Australia – The Southern Land

The American Revolutionary War is a pivotal part of history. Without the fight for American independence from Great Britain there may not have been a need for new land discoveries. The British may not have had a problem with over-crowding in their prisons. Therefore the British would not have had to look for alternatives for their prisoners. However, The American Revolution did take place and this did lead to a problem of over-crowding in British prisons, for which a suitable solution had to be found. This solution became Australia.

In 1770, Captain James Cook chartered and claimed the solution to Britain’s problem. The east coast of a southern land, far away from Great Britain, isolated from the rest of the world was perfect for a penal colony. Cook named this newly mapped coast New South Wales. So began the first European settlement in Australia, with the arrival of the First Fleet of eleven convict ships in Botany Bay on January 20th 1788.

Many of the prisoners abolished to these penal colonies were sentenced for petty theft and some were sentenced because of political reasons. One such criminal, Isaac Nichols, accused of theft, was transported on the Third Fleet, Admiral Barrington, to New South Wales. After his seven-year sentence was complete, he chose to stay on in the colony. Isaac Nichols became a highly successful businessman, increasing his landholdings and ship trade.

The frenzied scramble for mail on the arriving ships at the dock created a need for a more organised method of sorting mail on its arrival. Thus, on the 25th April 1809 Nichols was entrusted with the job of receiving and organising mail arriving by ship. He would pick up the mail, take it to his house in lower George Street and post a list with all the mail recipients outside his house.

The first organized postal services on the southern land had begun.

For all items from New South Wales and other Australian States visit

One such amazing item is a newspaper wrapper sent from the Cape and redirected to THREE States in Australia!

Cape cover redirected to Three Australia States

Cape newspaper wrapper redirected to Three Australian States

Cape QV 1d newspaper wrapper initially addressed to Hobart, Tasmania; from thence to Melbourne; from thence to South Australia; from thence to New Zealand. For full description visit Filat AG’s online store.

Sir Lowry’s Pass Crash – The First South African Airmail Disaster

History of the Pass

Sir Lowry’s Pass Crash occurred many years after the pass was built. During the early 1800s, travellers had to brave a kloof that was so steep and rocky that it was easier and safer for them to disassemble their wagons and take them up piece-by-piece. More than three hundred years later it is still possible to see the grooves in the rocks where some of the wagons were dragged over the rocks. In 1958 these ruts were declared a South African national monument.

A kloof that was known as Gantouw (Elands Pass) by the Khoi people – likely because of the sure-footed Eland that would traverse it in search of greener pastures, came to be known as the “Hottentots Holland Kloof Pass” by the Dutch and British settlers at the Cape as they built a rough pass following the Gantouw route. By 1821, 4 500 ox-wagons would cross this pass every year. The route was still a challenge for the ox-wagons and many of them would get damaged on this route.

It was not until Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole, Governor of the Cape Colony from 1828 to 1833, had the foresight that a better road needed to be built in order for the growth of the Cape Colony to expand.

Sir Lowry’s Pass Crash: The First South African Airmail Disaster

The Surveyor General, C C Michell, advised that instead of trying to fix the old Kloof they could build an entirely new road with an easier gradient to the south of the old kloof. After many unforeseen problems along the way, the new road was built. Sir Lowry’s Pass was officially opened on 6th July 1830.

One hundred and one years later, on unlucky Friday 13th 1931, a Puss Moth aircraft with a pilot, two passengers and commercial mail experienced severe turbulence over Sir Lowry’s Pass and fatally crashed due to structural failure of the wings. Very few mail items were recovered. This was the first airmail disaster in South Africa and is now known as the Sir Lowry’s Pass Crash.

Filat AG has three of these rare crash covers on offer. The first is one of two registered covers on record and was sent from Durban to Cape Town:

sir lowry's pass crash registered crash mail from Durban to Cape Town

Registered crash mail from Durban to Cape Town.

The second item from the Sir Lowry’s Pass Crash is addressed from Grahamstown to England with accompanying roneoed notelet showing typing error “1913” for “1931” corrected in pencil:

sir lowry's pass crash envelope address panel from Grahamstown to England

Envelope address panel from Grahamstown to England

The final item was addressed from Durban to England (presumably), accompanied by roneoed notelet and further correspondence between the owner of the recovered letter and LA Wyndham:

sir lowry's pass crash cover from Durban to England

Envelope from Durban (cds 12 NOV 31) to (presumably) England

To view further images for this item click here.