The Wingecarribee Shire's town of Bundanoon is located on the Southern Railway south of Moss Vale.
The railway station which opened there in August 1869 was known as Jordan's Crossing. A village rapidly developed around it and by 1871 residents were agitating for a post office. Extracts from correspondence and policy files kept by the NSW Postmaster-General's Department continue here.
As a result of petitions from residents, including village landowner and dairy farmer, George Osborn and Robert Longmore, manager of the Rock Roof Coal Mine, the Postmaster-General approved an unofficial post office on 1 May, 1872.
Such offices were established at localities the PMG Department considered did not warrant a trained postmaster and where telegraph services were provided separately at railway stations.
Longmore had proposed that a railway fettler, James Cambourn, "who lives in the Station House at the Crossing" could handle the receipt and despatch of mail. This was accepted and his house became the unofficial Jordan's Crossing Post Office.
Mail was sent and received three times weekly by train. Cambourn, who could not write, was paid 10 pounds per annum postal allowance. His sureties were Osborn and Longmore.
With the village flourishing, a new platform and siding were built in 1875. Longmore again wrote to the PMG: "We the inhabitants of Jordan's Crossing some time ago petitioned for the establishment of a post office which was granted and for which we were thankful. We now petition for an alteration in the time of the arrival and departure of mails from this post office". He suggested a faster service would be obtained by using a different mix of the 36 trains that passed through each week.
In June 1876 Cambourn resigned as Postmaster due to a Railway Department transfer to Bowning. Osborn applied to the PMG for the position, stating that he owned a 200-acre dairy farm close to the existing post office site. "My dwelling is situated about 200 yards from the platform. It is also close to the Provisional School, the teachership of which is held by my wife, Mrs Osborn. As to references, I can refer you to Henry Badgery Esq JP and Charles Nicholson Esq JP, both of Sutton Forest (besides many others should it be required)".
William Augustus Nicholas also applied for the position. He was a businessman and photographer who had purchased the Jordan family's 40 acres located on both sides of the platform. He was starting a wholesale cordial factory and, being most central, he asked for the position.
Henry Badgery, gentleman owner of Vine Lodge at nearby Exeter, wrote to the PMG in favour of Osborn "knowing him to be in every way capable of filling the office, and well worthy of the appointment". Osborn was appointed Postmaster on July 1, 1876, with an annual salary of 12 pounds. The unofficial post office operated from his shop in the centre of the growing village.
In 1878 the Railways renamed the station Jordan's Siding, where a waiting shed and office had been added and a basic telegraph service existed. The following year a branch of the Government Savings Bank opened at Osborn's post office shop and his salary rose to 30 pounds.
On 28 February 1881 the railway station's name was changed again, to Bundanoon. This was at the official request of James Kidd, recently elected to NSW Parliament as the Member for Camden. In those days his electorate included the Wingecarribee district. The Bundanoon name reflected the wish of most residents and had already been adopted by the Educational and Land Departments.
The name is from an Aboriginal word for a place of deep gullies, first noted in 1818 by Dr Charles Throsby during explorations through the nearby gullies. One of the major creeks was named Bundanoon in the 1820s as was the gullies recreation reserve from the 1860s.
In March 1881 townspeople advised the PMG Department of the station's name change and requested that the Post Office be similarly renamed, "as it will greatly facilitate our letters reaching here".
This was approved in April 1881 and George Osborn's store became Bundanoon's unofficial Post Office.
- Berrima District Historical & Family History Society - compiled by PD Morton. Part 3 of a four-part series. To be continued.
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