “We grew so fast that we quickly began to tax our infrastructure,” recalls Phillip Bertolus, co-founder and technical director of Wombat Technology, the company behind the search engine. “Suddenly we found that we needed more—an enterprise data management solution in place of our existing Paradox database, hardware with much more processing power and a good deal more bandwidth.” That was six years ago. The original database has since been replaced by a one-terabyte data warehouse built on IBM DB2 Universal Database for AIX, Version 5.2. One IBM RS/6000 S80 server and one RS/6000 Workstation 43P (260) server give it all the processing muscle it needs, and a 10Mbps fiber-optic link allows the search engine spiders to trawl the Web endlessly for more sites to index. “IBM technologies have allowed us to build an immensely scalable and reliable e-business infrastructure,” remarks Bertolus. “How we use it is limited only by our imagination and the market’s needs. Today, we’ve adapted it to develop a new portfolio of integrated business-to-business (B2B) knowledge management applications—targeting a new, and lucrative, market that will help fuel our future growth.”« Source

WebSpark (2003): »Web Wombat is the leading locally-developed Australian search portal. It has the largest online database of searchable information on Australia, with references to more than 11.5 million documents. The company is now developing an array of specialised vertical search tools, both Australian and international. Web Wombat has been operating as an Internet search engine since 1994. It was one of the world’s first Internet search engines, established before Alta Vista, Inktomi and Excite. It was the first search engine in the world to introduce non-search-related content to its web site, making it the world’s first search portal. It was also the world’s first regional search engine. Locally, Web Wombat was the first Australian search tool listed on the National Library of Australia’s web site. 100% Australian developed: Web Wombat’s search technology, which is unique in Australia, was developed by an Australian. All software used on the portal is proprietary software owned and developed by Web Wombat. The search software is similar in functionality to that of Alta Vista and Excite. Fully Automated: Most of the technology on the Web Wombat portal is fully automated. The search processes are completely automated, deploying thousands of software robots. This is in contrast to the labour-intensive processes adopted by directories such as LookSmart and Yahoo, which employ hundreds of professional web editors to cut and paste web site addresses into their databases. Whereas LookSmart and Yahoo’s editors have been able to gather from 1 to 2 million web page addresses in three to five years, Web Wombat’s robots can gather tens of millions of pages in a single month. With the Internet now thought to contain more than 2 billion pages, robot technology is becoming more and more important in navigating the Web. Other automated technology developed by Web Wombat includes a classifieds advertising system, jobs search database facility and ad serving software. Parallel scanning technology: The spidering software developed by Web Wombat is referred to as “parallel scanning technology”. This refers to the deployment of thousands of software robots across tens of thousands of web sites. The result: millions of pages captured and indexed in a searchable database. Web Wombat references more than 11 million Australian web pages and almost 100 million global web pages. Its scanning computers presently “suck in” 1 million pages a day and will soon be optimised to “harvest” 2-3 million pages a day. Boutique search engines: Web Wombat has recently coined the term “boutique search engine”. This refers to small “vertical” search tools that allow users to search within a specific area of interest (ie accommodation, loans, wine, football, finance). Web Wombat is the only company in Australia with the technology to fully develop this type of search technology and one of only a few companies in the world pursuing this type of development. Technology edge: Web Wombat can adapt and modify its search and other technologies to suit customers’ requirements. Because it is located in Australia, it is geographically well placed to tailor and modify search solutions for Asian portals. The company is also well skilled to build portals for start-up Internet companies. Search Engines operating in Australia. Web Wombat as a portal: Web Wombat is one of Australia’s oldest commercial web sites. It is the No.1 gateway to Australian content on the Internet, having more entry points to local content than any other web site in the world. Web Wombat has developed the biggest database of newspapers on the Web – there are links to more than 10,000 newspapers around the world. The portal also operates a global directory with more than 200,000 categories of information. The company has started to build a series of online magazines, which it will integrate with its search technology. The first of these is GameBlitz, a fully interactive online magazine with built-in vertical search tool. This unique product has a dedicated games search engine that allows visitors to the site to search across 500 games sites across the world « Source


Wikipedia: »Wombats are short-legged, muscular quadrupedal marsupials native to Australia. They are about 1 m (40 in) in length with small, stubby tails. There are three extant species and they are all members of the family Vombatidae.« Source

Critical points

Features & Functionality


References & further Publications

Wikipedia (EN): n.a.
Wikipedia (Others): n.a.

Other Sources

Australasian Legal Information Institute: The Web Wombat URL:
IBM (2001): Web Wombat search engine accents the power of DB2 in B2B applications URL:
WebSpark (2003): URL:

Created: 2015-09-26