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Norfolk Island World Heritage convict sites in new stamp issue

Australia Post marks historic World Heritage convict sites on Norfolk Island with the release of two new stamps.

Focusing on the penal settlement buildings, ruins and archeological remains which now comprise the Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic Area (KAVHA), the stamps recognise two sites settled, and then later abandoned, by early British settlers.

Lieutenant Philip Gidley King, along with a party of 15 convicts and seven free men, arrived on Norfolk Island in 1788 before leaving in 1814. The island lay abandoned until the establishment of a second settlement in June 1825, which ceased in 1855.

Among the 11 sites worldwide the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) describes as “the best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and the colonial expansion of European powers through the presence and labour of convicts”, KAVHA is part of the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property.

Australia Post Philatelic Manager, Michael Zsolt said, “This stamp issue presents two historic sites from the second penal settlement on Norfolk Island, symbolising the harsh and unforgiving conditions experienced by convicts sent there. We trust collectors and those who study Australian history and historic architecture will find this issue of particular interest.”

The domestic base-rate ($1) and large letter rate ($2) stamps were designed by Jo Muré of the Australia Post Design Studio and feature:

  • The New Gaol was completed in 1847 and used as a form of secondary punishment, with inmates required to undertake strenuous tasks. The New Gaol was a rare example of pentagonal design, evident in the historical drawing in the background of the stamp. The photograph used in the stamp design is by Steve Daggar.
  • The Prisoners Barracks was completed in 1835, with a third story added later, and housed almost 1,000 men and boys in cramped conditions. Its arched entrance is colloquially known as Gallows Gate, although there is no historical evidence that the hanging of prisoners took place at that location. The photograph in the stamp design is by Robin Nisbet, and the watercolour in the background is by Thomas Seller, who was the Foreman of Works on Norfolk Island during this era.

The products associated with this stamp issue are a minisheet, first day cover with gummed stamps and a first day cover with minisheet.

The Norfolk Island: Convict Heritage stamp issue is available from participating Post Offices, via mail order on 1800 331 794 and online at auspost.com.au/stamps from 19 September 2017 while stocks last. Norfolk Island stamps are valid for postage in Australia.

Visit the Australia Post Collectables website auspostcollectables.com.au and learn more about Norfolk Island’s convict history.

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