Trans-Australian Railway: 1917–2017
Release date: 4 July 2017
In 2017, it will be 100 years since the completion of the 1,690-kilometre transcontinental railway between Port Augusta, in South Australia, and Kalgoorlie, in Western Australia.
This significant piece of infrastructure was officially opened on 22 October 1917, after five years of arduous construction, but planning had begun many years before. Prior to Federation, 1901, Western Australia had been reluctant to join the new Commonwealth of Australia, but it was persuaded with the promise of a transcontinental rail link facilitating closer communication with the eastern states.
The railway not only brought comfort and speed to east–west travel but also boosted tourism, and improved trade, supply and mail links. When the standard-gauge line was extended, in 1969, west from Kalgoorlie to Perth and east from Port Augusta to Sydney, it became possible to travel coast to coast across Australia by train.
This stamp issue celebrates the centenary of this major infrastructure and nation-building project.
Read our other posts, where we discuss the history of the Trans-Australian Railway and the era of mail by rail.
The stamps were designed by John White of the Australia Post Design Studio. The stamps feature vintage travel posters from the collection of State Library Victoria. The posters convey the optimism and aspiration of the new rail service.
$1 To the West
This advertising poster, from circa 1960, features a stylised train similar to the first diesel locomotive GM1.
$1 Across Australia
This poster, from circa 1930, is by well-known graphic artist James Northfield. It shows a figure on a camel viewing a locomotive as it speeds across the desert towards Perth.