Before Wodonga became large enough to support a shopping plaza, starting with Wodonga Plaza on the site of the old saleyards on Melbourne Road, High Street was the centre of commerce.
The location of the old Post Office on the north-west corner of High and South Streets, with major banks on the other three corners of that intersections is remaining evidence that it was that part of High Street, north of the railway line where residents went to shop and do their banking.
John Whan’s Store, first established by Peter M’Lean in the 1870’s, just south of the Terminus Hotel was a large store where you could purchase anything from a ball gown to roofing nails. Opposite, in 1920, Jonathan Mann established his business which was to become a place where the farmer and his wife could come and purchase produce, hardware, plumbing supplies, petrol and groceries and conveniently put them all on the same account.
The CBC Bank on the south west corner was rebuilt with special foundations to prevent the building from being damaged by vibrations caused by heavy transports. That part of High Street was then part of the Hume Highway with a heavy traffic load. The old Post Office, the State Savings Bank (now John Potter’s) and the Bank of NSW have survived to show the architecture of those early days, although the Bank of NSW had undergone several changes over time.
In 1871 Albert Schlink was one of the first to open a store in the southern end of High Street, where Coles Supermarket was until recently.
Mate’s built a large three storey department store in 1969 drawing more people. Gateway Health is on that site now.
Gradually that part of High Street became the shopping “centre” with the relocation of the Post Office to its current location in 1985 adding to the vehicle and foot traffic.
In 1979 when the council sold the saleyard site for the establishment of Wodonga Plaza it was feared that it would cause hardship for High Street traders.
With the recent completion of Wodonga Place and Mann Central the shopping dynamic will change again.