The Scirtidae Fleming, 1821 has been identified as one of the earliest diverging groups of Polyphagan beetles and is particularly speciose in Australia. However, very little is known about the origin of the Australian scirtids and there is a need for a robust, well-supported phylogeny to guide the genus and species descriptions and understand the relationships among taxa. In this study we carried out a phylogenetic analysis of the Australian Scirtinae Fleming, 1821, using DNA sequence data from ultraconserved elements (UCEs) and included representative taxa from New Zealand, New Caledonia, South America, South Africa and Eurasia in the analysis. Bayesian analyses of a concatenated dataset from 79 taxa recovered four major Southern Hemisphere groupings and two Australian–Eurasian groupings. The Veronatus group mainly consisted of genera from New Zealand, with the three Australian representatives only distantly related to each other. Relaxed molecular clock analyses, using the estimated age of the crown node of the Polyphaga for calibration, support a Gondwanan history for four of the groups of Australian Scirtinae and a northern origin for two groups. Our results highlight the value of commercially available UCEs for resolving the phylogenetic history of ancient groups of Coleoptera.