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Resources : Articles: History & Assignment of Australian Postcodes

Why have postcodes?

Postcodes are allocated to geographic areas to facilitate the efficient processing and delivery of mail to customers.  The current four digit numeric postcode system was introduced in 1967 in association with the first mechanised mail processing centre in Australia.

Who is responsible for naming localities and defining boundaries?

The government land administration agencies in each state are responsible for gazetting locality names and boundary positions.

Postcodes are only allocated to localities officially gazetted by State land agencies. In the majority of circumstances, a postcode covers an area comprising of more than one locality. Unofficial or non–gazetted localities are not recorded in the Australia Post postcode database.

While land agencies are responsible for the gazettal of localities, the local council or shire recommends localities and their proposed boundaries for gazettal.

How is it determined if a new or existing postcode is to be allocated?

The decision as to whether a new postcode or an existing postcode is to be allocated to a locality is based on operational efficiency. Issues that underpin the decision are critically analysed; these include the configuration of the Australia Post network, transportation connections and delivery arrangements.

Why change an existing postcode?

Because the adoption of new or changed postcodes by customers is slow, changes are only made where significant reasons for change are established.

A postcode change will only be considered if such a change leads to either enhanced postal service or operational efficiency to the Australia Post organisation.


Chronological History of Post in Australia

Follow the time line below to follow the fascinating historical development of post in Australia.

1809 - Isaac Nichols, ex-convict, assumed the duties of the first Postmaster in Sydney.

1828 - Australia's first postman was appointed in Sydney, a private servant of George Panton, the Sydney Postmaster.

1838 - First overland mail service operated between Sydney and Melbourne.

1838 - First adhesive postage stamp issued. World's first stamped stationery solely intended for prepayment postage sold in Sydney. World's first commemorative issue stamp sold in NSW to mark 50 years of colonisation in Australia.

1841 - The first official post office was constructed in Melbourne on the present GPO site.

1844 - The first letter box was provided - one per town.

1849 - Uniform postal rates were introduced with agreement from the colonies.

1852 - Compulsory prepayment of postage introduced in NSW.

1855 - First rail mail run completed from Sydney to Parramatta.

1856 - Monthly sea mail to England by steamship commenced.

1875 - Postcards were first issued in Sydney GPO.

1891 - Colonies joined with the Universal Postal Union.

1897 - World's first charity stamps were issued.

1901 - Federation of the Commonwealth of Australia. Government established the Postmaster-General's Department to provide postal services to the nation.

1913 - The first stamp designed for the Commonwealth was released to the public - a kangaroo in a map of Australia.

1914 - Australia's first domestic airmail was carried between Melbourne and Sydney by Maurice Guillaux (French aviator).

1919 - First overseas airmail arrived in Darwin from England on board a Vickers Vimy piloted by a WW1 Ace, Ross Smith. 

1924 - The Cobb & Co mail service had its last run.

1930 - Mechanical mail handling was introduced at Sydney Mail Exchange. The first in the world.

1931 - The first 'experimental' airmail flights between Australia and England were completed, with famed aviator Charles Kingsford Smith flying legs of the journey. Tha aim was to establisha regular airmail service between the two countries.

1945 - A total of 1155 million postal articles were handled.

1954 - The Teleprinter Exchange was introduced - the Telex.

1960 - Coin-operated stamp vending machines were introduced and installed for customer convenience.

1962 - First automatic postal station was installed - Melbourne.

1967 - Introduction of postcodes - four digit number allocated to every mail delivery area in Australia. A giant new $6 million mail exchange building opened in Sydney. Worldwide interest was attracted by the new electronic equipment and technology.

1968 - Postcodes were used on 75 per cent of mail. Post office preferred size specification envelopes were introduced.

1970 - Priority Paid mail services were introduced.

1971 - Surface Air Lifted service was introduced, providing an intermediate service between airmail and seamail.

1972 - Melbourne Mail Exchange operated the first Electronic Letter Preparation Line machines, capable of processing up to 25,000 letters per hour.

1973 - Metric weights and measures were introduced in post offices.

1975 - The Australian Postal Commission - Australia Post - was established to replace the Postmaster-General's Department. Freepost was introduced for business customers, allowing people to reply post-free to advertisements. Postage is paid by the business/addressee on delivery. The third largest mailing in Australia's history was completed when 9.8 million individually addressed cards were dispatched.

1997 - The second largest mailout in the history of Australian postal services was completed. More than 12 million voting packages were sent out for the Constitutional Convention.

1999 - Barcoded mail was introduced.

1999 - The largest mailout in the history of the Australian postal service was completed with the mailing of 12.5 million pamphlets explaining the republic referendum.

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