July 18, 1914
French pilot Maurice Guillaux achieved a major aviation record by completing the first official airmail flight in Australia. Guillaux began the Sydney-bound flight aboard a Bleriot XI monoplane on July 16 at 9:12 a.m., taking to the skies from the showgrounds in the Melbourne suburb of Flemington.
Guillaux made landings at Seymour and Wangaratta before reaching Albury. (Due to the plane’s limited fuel capacity, Guillaux had to make refueling stops at those communities and others en route to Sydney). After having lunch in Albury, Guillaux made a stop at Wagga Wagga before reaching Harden. Guillaux twice found himself — both on that day and the next — flying out of Harden and then being forced to return there due to bad weather. He finally resumed his flight without additional weather-related delays on the morning of July 18, making stops at both Goulburn and Liverpool.
After having lunch in Liverpool, Guillaux took to the skies again and finished his flight by landing at Moore Park in central Sydney at 2:55 p.m. He was greeted there by a large crowd that included New South Wales Governor Sir Gerald Strickland. A band played the French national anthem “La Marseillaise” in honor of Guillaux, and he distributed the mail that he had been carrying on board his plane. These mail items included 1,785 souvenir postcards created by the British Imperial Oil Company, which had supplied the fuel for the flight, as well as some Lipton’s Tea and O.T. Ltd. lemon cordial.
Guillaux’s trip took two days, five hours, and 43 minutes altogether, with an actual flying time of nine hours and 35 minutes. Along with being the maiden airmail flight in Australia, Guillaux’s 582-mile (936.6-kilometer) journey from Flemington to Sydney was the longest-distance airborne postal delivery up to that time.
Additional information on Maurice Guillaux and his record-setting 1914 airmail flight is available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Guillaux.