It may be hard to believe, but there was once a world without mobile phones.
It was a time when landlines were king and not everyone was available at the push of a button.
Clear air was achievable and information you just didn't need was not a bother.
But the telephone has for generations played a major role in Australian life.
A major part of this story is the public telephone box.
Incredibly, the first of these in Australia was installed way back in 1890.
Select and wealthy private users had been using phones just prior to this, but for the common folk, the telephone remained an intriguing mystery for many more decades to come.
The telephone, for all its useful purposes, had also become a mark of society's haves and have nots.
In the 1950s, the telephone became reasonably commonplace in homes of the wealthy.
But while the working class did not have the same fortune, there was another way and means at their disposal.
That of course was the public telephone box.
The public phone box had been around for many years, but it was only in the second half of the 20th century they became so numerous as to be easily accessible for everyone.
From the early 1960s, there were few well populated residential areas in Warrnambool without a phone box. These contraptions were the traditional colour - red with a red phone inside.
The grey box and metallic blue phone was then the go during the 1970s, before the orange phone was boldly introduced by Telecom after that.
As the 1970s rolled in, the cost of having a home phone fell and the working class were able to have this modern convenience in-house.
But that didn't mean the public telephone box was any less popular.
There were still a plethora of reasons why people ventured out of their homes to access the public phones.
For the youth, there was the privacy required for that first nervous phone call to a boy/girl who they may have been romantically pursuing.
For the mischievous, there was the prank call that seemed so funny at the time.
But perhaps the most popular was the teenager-to-parent call that went something like "mum can you come and pick us up?"
While it was a coin to use the public phone (20 cents rings a bell), the teenager-to-parent interaction was often completed with the use of the reverse charges call.
Many a parent would have uttered the word yes to the question down the line "do you accept charges for this call?"
Warrnambool was very much a signature Australia country town.
It grew into a rural city thanks to housing clusters popping up around its edges, with young families the main demographic.
The placement of public telephone boxes mirrored this expansion in many ways.
There was one on the corner of Bradley and Mack streets in West Warrnambool, another across the highway in Morris Road near St Pius primary school and one further along in Crawley Street.
On the other side of the CBD there were phone boxes in Jamieson, Cramer and Garden streets.
Of all those mentioned above, only the Garden Street phone remains.
It is one of only 11 public phone boxes now in operation in the city.
One thing from the golden days of the public telephone box that has passed us by is the ever reliable phone operator.
If you got to the phone box and just couldn't remember the number you wanted to call and a phonebook was not near by, you could dial 013 for the operator.
Incredibly, this was a real person who would connect you to the number you required.
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