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Australia Post – 200 Years (1988)


This is a short programme produced to mark Australia Post’s commemoration of the 26 January 1988 Australian Bicentennial.

Curator’s notes

One of the 1988 Australian Bicentennial celebratory events was the ‘First Fleet Re-enactment’. A fleet, consisting of the HMS Bounty replica and eight other ships, retraced Phillip’s 1787-88 voyage. Australia Post was one of the principal sponsors of the activity. Its financial contribution became critical when the ‘First Fleet Re-enactment’ lost out to the ‘Tall Ships’, as the official major activity involving sailing ships, funded and directed by the Federal Government. During the 1980s, under the Labor Government, official policy on the national approach to the Bicentennial shifted. With slogans like ‘Celebrating a Nation’ and ‘Living Together’, the Bicentennial Authority attempted to direct emphasis away from commemoration of 200 years of white settlement towards a celebration of the more recent achievement of a successful multicultural society. The decision to back the ‘Tall Ships’, a project where ships from nations around the world came to visit Australia, rather than the ‘First Fleet Re-enactment’, reflected this policy.

As well as sponsoring the re-enactment voyage, Australia Post undertook a number of other Bicentennial activities. A series of First Fleet stamps was released and joint issue stamps with the UK, the US and New Zealand were produced. Although the ‘First Fleet Re-enactment’ did not include Phillip’s landings at Botany Bay and Sydney Cove, a re-enactment of Isaac Nichols delivering the first mail to the colony was staged.

This video program, presented by Shane Withington (at the time a star of the popular television series A Country Practice), was produced by Australia Post to commemorate its contribution to the Bicentennial.