Innovations in transport

Transport and distribution played a pivotal role in the early history of Australia, and determined the rate and diversity of growth. The problems associated with establishing an efficient system of transporting people, food and merchandise, to and from, and within the vast island continent were many and various. The first 100 years of transport relied heavily on imported technology, vehicles and methods, which were quickly adapted to local conditions and applications.

With each new technological development in transport, came profound new social changes that directly impacted on where people lived, how well they prospered and how towns were planned.

In the beginning, convicts and later bullocks, were used to haul carts laden with goods over dirt tracks. The construction of bridges enabled roads and railways to reach the arid inland, and served as lifelines for new settlements and essential corridors for trade. The introduction of clippers on the Australian routes reduced the sailing time between England and Australia from 140 days to just 70. But it was the introduction of the aeroplane which finally conquered the vast distances that isolated Australia, both from itself, and the rest of the world for so long. And the advent of mass unrestricted movement with the introduction of motor cars completely changed the living and recreational patterns of the population, encouraging urban sprawl.

Australian inventors were actively involved with developments of both aircraft and automobiles at the very early stages, and played significant roles in the evolution of both. In shipping, Australian companies were among the first to use roll on roll off technology.

Today, Australia has a sophisticated public and private transport system that efficiently links the capital cities with remote country villages, railway networks with sea ports, and the nation with the rest of the world.

Australia has made many important contributions to transport technology. These include the 'black box' flight recorder and the inflatable aircraft escape slide which doubles as a raft.

As a major exporter of natural resources and primary produce, with vast distances from mines and agricultural centres to sea ports, Australia has also developed an extensive and highly sophisticated materials handling infrastructure. Approximately 75 per cent of all freight travels by road on the more than 2.5 million kilometres of sealed roads. Road trains 62 wheel rigs comprising a prime mover with up to three multi decked trailers haul livestock and farm produce from remote stations to rail heads and distribution points. Two kilometre long trains carry coal and iron ore from mines to sea ports. Even the postman delivers the mail to remote outback stations and farms in a light aircraft.

Recent notable innovations from Australia include a variety of developments, from advances in naval architectural design to sea rescue equipment, and the orbital engine to an imaginative new tyre valve. These and many other internationally significant products and technologies from Australia are reviewed in the following pages.

World first products and technologies in transport and distribution

Public Notice: Due to an unresolved dispute with the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade), who copied and adopted as their own certain material from Tomorrow's World, the Australian Initiative, and published the material in their Australia Open for Business website, without remorse or recompense, access by Australian Government servers to this online edition has been blocked indefinitely.

Print Edition: ISBN 0646252119 - Paperback - 224 pages - 350 illustrations - $55.00 incl. GST.

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