For many years letters to and from
Carnamah were collected and delivered by a mailman who travelled
between Perth and Geraldton on a horse.
Following the completion of the
in 1894 the mail
travelled on trains. It was then managed by the
from an outbuilding of their homestead
post office was later moved to the railway station, two different general
stores and then to a rented building. In the 1920s the population of
Carnamah rapidly increased and this resulted in more letters, parcels and telegrams. The people of Carnamah needed a proper postal service and
in 1925 began campaigning for an official post office building.
Upon Completion in 1932
"It is an attractive and commodious brick
building, excellently appointed within. It gives to Carnamah postal
facilities enjoyed by very few country towns of equal size."
-- The Carnamah-Three Springs
Times & Arrino Advertiser
The very first letter!
Federal senator Patrick J. Lynch officially
opened the post office on 30 June 1932. After unlocking the door the
first letter was posted to Richard Robertson, the chairman of the
Carnamah District Road Board.
The post office also included Carnamah's
telephone exchange prior to telephones becoming automatic.
Operators working at the exchange had to manually connect and end all local
calls by moving plugs and switches.
Carnamah Post Office on Opening Day
"Twenty years ago the land was the
undisturbed home of the kangaroo and emu; now it is the scene of
many happy homes. Immense strides have been made of late years in the
way of bringing people into closer communication with each other.
The old settlers had to wait for long periods before receiving a
message from their relatives, but it was now possible to communicate
with the ends of the earth in a few seconds with very little
trouble.” -- Senator Patrick J. Lynch at the opening in 1932
Right: Complimentary Dinner
The building and opening of the official post office in Carnamah was
a significant occasion in the district's history.
The Carnamah District Road Board celebrated with a dinner at the
Carnamah Hotel on the evening of the opening. They invited visiting
government officials and representatives of local organisations and
The celebratory dinner was enjoyed so much that Capt. John W. Jones
of Marchagee suggested they arrange a raiding party to demolish the
new post office -- so they'd get to enjoy another dinner!
Below: Menu and toast list from
the Complimentary Dinner booklet
Right: Mail porter Robert Palfreyman
Mail had to be carted between the post office and
railway station multiple times each week. For many years this task
was contracted to the local carrier.
"They had a carrier in town – a chap by
the name of Bob Palfreyman. He had an old horse and cart he used to
do the carrying with. I was always amazed. After he had delivered
his stores up the street, he’d walk down the footpath to the railway
station and his horse would walk down the road alongside him. He’d
go up the south side of the war
memorial and the horse would go up the north side. He’d
just walk up the steps of the station which had a porch and a
waiting room, and this horse would go up, turn around and back into
– Donald E. Reynolds
1932 Imperial Balance Scales
Larger letters and small parcels were placed on the right side and
weights on the left. Weights were added and removed until the two
sides of the scales balanced - which then revealed that the letter
or parcel weighed as much as the weights on the other side.
Like today, the weight of an item was used to calculate postage
1973 Metric Weights
The above scales were used at the post office from its opening in
1932 using imperial weights that measured in pounds and ounces. New
scales were used from 1973 that used
metric weights, which are in kilograms and grams.
Penny-in-the-Slot Weighing Machine
When the Australian colonies federated to form the Commonwealth of
Australia in 1901 their post and telegraph departments were merged
to form the national Postmaster General's (PMG) Department.
In 1926 the Australian Automatic Weighing Machine Company made an
arrangement with the PMG Department that allowed them to put their
weighing machines outside post offices around Australia. In return,
the company agreed to give the PMG a quarter of the money made from the
scales - which cost a penny to use.
One of the weighing machines was put outside the Carnamah Post
Office in the 1930s. As many people didn't have household scales
they would insert a penny, step on the scales and then see how
much they weighed! The scales revealed the weight in pounds and
ounces and on its face had listed the average weights for women,
men, girls and boys.
PMG Uniform Button
The man in charge of the post office and its staff was known as the
postmaster. Other staff included postal clerks who served at the
counter and processed mail. There were also two to
telephonists who manually connected all telephone calls within, to and from
Carnamah. A night officer was employed to man the telephone exchange
through the night.
Stamps have long been used with postal services to mark mail with
the date, where it was posted from and various other notifications.
This stamp holder, stamps and inkpad were all used
at the Carnamah Post Office. The T-stamp (for tax) was stamped on
letters and parcels sent with insufficient postage.
The two stamps at the bottom read Please Advise Correspondent of
Your Correct Postal Address and Not Over One Hundred
This Stevenson Screen sat in the yard of the post office from 1932 until
1999. It contained thermometers that were used to measure Carnamah's
minimum and maximum temperature each day. This information, along
with how much rain had been received, was passed onto the Bureau of
The highest maximum in Carnamah was 48.1 degrees Celsius on 23
January 1980. The coldest minimum was on the morning of 2 July 1948,
when it was minus two degrees.
Another member of the postal staff in Carnamah was the linesman
who worked maintaining local telephone and telegraph lines. In
1934 a Linesman's Shed was built behind the post office - near
which this sign was once displayed.
Up until 1974 you had to obtain a licence from a post office for
any radios or televisions that you owned.
"The P.M.G's Department is continuing its activities against those
who fail to obtain the necessary licences. Users of unlicensed radio
sets are liable to HEAVY PENALTIES, including SEIZURE of their sets. Under the Australian Broadcasting Act, each person must hold a
current broadcast listener's licence for each set in his possession,
whether in the home, place of business, holiday residence or motor
-- The West Australian, 15 May 1948
Telephone Exchange in 1976
Carnamah's telephone exchange was inside the post office until 1976
when the exchange was automated. This meant telephonists were no
longer needed to respond to and connect calls.
Before being automated, telephone calls were timed
and at certain intervals the telephonist would interrupt the
conversation to ask the caller if they wished to end the call or
Carnamah Post Office in 2008
The Postmaster General's Department looked after post and
telephone services across Australia until 1975. The department
was then split, resulting in the creation of Australia Post and
Telecom Australia (Telstra). In 1991 the Carnamah Post Office
was downgraded and expressions of interest were called for its
operations. Colleen W. Bennier acquired the licence to run the
post office and purchased its buildings. Since 1991 she has
operated the post office in conjunction with the Bush Basket, a
gifts and health food shop. Following the closure of the Bankwest branch in Carnamah in 1997 the post office has also
been home to a Bankwest agency.