The winner of the Best New Passport was Australia’s new R series Passport, one of Note Printing Australia’s most ambitious and transformational projects in its 110-year history.

Released in September 2022, the R series is the fifth passport series that Note Printing Australia (NPA) has developed for the Australian Passports Office (APO), and by some margin the most ambitious book NPA has ever manufactured. Thanks to the addition of a new set of technologies built from the ground up, the R series continues the tradition of Australian citizens benefiting from having one of the most advanced, secure travel documents.

The major security driver of the project is the addition of a technically advanced, highly secure polycarbonate data page complimented by vivid, bold double page imagery throughout the visa pages utilising enhanced design that leverages new printing techniques.

Inn 2015, the APO approached NPA with a request to start working on a new series of Australian travel documents. The APO provided a series of criteria that included descriptions such as a ‘wow’ factor. While the criteria was broad, the intent was that it needed to be at least as secure as the existing P series book. Interpreting a brief is always challenging, and in responding NPA initiated the process by investigating a new approach to the R series travel document.

NPA collaborated with the APO on the idea of celebrating the Australian landscape and created the concept of a Northabout journey that started in Canberra and travelled north and anti-clockwise around the country. The landscape imagery needed to capture Australia’s unique light – harsh, bright, big – that highlights Australia’s amazing natural environment and colour palette.

The representation of First Nation Peoples has always been an important inclusion in previous Australian Passport series. This time was no different. The NPA Design team borrowed the ‘Yumari’ painting from previous series and represented it via a watermark feature in the visa page paper – metaphorically representing the fabric of Country, whilst physically serving as the backdrop for each of the 17 locations. In addition, every second double-page spread has a detailed, high contrast electrotype watermark in the form of a kangaroo. The kangaroo borrowed from the Australian Coat of Arms on the cover, follows the R series journey throughout the different locations being positioned on the horizon of each image. This theme extends out as a blind deboss on the back cover.

This remarkable passport exposes the observer to a rich ensemble of Australia’s topographical beauty and when all lights are off, the dreamlike ultraviolet nightscapes become familiar and connects with all Australians.