Notes from the Past

Australia's First Official Air Mail

Australia's first official airmail was flown by M. Maurice Guillaux from Melbourne to Sydney on July 16 - 18, 1914.  Guillaux had  arrived in Australia in March, 1914, and was touring Australia giving flying demonstrations in a Bleriot airplane.

Special cards were issued for the flight and sold at 1/- each.  In addition postage at 1d was required.  Correspondence was accepted for any address and cancelled in Melbourne with an oval violet cachet.  Backstamps were applied on arrival in Sydney where mail was then forwarded to its destination via the regular mail.  The mail weighed 40 pounds and included an estimated 2500 cards.  The flight also included Australia's first airfreight -- a quantity of Lipton Tea and O.T. Lemon Squash sent to Sydney.

On July 16, Guillaux flew from Melbourne to Harden with stops at Seymour, Wangaretta, Albury, and Wagga.  The flight continued on July 18 to Melbourne with stops at Goulburn and Liverpool.  The distance was 582 miles and the total elapsed flying time was 9 hours and 33 minutes which included 1 hour and 31 minutes of demonstration flying upon arrival at some of the destinations.

Guillaux shared the fate of many pioneer aviators dying in a crash in Villacoublay, France, on May 22, 1917.  "There weren't many old, bold aviators!"

Posted June 29, 2000

Editor's Note:  The editor is indebted to The Australian Air Mail Catalog Volume One, 1914-1941 by H. N. Eustis published by Review Publications Pty. Ltd in 1965 for this material.

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