Aussie Mail Centre markings

Is anyone else checking out their post to try and fathom the inner workings of Oz Post…and how they ship these tiny rectangles of cardboard to us? I am…and yes, I had a little time on my hands today :yum:.

Bear in mind I get my mail delivered to a southern suburb of Canberra.

So far I have three distinct groupings of markings showing up in my postcards…

1/ SWLF: This one is obvious. It’s probably the closest large mail sorting facility to me. According to Wikimapia this one stands for Sydney West Letter Facility and it’s in Strathfield, Sydney.

I have 9 pieces of mail marked with this…and there are three different numeric codes (which I do not understand the significance of).

I have:
SWLF 991-1 x 1 (Italy);
SWLF 993-4 x 5 (2 x USA, France, Germany and Northern Ireland);
SWLF 994-2 x 1 (Italy); and
SWLF (unreadable) x 1 (USA).

All of these cards also have the neon orange barcodes across the address side of the article, mostly in the long direction, but on one of the USA cards it got done twice, once along each axis…and has 2 x SWLF markings too.

I also have an envelope from country NSW that came through SWLF but has the extra CFCP 459 marking. Apparently this stands for Culler Facer Canceller Preparation. I don’t have this on any postcards as yet.

2/ NMC: This one stands for Northgate Mail Centre and it’s in Brisbane.

I’ve received four pieces of mail through this centre.
NMC 994-1 x 2 (Germany and Brisbane postcards)
NMC 994-3 x 1 (Switzerland envelope)
NMC 994-4 x 1 (Germany postcard)

All have the orange barcode. Switzerland got two barcodes :tada:.

3/ PMC : Perth Mail Centre. Yes! Really!!

I have three postcards through this centre so far. All from Finland.

PMC 995-2 x 3 (Finland)

All with orange barcodes, one with two orange barcodes.

I do have two Australian postcards here with no cancellation marking whatsoever…which is, apparently, how many of my cards are arriving overseas. I post them outside a Local Post Office here, in the red box. I’m disappointed that I need to go into the actual post office and wait in a queue with often many, many other people in close confines, in order to get my cards cancelled/postmarked by the counter staff :frowning:. So I haven’t been doing it at this point. Maybe post-pandemic.

I have just one postcard from Germany that appears to have escaped the system. No mail centre marking, no neon orange barcode. It has been postmarked in Germany though.

I also have one envelope from the US that has no Aussie mail centre markings, nor neon orange marking, but it did score a yellow sticker with a black barcode instead. It peels off easily. I’m not sure where it came from though (the yellow sticker). It was also postmarked in the US.

I will be very interested to see if this changes with time, as the pandemic situation changes. I feel like there’s probably a mail centre in Melbourne…but I guess I’m not surprised that none of my mail has been routed through there recently.

This external thread here has some interesting chat on the various mail centre markings…if you find the minutiae interesting.

19DEC21 - ETA a list of the centres so far:
DLC - Dandenong Letter Centre - Victoria
NMC - Northgate Mail Centre - Queensland
PMC - Perth Mail Centre - Western Australia
SWLF - Sydney West Letter Facility


How interesting!
I’d never stopped to think it might mean something. I get annoyed when, for reasons best known to themselves, probably laziness, they stamp it on the front of the postcard, and imo, spoil the picture. Great to have a lasso in photoshop to use when I scan my cards into my gallery.

I’d had a quick look at my recent cards and most are SWLF, with quite a few from DLC (Dandenong, here in Melbourne) and a few from PMC. I’ll be on the lookout now to see where they have been. Thanks for that information. Who would have thought! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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I haven’t received any that have been postmarked on the front…yet :grimacing::crossed_fingers:t2:.

I think this is all a highly automated system, with postcards and letters zipping around on conveyor belts and being scanned, stamped and sorted. I think the stamping on the front is probably erroneous, like the cards of mine that have been stamped twice or stamped along two axes instead of one. Are the ones that are stamped on the image side also stamped on the writing stamp?

I’d absolutely love to do a tour of the SWLF. I read somewhere that they do have occasional open days. I think the information I read was dated pre-pandemic though (or it may have been a private tour). I doubt tours will be available any time soon, at any rate. But one day, I’d love to see these facilities in action!

Thanks for the information about the Dandenong Mail Centre! I wonder if I’ll ever get one routed through there?!

It drives me crazy that all of my tracked mail from Melbourne goes to Sydney first, and then comes back to Canberra. :tired_face::tired_face::tired_face:

The card I have on hand which arrived in the last week was only stamped on the front.

I expect whoever loads the machine/conveyor or whatever to put the cards/letters in the right way. I guess they are just overworked :slightly_smiling_face:

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I can now add:

DLC - Dandenong Letter Centre, Victoria to the list of pit-stops taken by my PC mail!

This one arrived today from Canada, and went through the DLC on 22/11/21 before heading to Canberra.


I’m in Brisbane, the vast majority of my postcards seem to come through Sydney. I should take a look and see if I can find any card with DLC, I don’t recall ever noticing it.

This card is one of my absolute favourites, both because of the image as well as the message on the back. But AusPost saw fit to mark it on the front twice!! :see_no_evil::see_no_evil::see_no_evil:

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Ack! That’s such a mess. :scream: It is/was a beautiful card!

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Haha, found one! Upsidedown, half off the edge of the card. I’d love to have seen how it flew through the machine to get an angle like that :joy:


When I lived in Griffith in NSW, I could only post in the Red Mail Box. The staff would accept letters/cards, but had to put them in with everything else.

So if I wanted to send to another PO Box in town, behind me as I stood and put said items into said Red Box, it would go to Wagga or Canberra to be sorted and then returned to Griffith. So a 400-800km journey for something that could have been done in 12 steps!


Arrrggghhhhhhhh! :exploding_head:

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Thank you very much for opening this topic. I stumbled upon it by pure chance sometime in January this year and it cleared a mystery for me back then.

Yes, I do check my postcards to fathom the inner workings of international mail - especially if they take exceptionally long to reach me.

This year I have received at least 4 postcards (2 of them officials) which went over Australia and got a nice and clear SWLF mark. All of them had clearly written AUSTRIA as destination (two even had “EUROPEAN UNION” added) :woman_facepalming:t2:
Now I already recognize the marking and think “Oh, there have you been!” And I have to say that travel times got incredibly fast - what was months at the end of 2021/start of 2022 takes now just weeks.

So many thanks once more for opening this and especially for showing photos of the mail markings :+1:t2:


Hey @PenCake! I’m so glad my little investigation helped clear something up for you!

I’m amazed the postal system is also confused by the difference between Austria and Australia!! I recently tagged someone who was asking for specific country cards from a particular set. They had Austria, but not Australia…and I had it so…Tag!

I quickly received a private message with a sad face emoji on it, from them…with words to the effect that they already had the Austrian card.

I nicely said that that was very nice and now they could have Australia too…because that was what I was offering to send them. Not Austria. Crisis averted!!! :rofl:

But I’m surprised the sorting machines get it wrong too! It’s a shame your postcards can’t supply more fun details of their stopovers!!! :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

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And I learnt something more about Canberra mail yesterday. If I’m sending to another Canberra address…the postoffice advised me to lodge it over the counter. That way it would go direct to the required Canberra address. If I put it in a red box…it will go to the Canberra address, via the Sydney mail sorting facility!! YIKES!!! I guess I kinda suspected that this is what was happening. But it’s still crazy :crazy_face:.


The “efficiency” of central sorting centres…! But this thread reminds me, I got a card the other day with SWLF in the usual place, then NMC vertically on another side dated two days later, and then a Townsville Mail Cente postmark over the stamp three or so days after that… and then the card was in my mailbox (in Brisbane) the following week. Great work AusPost, third time’s the charm :+1:


Long time no post - but I definitely received some more mail via Australia :australia:
Earlier this year I got my first European postcard from Ukraine via Australia, plus USA and Malaysia.

My absolute highlight so far arrived yesterday

I regularly receive mail from Australia, but this the very first one with an Aussie Mail Centre marking (first one from PMC too if I’m not mistaken). Now I’m wondering - will it be the last? Will I eventually receive something via DLC and NMC too? :thinking:

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Wow!!! That postcard you mentioned sure took the long way round. I really wish they could talk! What a tale it would have to tell.

At least the envelope you have pictured above seems to have taken a sensible route! Perth Mail Centre (PMC) being close to Fremantle where your envelope was Initially posted. And it only took one day to travel from Fremantle to PMC…winning! How long did it take to reach you after it was at PMC on 18/05/23?

I’ll keep my fingers crossed you receive something through DLC and NMC some day soon too!

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That envelope arrived this Monday June 12 :mailbox_with_mail:

I’ll shout “Bingo!” should I receive something via DLC and NMC too :sweat_smile:

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Yes! And I’ll send you a congrats card!! :smiley::heart:

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Do postcards have to contain these, or are they only for ones travelling from australia? I can only see two cards of mine that have this at all, one is mostly illegible but the other one definitely went through DLC which makes the most sense.

Although, interesting thought; I’ve lived in the same area for a lot of these and they’re very well decorated OR have lots of writing - do posties avoid giving markings to such cards, esp. if they can clearly see where it’s going?
If so, that’s really sweet - I can’t see space on a lot of these where they COULD stamp without ruining the message or the art, so that’s why I’m thinking… maybe they thought the same and avoided stamping the card, which would be very nice of them to do.

I have received the odd card that doesn’t have any of the mail centre markings. But I think most of mine do…somewhere. I will admit to not paying much attention though these days…so I’d have to back and check…once the sun comes up though…and after parkrun :yum:.

It is my understanding that they get put on during the automated sorting process on fast moving tracks where they are then sorted into destinations and directed accordingly. So I don’t believe that it has a lot to do with them being neat or decorated etc. Maybe you’ll get less of the ‘grafitti’ if your address is neat and the machine gets it the first time.

But I do see them going through and being stamped repeatedly. I’ve had postcards that have the mail centre markings along multiple different axes and on both sides. In my head I imagine it going through the sorting and either needing to go around again because the destination address wasn’t captured adequately (maybe poorly written, maybe incorrect) or maybe some part of the machinery was obscuring the address? So then they go back in and get re-jiggled, turned sideways, flipped over and go through again…and again and again until they are satisfactorily directed for delivery. I imagine after several unsuccessful attempts they end up in a ‘can’t be auto-sorted’ area and someone has to manually work out if it is deliverable or not.

I would love to go visit a letter sorting facility one day. Sydney used to have open days…but last time I looked they hadn’t had one since before covid. So my musings on what happens is based on glimpses from publicity photos and news I’ve seen on the parcel sorting process…the rest is my imagination :yum:.