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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 7

I The First 100 Years 1788-1888

II Railways

III Motorised Vehicles

IV Aviation

V Modern Shipping

VI Innovative Small Craft

VII Conclusion

VIII Acknowledgements

IX Contributors



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Chapter 7 - Transport

Transport can be generally defined as the conveyance of goods and people from place to place for commercial or social purposes. When this definition is placed within the context of a particular country, such as Australia, it fails to convey the vital role, going beyond just physical movement, that transport played in the development of the country's economic infrastructure.

The transport story has been one of constant change and improvement, primarily through the adoption of technological advances, some evolutionary in nature, but from time to time by quantum leaps as engineers harnessed the mechanical sciences to vehicles, ships and aeroplanes.

This steady improvement in speed and means of transport was a vital part in establishing the necessary infrastructure which supported the economic development of Australia. There is a parallel between the progressive emergence of better and more efficient transport systems, and the growth and diversity of the Australian economy. This drive for better ways to cope with the growing transport need, provided the stimulus for Australians, be they engineers, or carriage builders, or shipping managers, to keep abreast of overseas trends in design improvements or, as radically new inventions replaced existing transport vehicles, be prepared to adapt these new machines to local requirements.

Imported transport methods were seized upon as soon as they became available. Local versions were quickly developed with modifications which were appropriate to their intended use, and the conditions under which they would operate. This dependence on imported technology is evident in every transport era, whether it be in coach building, shipbuilding, or later, with the advent of railways, motor cars and aeroplanes. The task was how best to use the new systems or vehicles in the Australian environment. In many instances the innovative application of the new technology was undertaken in response to special circumstances such as unexpected shortages, manufacturing technique or sheer necessity in wartime. When innovation in the transport systems over the last two centuries is put under review, it comprises a myriad of adaptions and modifications. These range from practical changes necessary to keep the vehicles, ships or planes operating under specific Australian conditions, to the use of innovative techniques such as better freight forwarding systems, roll on roll off shipping methods and the flying doctor service. At the other end of the spectrum of transport technology, there are inspired inventions such as the Michell thrust bearing and Interscan, which are at the forefront of transport innovation.

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© 1988 Print Edition page 445, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher