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Using the Post Office for Bicycle Touring in Australia
2002 / July 24
Parcel Post Satchel | Poste Restante
Australia Post, (the official name for the Australian Post Office), offers two services that can be quite helpful to the travelling cyclist.
Neither of these is mentioned at the Australia Post web page, http://www.auspost.com.au/locations/ at the moment, and it might be confusing or difficult for potential users to discover them at post office counters. Certainly, I have met many cyclists, even locals, who do not know about these services. This page is intended to make these services better known to bicycle travellers.
Parcel Post Satchel
In much of the interior of Australia, food and other supplies can be quite limited and often quite expensive. It may also be difficult to buy the relatively small quantities of food that a cyclist is able or willing to carry. Bike supplies may not be available at all.
Australia Post provides a useful parcel product called the "Parcel Post Satchel" a secure self sealing plastic bag [ picture ] about the size of a supermarket bag, which can deliver up to 3 kg anywhere in Australia for a flat, pre-paid fee of A$7.50. (In some remote places, that will be the price of a hamburger!)
The advertised service level is around seven working days as a maximum, so this service is not intended to be an express service - other products offer that level of speed. However, for the purpose of delivering a useful load of goods to re-supply a travelling biker, the tough plastic Satchel is ideal.
A re-supply parcel might include:
This service also has the advantage of being very simple to understand and operate for people supporting you from home base - and easy access for that person may save both of you time & energy! You can prepare the parcels in advance, provide your supporter with the pre-paid envelopes, then simply ask for them by phone or post card as necessary. Your supporter then simply seals the satchel, addresses it - and drops it in any letterbox.
You can also use the same easy service to return valuable items to your base, eg clothes no longer needed, maps you no longer need, souvenirs etc.
(For further information, ask for Australia Post brochure # 8833877 MSO 327, or call 131 118 )
Poste Restante is an international postal convention, operating routinely in Australia , as in most countries. Many travellers in Australia rely on it, but many others, particularly non-English speakers, seem not to be aware of it here.
Australia Post will reliably hold mail marked "poste restante" for at least a month at any Post Office or agency anywhere in Australia - longer if the sender indicates a different period. There may be a fee for parcels held longer than one month.
Any postal product (letter, parcel etc) can be forwarded to, and received from, the Poste Restante.
At the end of that time, if the item is not claimed, it will be returned to the sender, generally free of charge.
Your mail should be addressed :
[ Your Given name + FAMILY NAME in large print]
[TOWN] - [state] Australia - [postcode, if possible]
To collect your mail, simply advise anyone who wants to write to you of your planned route and approximate date of arrival at each place. All towns in Australia, even quite small ones, have at least an agency of the Post Office, though you may need to check with a major post office before you leave, if your map indicates no other services at all at the destination (eg no petrol or hotel).
You will need to present some form of identification to collect your mail.
At the time of writing, there is no extra fee for this service, apart from the cost of the postage paid by the sender. As unclaimed mail will be returned, eventually, it is also reasonably safe even if you happen not to collect it.
This service is useful even to send a letter or parcel to yourself at some point on your future journey (see above for parcel information).
One possible difficulty is that some Post Offices offer a 5 day (only) service, that is , they may be closed on weekends. So you may need to plan your arrival to coincide with opening times.
Using email on the road
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