Mail in our past

Postie Kate and friends
Postie Kate and friends
Mail by sailing ship

Mail by sailing ship

The first people to come and live in Australia had to wait about six months for a letter to arrive from England. It also took about six months for a letter written in Australia to reach England because mail was carried by sailing ships.

 
Australia's first postie

Australia's first postie

In 1809, to stop people racing on board the ships to grab their mail, the first postmaster was chosen. It was the postmaster's job to collect the mail from the ship and take it to his home. People had to pay him to get their mail.

 
Mail by men on horseback

Mail by men on horseback

In 1838 the first mail was delivered from Sydney to Melbourne by men on horseback. It took about two months for mail to travel between the two cities. Cobb & Co. carried the mail in their coaches until 1924.

 
Mail by steamship

Mail by steamship

In 1856 faster steamships carried mail between England and Australia.

 
Messages sent by telegraph

Messages sent by telegraph

In 1872 the first telegraph was built in Australia. Short messages could be sent using the telegraph between cities in Australia and overseas.

 
Mail by train

Mail by train

In 1883 mail began being carried by train between Sydney and Melbourne.

 
Mail by plane

Mail by plane

In 1914 mail began being carried around Australia by plane. The first letter was flown overseas in 1919, but you couldn't send mail overseas whenever you wanted to until 1934.

 
Mail today

Mail today

Today millions of letters are carried by Australia Post between large cities and small country towns by rail, road and air as quickly as possible. Australia Post also sends and receives millions of overseas letters and parcels.