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Rediscovering Ginninderra: A database:
Walleroo Receiving Office

In October 1887, approximately 30 residents of the Wallaroo Parish and surrounding area, petitioned the then Post Master General for the establishment of a Receiving Post Office, with a weekly mail to and from Gininderra. The Petition was forwarded by the community’s local Member of Parliament, Mr. E.W. O’Sullivan M.P. The basis of the Wallaroo resident’s Petition was ‘the very considerable inconvenience’ residents of that location were being put to, in having to go to Gininderra, a distance of approximately 10 miles, for their post. The petitioners included members of the Southwell, O’Brien, Coulton, Blundell and Rolfe families, resident at Walleroo, as well as several residents of Jeir, Mullion and Yeumburra.

Not unusually during this era, the spelling of the place name, ‘Walleroo’, differed from that of the official Parish spelling, ‘Wallaroo’ , and that used by some of the petitioners, which also included, ‘Wallarroo’, the spelling used by Samuel Southwell.

Subsequent enquiries made of the Post Master at Ginninderra established that approximately 60 residents would benefit from the establishment of a Receiving Office at Walleroo, which would be approximately 7 miles from Ginninderra and 10 miles from Jeir Post Office. Both of these offices had been operating for many years - since 1859, in the case of Ginninderra and 1880 in the case of Jeir.

The Post Master, Ginninderra, recommended the establishment of a Receiving Office with mail being carried twice per week, at an estimated probable cost of about ₤40 per annum. He described the location of the receiving office as “go along the Yass Road for 4 miles, turn off at Homebush via Glenwood to Walleroo”.

In April 1888, one of the petitioners, Samuel Southwell of 'Woodburn', Gininderra, indicated his willingness, in the event of a decision to establish a receiving office at Walleroo, to carry the mail to that location, weekly, for a sum of ₤15 per annum and to conduct a Receiving Office at his home for an additional ₤20 per annum. Southwell’s offer was supported by the Postal Inspector who subsequently recommended that the offer be accepted and that Southwell be appointed Receiving Office Keeper. It was subsequently agreed that Southwell would meet the Ginninderra mailman twice per week on Sunday and Wednesday, 4 miles along the Yass Road, on the return trip towards Yass from Queanbeyan for the purpose of exchanging mail. It was intended that the arrangement would be temporary, to be assessed after 12 months.

There is little correspondence on the official file, after opening of the Walleroo receiving office, indicating the success or otherwise of the arrangement, until 13 November 1888, when the Postmaster Ginninderra reported to Sydney, that since the opening of Hall Post Office (1 June 1988), the usefulness of the Receiving Office had been called into question. The Postmaster advised that since Hall had opened there had been on average, less than one letter to or from Ginninderra to Walleroo. Within days a decision was taken to close the Office and the closure took effect on 10 December 1888.

The Postmaster’s advice meant that the Walleroo Receiving Office essentially only operated ‘normally’ for a period of approximately six weeks. Undoubtedly politics played a major part in the rapid demise of the Walleroo Receiving Office, as evidenced by correspondence on the respective Hall and Ginninderra Post Office files relating to the establishment of Hall. One can only surmise that the residents of Walleroo were encouraged and, or felt obliged to utilise the new postal facility at Hall to the detriment of the receiving office.

As a postal facility, the Walleroo Receiving Office itself is unique, in that during its short life it serviced an area of land which is now a part of the Australian Capital Territory, yet the building in which it operated and the land on which that building stood, remained a part of New South Wales.

[contributed by Tony Curtis]

References

ACT Post Offices and Postmarks, Blog by Tony Curtis.

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