In the 1930s I moved to William Lockwood’s son Joseph’s General Store at Birchip in the Wimmera Mallee area 320 km from Melbourne. It is a sheep farming area, where wheat, barley and cereals are grown. It is here that James Phelps invented the stump jump plough. During the hot summer months there are many dust storms. Like his father, Joseph was very involved in community life. He was president of the Progress Association, president of the North Western Shires and Borough Association of Victoria, guarantor of the railway, chairman of the waterworks trust, president of the Agricultural and pastoral society and the Mechanics Institute, a life time member of the public hall committee, a JP from 1899, deputy coroner, Treasurer of the Methodist Church Trust, a keen Rechabite, member of the Masonic Lodge and Australian Natives Association. When he met the Queen in 1954 he was honoured to receive an OBE. He was well known and respected and to the locals he was fondly known as “Uncle Joe”.
After Joseph’s death in 1955 his estate was left to his two daughters, (William’s granddaughters) May and Laura. I left the General Store and I was stored at Laura’s home in Birchip.
In 1977, Miss Laura Lockwood contacted the Whittlesea Historical Society, and asked if the members would like to go and view some memorabilia that had belonged to her grandfather, William Lockwood.
One Saturday afternoon, ten members of the Society went to visit Miss Lockwood where she showed them some items in her possession that had belonged to William; they included a large clock. She offered to donate some of these items to the Society.
These items were appreciated and brought back to Whittlesea to be included in the Society’s historical collection.
However it was felt appropriate that this important treasure, (me), should be displayed in the Post Office. Ross White kindly agreed to allow me to be displayed on the wall of the present day Post Office.
The building where I am now housed was built by John C Gibbs a returned soldier who built the new post office and residence diagonally across the road from William Lockwood’s Post and Telegraph Office.
John (Jack) Carlisle Gibbs’ hobby was photography. Fifty years worth of his work in the Whittlesea area has recently been digitised and is held by the Society.
In 2006 I was ticking slower, and as a consequence, showed the incorrect time. I was so clogged with dust and dirt, that I had to go to a horologist to be overhauled, stripped down, cleaned, some parts replaced, and rebuilt. I am now back on the Post Office wall, keeping the correct time while I oversee the present day postal transactions and observe the local community’s comings and goings.
Whittlesea has many outlets for its residents. Football, cricket, bowls, tennis, and golf clubs, Probus, Elderly Citizens, Neighbourhood House activities, a Community Garden, Scouting, and the RSL, to name just a few.
There have been many changes since I first came to Whittlesea. Times have changed from horses and buggies, to very sleek modern cars. People dress and speak differently than they did then.
Nowadays technology has changed the way things are done. The world seems much smaller than when I started my life across the road. Gone are the telegrams and there are fewer letters. I hear that there is something called the internet, where a message can be sent and delivered instantly. Amazing!
There was a dreadful day in 2009, when bushfires destroyed a lot of the surrounding area, but fortunately the wind changed, the fire went back away from the town, but in the surrounding areas the destruction and devastation was incredible. I hope that the residents never have to go through anything like that again. It did bring people together, helping and supporting each other, many of these helpers were not residents of this area.
As I tick away the hours, minutes and seconds in the future, I know that I reside in a warm, supportive community that has developed into a vibrant suburb. I wish to thank Ross White for allowing me to stay in his Post Office, Miss Lockwood for allowing me to come back “home,” and the Whittlesea Historical Society for cleaning, maintaining and taking care of me.
Next time that you come into the Post Office, don’t forget to look up at me, smile and say “good day”.