English Mail TPO
Express Mail Deliveries From Melbourne to Adelaide

As the railway systems in Victoria and South Australia developed, it became apparent to the postal officials that great gains in efficiency could be generated if a direct rail link was completed between Melbourne and Adelaide.

By 1886, this goal had been achieved, and shortly thereafter, in January 1887, an express mail train link was established. Since the time required for the train to go from Melbourne to Adelaide was significantly shorter than the time it took the ships to travel that distance, it became possible to post mail for England as much as several days after the mail ship had departed and still catch the ship at Adelaide.

The mails that were delivered in this manner were sorted in a specially designated ship mail room at the GPO and cancelled with a special postmark. The system was used widely and continued for some years.

Special express mail trains delivered the outgoing mails from Melbourne to Adelaide, to catch the mail ships, and delivered the mail from Adelaide to Melbourne on the return voyages of the mail ships.

As the mail ships were about to pull anchor, a small skiff would deliver the last of the late mails to the ship to insure every last piece of mail addressed to foreign destinations would get put aboard.

The mail ships would anchor at Larg’s Bay in Adelaide, awaiting the arrival of the mail trains from Melbourne before departing for England.



English Mail Type 1
Early Date 87.02.11 (P)
Late Date 88.03.30 (V)




English Mail Type-2
Early Date 88.04.21 (V)
Late date 08.10.28 (P)




English Mail Typ-3 OUT
Early Date 08.11.11 (P)
Late Date 13.03.06 (P)





English Mail Type 3 IN

Early Date 06.03.06 (P)
Late Date ?






English Mail Type-4 OUT
Early Date 13.08.03 (P)
Late Date 15.04.15 (V)






English Mail Type 4 - IN

Early Date 13.04.21 (P)
Late Date ?



References: (P) – Victoria: The Travelling Post Offices and Their Markings (1979) , by Purves
(*) – Other Reports
(v) – Verified Dates Observed on Stamps

(+) Note: Total Examples Seen = Stamps +Covers

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