WORK has begun to secure the verandah of Newcastle’s oldpost office, in what has been hailed as the “first step in a long journey” to restore the iconic buildingto its former glory.
As part of stage one of the project, homeless people who sheltered underneath the building have been moved on and a fence has been erected around the site.
“We’ve been assisted greatly by the Matthew Talbot homelessness service,” Awabakal Aboriginal Local Land Council chief executive Robert Russell said, adding that alternate accommodation had now been found for those affected.
“We’ve cleaned the verandah and taken the remnants from the fire in August, plus the old mattresses and rubbish that had accumulated there. Our contractors are now going to build a more secure box to deny access to the verandah.”
The next stage of the work, being carried out by consultants RPS Group, will help protect the site from further weather damage and deterioration.
“The next stage will involve going in to try and repair the roof as best we can,” Mr Russell said.
“We will be putting up netting to prevent further pigeon infestations and generally start to clean up … some of the vermin and mess that’s been left behind, to put the post office in a more presentable state for people who may be interested in a development or some other arrangement.”
The work is being funded by a $150,000 funding grant from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, being matcheddollar-for-dollar by the land council.
Awabakal has listed the post office for sale through Colliers International, with expressions of interest closing later this month.
It has received 70 inquiries from prospective buyers, with suggesteduses for the building include a hotel, an art gallery or a fine-dining restaurant.
“There’s a long way to go but it’s really good to get the first step in this long journey under our belt, and move forward in trying to finally work towards the ultimate restoration of the post office,” Mr Russell said.