Lois Wilkinson’s met more Port people than most of us. With the formal title of postal services officer, she’s one of the friendly faces at Port’s main Post Office where over the past two decades she’s served more than half a million people.
“I’ve been a PSO, casual and permanent, at Port Macquarie Post Office for about 19 years and before that I worked at the Lake Cathie agency for four years. We came to this area from north-west NSW 28 years ago. I’d been raised on a farm in Wee Waa and went to school at St Mary’s in Gunnedah. When I finished school I worked as a receptionist at a doctor’s surgery for 18 years and during that time, in 1968, I married my husband John, from Inverell. We’ve three beautiful children, Monica, Tony and Peter, all happily married, and seven grandchildren: twins arrived just last month!
We moved to Lake Cathie in 1982 and that’s when I started my career with Australia Post. The first post office in Port Macquarie was opened in 1832. Today, residents are well catered for with two post offices and three licensed post offices – Port Macquarie Business Centre in the industrial area, the licensed post offices at Settlement City, Lighthouse Beach and Flynn’s Beach, and this office, which was purpose-built; we moved here from our previous location at the corner of Clarence and Horton streets in 2004. There are about 18 posties in the Port area.
Twelve of us work here at this office, with quite a long record of service between us. Warren, our manager, has had 22 years with Australia Post, seven of them in Port; Pat, our supervisor’s been with AP for 39 years, 25 of them in Port; Kevin has 43 years up, 17 of them here; Jayne – 24 years, four in Port; David, with 21 years, all in Port; Wendy – 13 years, the last six of them here, and Jo has five years’ service here. Rowena, Joy, Denis and Megan sort the mail each morning and have a total of 85 years of service between them. Our team here serves around one thousand customers every day and caters for more than 2700 private PO box holders. About 14,000 letters and parcels a day are handled here and all of it is sent to Kempsey to be sorted and despatched. Just some of the things we do daily are mail processing, passport photos, passport renewals, processing birth, wedding and death certificates, carrying out money transfers and 100-point ID checks, processing bill payments and general customer service. We have regular online training to keep up with Australia Post changes and ongoing training updating us on OH&S practices, dangerous goods handling and privacy laws.
One of the enjoyable aspects of my job is the ideal hours I work, 9 to 3 each weekday, which allows me to still enjoy a game of tennis each week as well as craft and charity work. I play tennis in Lake Cathie; a few years ago I was made a lifetime member in appreciation of my work with the club. While retirement is still a while off, I’m looking forward to a relaxing future. It will be hard to leave Australia Post but when I do I intend to travel around Australia and spend more time with my friends and family, particularly my grandchildren. I also look forward to continuing my charity work and craft.
My career here has been very rewarding; I’ve met some wonderful people in my work and no two days are the same. I enjoy helping people and I’ve been involved in training new staff members and licensees. I especially enjoy being able to help our customers on a daily basis. We often receive small tokens of thanks from customers in appreciation for the work we do for them – once we were even sent a floral arrangement by a customer, to say thank you. One particular customer who sticks in my mind is a young man I encountered a couple of months ago: he offered a sum of money to an elderly woman who had come in to the post office to pay a bill, but then found she was unable to do so.
The gentleman handed over the money and said to “Have a nice day”. These sorts of stories make every day at the post office an interesting one.”