Four-day post, 45 years later: Harvey icon retires
When Carol Gale first started at Australia Post, stamps were just 10 cents, now they are $1.10.
After 45 years of service, the woman who donned a bright red uniform and an even brighter smile behind the counter at the Harvey Post Office, will be posting her last envelope and heading off to a well-earned retirement.
She knows every postcode in the State and can — remarkably — rattle off the PO box number of every Harvey resident.
“Here comes PO Box number 148,” she said as one of her regulars entered the post office during her chat with the Harvey-Waroona Reporter.
The post office veteran is one of Australia Post’s longest serving employees and will serve her last shift next Friday.
She joined the team on February 1, 1975, when she was just 16 — following in her father’s footsteps.
I was still in high school and dad asked me if I wanted to fill in for someone at the Post Office for four days.
“I said yes and four days turned into four decades.
“They never asked me to leave.”
Carol said she believed her dad would be proud if he was looking down on her today.
“Dad served 43 years with Australia Post and I remember thinking that was a crazy effort, I never thought I would surpass it.
“It was never on my radar, I think he’d be amazed.
Carol worked at the Postmaster-General (PMG) before it split into Australia Post and Telcom Australia, which later became Telstra.
Her brother Colin also worked for Australia Post. Between the three of them, they have served more than a century at the company.
Carol said she had met some lovely people on her journey.
“I turned 17 two weeks after I started the job and my team brought me a cake and I was so embarrassed that they had got me this cake.
“I was quite a shy and naive young girl at the time.
“I still keep in contact with my first supervisor Joyce Chalmers and I am hoping she will come down for my send off.
“She was my inspiration and I learnt a lot from her.”
As the 2020 financial year shut its doors, Carol uncovered her first tax statement where she earned just $4494.
“Looking at it now, I wondered why I got out of bed for that much a year, but back then it was a lot of money.”
The master of mail moved from Perth to Collie and then switched to Harvey.
My dream was to become a postal manager in a country branch.
Carol has also stamped her way through branches in Bunbury, Bridgetown, Margaret River and Narrogin — filling in for people on leave — however, she admitted she would miss Harvey the most.
“We are on a first name basis with nearly everyone in Harvey, I will really miss the community.
“We have a good team of girls and the customers are just phenomenal.”
The loyal employee said she had watched children in the community grow up and have their own children.
“That’s when I knew I was getting old,” she said.
She also said her favourite part of the job was helping with special letters, that may not be addressed correctly, find their way to their rightful owner.
We get letters that are missing some information, they might be addressed to Nan and Granddad from Ben and have a pet’s name and the street name but no house number. In the city that would just be returned to the sender, but in Harvey we do some investigating and we ask people in the street for information to try and find the correct address.
Carol said she had seen some interesting deliveries over the years.
“Oh we have had some weird things — fridges, hockey sticks and even tarantulas.
“We had really ripe mangoes one time and I couldn’t stand the smell out the back so I drove all the way to Benger just to get rid of them.”
Post Office Network general manager for WA and SA Donna Vecchio thanked Carol for her service.
“Forty five years is an incredible milestone and we are so privileged to have had Carol working with us for so many years. Her devotion and commitment to her customers and the local community is truly inspiring. She will be greatly missed.”
Harvey residents need not worry, they can still see Carol at St John Ambulance in Harvey where she will continue to work as a volunteer.
“Please don’t get sick just to come and see me though,” Carol said. “Thank you for the wonderful memories Harvey.”
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