WHEN the Camperdown Post Office was built the recent connection of a telegraph line to the town had heralded an amazing new era of communications.
Fast-forward 150 years into the age of emails and digital technology and the telegraph is long gone, but the grand old building is still there doing what it does best — keeping people in touch with each other.
The post office is managed by Jane Hately, the first female postal manager in its history.
“I’ve worked in the post office for 24 years and it is such an important part of the town,” Ms Hately said.
“There’s so much history steeped in this post office and I’m so happy to celebrate such a milestone with our community.”
The bluestone heritage-listed post office is one of the oldest established postal and telecommunications buildings in Victoria.
It was built in 1863 after the coming of the telegraph line to Camperdown a year earlier.
Its visually striking appearance was created by the unusual grafting of additions in the Arts and Crafts style to an earlier gabled Italianate building.
It is also important as a fine example of the stonemason’s craft. Rock-faced and fine-axed basalt was used in the additions, with the slate roof accented by half gables and wide bellcast eaves.
The major additions and two-storey section were completed in 1909 after dissatisfaction with alterations made to the building in the late 19th century that included the construction of a writing and telegraph despatch room and a new entrance, counter and archway.
Heritage Victoria said the series of changes to the post office helped to document evolving postal and telecommunications practices in Victoria.
The first postmaster at Camperdown was John Duigan, who was also the telegraph manager and had previously been a sea captain and lighthousekeeper, who apparently also had a fine singing voice.
He received an annual salary of £325 but in 1889 the roles were separated and Mr Duigan’s salary cut to £180.
The first news to Melbourne of the infamous Loch Ard shipwreck in 1878 was telegraphed from the post office.
It 150th celebrations at start at noon tomorrow with giveaways, a sausage sizzle and birthday cake.
The public is welcome, with all proceeds going towards World Sight Day.