Uki Post Office History

May 9, 2018 | Media Release

UKI VILLAGE

Uki (pronounced yook-eye) in the heart of the ‘Green Caldera’, Northern NSW.

It is situated in the foothills of The Three Sisters and Mt. Warning.  Known locally as Wollumbin, Mt Warning is also called Wullambiny Momoli (Turkey Nest) by the Ngaraakwal Githabul , and is sacred to all indigenous peoples.

The heritage listed village of Uki is located 13.8 km from Murwillumbah on the South Arm of the Tweed River and was originally a centre for the logging of red cedar timber.

In the late 1880’s the area was populated by the timber (red cedar) getters and by the early 1900’s
nearly all vegetation was cleared.  Dairy farming became the paramount industry of the area and the Butter Factory and Saw Mill became the economic hub for settlers in the surrounding valleys along the South Arm.

In 1910 the Post Office was established in Uki Village.

In 1914, only 25 years after the first settlers arrived in the area, Uki had a shop, a Hall/Mechanical Institute, a School, a bank, a Butter Factory, a new post office with mail service and a telephone exchange, Methodist and Roman Catholic churches and the hotel was under construction.

1914 was also the start of The Great War resulting in the loss of 33 local men. Their service is commemorated on the Uki War Memorial, which features in the centre of the Village.

Following a rationalisation of the dairy industry in the 1960s, many dairies closed down with farmers turning to beef cattle.

Tropical fruits are grown in the area and cane farming is a prominent agricultural activity in the Tweed Valley itself.

The last remaining sawmill is located on the Smith’s Creek Road towards the north of the village.

In recent years Uki has become a village of diverse and friendly people. New residents looking for alternate lifestyles, attracted by the subtropical climate, abundance of water, close proximity to pretty beaches and coastal villages and of course the world class natural beauty of the area. They have brought with them a diversity of trades, arts and crafts to the area

Today Uki is a heritage listed village with an active historical society keen on preserving the heritage of Uki and district.

UKI POST OFFICE – HISTORY

A postal service started at Rowlands Creek as a Receiving Office I 1901. The mail was delivered twice weekly by horseback with an annual fee of 22 pounds 15 shillings.
On 16th March 1909, E.W. Roberts, Secretary of the Uki Progress Association, wrote requesting the establishment of a post office and telephone exchange at Uki. At that time there were 125 settlers on the South Arm and branch creeks, 73 of whom were within five miles of Uki.
At that time the village was growing, with a branch of the North Coast Cooperative Butter Company (the old Buttery) to be erected, a blacksmith, a new store to be built, the planned Saw Mill, the auctioneer’s (W O Irvine) new establishment, as well as the public school and School of Arts.
Pending the removal of the post office from Rowlands Creek to Uki the Rowlands Creek Receiving Office was raised to that of a post office in 1909. The Rowlands Creek Post Office closed 31 March 1910.
The Uki Post Office opened on 1st April 1910 in leased premises near the old Uki bank. The Postmistress also conducted a fruit and confectionary store in the building. About 79 householders residing within three miles of Uki received mail, along with 300 other residents.
In 1911 the first telephone service to Uki PO was connected with a telephone line installed between Murwillumbah and Uki on 22nd April that year. This made it possible to send and receive telegrams.
(After 1911 election night dances would be held in the hall. Each election update was phoned in, the music would stop and the postmaster would announce the bulletins from the hall stage. Later, in 1941 the postmaster announced the sinking of the Bismarck, a German boat sunk in WW2 from the hall stage.)
In 1912 the telephone exchange at Uki was 9am to 6pm daily, Sundays and holidays excepted. Other than the PO the list of subscribers were: No 2 G Parker No 3 E. S. & A. Bank, No 4 W O Irvine.
In 1913 the Uki Hall Trustees gave permission for W O Irvine (who started business in 1905/6) to erect a small building for his auctioneer’s business to be built on hall land between the hall and the general store. In 1914 the original Uki PO building burnt down. The fire was first discovered in the Post Office. The Post office then operated out of the hall for a sort time and then moved in with W O Irvine in his auctioneers building,
In October 1914 the Uki Progress Association called a meeting to raise a petition to make a request to the postal department to say that the present office even with a letter box and public telephone bureau is what the public are asked to put up with. One cannot hold a telephone communication of a private nature without everyone in the vicinity of the other overhearing every word of the conversation.
A money order facility was introduced at the Uki PO 1st May 1915. And about the same time a branch of the Commonwealth Savings Bank was opened.
In 1916 the PO also sold confectionary, fruit, summer drinks and stationary. The PO was still operating with the auctioneer’s business in 1919 as Mr Roberts, the then postmaster, tendered his resignation in W O Irving letterhead.
Mr C V Milsom took over as postmaster on 1st November 1919, which began three generations of the Milsom family as postmasters in Uki.
In 1922 there was a telephone switchboard with ten subscribers connected and Mr Milsom was given permission by the Hall Trust to build a small residence behind the PO.
An automatic telephone service at Uki became active on 3rd Aril 1941 and a new automatic exchange was re-sited from the main road to Rowlands Creek Road in 1967. The changeover was necessary to change from the old three-digit code to the six digit code for subscriber numbers.

Uki Postmasters
1910 Mrs Jessie Kay
1911 Miss Margaret M Reid
1911 Mary A E Atkins
1912 Alfred D J Atkins
1915 James A Irvine
1916 James H Faulks
1917 E W Roberts
1919 C V Milsom
1971 Victor Milsom
1981 Nancye Townsend
1981 Victor Milsom
1993 Philip & Norah Milsom
2002 Peter & Lyn Messing
2017 Gary Wall

Note: When Charlie and Alma Milsom had the Uki PO, the left-hand side had shelves with 
Fred Whittle’s made up treatments for sale (Fred at Whittles pharmacy at Murwillumbah) – some were for baby’s colic etc. It was the closest thing the village had for a doctor.
Note: W O Irvin was still in business in 1924 at auctioneer and commission agent.

Information Courtesy of
Tweed Regional Museum
Uki & South Arm Historical Society Inc
NSW Historical Section of Australia Post