The Cundletown Post Office has been open for business from its current site since 3rd February 1893. The beautiful building is quite a landmark in Cundletown and has witnessed many changes throughout its 123 year history. Craig and Susan Ryde are the second longest serving Postal Managers to operate from this building, and after 26 years doing a job they love, they’ve decided it’s time to retire …
Hi Craig and Susan. What’s your history in the Manning … Are you born and bred locals, or did you move here?
We both grew up and were educated in Newcastle. Coming from early careers in banking and teaching, we then owned and operated newsagencies and a motel together and wanting a change from seven days a week, looked for a business that was family friendly with reduced hours.
With relatives living at Black Head, we decided a business in the area could be a good thing, as we liked the semi-coastal lifestyle for our young family. When the Cundletown Post Office came on the market, we jumped at the chance for a more settled lifestyle with a good viable business.
When did you purchase the Cundletown Post Office?
We purchased the business and moved in on 5th January 1990.
The Post Office building has quite a bit of history attached to it. What can you tell us about this beautiful building; has it always been a Post Office?
The Cundletown Post and Telegraph Office had been in a number of buildings attached to other businesses around town since 1855. In the 1880s a petition to move the Post Office out of one of the hotels into a separate building was sent to the Postmaster Generals Dept.
A portion of crown land was obtained near the Court House, and in Sept 1890 the Department of Works accepted a tender from Mr J Healy for £1,739 ($3,478) to erect a brick Post and Telegraph office. This building was opened for business on 3rd Feb 1893, with Mr John Nunn as its first postmaster. It was only the 7th office in the colony to have money orders.
In its 123 years history, this building has always been a Post Office, and there have only been 11 Postmasters. Some stayed only a short time; others a long time. It is worth noting that the Ledwidge and O’Sullivan families occupied the post office for 17 and 21 years respectively. The only Postmistress was Mrs Margaret Hodgins, who served the community for a remarkable 35 years! During her time, the Morse telegraph system was replaced by telephone (1911).
The building is listed with the National Trust, but has no heritage covenants over it.
What are some of the most notable changes you’ve witnessed in the services/facilities offered by the Post Office during the time you’ve owned the business?
When we commenced, the business was based around postage, parcels were weighed on balance scales, money orders, Commonwealth Bank Agency (passbooks only) and the only billpay was Telstra phone bills.
Australia Post has consistently looked to expand and diversify. Now revenue from parcels is far greater than letters, money orders have been joined by Western Union for sending money within Australia and overseas. With the introduction of computers and electronic transactions, banking is now with more than 70 financial institutions and Billpay with more than a thousand principals.
Another change was from telegrams to faxes; also, the change from Post Office Agency to Licensed Post Office.
Over the years, identity verifications have become more necessary, such as the processing of Australian Passports, NCOC Workcover applications and many others for financial institutions.
For the building’s 100 year anniversary, we engaged in an extensive remodelling and restoration programme, which included the introduction of Private Post Boxes.
Originally we sorted all the mail with a team of postmen for delivery. Now, the mail is sorted and delivered from the Delivery Centre. This changed us to a purely Retail Post Office.
What are some of your favourite features of the site and building?
The Post Office/residence site enjoys 360 degree views of the magnificent Manning River and Valley. Being close to schools and sporting venues for our children was a plus.
High ceilings and large rooms create a feeling of space, and the original features like the marble fireplaces and cedar staircase give us a sense of continuing to be the custodians of its unique history.
The safe, enclosed garden courtyard and large entertainment room has given our family many years of enjoyment. Working from home and not having to drive to work has been a wonderful feature of living here.
What’s been the most rewarding part of owning this business?
Serving the community and enjoying the social contact with so many people has been particularly satisfying. The opportunity to grow the business into a strong, viable and expanding operation was helped by the support of our many loyal customers.
The Post Office, only being open Monday to Friday and able to be operated by us as husband and wife, gave us the time to spend with our four children as they grew through many years of sports, music, dance and education.
You’ve now decided it’s time to move on, and the business is on the market. What is included with the sale?
The sale includes the freehold of the residence and a strong, viable Post Office business with fixtures and fittings and huge future growth potential.
Included in the sale is also a very large shed that could be used to integrate an internet business into the Post Office.
What are your future plans?
As the second longest serving Postal Managers in this building, we have been here for over 26 years. Our family has grown up, and it is now time for us to retire to enjoy our grandchildren, some time travelling and to begin a new chapter in our lives.
We hope to continue to live in the area, especially as the next generation of our family, our grandson, has started kindergarten at Cundletown Public School.
Where can people find out more info about the business?
The sale of the property is listed with LJ Hooker, Taree. Prospective purchasers can contact Amanda Tate on 0427 539 991 or the office on (02) 6552 1133.
Thanks Craig and Susan.