From the Curator | Post Office Gallery

 1. MH1335 Ballarat Post Office, post 1905. Max Harris Collection. Note the disappearing electric tram lines - some crude early photoshop!

For today’s #flashbackfriday, we are featuring the old Ballarat Post Office. 

In the early days of the Ballarat Goldfields, the swelling population were forced to trek three miles to the Buninyong Post Office to send and receive their mail.

Unofficial ‘post offices’ sprung up around the diggings, with varying reliability. In 1852, one of the first Postmasters, John Adams, was running a post office out of a general store at Golden Point. The site came to be known as ‘Post Office Hill’, where the old Gold Museum sits.

After a petition led to Adams’ resignation, a temporary tent Post Office was then established on Camp Street, which was notoriously sub-par. 

The Geelong Advertiser provides a humorous account of the Post Office in 1854, speculating that the poor postmaster slept in the tent, “wrapped in newspapers, with a bundle of letters for a pillow, and a mail bag for a night-cap.”

The first ‘permanent’ post office was erected in 1854 at the corner of Lydiard and Mair Streets, within the Government Camp. In 1857, debate raged over where to erect a central post office which could serve both the East and West communities of Ballarat.

Ultimately, in 1858, an “ugly” bluestone building was erected at the corner of Lydiard and Sturt, which was then demolished in 1864 to make way for the current building.

The beautiful Italianate palazzo style building we see today opened for business on the 29th December 1864. ✉️ The west wing or Lydiard Street frontage was completed in 1871, accommodating the treasury, telegraph office and crown lands office.

The contractor for the new wing, a Mr W. Seeley, was also responsible for building the London Chartered Bank and the Bank of Australasia, so for a time, the builder behind three of the four grand buildings at the corners of Sturt and Lydiard.

Since 2002, the decommissioned Ballarat Post Office building has been the home of Federation University Australia’s Arts Academy and the Post Office Gallery.

To support the work we do, please consider becoming a member, or purchasing a print of one of the beautiful photographs in our collection. 

 2. The former Ballarat Post Office today. | Photo: Ellen Becker
3. MH1386 Post Office 1860. Max Harris Collection.
4. MH170 Looking down Sturt St North Side from near the Post Office, circa 1864 - 1885. Max Harris Collection.
5. MH1385 Ballarat Post Office, circa 1938. Max Harris Collection.
6. Ballarat Post Office, circa 1960’s. Herb Richmond Collection.

A question from Duncan one of our Social Media followers:

When were the chimneys removed?

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