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Australia Post stamps take flight over the Cocos (Keeling) Islands

The sky’s the limit for aviation enthusiasts and stamp collectors, with Australia Post’s latest stamp issue taking a look at Cocos (Keeling) Islands civil aviation history.

Australia Post Philatelic Manager, Michael Zsolt said, “Civil aviation played a particularly vital role in Cocos (Keeling) Islands development helping to overcome the tyranny of distance through faster transport and communications. We trust this stamp issue will be popular with the public, collectors and especially aviation enthusiasts.”

Aviation began on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in 1939. Qantas used the airstrip at Cocos on its early post-war regular service on the main “Kangaroo Route” to the United Kingdom. In 1952 Cocos became an Indian Ocean refuelling post on the long-haul flight between Sydney and Johannesburg, South Africa.
In the years since, a variety of operators and aircraft types have operated services to Cocos.

The four domestic base-rate ($1) stamps were illustrated by Sydney-based illustrators Jamie and Leanne Tufrey. Each stamp represents a “chapter” of Cocos (Keeling) Islands civil aviation history, from 1939 to the 1970s:

  • Consolidated Model 28-3 aircraft shown in the stamp design represents the first-ever flight to Cocos (Keeling) Islands in 1939. The Consolidated Model 28-3, NC777 Guba, a civil version of the Catalina flying boat, undertook a survey for an alternative route to deliver airmail to England in case war broke out in Asia and interrupted the Empire route.
  • Avro 691 Lancastrian VH-EAS shown in the stamp design represents another survey flight, this time in 1948. Qantas Empire Airways made the flight to ascertain the practicality of the Wallaby Route, which it hoped to operate between Sydney and Johannesburg. The success of the survey flight led to scheduled services commencing in 1952.
  • Lockheed L-188 Electra was the third aircraft type operated by Australia on the Wallaby Route, after the Constellation and Super Constellation. Qantas Electras began flying the route in 1963. The aircraft in the stamp design is VH-ECB Pacific Explorer.
  • Boeing 727 aircraft began services to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the early 1970s, operating under the ‘two-airline policy’. Ansett Airlines of Australia and TAA flew charter flights between Cocos and Perth using Boeing 727s. The aircraft in the foreground on this stamp is VH-TJA James Cook, a TAA Boeing 727-76.

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

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands: Aviation stamp issue is available from participating Post Offices, via mail order on 1800 331 794 and online at auspost.com.au/stamps from 31 October 2017 while stocks last.
For more information please visit auspostcollectables.com.au.