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.
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