Australia’s system of postcodes was introduced on Saturday, 1 July 1967, 50 years ago. Four digit postcodes were developed for electronic mail handling equipment at the former Redfern Mail Exchange in Sydney.

At the time, addresses on letters were read by skilled mail sorters equipped with a detailed knowledge of geographical localities. But with about 8,000 delivery offices, it required at least two or three stages of sorting to get letters to their destinations.

Postcodes simplified the sorting process. Coding operators pressed keys corresponding to the postcode, which enabled the letters to be sorted electronically and despatched to their delivery offices. In 1967, nearly 5,000 postcodes were allocated to every city, town, suburb and small centre across Australia.

The allocation of postcodes followed a broad geographical pattern. Postcode numbers for capital city suburbs began in the west and moved to the north, east and south; a similar pattern being followed for country areas. The first digit corresponded to radio station call signs: 2 (New South Wales), 3 (Victoria), 4 (Queensland), 5 (South Australia), 6 (Western Australia) and 7 (Tasmania).

Cover of first edition of the postcode booklet distributed to every household in Australia, 1967

In July 1967, the first edition of the Postcode Booklet was distributed free by mail to every Australian household and business address. A total of 4.5 million booklets were distributed, as well as a postcard identifying the recipient’s own postcode. A year after postcodes had been introduced, over 70 per cent of mail articles featured the postcode.

Postcodes today

During the past 50 years, additional postcode ranges have been allocated for post office box installations, Large Volume Receivers (those who receive large amounts of mail) and other special uses, such as competitions.

Current postal ranges for the states and territories:

New South Wales
                                   1000 to 2599
                                   2620 to 2899
                                   2921 to 2999

Victoria
                                   3000 to 3999
                                   8000 to 8999

Queensland
                                   4000 to 4999
                                   9000 to 9999

South Australia
                                   5000 to 5999

Western Australia
                                   6000 to 6999

Tasmania
                                   7000 to 7999

Australian Capital Territory
                                   0200 to 0299
                                   2600 to 2619
                                   2900 to 2920

Northern Territory
                                   0800 to 0999

Australia’s external territories have postcodes in the states that coordinate their mail deliveries: Norfolk Island (2899), Christmas Island (6798) and Cocos (Keeling) Islands (6799).

The current postcode listing features 15,000 place names. The PDF file is updated quarterly and it’s freely available at the Australia Post website: auspost.com.au/postcode

Postcode envy?

Here are some postcodes that residents should have no problem remembering:

  • Attunga and Garthowen, New South Wales: 2345
  • Noosa Heads, Queensland: 4567
  • Penshurst, New South Wales: 2222
  • Meredith and Bamganie, Victoria: 3333
  • Hope Gap, Lake View, Mundoora, Tickera, Alford and Collinsfield, South Australia: 5555

 

This article was produced at the time of publication and will not be updated.

Philatelic Team

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