Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wet Days & Wine

Ahhh, the vineyards of Polkolbin in the spring time can be quite picturesque with lush verdant vines thriving in the warm Australian sunshine. 

 .... What !!!

Well normally this would be the case, however springtime in Australia, especially in New South Wales, can be extremely temperamental, with wild swings in temperature and weather conditions, especially in the current La Nina conditions. And believe me this week certainly proved the point as to the changability of our weather. 

As the week started out it was hot and humid and quite uncomfortable. However, by Wednesday morning the heavens had opened up over the Hunter and dropped over 80 millimetres, which is over 3 inches in old speak, of much welcomed rain over the district. So while our summer is just around the corner, a cold snap such as the one we are experiencing at the moment, can have you wondering why you packed away your winter weight jumper and wet weather gear so early, brrrr

Although the dams can always use a much needed top up, working in the constant precipitation is not much fun and dodging the constant deluges can try the patience of a saint ... or an Australia Post transport driver. 

As Charles Dudley Warner famously said, although mistakenly attributed to Mark Twain,  "everyone complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it" 

However, I just think I'll just let Enya take us out with -

It's In The Rain

Every time the rain comes down,
close my eyes and listen.
I can hear the lonesome sound
of the sky as it cries.

Listen to the rain...
Here it comes again...
Hear it in the rain...

Feel the touch of tears that fall,
they won't fall forever.
In the way the day will flow,
all things come, all things go.

Listen to the rain...
(the rain...)
Here it comes again...
Hear it in the rain...
(the rain...)

Late at night I drift away
I can hear you calling,
and my name is in the rain,
leaves on trees whispering,
deep blue sea's mysteries.

Even when this moment ends,
can't let go this feeling.
Everything will come again
in the sound, falling down,
of the sky as it cries.
Hear my name in the rain.

'In The Rain' lyrics Roma Ryan courtesy 2005 EMI Music Publishing Ltd -

Monday, November 21, 2011

Walking Into The Past

In 1973 the Daily Mirror newspaper described Ingleburn as a "wasteland" dominated by "ugliness, lack of amenities and boredom". As a teenager growing up in the suburb at the time I was absolutely gobsmacked that anyone would describe my town in such vitriolic manner and also as a result of that article, I don't even think my mother has bought a Murdoch published newspaper for nearly 40 years! 

When I was a young kid growing up in Ingleburn in Sydney's south western suburbs, history was something that happened in more exotic locales. In the NSW school history syllabus during the 60's & 70's, we were taught about the great monarchs of the United Kingdom, the journey of Australia's discovery by Captain James Cook, Australia's convict transportation era, the explorations of the Australian continent, the deeds by our brave fighting men at Gallipoli (World War 1) and the defeat of the Japanese by the sons of Gallipoli at Kokoda (World War 2). All great historical events in their own right and it was probably deemed sufficient in the public school curriculum at the time, given the limited resources available to educators at the time.

However, history existed right under our noses if we cared to suspend our prejudices, remove our blinkers and just look at our own town.

The development of Ingleburn can be traced back to colonial botanist, George Caley, who in 1805 traveled from Prospect across to the upper reaches of the Georges River mapping its course near Ingleburn. Not long after the travels of Caley, settlers pushed out of the Sydney confines and into the area that is now known as Ingleburn. In 1809 four soldiers, William Hall, William Neale, Joshua Alliot and Timothy Loughin from the NSW Corps took up farm selections in the area that became known as Soldiers Flat, on the eastern side of Bunburry Curran Creek (according to Parish Maps of the late 1830's show that Bunburry is spelt with 2 r's and not with one 'r' as it is today). Although the southern railway came through in 1858, it wasn't until 1869 that a rail platform was built on the Neale property to service the growing rural industries and so a name had to be found for the new locality. The name chosen was Macquarie Fields, named after the large property located on William Redfern's land holdings to the north of the platform. The properties near the platform changed hands a few times up until 1881 when the area was purchased by Elias Laycock and the home he built on his new holdings  was called Ingleburn House. Also in 1881 William Redfern's former Macquarie Fields property was subdiivided and became the new village of Macquarie Fields. To save confusion over the names in August 1883 the railway authorities decided to adopt the name of the nearby Elias Laycocks house, so the name was changed to Ingleburn. When the area around the station was eventually subdivided, the area simply became known as Ingleburn as well.

As Ingleburn was basically a rural village, most of the early buildings were constructed using easily accessible building materials such as timber and iron. Even the local public school, which was relocated from Brooks Point near Appin and opened in 1887 was originally built as a timber and iron structure. The current brick building, including the teachers residence, that stands on the site today were constructed in 1892 at a cost of  £1097/9/0 ($1.6 million) which reflects the standing Ingleburn had achieved in it's very short history.

Ingleburn even managed their own civic affairs when they elected their own council and which first sat in1896. The first meetings were conducted in Alderman Smiths lounge room (as there was no council chambers at the time) with Mr Barff serving as Ingleburn's first Lord Mayor. Also serving were some old Ingleburian names such as Mr Percival and Mr Collins (the areas first Postmaster) who were elected as Alderman in the first local administration. Eventually the council was incorporated into the Campbelltown Council in 1948. One of the legacies of the Ingleburn Council was the development of Kings Park (now called the Georges River Reserve) in the late 30's as a recreation area and was popular spot for swimming on those hot summer days. It was also where a lot of local kids, myself included, learnt to swim, mainly thanks to the now heritage listed weir that made the conditions less treacherous by artificially slowing down the fast flowing water. The area was also used extensively by the Scouting movement for orienteering and bush related activities, a real asset to the early community before the age of swimming pools.   

In 1901, the original railway station burnt to the ground and so the government decided that it would be one of the first built in the contemporary style of the day, that is in what is known as the 'Initial Island' style. Ingleburn railway is one of the few remaining examples of the first attempts to implement this style of rail architecture into the Sydney metro area and is considered to be the prototype for many other railway station buildings that were erected in the 1910 -20  period using this style.

The Ingleburn School of Arts (Community Hall) is another example of pride in local community, built in the 1920's it is an example of the Art Deco style that was becoming in vogue around that time. The hall has survived during this time, however a recent redevelopment of the Ingleburn Arts Precinct, saw the old hall demolished and now only the facade remains.
It was during the 1970's that population of the former rural village exploded, when the Housing Commission and developers opened up vast tracts of farmland to housing and changed the face of my town forever, dragging the locals from a sleepy insular backwater, to a thriving Sydney suburb. However, what puts Ingleburn apart for other suburbs in south west Sydney is that Ingleburn has a very rich civic and architectural history  ... all you have to do is look.

N.B. - I'd like to thank the Campbelltown City Library, the online resources of the National Library of Australia, the late Ingleburn historian Mrs Genevieve Tregear & my 4th Form history teacher Miss Burrows, who gave me my inspiration ... better late than never!. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Ghosts of Post Offices Past - Ingleburn (2565)

It was in 1896 that the Postal Inspector gave the fledgling town of Ingleburn this less than romantic description: " the Ingleburn community consists cheifly of fruit growers and wool carters" and while not flattering, it was probably an accurate assessment of the community at the time.

The small township of Ingleburn, situated 44 kilometres south west of the Sydney CBD, grew from fairly humble beginnings, originally just a rail platform that was built in 1869 and was originally called Macquarie Fields, after a large property situated to the north of the platform. The name was changed to Ingleburn in 1883 to avoid confusion after the Macquarie Fields estate was subdivided and was gazetted as the town of Macquarie Fields.

The land around the Ingleburn platform was also subdivided into smaller town lots in 1885 and the town began to take shape. As the town grew, so did the needs of the community for postal facilities and in October 1886, Mr W.Collins, a local storekeeper, was appointed as the Ingleburn Receiving Office Keeper (ROK), which paid him an allowance of £5 p.a. ($4,100). By 1891 business had grown sufficiently for the status to be  raised to become a Post Office and Mr Collins appointed Postmaster with remuneration increased to £22 p.a., ($16,600) with a porterage allowance of £10 ($7,500) to move mail between the rail station and Mr Collins' shop. However, not everyone was pleased with this arrangement, as the Collins shop was located a quarter mile away (400 metres), on the western side of the railway line, which was away from the expansion of the town which was occurring on the eastern side of the line, according to the Ingleburn Progress Association in November 1891.

The Postmaster General must have agreed with the sentiments expressed by the Progress Association because in February 1892, arrangements were made with the Railway Department for the Post Office to be moved to the station and Herbert J. Webb was placed in charge, combining both the telegraph and post offices in the one area.

In 1900 the Postmaster General decided upgrade facilities at Ingleburn and with agreement from the Railway Department a new room was built apart from the railway office and included a 'silence' cabinet for the telephone. Miss Frances Quinn was appointed Postmistress in March 1901 on a salary of £55 p.a.($37,000) and this new arrangement also proved quite fortuitous as the Railway Station burnt down in 1901! The Post office continued to grow, with Money Order facilities offered in May 1901 and a branch of the Government Savings Bank in opened July 1901.

In 1909 the Postmistress, Miss Quinn, was transferred to Greta in the Hunter Valley and the Postal Department decided to move the Post Office to the general store owned by Mr A.B. Kavanagh, who became Postmaster in January 1910, mainly because he offered to allow out of hours access to the telephone. However, it was not a popular move according to the local residents, who petitioned to have the Post Office remain at the railway station. Mr Kavanagh sold the business in August 1912  and Mr S. McIlveen became Postmaster. In 1917 Mr McIlveen moved the Post Office to a new brick building on the opposite side of the street (Oxford St) and installed a larger swithchboard ... And of course the local residents opposed the move.

In 1933 the Post Office moved back to the other side of Oxford St and remained there until extensive renovations in October  1964, These renovations involved the complete demolishing of the old store and then rebuilding it as a purpose built Post Office. During the construction phase, the Post Office moved into 41 Oxford Street as a temporary measure and moved back to 10 Oxford Road in December 1964. In March 1970 Ingleburn Post Office finally was granted official status and at the time the Post Office had grown to employ 6 staff  (Postmaster Assistant, P/T Assistant two Postman and one junior Postal Officer)

As Ingleburn continued to grow rapidly during the 1970's so did the needs of the community for better postal facilities and so in 1977 a new Post Office complex was opened at a completion cost of $174,000 ($820,000) . It  was estimated at the time that the building would have a serviceable life of around 20 years, however, after 34 years at 34 Oxford Street Ingleburn, the Post Office continues to meet needs of it's growing and diverse community of nearly 19,000 residents. A far cry from when the Postal Inspector made his cutting remarks in 1896!  

Footnote - Local historians like to point out that the large Bunyan Pine located on the eastern side of Ingleburn Rail Station was planted near the site of  Postmistress Quinn's Post Office which opened in 1901, making that wonderful old pine 110 years old this year!         

N.B. I'd like to thank the staff at the Campbelltown City Library & the online resources of the National Library of Australia for their assistance in compiling this blog.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Lost Post Offices of Australia - Stockton (2295)

In 1800 a gang of 15 convicts, escaping from Broken Bay in NSW, stole the colonial sloop 'Norfolk' and ran aground at the present day Stockton, thus giving the area it's first and more romantic name, Pirate Point. 

Situated less than 1 kilometre across the harbour from Newcastle, Stockton has its own unique history, which dates back to early Aboriginal occupation and was known as  "Burrinbingon" by the local Worrimi tribe. Stockton was known by the aboriginal as a gathering place of plenty as it was well stocked with oysters, pippies and plenty of fish species in the river. When Lt Shortland 'discovered' Newcastle in 1797 word got back to Sydney about the natural riches that could be found, especially the coal and cedar and it didn't take long before 18th century entrepreneurs came to take advantage to the abundant riches. One of the first  businessmen was Hugh Meehan, who in 1799 began operating a saw pit on Stockton's northern shore      

Following the establishment of the convict settlement at Coal River (Newcastle) in 1804, Stockton then became a horrendous place of punishment as convicts were sent over the river to work the lime kilns that were situated close to the former aboriginal middens that were scattered around the area.   

By 1823 the convict era had finished and so private settlements along the length of the Hunter River flourished, including Stockton. Large grants of land were issued in the 1830's and early industries quickly flourished, salt works and foundry in 1838, vitriol (sulphuric acid) works in 1853, tin smelter in 1872 and the colony's biggest textile factory (which burnt down in 1851). however the mainstay was shipbuilding, with at least six shipbuilders operating in the area by the 1860's.

With a population of over 150 permanent residents the first calls were made for the establishment of a Post Office on the peninsular in 1859, however the NSW government declined, mainly due to the high cost submitted by the contractors to convey the mail across the harbour, one tender was quoted as £60 ($10,000), which was considered to high of a cost at the time.

Not to be deterred, in November 1861 representations were once again put to the government, this time by local politician Mr James Hannell and in this instance they were successful. On the 1st February 1862, Mr Samuel Sterling became the first Postmaster of the new Stockton Post Office. A contract was also let to Mr Henry Plenglaze for £36.13.5 ($6,000) to provide a 6 day mail service from Newcastle to Stockton. According to the Parish Maps the first Post Offices seemed to be located off Fullerton Road, near what is now known as Punt St (formerly known as Factory St.). Several Postmasters followed Mr Sterling ... William Adams (1868), Edward Miner (1870) and then in 1873 the former contractor, Henry Penglaze, who held the position until his death in 1882,  then passing the running of the Post Office licence to his wife, Elizabeth.

As Stockton continued to grow, especially when the Stockton Coal Company commenced operation in 1882, so did the demands for better postal services, including the connection to the telegraph. Following an assessment by Postal Inspector Davies in 1886, it was decided to erect an 18 mile  telegraph line from Raymond Terrace to Stockton and amalgamate the Post Office and the Telegraph Office.

In 1887, Stockton at last had an official Post & Telegraph Office with Mr John Beckett appointed to the position with a salary of £124 p.a. ($130,000). On the day he opened Stockton's the new Post & Telegraph, the 27th June 1887, his first message as the official Post & Telegraph master was "I have opened the office here this morning, may I take on a Probationer to carry messages, no other person employed here but myself ", Postmaster Beckett was quick to realise the short comings of being the only employee at the Post Office! Not only was his plea for additional staff agreed to but he also gained a part time Postman as well, John Griffiths, who commenced his rounds on 1st September 1887, thus earning the distinction of being the first postman in Stockton .

In 1890 the Post Office also gained a lamp for the front of the Post Office and as this had to be lit and maintained by Postmaster Beckett, so he asked for and was granted an additional allowance of £4 p.a. ($670) to perform this task. Just another perk of the job that we have seemed to have lost over the years!  

By 1891 however calls were made by the Stockton Municipal Council for a public building be erected for a Post Office, instead of operating out of Mr Bruce's rented premises, so after much negotiating a site on Hunter Street was selected and on the 18th February 1901 at a cost of £1,219 ($815,000) , Stockton finally had a new purpose built Post Office to be proud of.

Over time technology moves on and the Post Office building in Hunter Street had outlived it's useful life which required extensive renovations just to make it habitable. So in the late 1930's it was decided to build a newer office in Clyde St (cnr Douglass St) and update the delivery and retail service. It was with little fanfare on the 6th December 1941 that the new £2,500 ($490,000) modernised Stockton Post Office opened for business. The old Hunter Street Post Office was then sold off and converted into residential flats, eventually the building was demolished and became part of the revamped Stockton foreshore. 

By the late 1990's, the Post Office structure was once again under review and as a result the retail business became an LPO (Licensed Post Office) and is now located in the newsagency at 29 Mitchell St. The old 1941 Post Office building was retained for a few more years before it  too was also sold off and in June 2001, the remaining postal staff and contractors were moved out to Heatherbrae, near Raymond Terrace. 

Next year marks the sesquicentennial (1862 - 2012) of Post Office operations in Stockton, a Post Office that has had quite the history of being moved, updated, downsized, revamped and hopefully, will continue to serve this local community well into the future.

As for the 15 pirates from the Norfolk? Eleven of them stole another boat, but eventually all were recaptured and two of the ringleaders executed ... perhaps they just should have opened a Post Office! 

N.B. I'd like to thank the staff at the Newcastle Library, the National Archives of Australia, The National Library of Australia & the residents of Stockton for their help in compiling this blog.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Holidays .... what are they good for?

It seems that these days, our holidays, like our modern lives, have to be planned, booked and the time spent fully accounted for. It would seem that is why we have such a current infatuation with cruise ship holidays, what could be better than having a fully itemised itinerary of relaxation.

However, this year I bucked the trend by not going on a cruise or even over to Australia favourite overseas holiday destination, Bali Instead I once again booked my holiday at the Australia Post and Telstra sponsored holiday accommodation on Australia's Gold Coast at North Burleigh Beach. The area, located in SE Queensland , is called the Gold Coast because of the large expanses of golden sand on the beaches ... beautiful .

Now, besides the wonderful beaches, the Gold Coast has quite the reputation as Australia's favourite holiday destination because of its proximity to the theme parks, beaches and 24 hour entertainment around Cavill Ave, Surfers Paradise. This means that the Gold Coast  attracts events such as Schoolies Week (an Aussie tradition that signals the end of high school formalities, 100's of work related conventions, end of season trips for sporting clubs and even a round of the V8 Supercars (Australia's premier motor racing marque) on it's coastal street circuit. It is quite the 'in' destination for those who are in full on party mode. 

But thundering V8 Supercars, the Cavill Ave late night bars or even the theme parks weren't my focus this year ... the plan of this years annual break was trying to achieve total relaxation and recuperation. Although we did manage a day excursion and took the train up to Brisbane to check out the beautiful parks and galleries around the wonderful South Bank precinct of the Queensland capital.

It was a holiday of sun, beaches and books, I did not  even go onto the internet (ok I did once to do my banking), or even (shock, horror!) take the Canon 400D out and preferred to capture my whole holiday on the Sanyo S1275 'point & shoot' camera. The reason for preferring the Sanyo was that if I wanted to take a swim, I could, without having to worry about the security of the bulkier Canon DSLR. With the Sanyo I was able to wrap it up in a towel and secure the compact camera that way ... easy as!

So most mornings I woke early, grabbed the towel, grabbed the camera and took a stroll along the pristine beaches of Australia's wonderful Gold Coast region.

So now I can correctly say on my profile that I enjoy long walks on the beach, watching picture perfect sunrises over the ocean and capturing natures beauty .... I have the pictures to prove it! (& I don't like pina colada's or getting caught in the rain!)

So sometimes on holidays it is best just to do absolutely nothing, just sit back, with a good book, comfy chair and enjoy just being away from the humdrum of our everyday lives! And here's a travel tip, don't catch the train into Brisbane from the Gold Coast  ... it sucks!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wonderful Weekend Wanders In Wickham

In my last blog entry 'The Ghosts of Post Offices Past' I covered the Post Offices that were situated in and around the former Wickam Municipality. As I was doing my research I performed a walk around the area armed with my compact S1275 Sanyo to track down and photograph the former Post Office sites. As I decided to walk the route, instead of drive, it enable to to get a different perspective of the area and the more I walked, the more I liked what I saw.

Now to be honest the former Wickham Municipality, comprising the towns of Wickham, Islington, Tighes Hill and Maryville are presented as run down urban grunge by the media, reinforcing an unfair stereotype by those Novocastrians who live outside this wonderful urban gem. Once you move past the sterotypes, you'll be astounded by some wonderful late 19th century archtecture,  such as  the wonderfully restored Tighes Hill School of Arts, magnificent civic parks, historic bridges and some wonderful street architecture that reflect Newcastles evolving social history.

The area also boosted some of the richest Aboriginal sites in the Newcastle area, with a well documented  Corroboree site located on the cnr of Church & Hannell Streets (formerly the St James Anglican Church, now Blackwoods), with the last Corroboree performed in 1830 (Wickham PS Centenary 1878 -1978). In addition to the Corroboree site there were many other sites that evidenced Aboriginal life in the area, with reports that fish traps were set in the tidal mangroves & extensive middens along the sandy shores and clear waters of Throsby Creek. Evidence of the middens can be found if you look closely at the concrete pourings on the Grahame Bridge at Lewis Street, you can still see the shell grit that were taken from the ancient middens during the construction!     

With Newcastle expanding with free settlers after the end of the convict era in 1823, more land was sought as the fledgling settlement of Newcastle spread west. When the railway arrived at Honeysuckle Point (Wickham) in 1857, land situated to the north of the railway was an obvious choice as it was flat fertile land, plentiful food from the numerous creeks and freshwater springs (Islington & Smedmore), the area must've seemed like paradise to the early settlers However, with the settlers came the industry and without todays environmental controls, the original beauty of the area was raped in the push for development .

The were slaughterhouses set up (near the present day Marina), a Soap & Candle factory on the site of Wickham PS), coal mines (Caltex & Tighes Hill PS), a tannery (Tighes Hill TAFE), copper smelting (Port Waratah) and unbridled housing development all contributed to the degradation of the once pristine, sandy banks of Throsby and Styx Creeks.

As more people were attracted to this working class area they bought their stories, leaving  their imprint on the suburbs where they lived and then, as their children grew up, they added more stories to the new tapestry that was being woven. One of the fascinating stories is that  in 1885 a young Henry Lawson (18 at the time), came to work at Hudson Bros at Wickham as an apprentice coach painter and spent a lot of evenings and weekends at the the new Wickham School of Arts to continue his studies for matriculation. His time in Newcastle wasn't a happy one due to workplace bullying and perhaps homesickness, so he returned to Sydney after a few months, becoming one of Australia favourite poets . 

But time moves on and the former Wickham Municipality is slowly recovering from almost a century of unbridled industrial carnage, leaving a landscape that has been changed forever from those heady days in the 1820's when area was known as Whytes Paddock. But with that urbanisation came some beautiful 19th century architecture, expansive parks framed by magnificent fig trees, fascinating streetscapes and stories from people who have generations invested in the area.

Yes the area has it blemishes, that you can't deny, but I'd rather choose to live in an area with a past, than in a suburb without a soul.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Ghosts of Post Offices Past - Wickham (2293)

Wickham Post Office- circa 1900 - NLA C4076 
The 27th Febuary 1871 would  have been quite an important day for the proud residents for the small  town of Wickam as on that day they were proclaimed a Municipality, the first in Newcastle. The new Wickham Municipality incorporated the surrounding towns of Maryville, Smedmore (Wickham North), Linwood, Islington and Tighes Hill ... quite a day indeed!

Wickham LPO 
With the industrial expansion of Newcastle in the 1860's more workers were seeking accommodation so residential land  was opened up from Blane Street (Hunter St) to Whytes Paddock on the banks of Throsby Creek with sales commencing in 1868. Due to it's unique siting, with the harbour and railway close by, industries also were also attracted to the area, with a soap and candle factory, abattoirs (Tighes Hill & Wickham), steam sawmill, Hunter River Copper Works (Port Waratah) and the coal mines situated at Bullock Island (Carrington), Tighes Hill (Ferndale Colliery) and the Maryville (located on the current Caltex refinery), all providing a varied working environment for the Wickham Municipality as the area expanded.

The early living conditions were further enhanced by the limitless supply of fresh water from the Islington sand beds, the abundance of fresh fish, eels and estuary prawns that were found in clear waters of Throsby and Styx Creek.

Tighes Hill 1938 - NLA C4076
As more people were attracted to the area the postal needs of the community also grew and one of the first deputations by the newly elected council in 1871 was to ask the Postmaster-General to establish a formal Post Office and so on the 13th September 1872, local store owner Mrs E.Blackie was appointed Wickhams first Postmistress. The Wickham Post Office grew rapidly becoming a Post & Telegraph Office (7/10/1878), a Money Order Office (MOO - 1/1/1880) and a Government Savings Bank agency (GSB -22/5/1884). Then on the 27/8/1892 the new purpose built Post Office on the Cnr Throsby & Hannell St's opened for business. This beautiful two storey building was built in the James Barnet 'country Post Office' Italian Renaissance' style (although it was completed during the time of  James Liberty Vernon tenure as New South Wales Government Architect) and cost £1897 ($1.4 million) to complete. Sadly we only have photo's of this iconic building left as the 1989 Newcastle Earthquake seriously damaged the structural integrity of the building and as a result the building was demolished. Australia Post also decided at this time to convert the Post Office to an LPO (Licenced Post Office) and this happened on the 1st December 1994.Today the current LPO stands on the former site of the Post Office, albeit now combined with a newsagency.
former Tighes Hill PO

It is also interesting to note that Tighes Hill began operations on the 13th September 1872, the same day as the Wickham Post Office with J.Kilgour appointed Postmaster and like Wickham, the Post Office grew as the population expanded. It became a Money Order Office (22/9/1872), Telephone Service (31/1/1890), GSB (15/10/1894) and then eventually became an Official Post Office (3/11/1914). In 1937 the Post Office moved into a new building at 4 Elizabeth St and stayed there until 1997, when Australia Post closed this wonderful example of an Art Deco Post Office for good.
Islington PO - 1951 - NLA C4076
Islington Post Office was promised to the residents by the Postmaster-General for many years prior to its opening on the 1st January 1893 with S.Proctor appointed the Postmaster. Again it quickly grew with a Telephone Service (18/11/1899), MOO & GSB (9/6/1900) and then finally a Official Post Office in 1941. A new Post Office was built in 1974 for $101,520 and housed the postmen for the Wickham/Islington area, as the then PMG began to restructure mail delivery. This building was then eventually sold in the 1990's and the delivery operations were moved to new larger premises in Hudson St  Hamilton (now itself closed and the operations haved now moved to Warabrook). The retail side of the Islington Post Office itself was closed and the licence sold off. As a result Islington became a Licenced Post Office, another LPO located within a newsagency and with that, the town lost some of its rich postal history.

1974 Islington PO site
Islington LPO 

The last of the area's Post Offices was the Wickham North Post Office located in Downie Street Maryville. It was called Wickham North because there was already a Maryville in Victoria and the authorities didn't want any confusion! When the name was proposed a few old time locals preferred the name Smedmore to reflect the original name for the area, however the PMG stuck to their guns and it remained known as Wickham North Post Office. This little Non Official Post Office (NONO) first opened in 1951 with J.G. Power appointed licensee and it closed in 1971. It reopened in 1972, however by 1978 it had once again closed, never to reopen, although the street posting box (SPB) remained in place until it too was relocated to Hannell Street.

Downie St Wickham 
So one day if you are walking through the streets of the former Wickham Municipality and you feel the hair on the back of your neck rise up, don't be afraid, it is probably just the ghost of a Post Office past looking for some proper closure.

I'd like the thank the invaluable assistance given to me by the NCC Library, Newcastle Family History & Historical Society, the National Library of Australia & Doreen Cummins of the Honeysuckle News & Post (Wickham LPO) in putting together this blog. 

As a footnote it should be understood the name Wickham is actually a corruption of the original spelling of the town of  Whickham, which is located a few miles from Newcastle upon Tyne in north east England   

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sisi Upendo Dubbo

If you lived in one of the many African countries that speak Swahili, "Sisi upendo Dubbo", may just be the phrase that would pass your lips if you came to visit the magical Taronga Western Plains Zoo. The zoo is located a few kilometres outside the New South Wales city of Dubbo and is just over 400 kilometres west of Sydney, on the Central West plains. I have also covered the history of the town and the surrounding area in my blog called  'The Lost Post Offices of  Australia - Dubbo (2830) '  

However, on this visit to this wonderful city I was not admiring the impressive architectural heritage, but I was there with the wife and grand-kids to check out the impressive 300ha open-range zoo.

Now I'm not going to judge on the pro's and con's of whether it is ethical to keep animals in zoo's, however it is quite a privilege to be able to photograph some exotic wild life up close and personal. Also, going to the Taronga Western Plains  Zoo give kids the opportunity to see these wonderful animals outside the confines of their lounge room (via the Nat Geo & Discovery Channels) and where they can learn about the conservation projects that are in place to ensure these beautiful animals are around for generations to come. 

Where is King Julian?

Being tall is not always an asset!
Dinner Time
Meerkats on alert

Looking for love
You look like a tasty treat

I'm the pretty one

The best are always just out of reach

While I would not recommend spending 4 hours travelling confined in a Kia with three children, a visit to the Taronga Western Plains Zoo is a highly rewarding experience for everyone and even if playing 'I Spy' for 400 kilometres may have you contemplating evil, the opportunity to photograph these wonderful animals without bars will make the trip a tad more bearable ... just!     

Sisi upendo Dubbo  ..... yes we do love Dubbo!