Connecting communities

From Memories 4 of Old Wodonga

The Wodonga Post Office was constructed on the corner of Sydney Road (High Street) and South Street in 1874. It was Wodonga’s second Post Office – the first was near the site of the present Australian Broadcasting Corporation offices and studios near Wodonga Creek.

It had an attached residence in South Street and was connected to it by a door. The residence was demolished to move the mail boxes which had faced High Street, to South Street.

The brick Telephone Exchange was constructed in 1946 behind the Post Office but separated from it. It operated as a manual exchange until the late 1960’s or early 1970’s.

In about 1962 the manual exchange was converted to automatic and telephonist Rhonda Flower had to telephone every subscriber to explain how to use the new telephones in their homes from previously turning a handle to get the telephonist, to dialling the required number.

It was a 24-hour telephone service which had about 600 subscribers before being closed. Eight to ten were Albury subscribers who had to be separately connected by the telephonists.

There were about seven telephonists on each shift who were relieved at ten at night by a male operator.

Among them, but by no means a complete list were:

Hazel Thompson, Joyce Jones, Rhonda Flower, Joan Odgers, Maureen Reuss, Alma Waller, Mary Langpit, Betty Ewart, Pat Green, Lynette Green, Margaret Hill, Mavis McDonnell, Mary O’Neill, Beverley Lewis and Kathleen Toner, Ruth O’Brien, Joyce Waite, Kath Kelly, (supervisor), Margaret Pini, Beverley Harris, Kath O’Brien, Mary Clancy, Mamie Cartwright

There was a headmaster’s residence between the Post Office and the State School (now Community College) which was removed later to provide a walkway between the two buildings.

Entrance to the Telephone Exchange for those working there was via a cyclone gate at the western end of the building.

The rest of the land in that section of South and Church Streets not used as school grounds, was a Postmaster General’s Department depot. There was also a bike shed for the bikes of postmen, telegram boys and staff of the Post Office.