The first European who landed on Australian ground (in the year 1605) was Dutch seaman Willem Jansz. But it was the captain James Cook who appropriated the territory for British Crown. British settlement began in the late 18th century, with six colonies developing - New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. Each of these states initially issued its own stamps. But together with economical development the need and desire for union of all colonies was growing. Representatives of all states prepared the constitution of future confederation and referendum was carried out in each of them. In 1900 new constitution was also confirmed by British government. On Jan.1, 1901 the Commonwealth of Australia was declared. The new state issued its first stamps in 1912, although former colonies continued issuing stamps for a number of years.
New South Wales is a former British crown
colony in southeast Australia. It was the first part of Australia to be settled
by Europeans, and the first to operate a postal service, which in 1803 was
carrying letters between Sydney and Parramatta for a 2d charge. In 1809 a
collecting office in Sydney was established to receive mail from passing ships,
and in 1825 the postal service was expanded. Mail coach service began in 1830,
and in 1835 a new Postage Act superseded the 1825 statute and set rates based
on weight and distance travelled.
The postmaster of the time, James Raymond, was in communication with Rowland Hill in England and worked to encourage the prepayment of letters in NSW. In 1838, Raymond introduced envelopes embossed with the seal of the colony, and available for local mail for 1¼ pence each instead of the 2d charged letters paid for in cash. They are thus regarded as precursors of the Penny Black. However, the envelopes were not popular, and in 1841 Raymond was unable to develop official interest in postage stamps for the colony.
In 1842 regular mail service was carried by steamer between Melbourne and Sydney, and the first mail packet from Britain arrived in 1844. An act of 1848 reformed the postal system and authorized the use of stamps; the first stamps appeared on 1 January 1850. They were locally produced, and depicted a scene of Sydney and its harbour, thus becoming known as the "Sydney Views". In 1851 the colony switched to a more conventional design, a profile of Queen Victoria. New South Wales celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1888 with an issue of what is widely considered to be the first commemorative stamps. The set of eight, each with a different design, were all inscribed "ONE HUNDRED YEARS".
Queensland is a state in northeast Australia. A British crown colony from 1859-1901, it was detached from the British colony of New South Wales in 1859. First stamps were issued in 1860 (the last of the Australian colonies to issue postage stamps).
South Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the south-central part of the continent. South Australia was a British colony from 1836 to 1901. First stamps were issued in 1855.
Tasmania is an island off the southeastern coast of Australia. A dependency of the British colony of New South Wales from 1803 to 1825, the island became the colony of Van Dieman's Land in 1825. In 1856, the name of the colony was changed to Tasmania. First stamps were issued in 1853 under the name Van Dieman's Land.
Victoria is a state in southeastern Australia. Detached from New South Wales in 1851, it started issuing stamps in 1850.
Western Australia is a large state of western Australia. Formerly a separate colony, Western Australia joined in forming the Commonwealth of Australia in January 1901. First stamps were issued in 1854. Chief design element in most of the stamps was the black swan, Western Australia's emblem.
The various colonies that joined to form the Commonwealth of
Australia in 1901 had long operated their own postal systems. At federation
the Commonwealth was granted the power to operate a central postal system
through Section 51(v) of the Australian Constitution. Although unification
of systems was expected to occur quickly, and a federal Postmaster General
was appointed, the process was delayed for several years; the stamps of each
colony were not recognized by other colonies until 1910, and postal rates
only became uniform throughout Australia on 1 May 1911. The Postmaster-General's
department eventually became Australia Post in the 1970s.
First Australian purpose-printed stamps appeared in early 1913 with the Kangaroo and Map series of stamps, featuring a kangaroo standing on a map of Australia, and inscribed "AUSTRALIA POSTAGE". 1913 also saw the first profile of King George V, a one-penny value in carmine. A cleaner version of the design was issued in 1914, and various denominations appeared from time to time, along with changes of watermark, as late as 1932.
The introduction of decimal currency necessitated a new series of definitives in 1966.