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South Lismore Post Office changes hands after 18 years

The Lismore App

Lara Leahy

16 May 2024, 9:03 PM

South Lismore Post Office changes hands after 18 yearsTracy Ward, the new South Lismore Postmaster in front of her new business

The South Lismore Post Office is about to change ownership, after 18 years. Terry Beadle and Joanne Cooper are handing over the Post Office to Tracy Ward, a local lady who Terry has faith will be the right person for the role.

The quaint little cottage that is the South Lismore Post Office, has been there since 1906. The current service from the post office with Terry and Jo’s presence has been a reliable and constant part of the South Lismore community for over a generation. They go hand in hand, and has been described as an iconic part of life in the tight-knit community.

On reflecting on his time here, you can hear how much this has meant to him in his voice, “The customers are great, always wonderful - amazing people. We've seen kids born and grown up to adults. It's just a great place to work and it's such a good community here.”

Joanne will continue with work in her business as a Gestalt Psychotherapist and Terry is content to retire, though he won't be idle, “We have 80 acres at The Channon, most of it is forested, but it still needs maintenance.” He says spending more time out there “will be wonderful.”

Tracy, who is taking the reins, says, “There is so much goodwill that has come with this purchase. And all of that is attributed to the icon that is the South Lismore Post Office but is actually Terry and Jo.” The handover doesn't happen until 27th/28th May, and Tracy is already seeing people come in with well wishes and gifts of farewell. She says, “Terry leaves big boots to fill.” 

(Tracy’s boots are quite different to Terry’s boots, but nonetheless, it’s an impressive start!) 

Tracy is one of those people who gets things done. As a single mum who lost everything in the floods with 4 girls, she has been a CEO, is a writer and is studying a PHD. That is currently being deferred to pursue the post office business. Looking after her world means doing something well, and she is giving the Post Office her all before she goes back to the PHD. Going into business is about securing her future, but it's also, “part of me helping to respond to and rebuild the community.”

It has taken Tracy 9 months of preparation to step into the role of postmaster, and she is nearly there. She related the journey, “When you take on an LPO you are also partnering and aligning with the Australia Post image and Australia Post is much more than just a postal service.   

“You are a credit union, banking, you're handling people's bills, international money transfers, you're selling master cards to people so that they can go and purchase things online or travel internationally as well as travel cards. There are so many different elements to Australia Post.”

Tracy is in her final two weeks of training - on the job. She is feeling the pressure to be able to serve the community as well as Terry and Joanne have. But she has some very capable help, “I can't possibly be on my own because I’ve got Kathy and Dave! Now Kathy is an icon as well. She's been there for 20 years.” That is three owners.

Tracy is so appreciative of Kathy’s experience, “All of the electronic methodology now is something that she's had to learn - she's got all the old school stuff in her mind so she's an incredible wealth of knowledge.”

(New South Lismore Post Office owner Tracy Ward out the front of her new business)

Embracing the vintage building, Tracy is keen to restyle it to its pre-flood glory, “So rather than modernising, I want to try and somehow merge what Australia Post represents with that beautiful iconic community service.”

Tracy has plenty of ideas to make the post office her own and inspire and contribute to the community, but it will take time, “It's going to be very slow and steady and very mindful of the people that are here in this area.”

“Our first big mission to bring back some sparkle and shine is involvement in the 2024 Lantern Parade, with our own section.” You will have to see the details for yourself on the night… but Tracy has plans to expand South Lismore Post Office’s place in that spotlight.

Ideas have been percolating, and Tracy is looking around at how she can make a difference. With the heritage rail trail being completed shortly, she would like to see South Lismore businesses band together to take advantage of the possibilities, “But that is time and opportunity dependent.”

One idea that Tracy is pursuing are postage stamps, depicting Lismore, ”Wouldn't it be nice if we put together a set of stamps on Lismore and started to showcase some of who we are? Particularly South, but anyone in our demographic that wants to come and join the concept, let's support all our businesses.”

Another idea that is really starting to take hold, is Christmas. “Christmas is coming up, and I don't know if you know, but Australia Post deals with Santas mail and because we deal with Santa’s letters, we know where Santa lives. We can't give out that information, but we can certainly pass things on. So wouldn't it be great to get a little registry going so any children that would like to, can list their good deeds so Santa Claus knows what has been going on?”

“At Christmas, I’m thinking of turning the cottage into a gingerbread house. And maybe we could bring Santa Claus in one day to do free photos with children.” 

Tracy is vested in keeping the community spirit strong. She asks you to drop by to see Terry and Joanne before they go and meet Tracy. 

“What I'd really love is for my community to start telling me how they would like to see the Post Office grow. If enough of the community come forward with a similar idea, I can really start looking at how we can invest to retain a beautiful community presence and retain that incredible customer service.”

Terry and Joanne's final day on the job is on Monday 27th May.

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