Eden's Post

Early Days 1847-1848

Postmasters Teas & Solomon 1849-1868

The Kebbys 1868-1907 - The age of the Telegraph

The New (Old) Post Office 1901-1971 & the coming of the Telephone

Sources

 

The first record of a postal service in the Eden area is from 1840 when a postal service began once a week between Broulee and Twofold Bay. Dr Imlay undertook the post conveyance to and from Twofold Bay at his own risk, for twelve months gratuitously.1

 

In March 1844 a post office was opened at Boydtown with Mr. Ebenezer Orr appointed  master2.

 

Early Days 1847-1848

In Eden itself the establishment of a new post office was announced by the General Post Office Sydney on 1 January 1847 the Post Master appointed being Mr Ferris.

 

The opening of the post office at Eden 1848 by Frederick Garling (1806-1873)

 

The residents were apparently not very happy with the service they received “The postal department in the townships of Eden and Boyd is shamefully mismanaged, but knowing from experience any representation to the Postmaster General to be in vain, we shall bide our time in the sure and certain hope of one day catching the right sow by the ear, in which event neither exertion nor expense shall be wanting to make such an example as shall effectually put a stop to this system of petty pilfering.” 3

 

On 3 June Bell's Life4 ran the following

EDEN PAMBULA AND MANEROO.

For the satisfaction of those subscribers to this journal in the above townships and district, from whom we have repeatedly received complaints of the non-receipt of their papers, we beg to publish our correspondence...on the subject. We have but one remark to offer on Mr. Ferris's letter, namely, that not a fortnight since, Mr. James Rixon personally informed us that he had received but one newspaper since February last....

SIR,-I received a letter in due course complaining of the non-receipt of "Bell's-Life" to the subscribers in Eden. I beg leave to inform the writer that there is but one subscriber (James Rixon) to that journal in the township of Eden, who receives his paper quite regularly.

For a length of time the papers of subscribers up the country were improperly directed, and consequently went to Boyd, where they lay a considerable time without being sent for, which caused them, to think there was some irregularity at the Eden post-office.

All the subscribers to that journal (but one) live up the country at distances varying from 15 to 70 miles, and opportunities for sending for their papers are few and accidental.- - To oblige those subscribers, I have at their own request forwarded their papers by drays and every other opportunity I could embrace ; some of these may have been lost on the way, but I am not accountable, as it was at their own request I sent them. The only safe plan for the subscribers to procure their papers regularly is to let each one send once a month to the post-office both at Boyd and Eden, where they will be sure to find them or wait until the overland mail is established from Eden to Cooma which is now in contemplation, which I hope will redress the whole grievance of lost and non-delivered newspapers.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant.

EDWARD FERRIS”

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Postmasters Barclay & Solomon 1849-1868

Postmasters Teas & Solomon 1849-1868

Mr George Barclay was registered as post master at Eden on 20 June 1849 with 'plant and office' located on the business premises of Joseph Teas. When Barclay died in December 1864 Tea's application to succeed Barclay was rejected and Mr Solomon Solomon was appointed post master. Solomon's appointment caused some controversy. His application had been supported by the Bench of Magistrates (of which he was member) and a petition signed by a few local residents but after his appointment there was community outcry and a petition for his removal was submitted along with the nomination of Mr Barclay's widow for post mistress. The petition seems to have failed as Solomon was listed amongst the postmasters and licensed vendors of stamps in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 2nd January 866.

 

Contraversy over the mail from Bombala to Eden 1855-56

Mr. Egan spoke to the Legislative Council: The people of Eden and that immediate locality had petitioned the Government that the mail from Bombala to Eden should travel the direct route instead of at present going out of its direct course but the Postmaster-General had thought proper to adopt a different line from that which they conceived was the proper one...not a single application had been made in favour of the route that had been selected for the mail to travel. Instead of the direct line, the mail travelled by the way of Kamaruka,...Every application made by the people of the district was passed over in silence, and it appeared to them that the only course for them to adopt under the circumstances was to petition the House, and to expose the injustice that had been done to the district. The only cause that could be assigned for this was, according to the general belief, that the owners of a stock station at Kamarouka might be accommodated with their letters some few hours earlier. This was the only reason that could possibly be assigned for the Postmaster-General's adoption of the Kamarouka route, besides the fact that the owners of the station supplied the mail carrier with a horse for his conveyance from Kamarouka to Eden; the extra distance travelled by this route was fourteen miles. ... Now it could be proved that the route by Bega was shorter, and presented facilities to travel not possessed by the other; besides, it was the route usually travelled by draymen and others, while the country was much more thickly populated. The people of Bega had also to complain that they were compelled to go all the way to Kamarouka for their letters....The attention of the Postmaster-General was also called to this subject by a Mr. Lloyd, a magistrate residing at Panbula, who condemned the roundabout way travelled by the mail ...That gentleman described the Kamuouka line as scrubby and swampy,and so narrow that people could only travel along the road in single file, while, from the horrible state of disrepair it was in, the mail bag was frequently so wet that it would look as if dragged through a river. Any honourable member who would read the correspondence would feel surprised at the persistancy of the Postmaster-General in continuing a route with so many disadvantages, certainly it was not the way to serve the public, or to economise public expenditure. It should be remembered that very little was expended upon those distant districts; and in this particular locality, extending over 160 miles; the outlay for Police, and petty sessions clerks was only £1600. At the present time Eden was a place of considerable commercial importance, and every way worthy of the consideration of that House, although in the matter referred to its interest and the interest of the inhabitants of its neighbourhood were made subservient to the interest of the proprietors of Kamarouka stock station. To show that Eden was of some importance, he would mention that the foreign exports of Eden for 1853* amounted to £13,208. while in the year 1854 they had increased to £22,148—not estimating exports coastwise. This was the place that was held as of no importance, and as undeserving to have a mail sent to it. There was no doubt, however, but the district would gradually and steadily increase in importance ; it was a large district, with much valuable land, and the least the population might expect would be to have the advantage of a mail to their township.

 

The Postmaster-General replied “For his own part he did not care a straw which road the mail travelled, unless as far as the discharge of his duties as Postmaster-Generel went...The question was whether for the sake of saving fifteen miles, the mail should travel by Kammoruka or Bega, one place being equal in population with the other. Bega, he admitted was at present time one of the most thriving places in the colony, and will soon become a place of considerable importance. Kamarouka was a large station (it mattered not who owned it) and offered some facilities for the transmission of the mail. Now, the mail had for some time past gone by that route; would it, then, be right to discontinue it to save a distance of fifteen miles, or, should the country be put to the expense of establishing a second mail line? - that was the question.

Excerpts from 'LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL' The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) 31 Oct 1855:

*The original article stated 1840 but was this was corrected to 1854 in the Herald on the 1 November

 

Freeman's Journal of the 3rd November reported that Mr Egans motion was assented to without a division but:

To the Editor of the Empire. .

Sir-I beg, to, direct the attention of the public, through the medium of your journal, to that much-vexed question the mail route by way of Kamarooka, which was decided at the late sitting of the Legislative Council, but which decision at the time did not exactly meet the views of the Postmaster-General and a private company, know as the Panbula Pastoral Association, and owners of the squatting station known as Kamarooka. "When Mr. Egan's motion to have the mail run the direct road from Bombala to Eden was carried instead of by way of Kamarooka, we thought the matter was settled, but judge the surprise that we experienced by seeing notices stuck up calling for tenders to convey the mail from Bombala direct to this pet station, Kamarooka, once a week. Verily it seems that the Postmaster-General and this pet company intend to do as they like, let the public suffer what inconvenience it may. In the name of all that is right, if mail is to run why not call for the tenders to convey the mail to the flourishing town of Bega, instead of to Kamarooka to suit the convenience of a few influential private parties to the sacrifice of many? It is high time these things were altered.

From an Inhabitant of the Police District of Eden

The Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1875) 4 Apr 1856

 

But eventually the good folks at Eden and surrounds appear to have won the battle:

From 'CONVEYANCE OF MAILS' Illawarra Mercury 10 Aug 1857:

From and to Bombala, Panbula, and Eden, by "Big Jack's, arriving at Eden at 7 p m. on the second day.

From and to the junction of the Panbula and Kameruka Roads, and Kameruka and Bega, once a week.

 

The Bombala - Eden mail route was not the only cause for discontent from the Eden residents:

I will mention that, owing to some cause which probably, is not quite inexplicable, the inhabitants, of this, place when they have occasion to forward a letter to Eden, or the Bay as it is called, have to send it (per mail), through Bombala, Cooma, Queanbeyan, Goulburn, and Sydney-some five or six hundred miles-whereas the distance, is but thirty miles from here. Truly, this may be termed superfluous nonsense

'BEGA, TWOFOLD BAY.' Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1875) 15 Apr 1857

 

Postal Dis-arrangements. — Loud complaints, and with great justice, are being made at our postal arrangements. Every Monday a mail arrives at our Post Office, from Panbula, via Merrimbula, bringing lettern, &c., from Sydney, Maneroo, and Eden, returning next morning at 7 a.m., which is quite agreeable. Another arrives from Bodalla via Braidwood and Moruya every Wednesday, of course, too late for the Panbula mail which left the day before. Consequently, the letters, etc., are detained in our Post Office till the following week (Tuesday), and should there be any for Eden, they are subject to four more day detention in the Panbula Post Office, (the Sunday following), making a total of ten days detention. I believe, however, it is only requisite for the inhabitants to represent the case in the proper quarter, when no doubt the simple remedy of altering tho day of arrival of the Bodalla mail from Wednesday to Monday, would be immediately applied, which would have the effect of reducing the detention to Eden to four days, and, in the case of Maneroo, the detention would be done away with altogether. Such also would be the case if the return mail from this place on the Tuesday morning to Panbula — (which is only about ten miles from Eden) was to run through the same day, for which there would be abundant time.
"BEGA, TWOFOLD BAY." Illawarra Mercury (Wollongong, NSW : 1856 - 1950) 11 Apr 1859

 

From the  "Eden.—We understand that the inhabitants of Eden intend to petition the Postmaster-Greneral to discontinue sending the mails via the Clyde, and to forward them instead by the various steamers calling in at Twofold Bay.

They say that, by such an arrangement, regular and speedy communication with Sydney will be the result; whereas by the Clyde route this is not the case. The Sydney mails are irregular owing to the absurd arrangement of the contractors, being compelled to start at a prescribed hour whether the Clyde steamer has arrived or not. Hence if the steamer is half an hour behind her time, the contractor leaves without the mails, and actually travels 100 miles without them, leaving the inhabitants of Bega, Kamaruka, Merimbula, Panbula, and Eden without their letters until the following mail."

'Local and Several News' The Bega Gazette and Eden District or Southern Coast Advertiser (NSW : 1865 - 1899) 10 Aug 18675

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The Kebbys Years 1868-1907 - The age of the 'Telepraph

 

The telegraph was a landmark in human history for the first time man could communicate with others over great distances.

 

A telegraph was a device for transmitting and receiving messages over long distances. An electrical telegraph uses electrical current and magnetism to convert the manual typing of codes that represent words, into electrical impulses. These impulses are transmitted over a metallic circuit (overhead wires or underground cables) to a distant location. At the distant location the impulses are converted into magnetic fields that operate a mechanical device to make a sound or to move a visual indicator. The operator at the receiving end converts these sounds or signals into a written message. The code is known as Morse Code.

 

When Samuel Morse sent the first telegraphed message from Baltimore to Washington in 1844 the potential for this new form of communication was immediately recognised all over the world. By 1860, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Tasmania were all connected by telegraph. In 1858 the first telegraph line line in NSW was opened between Sydney and Liverpool. In 1867 the first direct line linking Adelaide and Sydney was opened. Australia was connected  to the rest of the world for the first time in 1872 when a submarine cable was laid between Darwin and England.

 

In 1868 Mr Charles Kebby was appointed Eden Post & Telegraph Station Master & line repairer. Mr Kebby lived in 'Half House', which was also used as the Post Office. The telegraph office was at first temporarily located in the Exchange Hotel but moved shortly after to the 'Crown and Anchor' next to the post office. The telegraph line between Twofold Bay and Bombala via Tantawanglo Mountain was completed in the same year by contractor, Mr. Thomas Fitzpatrick.  Also opened  later the same year were telegraph lines between Eden and Merimubla  and Eden and Bega. 

 

OPENING OF A TELEGRAPH STATION AT TWOFOLD BAY. The electric telegraph having been extended to Twofold Bay, the Superintendent of Telegraphs, Mr. Crackell, has opened a station at Eden for the transmission of messages. The importance of this extension to the shipping interest can hardly be overestimated. Singularly enough, before the line was opened to the public, it was used by Mr. Cracknell to transmit to Sydney the news of the breaking down of the steamship City of Hobart.

The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser 11 June 1868

 

The work on the telegraph line to Bombala had not been without difficulties; one sub-contractor was killed clearing bush for the line and later his mates successfully  sued Thomas Fitpatrick  in the Supreme Court for breach of contract. Riordan and Others V. Fitzpatrick
 

In 1870 the telegraph line was extended from Eden to Gabo Island, the work again being contracted to Thomas Fitzpatric.

As Mr Kebby was often away repairing the telegraph lines his wife Martha was appointed Eden's first postmistress in 1870 with her only remuneration a 10% commission on postage stamps. For this measly sum she had to meet the mail deadline of 4am three times a week and board ships to deliver and receive mail any time between 2am and 8am and again in the evening anywhere up to 9.30pm. In 1875 she began to receive an annual salary of £5. Charles and Martha's son, also named Charles acted as assistant telegraph operator. Mr Kebby held this position  until his death at his residence, the telegraph office, on July 14 1881. 

 

In July 1881 Mr Kebby went to Gabo Island to repair the telegrapgh line.  Subsequently Mr. Kebby proceeded to the house of a settler in the vicinity, where he was taken seriously ill. His son, on being apprised of the fact, went to see his father whom he brought back to Eden, where he died at his home on the 14th July.  Much indignation and anger was directed at Mr Kermode, the lighthouse-keeper at Gabo, by Eden's population as it was believed Mr Kermode had caused Mr. Kebby's death by denying him provisions while he was on the island.

EDEN, MONDAY.
Mr. Charles Kebby, for thirteen years post and telegraph master at Eden, and a highly respected resident, died on Thursday evening, and was buried yesterday. Nearly the whole population of Eden and the surrounding district assembled at the funeral. The deceased was recently ordered to visit Gabo to repair the line connecting the island with the mainland, and while there he was put to great straits, and suffered considerable hardship, owing it is believed to a supply of provisions being refused by the officer in charge of the lighthouse on behalf of the Victorian Government. It is thought that in consequence of this he caught cold from exposure, and erysipelas* set in, which, proved fatal. Much surprise is expressed here at the conduct of the lighthouse-keeper, and several residents intend to report the matter to the Victorian Government. 

The Sydney Morning Herald 19 July 18816

*Erysipelas: aka St Anthony's fire, a skin infection that often follows strep throat. The usual presentation is a bright-red rash on the nose and the cheeks which spreads rapidy. Other syptoms include fever, chills, loss of energy, nausea and vomiting, and swollen, tender lymph nodes. In some cases sepsis can also set in causing death.

 

“A SERIOUS CHARGE EXPLAINED.
"A communication was addressed to Mr. Wilson, the secretary for Ports and Harbors, on the subject [of Mr Kebby's death], by Mr. Kebby, jun. In reply, Mr. Wilson promised to make the fullest inquiry into the matter, and a telegram was sent to the lighthouse-keeper demanding an explanation. The line being down, the message did not reach its destination, and a letter was then written, which, owing to the remoteness of the place, took a long time in being
delivered.

 

A reply has, however, been received, which puts a very different complexion on the affair, and entirely relieves the lighthouse-keeper and the Victorian Government from any imputation of such inhumanity as the former was directly charged with. From authentic information which we have received, the following is given as the correct version of the affair :— Mr. Kebby went to Gabo Island in a boat with five men, amongst whom was a man named Blyth, about the 10th of July. Blyth was a sailor belonging to the schooner Nowra that had gone ashore in the vicinity, and he went to Gabo for the purpose of being placed onboard a passing steamer for Melbourne. The party had tea and beds prepared for them by Mr. Kermode, and were made as comfortable as they always had been on former occasions. The following morning a steamer was seen coming round Cape Howe, and Mr. Kebby, with his boat's crew, hurried away before break fast with Blyth to put him on board They expected to be back in a short time and did not take any provisions with them, though had the lighthouse-keeper anticipated their lengthened absence, he would have offered to provide them with what they wanted.

The boat failed to attract the notice of the steamer, and they had to pull back, after being six or seven hours out. Mr. Kebby then proceeded to the Mr. Delvin's above mentioned, and the remainder of the facts are as narrated, but the statements effectually disproves the charge made against Mr. Kermode, who stigmatises them as a tissue of falsehoods from beginning to end. There is no doubt Mr. Kebby's death was accelerated by exposure in an open boat for so long, but Blyth was the unwitting cause of that, and not Mr. Kermode, who seems to have acted in the hospitable manner that visitors always experienced."

Excerpt from the Riverine Herald on September 3 18817

 

After the death of his father and his mother's resignation as postmistress Charles G. Kebby was appointed postmaster a position he held until 1907 when moved to Sydney where he took up a position with the Sydney GPO.

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The New (Old) Post Office 1901-1971 and the coming of the Telephone

From 1885 the post office was relocated to premises rented from Thomas Rawlinson at 237 Imlay Street but the building was in a dilapidated state and it was reported that when the wind blew, the building shook. A tender for the erection of new post office on the corner of Imlay and Mitchell Streets was accepted by the Public Works Department on May 28 1888. The contractor named as George Hodgson with S.W. Aspinall as manager.  Work on the building was expected to be finished by November but 'continued dry weather' meant the contractor was not able to continue brick making 'for want of water' and had to purchase bricks. In 1889 the postmaster had to extend the lease of the old post office and it was not until December 1900 that Postmaster Kebby was able to inform Sydney that only the fencing remained outstanding. On the 1st January 1901 the new Eden Post Office opened on the corner of Imlay & Mitchell streets aka 'Confusion Corner'.  In 1889 approval had been given for the provision of an additional bedroom and a bathroom but these additions were not completed until around 1902.

 Eden Post Office 1906

 

After Post-master Kebby's transfer to Sydney in 1907 his post was held by a succession of temporary replacements.

 

It is thought that next year's Federal estimates will provide means to buy motor cars for postal, work, although Acting Postmaster General Mauger says he will have to go cautiously, as reports from London state the cars there are not proving altogether satisfactory.

The Bega Budget 30 March 1907

 

Mr. Ashburv, from Sydney, was a passenger to Eden by yesterday's steamer. We believe this gentleman is to take charge of the Eden Post Office, pending the appointment of a permanent officer. Mr. Kebby, who has been absent from duty for some time, will probably be transferred to Sydney. Mr. Paviur, relieving officer at Eden, returns to Moruya. “

Southern Star (Bega, NSW : 1900 – 1923) 29 May 1907

 

On September 4 1907 Mr. H. Litchfield, previously the postmaster at Robinson, was appointed postmaster at Eden. He held the post until his death in 1915 aged 61.

 eden Post office 1907

 

Over the years the old Eden Post office saw several modifications notably in 1909 when Eden entered a new era. 

 

The first telephone exchanges in Australia were opened in Melbourne and Sydney in 1880 and by 1901, when the six Australian States federated, there were 32,767 telephones in use. Until then each state had built its own telephone services but in 1905 the new parliament of Australia passed the Wireless Telegraphy Act giving control of all wireless to the Postmaster General's department.  In 1907 the Sydney-Melbourne trunk telephone line opened and on  April 14 1909 a new telephone exchange was opened in the Eden Post Office. The telephone exchange was located in the post office lobby attached to the office.  The first subscribers to the new telephone service  were:

Howard M. Store 7    Pike Mrs. S 2 Sheehy L.M. 8
llawarra & South Coast Steam Navigation Company 4   Ramsey T.J.Store 6 Solomon S. Ltd. 1J
Morgan J. 'Observer'     1M   Rogers P.E & A.P. 5 Strickland G.A. 3M
Phillipps Bros. 3Y          

A decline in telegraph traffic saw the final telegram transmission to Bombala in 1966.

 

The new telephone exchange got of to a dramatic start, with bushfires disrupting services as described in the 'Evening News' (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931) on the 4th of January

"TELEGRAPH SERVICE INTERRUPTED.

The Telegraph Department is having quite a lively time new all over N.S.W., owing to the abnormal weather conditions. What with bush fires, trees falling across the lines, and earth currents caused by the peculiar nature of the weather, it is a wonder there is any service left to tell the tale. As it is, the department is able to maintain a limited service, but business generally all over the State is all interrupted, and a notice to this effect has been posted at the telegraph office of the General Post Office..Lines of communication is cut off from...Mallacoota and Gabo.The operators are able to work to Eden from Sydney, but the line is unworkable from that on to Eden, owing to the country being on fire. In some parts the linesmen have gone out, but have had to flee from the zone of fire, and have been unable to effect repairs, simply because they cannot get near the centre of the trouble...

Between Sydney and Melbourne there is also considerable interruption, owing to the earth currents, which are affecting all lines. An earth current means that the current in stead of flowing along the line in the way it would pass under normal conditions gets conducted to or makes contact with the earth at certain points on the route, and thus becomes so weak at its destination that it is not strong enough even to work the relays. Fortunately the department has in most instances provided iron poles through a number of heavily, bushed districts; otherwise in many cases where severe bush fires have occurred the wires would have been all down."

 

It is probably impossible for most of us today to fully appreciate how the telephone changed the lives of isolated bush dwellers.  Poet Henry Lawson was in Mallacoota in 1910 and wrote 'A Song of the Telephone' which was published in the The Worker (Wagga, NSW : 1892 - 1913) on the 10th December 1910

 

MALLACOOTA WEST.
A SONG OF THE TELEPHONE

It is one long ring for Kiah; it is two rings for Green Cape;

It is three for Gabo Island; and, to have it all ship-shape,
One for Eden. Four rings quicken Mallacoota's interest;
And a long ring and a short one gives you Mallacoota West.

Oh, the folk are never lonely that the telephone can reach!
There are three undreamed of places with a telephone at each,
Twixt the bedroom and the kitchen, to be handy night or day,
For the women mostly tend it while the men folk are away.

Stripping wattle-bark, or fishing -sleeper-cutting — any game:
Trading in the little cutters to "the Bay" or Cunninghame,
deep with bags of tan-bark—bags of wattle-bark to tan
Leather to make ladies' shoes or bluchers for a laboring man.

* * *

It was show time up at Eden, and a gala time for all —
Some were in the pubs, and others at a Cinderella Ball —
On the Lakes the fish were barrelled, and the fishermen at rest—
Slumber fell on Mallacoota, and on Mallacoota West.

In the west of Mallacoota, where the night was dark and deep,
In her room behind the office, Mrs. Allan lay asleep
Until wakened by a ringing— someone ringing up in vain:
Eden! — Green Cape! — Eden! — Green Cape! —

and again and yet again.

Someone ringing for a doctor. And a flash came of the days
When they had to ride for doctors on those lonely tree-marked ways
And at last she rose and answered and she must have thought it odd
When a woman's voice in anguish sent the message through

"Thank God!"

Voice of one who seemed with terror to be more dead than alive,
And she said she was at Kiah with a little girl of five;
the folk away in Eden, and the awful bush seemed black,
And the girl who had been with her had gone home and not come back.

She was lonely, she was frightened, she'd been very ill indeed,
And the haunting fear was on her that the bush at night can breed.
She was nearing her confinement, and had thought that she would die,
And the terror grew upon her when she could get no reply.

And she had the little girl dressed, and would send her in her fright
To the nearest lonely neighbour, three bush miles off through the night.
There could be no help till sunrise when the neighbour's wife might come,
Or till later in the forenoon, when her husband would be home.

And so Mrs. Allan held her while the small hours chilled the room —
Tired, hard-working woman standing in her night-dress in the gloom,
Till the other one grew calmer, speaking quiet, even low,
And they talked of other children they had each born years ago.

"Ring again" said Mrs. Allan, "if you feel too much alone.
I will ring again at daybreak." And advised her to lie down.
And the other woman lay down, and she slept till break of day,
Just through talking to a woman more than forty miles away.

***

Women, down in Mallacoota, must be early out of bed,
Milking, cooking, making butter, and they have to bake their bread,
For the fishermen and tourists, and the frequent reverend "guest"—
And their life is one hard routine, down in Mallacoota West.

There's a telephone to Kiah, Green Cape, and the Gabo Light—
But down here in Mallacoota one hears rings at dead of night —
Tis an angel's touch responding to the kindest deeds and best,
Ringing Eden, ringing Gabo — ringing Mallacoota West.

 

HENRY LAWSON. Mallacoota, V., May, 1910.

 

In the early days of the telephone, trunk channels linked different manual trunk exchanges. To make long distance (and in some cases not so long distance calls) It was necessary for a succession of trunk operators to connect the appropriate channels together, one after the other, until the connection was made. As trunk traffic grew the system became increasingly unsuitable. It was a tedi­ous and slow way of making a long distance call, and it was sometimes hard to hear, particularly when sev­eral exchanges were linked.

 

"The telephone line direct from Eden to Towamba [contractor - W. A. Robertson] is now completed, and will shortly be open for business. This line will be a geate advantage, as before it was necessary to ring up through Bega to speak between these places. Your scribe, speaking from experience can tell of the great disadvantage it was, for he was for two hours at one time waiting in Towamba before being connected with Eden."
The Bega Budget 5 August 1911

 

In 1927 a memorandum from a Divisional Engineer stated that upgades to the accomodation for linesmen and mechanics was urgently required.  They were at that time being accomodated in two rooms of the post office's basement but due to financial considerations the alterations were held over  and a follow up letter in 1932 stated that as the Eden site was no longer a mechanic's station "no further action should be taken on this matter".

 

In 1949 a local paper reported that there was an increase in demand for postal services due to an increase in population in the district because of the establishment of the chip mill at East Boyd. Consequently the working conditions at the post office were cramped and in peak times the public areas of the post office were congested.  A new post office site was gazetted in June 1949 on the site on which the present post office is sited but it was not until July 1971 that the new post office was opened and another year before the telephone exchange was moved to the new location. The new exchange was automated and the ladies who had formally operated the exchange were made redundant.

 Eden Post Office 1950

 

The old Post Office building was then rented by the Imlay Shire council for use by the Imlay Emergency Services and later for the library. It was subsequently used for other organisations and is today utilised as the offices of SEWAC [South East Women's and Children's Services]

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Sources:

Historic Places Survey, Eden New South Wales - Compiled Eden Killer Whale Museum and Historical Society assisted by funds allocated to the Royal Australian Historical Society through the Heritage Office [NSW] 2010 Available for viewing at Eden Library

Wikipedia; History of telegraphy in Australia
The History of Communication Technology 'Telegragh'
australia.gov.au 'The Overland Telegraph'

Vintage Phones 'History of Telephone Exchanges in Australia'

Telstra website - Telecommunications Timeline 1890-1919

 

From TROVE the website of the National Library of Australia:

1 The Australian 13 February 1840 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36859901

2 Morning Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1843 - 1846)Saturday 30 March 1844

3 'A PEEP AT MANEROO, EDEN, AND BOYD' Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer 4 March 1848 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59768174

4 Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer 3 June 1848 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59765041

5 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article110318075

6 'COUNTRY NEWS' http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13490537

7 Riverine Herald (Echuca, Vic.: Moama, NSW : 1869 - 1954)  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article116355738

 

Images:

The opening of the post office at Eden1848 Frederick Garling National Library of Australia http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-an12692866

Eden Post Offfice 1906 National Archives of Australia Image no. : C4076, HN5039

Eden Post Office  1907 National Archives of Australia Image no. : C4076, HN5040

Eden Post Office 1950  National Archives of Australia Image no. : C4076, HN5041

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