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
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