General issues: British colony 1855-1856, British colony/Self government 1856-1901, Australian state 1901-1913
Country name on general issues: South Australia
Currency: 1 Pound = 20 Shilling, 1 Shilling = 12 Pence 1855-1913
Population: 104 700 in 1856, 408 600 in 1911
Political history South Australia
South Australia is located on the southern coast of the Australian mainland. Prior to colonization, South Australia was inhabited by a range of Aboriginal peoples who lived in small bands. The first Europeans to explore the coast of South Australia were the Dutch, from the Netherlands East Indies, in the 17th century. The British explorer James Cook explored the east coast of Australia in 1770 and claimed two thirds of the Australian mainland – up to the present border of Western Australia – for the British and named the territory New South Wales. The colony of New South Wales was established in 1788 after the first British settlement on the east coast – comprising the territory claimed by Cook and thus including the future South Australia. Further exploration of the southern coast took place in the early 19th century by British and French explorers. The first British settlers landed on Kangaroo Island, just off the coast, and established the first permanent settlement in Adelaide in 1836. The colony of South Australia was established the same year.
South Australia was the only colony in Australia that was established as a free settlement colony, rather than a penal colony. Before the actual establishment of the colony, arrangements had been defined governing how immigrants were to be attracted, land divided and the rights of the Aboriginal population respected. Not all of these arrangements, however, were put into practice – in particular those with regard to the rights of the Aboriginals were generally ignored. Politically, the colony gained self government in 1856. The border was moved west to match that of Western Australia in 1861. South Australia joined the federal dominion of Australia – officially the Commonwealth of Australia – in 1901 and has been an Australian state since then.
Economically, as the settlers spread from Adelaide, wool and wheat production were developed. Since the first discovery of copper in the 1840’s, copper mining developed into a significant activity. These activities would be the mainstay of the South Australia economy until, before and after WWII, manufacturing developed. In the late 20th century services developed to become the most important sector in today’s South Australia economy. The South Australia economy is small relative to the economies of the other states – in terms of GDP it ranks fifth among the six Australian states.
Population grew rapidly as the colony expanded in the 1840’s and 1850’s – the immigrants mainly arriving from England. Since those early developments, South Australia has known periods of both net immigration and net emigration. Since WWII, immigrants have come, not only from the British Isles, but also from other European countries and in recent years from Asian countries. Today, South Australia is even more urbanized than the other Australian states – 77% of the population lives in the Adelaide metropolitan area. The Aboriginals account for 2% of the population.
To the north of South Australia lies the Northern Territory. This territory was part of New South Wales since 1788. Coastal settlements were attempted in the first part of the 19th century but were abandoned. Following the first crossing of the Australian continent, from south to north in 1862, by the explorer John McDouall Stuart, the Northern Territory was awarded to South Australia for further development. Darwin was founded in 1869 and Alice Springs in 1872. Cattle farming and mining were developed as economic activities. However, South Australia could not achieve the ambitions for the development of the Northern Territory and, in 1911, the Northern Territory became a federal territory. Today, the Northern Territory is still sparsely populated, accounting for 1% of Australia’s population. Although the majority of the population is of European descent, the Northern Territory has an Aboriginal population that, at 32%, is by far, percentage wise, the largest in Australia.
Postal history South Australia
The first stamps were issued in South Australia in 1855, showing the portrait of Queen Victoria. This first set was printed in London and reprinted in Adelaide, in following years, using the London plates. Stamps with the same portrait, but different frames, were issued from 1860. These early designs would be used until 1891 in a range of color shades, perforations and watermarks. New designs were introduced in 1868 and 1883. Large stamps for postage and revenue were issued in 1887 in denominations up to £ 20. In 1902, and 1904 these were reissued for postal use only – now in denominations up to £ 1. Interesting are the official stamps, issued between 1868 and 1874, for no less than 56 different government departments. A total of 26 different stamps was overprinted with the initials of the departments in black, blue or red. Official stamps for general used were introduced in 1874. The stamps of South Australia were superseded by the issues of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1913.