Royal Reels: Gambling


This postmark was sufficiently short-lived and is relatively uncommon, and this area on the New South Wales and Victoria border is of considerable interest, that I felt it reasonable to research it and to write a short paper. The postmark cancels the red 2½d KGVI definitive which was issued on 7 January 1942 and it reads MULWALA CONSTRUCTION CAMP/ -9 JE 43/ NSW. The postmark is described in N.C. Hopson & R. Tobin’s ‘N.S.W. and A.C.T. Post, Receiving, Telegraph & Telephone Offices, Volume 3‘ as follows: ‘Official Post Office 25.3.43 Closed 25.8.44 Type 2C 1943-‘. The postmark is shown in colour and also with a red filter, respectively in Figures 1 and 2.

Mulwala lies almost in the middle of the area which lies between Albury to the east and Echuca to the west on the Murray River, and this area was originally the home of the Bangerang Aboriginal people. The area on both sides of the Murray, Australia’s greatest river, was known to this tribe as Mulla Walla. By the 1850s, and during the goldrushes, people flocking to the Victorian diggings from New South Wales, used the shallow Murray River crossing between the sites that later became Mulwala, N.S.W. and Yarrawonga, Victoria. In the mid 1850s a Mr McCrae established a punt service for visitors and for an increasing number of pastoralist families who settled along the river, especially on properties with river frontage.

Mulwala developed as a service centre for rural activities in the 1860s and 1870s, but by the 1880s Yarrawonga had grown and attracted business from it, so that the latter now is larger and has a greater population. By 1891 the establishment of a bridge between the 2 towns, and with the establishment of the Victorian railway system to Yarrawonga in 1886, further established Yarrawonga’s dominance. The Victorian gauge rail was extended from Yarrawonga through Mulwala to the N.S.W. town of Oaklands by the 1930s. In 1939 the new Yarrawonga Weir dammed the Murray River to create Lake Mulwala both for irrigation and aquatic activities. The position of Mulwala, Lake Mulwala and Yarrawonga are shown in Figure 3.

Yarrawonga Weir is located near the townships of Yarrawonga, in Victoria, and Mulwala, in NSW. and construction of the weir began on 26 April 1935 and was completed on 17 July1939, with the filling of Lake Mulwala starting on 12 August 1939. These dates do not explain the need for the opening of an official post office at Mulwala Construction Camp in March 1943.

There were only two other N.S.W. Construction Camps which are listed in Hopson and Tobin, and they were opened in the same time period with relatively short duration as that at Mulwala. One was at St. Marys Construction Camp 6k from Penrith, which opened on 13.7.1942 and closed on 20.6.1944. The Tocumwal Construction Camp on the Murray River opened on 8.4.1942 and closed on 31.8.1943, but from 23.9.1943 until 15.5.1944 it opened for one hour on Thursdays only! The cancellation used was of the Type 3(i) with NSW AUST at the base, an example of which is shown in Figure 4.

Categories: Postmarks