Sydney to San Francisco mail steam ship’s 150th anniversary

Australia Post is releasing a commemorative stamp to mark the 150th anniversary of the Sydney to San Francisco mail steamer service.

On 26 March 1870, the SS Wonga Wonga departed Sydney for Honolulu via Auckland. It was the first steamer to depart from the Australian end of the new Sydney–San Francisco route. The following month, the SS City of Melbourne joined the Wonga Wonga on the Pacific route

Australia Post Philatelic Manager Michael Zsolt said the stamp celebrates an important milestone in Australia’s transport history.

“The vessel featured on the stamp, the SS Wonga Wonga, was a steamer built by J & G Thompson on the Clyde River in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1854, which underwent significant refurbishments in 1868, prior to being chartered for the Pacific route.

“The SS Wonga Wonga and SS City of Melbourne travelled as far as Honolulu during the first year of service, where passengers and cargo would then be transferred to American-flagged vessels,” he continued.

The watercolour image was painted by ship enthusiast and maritime painter Dickson Gregory (1871–1947), who was an avid collector of information relating to Australian sea vessels and painted many ships.

The products associated with this issue are a sheetlet of 10 x $1.10 stamps, sheetlet pack, first day cover, maxicard and postal numismatic cover.


The commemorative stamp issue is available at participating Post Offices, via mail order on 1800 331 794, and online at, while stocks last.


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