South Australia - Telegraph Offices.
The Mount Gambier Post Office.

History of the Mount Gambier Post Office
Business was moved to present site in 1887

Enquiries have been made recently as to when the Post Office was transferred from the corner of Commercial Street and Bay Road, where the Soldiers' Club now occupies the building, to its present site. It was in September, 1887, at which time the Post Office and Telegraph Office were combined and Mr. C. W. Tucker took charge of the amalgamated offices.

In our issue of May 17, 1861, a paragraph says that a telegraph office had been in operation in Mount Gambier for the past two years, but no mention of what towns in the district are connected. When the Admella was wrecked at Carpenter's Rocks on August 6, 1859, history records that the Telegraph Office at Mount Gambier was used to communicate with other places. Penola also had a Telegraph Office prior to 1861 when Mr. W. A. Crouch, who then kept a store at the east end of the town, was appointed Postmaster. On September 9 in the same year a movement was on foot to connect Mount Gambier with Naracoorte by telegraph. On September 29 the Government granted £200 for a Telegraph Office at Robe.

On February 14 1862, the Government granted £350 to improve the Telegraph Office at Mount Gambier which, at that time, was conducted on the corner of Commercial Street and Bay Road. A sum of £1,000 was also voted for a telegraph line to Port MacDonnell. At this time the residents were clamouring for a Post Office in a separate building. Naracoorte evidently came into the picture at this time, as tenders were let for a line to that town. In June 1863, the local Telegraph Office received a further grant of £1000 from the Government. On July 17 1863, telegraph communication with Naracoorte was opened.

On 29 October 1864, the local station received a further grant of £800.


On 30 September, 1865, the Telegraph Office was transferred to a new building on the corner of the Bay Road and James Street where the present Post Office stands. On June 20 1866, Mr. H. E. Derrington, who, it is believed was the first telegraph master, resigned and on September 5 he was succeeded my Mr. G. H. C. Mann.

The Post Office was removed from the shop where it had previously been conducted to the old Telegraph Station on the main corner of Commercial Street and Bay Road and Mr. C. W. T. Marrie was appointed Postmaster. On November 16 1867, the telegraph line from Penola to Casterton was opened. On January 25 1868, a Post Office was opened at O. B. Flat.


On 13 May 1868, Mr. Stapleton, who was an employee of the local Telegraph Office, brought to Mount Gambier 15 sparrows which he released in the Cave Reserve. August 1 1868 saw a Customs Office added to the Telegraph Office under the management of Mr. T. Little,a postal official.

A letter carrier was added to the staff of the Post Office in September 1873. On November 12 1873, a paragraph in the Watch files states that the sparrows released by Mr. Stapleton have increased to such an extent that they are becoming a pest. Mr Stapleton went from Mount Gambier to Barrow Creek in Central Australia where he was speared by the blacks defending the station. In September 1875, Millicent petitioned for a Telegraph station and it was granted and tenders for a building called. The tender of Mr J. Mullins was accepted at £798/8/-. Mr. E. G. Harris of Mount Gambier was appointed station master.

On January 24 1877, the plans for a new Post (now Soldiers' Club Buildings) on the corner of Commercial Street and Bay Road were approved and the tender of Mr. Thos Haig (£1,478) was accepted. On April 21 1877, the foundation stone of the new Post Office on the main corner was laid by Mr. Ingleby an ex-M.P. for this district. On August 8 of the same year, a further advance of £995/16/9 was made by the Government for the Post and Telegraph Office. The new Post Office was opened on October 17. During April of 1878 the first letter pillars were erected in Mount Gambier and tenders for a post office at Beachport were let at £894. Mr. Mann, who had been telegraph master for many years, retired on June 19 1881 and was succeeded by Mr. J. W. B. Croft. In July 1884, tenders for a new Post Office at Naracoorte were accepted at £1,760.

The residents of Suttontown petitioned the Government for a Post Office on July 15 1882. Parliament, on March 30 1887 agreed to establish a daily mail service to the South east.

On September 17 1887, Mr. C. W. T. Marrie retired from the position of Postmaster at Mount Gambier.


On September 24 1887, the two offices were combined and the post office was moved to the telegraph station on the site it now occupies where its business has been carried on ever since. Mr. J.W.B. Croft was transferred to Gawler at this time and Mr. C. W. Tucker took charge of the amalgamated Post and Telegraph Office on October 22 1887. Mr Tucker had charge of the joint offices for many years when he was transferred to Port Adelaide. He was succeeded by Mr. T. Barker who was followed by Mr. Kilmister and later the present Postmaster Mr. D. C. MacDougall. We cannot conclude this sketch without making a reference to Mr. S. T. James, who joined the Post Office as a lad and only retired a year or so ago after 58 years service.

Border Watch (Mount Gambier)
13 April 1943.

Further details on some of the above:

Mount Gambier Border Watch: 6 August 1887.

The proposal to urge the Government to transfer the telegraph office to the post-office building, and not the post-office to the telegraph office building, did not meet with approval at Wednesday's meeting. This was not altogether because those who voted against it did not approve of the idea, but rather because they did not wish to take up an unreasonable attitude towards the Government. Economy is the order of the day, and it was felt that there was not sufficient ground for urging the Government to an expenditure of several thousands of pounds on one building when there existed another in the immediate neighborhood amply sufficient for all that was required. What private individual, or what community of itself, having a well situated building like the telegraph office, with all the accommodation necessary for the work to be carried on in it, would go to a large expense to add to another which would not be made any better by the outlay.

There were two fatal objections to the Mayor's suggestion. The post office could only be adapted for the combined post and telegraph work by considerable outlay; the telegraph office, as it stands, is amply sufficient. Under the circumstances, even were the citizens to fall in implicitly with the Mayor's views, there would not be the ghost of a chance of getting the transfer carried out. We should simply get credit for being unreasonable and captious. It is better, therefore, to accept the inevitable gracefully. The few steps further that business people will have to go for their letters will not be a serious inoonvenience; and by-and-by it may be discovered that there are compensating advantages.

The suggestion, that the objection as to the expense which would be involved if the post-office site was adopted, could be got over by putting the telegraph office into the old building now temporarily used as an Institute is simply ridiculous, That tenement did duty as a telegraph office in the early days of Mount Gambier, but was abandoned 20 years ago for the present building. It was afterwards used, till condemned, as a post office. Rip Van Winkle would hardly have proposed such a retrograde step as going back to such a shanty. The building is in the last stages of decay. It is interesting as a memento of the early days but the best we can wish it is not its reoccupation as a Government office but its speedy removal. It is an eyesore in our street architecture.

In 1906, the renovations to the Mount Gambier P&T Office were nearing completion. It was described as follows: "extensive alterations and additions to the Mount Gambier post and telegraph office are about completed and a departmental officer is expected from Adelaide on Wednesday to take over work from the contractors, Messrs. Ligertwood & Park, of Adelaide. Two new wings of grey dolomite have been built, one on each side of the old building, the lower walls of which were either rebuilt or replaced with columns to support the upper storey. In the south wing, all the letter-sorting will be done, and the other is to be devoted to the telegraph and telephone business, while the former post and telegraph offices in the main building have been converted into one large apartment with a counter down the centre so that, instead of going to a small hole in a window, the public will receive their mails over the counter as in any up-to-date place. Money order and telegraph business will be transacted over the same counter".
The Advertiser
11 December 1906.