52:48 | History

The Stamp of Australia

Episode 2  |  The History Channel

Fly with us across the outback on the world's longest mail run for a 200-year salute to the horse riders and stagecoach drivers, the fearless aviators and outback posties, the legends and characters whose intrepid deeds pioneered Australia's postal service and tamed the tyranny of distance across a vast continent - and gave us communication with the world. From the day the first letters arrived in the colony in 1790, the establishment of the first post office in 1809 operating out of the home of an ex-convict in Sydney's Circular Quay, to blazing mail trails by horseback before the Pony Express in America, the chaotic communications on the gold-fields, the effect of immigration, the advent of the telegraph, the two World Wars, to airmail and beyond, and how the humble stamp set the scene for the new nation's first republican debate. As well as filming modern-day mail operations, such as flying with the pilots who service the isolated Outback, the documentary features historical re-enactments and details many remarkable stories of delivery, including how Australian POW's had their mail delivered by a Japanese bomber on a bombing raid of Port Moresby. There are also interviews with Dr Clare Wright, an award-winning historian, author and public commentator, plus author Les Carlyon, the late Nancy Bird-Walton, recalling her encounters with airmail legend Charles Kingsford Smith and even Ian Thorpe on the "instant" gold medal stamps produced for the Sydney Olympics. By following the mail route to remote Birdsville, watch as 200 years of Australia's history through the role of the post office unfolds. In the final episode of this two-part special, we see how the humble post office evolved from a room in a private residence and has become Australia's oldest institution - told through the eyes of the Australian postal service and the letters and stories of our ancestors.

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