Waterloo Post Office

by Jenny Golding
Updated: 11 July 2022

The Waterloo Post Office, so central to life for the farming community, did not have dedicated premises for many of the first years of settlement. It did, however, always have amazingly dedicated Postmistresses or Postmasters, paid very little, but valued and respected for their care of the mail and of the community.

The first Waterloo person noted in official Post Office records was Michael Shivers in 1896.  Michael and his family settled in Waterloo in 1886, the second settlers in the district. The Shivers home, close to the current Waterloo-Dardanup Road and along the Perth-Bunbury Road, served for many years as an unofficial postage depot. Mail came weekly by coach before the train service began in 1893.

A deputation, the first of many, approached the Premier in 1896 regarding the establishment of an official post office in Waterloo.

 The Bunbury Herald of 19 May 1896 quotes Charles E Clifton, an early settler in Waterloo: “It was clearly understood by the deputation that the Premier said that he would use his best endeavours to give us a post and telegraph office as the bag was said to be not suitable by the deputation”.  (The “bag” is understood to be an open bag into which mail was posted).

Bridget Shivers was classified as a “Receiver of Mail” as was her successor, Mrs Annie Paine, James Maguire’s niece and sister to Mrs Larkin (later Postmistress in Waterloo) from 1 October 1900.

“Great Aunt Biddy Shivers …. was the first postmistress at Waterloo… she had to take the mail to the railway crossing near the current brickworks and, as the train slowed down, she would throw the mailbag up and a guard would throw the other one on to the ground for her.”  

“A long way from Tirano” P. 26, history of the Depiazzi family

On July 18 1904, the Bunbury Herald reported that the Farmers, Vine and Fruit Growers Association in Waterloo had approached the Deputy Postmaster of WA regarding the building of a room as a Post Office.

The Southern Times 30 September 1905 reported: “It is rumoured we are to have a store opened at Waterloo shortly which I trust will lead to an officer-in-charge of the station (railway) and also a post office”. The newspaper reported a veranda added to two sides of the hall.

The Bunbury Herald carried the sad news in December 1907 that Mrs Paine, after being in charge of the “loose bag” at Waterloo for nearly seven years, had died. “The departed lady was loved by young and old for her motherly and kind disposition”.

The same paper reported in September 1909, under Waterloo Notes:  “The telephone, recently switched on to our local Post Office and for which we feel thankful, will be patronised as soon as we get the hang of it. For instance, by paying the postmistress (Mrs Larkin) twopence, one can speak to any business house in Bunbury, send a telegram through the Bunbury Post Office to any part of the Commonwealth”.

In February 1910 the newspaper suggested that “the Farmers’ Society should lay before the proper authorities the want of a suitable building, not necessarily an expensive structure but some sort of decent room, or a couple of rooms, in which the postmistress would have a room and comfort. At present time the little room is about 8 ft. by 10 ft. and is a portion of the public hall used by the State School and in this little stuffy room, the lady in charge (Mrs Larkin) has to use as dining room, sitting room, delivery and receiving etc.”

Post Office officials visited Waterloo in March 1910 but said the revenue from the Post Office did not support a building. They hoped the public-spirited local people would club together in the building of a post office.

A request for an extra room for the post office was made, yet again, in May 1911. It was reported in the “Bunbury Herald” that Sir John Forrest, when treasurer of Parliament, had said “Keep writing to me until you get a little post office” and Lady Forrest was reported as adding “if John didn’t succeed in getting it, to write to her and she would get it for them”.  The paper noted regret for ill-health suffered by eighty-year-old Mrs. Tyrrell who was Postmistress in Waterloo for many years.

Author of the Waterloo Notes in the Bunbury Herald 23 March 1912 commented on the inconvenience of the school and Post Office in the hall and added: “Another very urgent want is post office quarters at Waterloo. Sir John Forrest promised to get this for us but we are still waiting. It is a pity some of the landowners adjacent to the hall are not sufficiently enterprising to build a suitable office and lease it to the postal department”.

Continuing reports in the June edition of the Bunbury Herald regarding complaints about the post office brought suggestions that the hall committee or locals build a small place and rent it to the Post Office Department.

On July 4 1912 under Waterloo Notes and Post Office quarters, the Bunbury Herald carried the information that an inspector connected with the Postal Department had visited Waterloo in reference to complaints about the post office quarters. “Matters remain as they were three years ago when the ex-Postmaster General at the insistence of Sir John Forrest visited. The officer suggests that the hall committee or settlers build a small place on land and rent it to the department. If half a dozen of our local farmers subscribed the rent would be guaranteed”.

Retiring Postmistress, Mrs Tyrrell, was honoured at a social evening reported in the Bunbury Herald on the 26 April 1919 and presented with a purse of sovereigns showing “the esteem in which she was held by the people with whom her work brought her in contact.” The report continued “…see how scurvily she is treated by the great Commonwealth Government for whom she worked faithfully for six years. In December last, not feeling equal to carrying on the work, she tendered her resignation on the grounds of ill-health. An inspector came down and the position was advertised but no applications came to hand. The Inspector then said that the local PO would have to be closed. To avoid this, in spite of failing health, Mrs Tyrrell consented to remain. Four months followed and then a collapse occurred ……. heart troubles and breakdown.” ……. “Is she, who worked for many years for practically nothing, to be discarded like an old shoe? ….. Let justice be done!”

The Postmaster in 1920 was Mr Caleb Henry Siggs and in October 1920 the Southern Times noted that there had been a break-in at Waterloo’s Post Office and £10 and a quantity of clothing belonging to Postmaster Mr Siggs was stolen.

Excitement would have been riding high in the district in September 1925 when it was reported that “The telephone department construction staff are still in the district and lines are being run quickly to distant settlers. The lines are giving to Waterloo quite a busy appearance. The Exchange has been installed at the post office and in itself quite an artistic piece of furniture”.

Waterloo’s Postmaster, Mr Caleb Siggs outside the Waterloo Post Office when it was housed on the verandah of the first Waterloo Hall.

Mr  Caleb Henry Siggs, then 64 years of age, was living in accommodation in the hall in 1925 when the local Parents and Citizens Association approached the Government again to have a dedicated school built in Waterloo. Teacher and students were sharing the hall premises and grounds with Mr Siggs, the Post Office, Mr Siggs’ free roaming chickens, the horses and vehicles of Post Office visitors. Students overheard conversations of users of the public telephone.

Caleb Siggs and his family had arrived from England at Fremantle in 1909 and had purchased Collie Agricultural Lot 38 in Waterloo in 1912. The family lived in a house on this farm, using a side room as a postal depot at times. Caleb rode a bicycle home from the hall premises on the weekends. 

Fire! “A fierce fire lasts for half an hour”. That was the report in the South Western Times in February 1941 after three small groups of buildings, comprising Waterloo Railway Station, were completely destroyed. The Postmaster, who was also employed as caretaker for the Station “rushed off”, apparently to telephone from there for help. He was later found in the Station staff room by Mr Palmer, a farmer residing nearby, who broke a window and injured his arm rescuing Mr Siggs from the flames.

Disaster came in June 1946 when another fire, starting in Mr Siggs’ sitting room in his quarters in the hall, totally destroyed the hall, burning postal equipment, personal effects and money belonging to Mr Siggs. Then described as 84 years of age, the postmaster had awoken to find floorboards around the fireplace alight. The West Australian stated that he had been employed as non-official Postmaster for 37 years but it may have been closer to 27 years.

Waterloo residents spoke warmly of Mr Siggs and felt that the worry of the fire was probably the reason he was hospitalized and died on July 14, 1946. The community felt the loss of their Postmaster, the hall and the post office.

Considerately, Waterloo’s Barbetti family, built premises, not far from the hall, with room for a shop, Post Office, telephone exchange and accommodation. A small shed on the hall site was used until an attractive, comfortable building was completed, Waterloo’s second hall.

Englishman Jack (Jacob Gordon) Pepper, became a very popular Postmaster in Waterloo. Jack married Josephine Holland, daughter of Dardanup’s longest serving postmistress, at Dardanup in August 1941. Older residents spoke of Jack riding a bicycle between Dardanup and Waterloo for some time before accommodation became available for the couple in Waterloo.

Jack and Josie ran the post office, the telephone exchange and the shop from their premises, always aiming to stock whatever any one person wanted and allowing the school children to choose and take their three pence worth of sweets from the jars without supervision. The trust was appreciated by a community who deeply respected the kindly, hardworking couple.

The exchange, which meant one or other had to be on hand for long hours each week day and half Saturday, allowed families the independence of a telephone in their own home. Generally, five to six families would would share a telephone line (a party line) and any person telephoning in would ask “to be put through” which meant Jack or Josie selected the right call sign for that family, making a series of long or short rings. In order to to telephone out, Waterloo residents rang the exchange and asked to be “put through” to the number requested. Never-ending work for the Peppers who also managed the shop and the post office and were highly valued in a community which revolved around them.

Private telephones were eventually connected in the area and Jack and Josie retired to Australind.

Mail is now delivered and taken from the local garage and fuel supply.


  • Shivers information from the Busher family.
  • “A Long Way from Tirano” – the story of the Depiazzi family.
  • Australind Genealogical Library, Mr. Alan Reynolds.
  • State Records Office, David Whiteford
  •  Postmasters and Postmistresses of Western Australia 1829-1992”
  • “Ask a Librarian” Perth State Library


  • Bunbury Herald, May 1896, July 1904, December 1907, Sept. 1909, Feb. 1910, March 1910, May 1911, March 1912, June 1912, July 1912, April 1919,
  • The West Australian, 10 June 1946
  • Southern Times, Bunbury Sept. 1905, October 1920
  • South Western Times, 26 Feb. 1941

Image source:

  • Photograph kindly supplied by Margaret Vinci