Putting the stamp on the 50 years in the town Post Office
By ED SOUTHORN
A STAMP for a local letter cost just three- and-a-half pence when the "new" Murwillumbah Post Office opened 50 years ago. The landmark cream-brick post office building on the corner of Main and Brisbane streets officially celebrates its 50th anniversary today. Murwillumbah Postal Manager Anna Bourne and front counter staff Tony and Pamela Withers, Vicki Cox, Sue Pirlo and Valerie Kirk deal with 500 to 1000 customers on an average day and up to 1300 a day during peak times. Thousands of people turned out for the new post office building's official opening in 1955, after demolition of an older building on the same site. The local Federal MP for the Richmond electorate, Hubert "Larry" Anthony, was Postmaster-General in the Menzies government and the Postmaster-General's Department had identified Murwillumbah as a communications growth centre. According to Australia Post spokeswoman Elizabeth Rich, Murwillumbah was rapidly expanding and construction of the new building coincided with efforts to modernise the public image of the Postmaster-General's Department. "The building was of cutting-edge design, inspired by popular architectural styles of the time," she said. "It had a modern glass frontage and polished surfaces inside that were installed because of their durability and ease of care." A telephone exchange was housed on the first floor and public telephones in a side office. Telstra still operates the now-automated exchange, but the public phones have gone and their space is leased by an estate agency. Tony Withers said the biggest change at Australia Post during his career at Murwillumbah was the introduction around 10 years ago of retail products such as greeting cards, books and calendars. A memorial photograph album from the post office's opening night in 1955 was recently handed over to post office staff by former deputy prime minister Doug Anthony, Larry Snr's son. The album will be donated to the Murwillumbah Historical Society. A selection of historic photos taken at the post office, and the memorial album, will be on display at the post office from today. While the cost of sending a letter is now 50 cents in line with living costs, Australia Post reckons its customer service standards are better than ever, with next day delivery for local mail enshrined as a service mantra.