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Australia and Colonies - Overview

1850 - 1913

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January 1 12 New South Wales
January 3 14 Victoria
November 1 48 Tasmania
August 1 51 Western Australia
January 1 53 South Australia
November 1 91 Queensland
January 1 440 Commonwealth of Australia


The six colonies that now constitute the states of Australia were established as follows:
Colony Capital Year established Population
New South Wales Sydney 1788 1860: 348,546
Tasmania (Van Diemen’s Land) Hobart 1825 1870: 100,765
Western Australia Perth 1830 1860: 15,227
South Australia Adelaide 1836 1860: 124,112
Victoria Melbourne 1851 1860: 537,847
Queensland Brisbane 1859 1861: 34,400

In addition to the six states there are two territories, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, which have never issued stamps of their own. The total population around 1860 probably did not exceed 1.2 million.

In 1901 the population of Australia numbered around 3,8 million. In 2003 it amounts to about 19.8 million.

On January 1, 1901 the Commonwealth of Australia was officially formed. Melbourne was chosen as the temporary seat of government while a purpose-designed capital city, Canberra, was constructed. Construction began in 1913, but it wasn’t until May 9, 1927 that the temporary parliament building was officially opened.

Canberra is wholly surrounded by New South Wales. The Jervis Bay Territory is another federal enclave on the coast of N.S.W., giving Canberra access to the sea. The initial inhabitants of the capital were 1,714 people, 1,762 cows, and 224,764 sheep.

It's thought that the name Canberra is based on an Aboriginal name for the area: Kamberra or Kambery, or even Corroboree, meaning "meeting place". A corroboree is a traditional Aboriginal song and dance ceremony.

Australia became officially autonomous in both internal and external affairs with the passage of the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act on October 9, 1942. The Australia Act in 1986 eliminated the last vestiges of British legal authority at the Federal level. The last state to remove recourse to British courts, Queensland, did not do so until 1988.

To be precise, Australian Colony stamps are those issued prior to 1901, Australian State stamps are those issued between 1901 and 1913. However, the term Australian State is often used to mean both.

All the Australian colonies joined the U.P.U on October 1, 1891.

The individual states set their own postal rates, but they mostly had agreements for a common rate for mail between the states. Only the lucrative local mail rates differed.

As of May 1, 1911 a flat rate for ½ ounce letters was introduced, at one penny. This rate was valid not only within Australia, but within the entire British Empire!

Page created 19 Feb 2014 Page updated 19 Jan 2016