Queensland - Colonial: 1860-1900.
Report on the Post & Telegraph Office for 1881.



THE first subject dealt with in this Report is the Torres Straits mail service. It is mentioned that, after the first three vessels had arrived, it was shown that there was considerable delay at Batavia waiting for the mail from Singapore. It was therefore determined that, as on the homeward voyage, the outward mails should be transhipped at Aden The contractor accordingly agreed to receive the outward mails at mails at that point and to course the steamers to cease calling at Naples and Colombo on the outward voyage and at Naples on the homeward stating at the same time that, although dropping Colombo entailed loss, they would give it six months trial. Subsequently a telegram was received stating that the September steamer would leave Plymouth four days earlier than under the existing timetable, and arrive at Townsville two days earlier and this was approved of. But the printed timetable furnished by the contractors only provided for reaching Townsville one day earlier. This was strongly objected to, and the contractors were informed that they had, by this means, infringed the most vital part of the engagement. An improvement will probably be effected at an early date in the direction indicated.

The average time occupied between London and Brisbane during the year 1881 was as follows:

    Days Hours
Inwards London to Brisbane    
  Via Torres Strait and Brindisi 17 20
  Via direct route 59 21
Outwards Brisbane to London    
  London to Brisbane 48 5
  Via direct route 57 21

The question at issue between the Imperial authorities and the post office of this Colony in regard to the differential rates of postage is fully gone into in the Report, as well as that of the correspondence with the Victorian Government on the subject of a the postal union. It is announced that the system established in Queensland in 1880 for the transmission of wholly unpaid letters has now been adopted throughout the Australian colonies.

The numbers of letters, papers and packets passing through the office during the year showed a great increase:

The inland mail service at the end of 1881 covered a distance of 22,129½ miles being 808 miles by rail, 3044 ½ by Mail Coach and 18 277¼ by horse. The total number of miles travelled during the year was 2, 806,548 exclusive of railway services, the average cost is 4¾d per mile which is ½d per mile less than during last year.

Branch services were established during 1881 for the conveyance of English mails between Thursday Island and Normanton and between Keppel Bay and Maryborough via Gladstone and Bundaberg to connect with the Queensland Royal Mail steamers once a month.

The increase in the revenue of the Post and Telegraph Department during 1881 has been very marked and amounts in the aggregate to £14,902 6s 2d which, with the estimated postages to be collected from the United Kingdom, would be equal to say £16,400.

The return showing the total amount of collections, number of messages transmitted, and amount expended in salaries at the various telegraph stations during the year 1881 compares very favourably with that for the previous year. The receipts in 1880, including cash and OHMS, being £46,313 4s 3d and the expenditure £63,565 12s 2d , while in 1881 the receipts were £53,945 19s 2d and the expenditure was £62,067 14s 5d , the increase in receipts having been £7,632 11s 3d, while there was a decrease in the expenditure of £897 17s 9d, and a decrease in the value of OHMS messages of £502 11s 3d , the latter having been obtained by keeping a strict surveillance over service messages.

As adhesive stamps have been used both for postage and duty purposes since the 1st January, 1880 it was necessary in estimating the revenue for postal purposes to estimate the proportion sold by the Duty Stamp Office during 1881 and it was found to show an increase of 21.98% on the previous year, while the revenue from the sale of stamps by this department during 1881 showed an increase of £8,361 13s 2d 21 as compared with the revenue apportioned for 1880 or 22%. As this was a considerable increase in both cases beyond the average of former years, the revenue of each office has been taken as shown by the books.

The money order business showed an increase of 6% on the number of notes issued and paid and 10% on their amount. The cash value of postal notes sold during the year was £2787 l9s, of which 4544 were of the 1s denomination; 1832 of 2s 6d; , 2375 of 5s and 3736 of 10s It is remarked that thus far the postal notes have not appreciably interferred with the issue of money orders.

The number of letters received into the Dead Letter Office exceed those of the previous year by 7,783. Of the letters opened in the Dead Letter Office, 238 were registered and contained property amounting to £389 8s. 2d., while the contents of' 161 unregistered letters were of the value of £1,867 13s. 2d. Only letters posted in Queensland are opened.

304 letters were reported missing - of these all but 13 have been traced. Of those reported, 71 had been mis-directed, 12 mislaid after delivery and 16 not posted.

There were 97,779 letters-registered during the year but the fact of 161 unregistered letters containing property to tho value of £1 867, having-been opened in the dead lotter office during the year and £251 having been compulsorily registered in the General Post Office shows that the safeguards of the system are not by any means fully appreciated.

A new postal regulation was passed in February last authorising "contractors, or the persons employed as mailmen in the conveyance of mails, when required by any person on the road beyond the precincts of a post town or a distance of one mile from the nearest post office, to take in charge any letter or packet bearing the proper postage in stamps affixed thereto, and deliver such letter or packet at any place on the mail line before arriving at a post office".


The Superintendent (Mr. A. F. Matveieff) reports that, since the last Annual Report, the extensions of lines completed are as follows:

The extensions in progress are

There are now 6,295¾ miles of line and 9,181¼ miles of wire opened for public business. The lines have worked well although bush fires have been more than ordinarily destructive and the ravages of white ants have caused many interruptions, yet the delays to business have been for only very short periods with the following exceptions:

The cost of maintenance and repairs during the year was £4807, ranging from 9s. 10d. per mile in the southern and western districts to a fraction over £1 5s. 4d. in the North. Since the 3rd of October last we have worked the duplex system with Sydney up to the present time without a hitch of any kind, except such as caused by ordinary interruptions to the lines. The wire via Tenter field was becoming overcrowded, and the relief and improvement to business by duplexing this route las been very great. On completion of a second wire between Dalby and Rockhampton, should the instruments have arrived, the wire between Brisbane and Bowen will be duplexed and the northern business thereby very much accelerated. In October last a Millikan-Hicks automatic repeater was fitted at Rockhampton and direct working between Brisbane and Bowen rendered possible.

(Brisbane Courier 23 August 1882).