Australian Postage Stamps used in PNG

World War II ended in the Pacific region somewhat later than in Europe, that date being August 5, 1945

Shortly thereafter reconstruction began throughout the land.

The previously separate issues for New Guinea and Papua were brought together into a single administrative unit – the Territory of Papua and New Guinea – under Australian administration.

A civilian administration took control as of October 30, 1945.


The use of Australian postage was decided upon since there were no available stamps for the territory. Those stamps issued prior to the war were no longer available in sufficient quantities.




Remainders of old stock of both pre-war territories remained valid. It was primarily collectors that made use of this possibility.

Stamps alone are not proof that they came from the 1945-1952 time period, but rather the postmarks show that they were used in Papua and New Guinea.

This is an interesting time period in the study of the postal history of the island of New Guinea.

Fortunately for the philatelic hobby, enterprising collectors searched out cancellations and covers from different post offices. Without them we would not be able to document that postal history period of Papua and New Guinea. The effort of British stamp dealer, Roger Wells, and the missionary and philatelist Harry Voyce, are particularly mentioned here.


The first Post Offices that were opened in 1945 were  Port MoresbyDaru and Samarai. A fourth post office, Abau, opened 10.12.45.

All of these post offices were in the former Territory of Papua. Post Offices in the former New Guinea were not opened until the following year in 1946.


All of these post offices were equipped with Australian Relief date stamps from Queensland with the inscription "PMG'S DEPT" plus the additional notation as shown in the example "C1", since regular date stamps were not yet available.



Regular registration labels were also not available, resulting in a variety of provisional labels that had manuscript markings, rubber stamp imprints, or the currently used Australian blue labels.


Port Moresby 30.10.1945
Port Moresby 30.10.1945



Abau 13.01.1946

Examples of Daru and Samarai from his period, with "PMG'S DEPT" relief date stamps, have presently not been reported.


In the following year, 1946, 20 additional post offices were opened. For many, such as Aitape, Angoram, Buin, Buka Passage, Bwagaoia, Kairuku, Kavieng, Kieta, Manus, Maprik, Namatanai, Salamaua and Wau, regular date stamps were available.




Buka Passage










Further openings occurred in 1946 at Rigo, Lae, Wewak, Madang and Higaturu. Here special PNG relief date stamps came into use. They were inscribed RELIEF – PAPUA-N.G. and were numbered 1 to 6.



Relief Nr. 6 - 11.07.1946

The accompanying letter out of the early days at Wewak post office, is cancelled with Relief N°6 date stamp plus an addition rectangular "concession" rubber stamp noting that a military person was the sender. Therefore the letter was carried "postage free", however the airmail surcharge of 3 pence had to be paid.



Additional specialities for 1946 exist from the Rabaul and Losuia post offices.



At the opening of the civilian post office in Rabaul, because of the absence of a regular date stamp, the available Field Post Office date stamp was used.





In Losuia the pre-war date stamp was used for a short period.

Initially registration labels were not available. The Samarai transit office was the first to add such a label.


In 1947 an additional nine post offices were added:

Date stamps were already available for BuloloGasmata, Kokoda, KokopoMilne Bay and Talasea.



Milne Bay

Relief date stamps were necessary for the opening of Kerema, Goroka and Kikori.

Relief Nr. 6 - 21.04.1948

Goroka received a variant of the Relief date stamp. It was inscribed "POSTAL DEPT." with the additional distinction of D4.

These date stamps were rarely used.

The first 1000 registration labels were printed with the typographical error "Garoka".


In Kikori the Relief date stamp N°3 was used at first. The date stamp broke down and was replaced with the Relief N°4 date stamp, and still later by the regular date stamp.



Relief date stamps were not only utilized at the opening of a post office, but also when needed to replace defective date stamps, as well as when additional date stamps were required.




Finschhafen was the only Post Office opened in 1948.

However, Finschhafen's date stamp only has on "H" in its name, whereas the registration label is correct. The typographical mistake was considered minor in nature, and was only corrected in 1955 when a replacement date stamp was issued.


In 1949 the following post offices were opened: Chimbu  and Sohano. With Sohano we see that the former Buka Passage was renamed.


In Lombrum the Naval Post Office was using the date stamp RAN Post Office N°3. After March 1949 the post office also handled civilian mail.


Another Military Post Office that would later be converted to a normal civilian post office was Momote. Here it deals with an Air Force Support Post of the Australian Army/RAAF on the island of Los Negros.


The post office at Kandrian opened on July 29, 1950 and replaced the post office at Gasmata, a distance of around 100 kilometres, which had closed the previous day.

Since the new date stamp was not yet available, a relief date stamp was called upon.

The registration labels from the closed Gasmata post office were used until 1952 when the supply had been depleted.


In 1951 the following six post offices were opened:

Bainings, Esa`ala, Lorengau, Popondetta, Kukipi and Ihu.


A name change occurs with the post office at Lorengau.

The 1946-opened post office at Manus received a new name.

Popondetta replaced the post office at Higaturu. The village with a ppulation of 3,000, was totally destroyed on January 21, 1951, by the eruption of the volcano Mount Lamington.

On August 1, 1951 the post office at Popondetta, some 15 kilometres away, opened using the Relief N°3 date stamp.




The last two post offices to be opened before the introduction of PNG postage stamps were the offices at Kukipi and Ihu. Both were small offices with minimum postal revenue. Letters with Australian franking from these settlements are difficult to find.




Unofficially the post office at Konedobu was opened as a sub-office of the Port Moresby post office.

The Relief date stamp inscribed POSTAL DEPT C3 PNG was put to use at this office.

In 1952, Papua and New Guinea was served by 40 post offices, in an area that was approximately twice as large as Great Britain.

Special Varieties

Many varieties make this period interesting for the PNG collector.

Because of the lack of a road system for transportation, much use was made by the post office of internal air routes.


Erstflug Rabaul- Sydney

Letters document the rebuilding of the air routes in PNG.

First Flight Port Moresby - Kokoda
First Flight Popondetta - Port Moresby

Many flight connections were only scheduled weekly, or less frequently because of poor weather conditions. This resulted in a search of alternatives.


Mail transport by boat or mail runner was frequent, yet was not documented on the letter itself. Shown here is a delivery advice notice informing the reader that the mail was delivered by runner, and also a letter which was carried by ship.


Occasionally registered letters were only recognized as such at the Sydney transit post office and where then handled accordingly. Such letters are recognized  by the registration label with the additional O.R. endorsement – officially registered – officially handled as registered mail.

Port Moresby 13.06.1947

On October 30, 1952, Papua and New Guinea issued its own postage stamps and thus ends the Australia period of postal history.

PNG FDC 30.10.1952

Concurrent use of postage stamps

However, Australian stamps were allowed to be used after the release of the Papua & new Guinea stamps.


Last day of permitted use of Australian stamps was February 28, 1953.



Mixed franking

This allows for the possibility of mixed franking: Australia - PNG.

Australian postal stationery was valid beyond February 28, 1953 and until Papua & New Guinea issued its own postal stationery. Additional franking was possible with both Australian and PNG postage stamps. After March 1953 only PNG postage stamps were allowed.







The information on our website with regards to "Australian Postage Stamps used in PNG" comes from:

  • The Postal History of Papua New Guinea by M. J. Garwood & R.A.D. Heward
  • The Registration Labels of Papua New Guinea 1945 - 1973 by Henk J. Teunis
  • Papua Post, the newsletter of the Interessengemeinschaft Neuguinea
  • Private research by members of the Interessengemeinschaft Neuguinea

Many thanks to all ING members for their contributions.


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