Bendoc Post Office

A post office was established at Bendoc on 1st January 1869, under the management of Mr J Stockdale. The office was non-official, and was operated in conjunction with the school and various other interests. Mr Stockdale received an annual postal allowance that was based on a percentage of postal business transacted. This amounted to £20 during 1869.

The District Manager’s office was at Sale.

Mail was conveyed by rail from Melbourne to Sale, then by coach or steamer to Bairnsdale, then to Bendoc once a week. Mail came from Bairnsdale by packhorse by way of Bruthen over the Postman’s Track, which crossed the Snowy River and entered the plateau are over Mt Boon near Bonang. It is said “Only 2 envelopes are known to exist with the handstamped cachet “Bruthen to Bendoc per Pack Horse”.

A wire rope was used to transport mail over the Snowy, thus mail was often delayed for lengthy periods when the Snowy was in flood. After the pack horse came the coach. Bill Hilliard being one of the first drivers. Then came Alex Baulch, and on lst Juy 1926, Tom Malin took over the horse drawn coach run from Orbost to Delegate. After a few years he obtained an International 2-3 ton truck. On his first trip to Bendoc he did not carry mail, but brought Miss Cunning, the first lady head teacher and collected ballot boxes. On his next trip (March 1930) he made history as the first mailman on this route to deliver mail in a motor vehicle.

Post Master/Mistress in Bendoc

1869 J Stockdale (teacher)

1872 William George Sellers (storekeeper)

1874 F J Jones (teacher)

1876 J D Viesseux (teacher)

1878 John Nichol (grazier)

1879 James Tipping (teacher)

1882 E A Nichol (grazier)

1883 C Cox (teacher)

1893 John Nichol (grazier)

1912 Mrs J Windle

1951 Keith Bent

1967 Mrs Dulcie Bent

1971 Mrs Edith Maud Nichol

1983 Mrs Janette Groves

Mrs Windle, because of her long term as postmistress, has become part of Bendoc’s history.

A mail return for 1884 shows that a total of 3,530 letters were handled at Bendoc Post Office during that year. The Postmaster’s alowance for the year amounted to £11.00.00, while the postal revenue was £22.1.1d.

The Postal Records fo 1893 read “John Nichol, Postmaster – 310 miles E of Melbourne. Rail to Sale, thence steamer to Lakes Entrance thence coach to Orbost, thence on horse.”

The 1913 Postal Record read – “Mrs Windle, Postmistress – Bendoc/Croajingalong 310 miles, rail to Bairnsdale or Sale, then boat to Cunningham – then coach.

An extensive record of mail recipients from 1983 – 1913 is available at the Bendoc Resource Centre.

A public telephone was provided at the Post Office in July 1915, and telephone exchange facilities installed in 1917. there being one subscriber connected during the year.

Joe Oliver took over the mail run from Tom Morrison in 1933. For 13 1/2 years in all weathers, he drove his horse Royal and sulky from Delegate, calling at Haydens Bog Post Office (G W Sellers), Bendoc PO (Mrs Windle), Lower Bendoc PO (Miss M Rozynski). In 1947-48 there was a change over to motor vehicles. Joe purchased a 1/2 ton Bedford truck. With very little formed roads he was more often bogged than mobile, and wore out more picks and shovels than he did while fencing for miles. In the postal records he is quoted as a travelling post office and store, and his sterling qualities are also enumerated – he was entrusted by school teachers with the banking of pupils’ savings accounts, and by hotel proprietors and storekeepers for whom he had to bank money and pay accounts. Sometimes he would be carrying hundreds of pounds. People would give him money to place money orders or postal notes in their letters, or for stamps and registration.

Nothing was too much trouble for Joe, and his thoughtfulness and efficiency will long be remembered by those he served. Barry Oliver, Joe’s son carries on this mail run in the same tradition.