I have come here to give you information and to receive information on the subject.
I am now retired.
Not really related to much, but a yarn nonetheless. I had a mate that did seasonal work at the old Redfern Mail Exchange. Some may remember the giant brick edifice in Cleveland St. Christmas times were busy in the early 70's. Lots of parcels and letters. The seasonal workers were uni students etc. so when an unknown destination was spotted, they would hurl the item to the Mudgee mail bags. Lots of stuff went to Mudgee, and back again.Some of those Mail workers actually travelled on the Mail Trains. One of the carriages was a Mail Van (a Travelling Post Office), where mail was sorted en-route. Some postmarks on letters in those days would be "TPO South", "TPO West" etc.
Most people I meet have never heard of a mail train. Youse all did good work in the day. Thanks.
I used to work in a Bank in some country places too. In those days, before Armoured Vans that we see today, Cash travelling to/from the Reserve Bank went by registered mail in those vans. The Great Train Robbery in the UK happened for that very reason.That reminds me of our postmaster at Pennant Hills whose job it was to bank the days takings, as a Junior Postal officer, telegram boy one had to accompany the boss to the bank just in case of an attempted robbery, yeah a 15/16 year old was a great body guard. The PM had a loaded pistol in his right pocket, problem was that often we had 4 bags of money that contained coins and paper money, the bosses trousers had quite deep pockets, where the gun was carried, so a robber comes up and demands the money bags, the PM has to drop a bag and try to fumble the gun out his pocket, would have been hilarious and scary as the robber would have taken off with the dropped bag, leaving the PM to try and cock the pistol and unlock the safety catch and try to shoot the robber in the main street.
I did a fair bit of Mail train travelling in the 1960s. The Coonamble Mail was a good train, often a full load for the 38 class.The beauty of the leading cars was that most passengers, and lets not forget they were all non booked seats except the sleepers, was that few wanted to be in there especially west of Lithgow owing to the noise and smoke from the steam loco up front. It provided for the rail follower a good chance to record the engine going up grades. I have a nice old tape of 3810 starting out of Wang, right to the top of the grade through the pine forests, to grade top when it then picks up pace before shutting off.
I had a cab ride from Lithgow to Orange on the Through Mail on 11th August 1966. The engine, 3810, wasn't too healthy and steaming poorly so the 36 class bank engine, 3675, stayed on all the way from Bathurst to Orange. At Orange the 38 came off to go to loco for attention, 3675 was sent straight back to Bathurst light engine and a 45 class took the Mail on to Dubbo. That day 65 goods went to Dubbo via Molong with 3618 + 3636 and 3825 arrived le from Bathurst to cover No.28 Central West Express.
A good trick in those days if you wanted the compartment to yourself was to get to Central early and get a spot in the leading car. A couple of empty wine bottles placed on the window sill was sufficient to deter fellow travellers who would object to the window being open all the way after Lithgow.
On another trip on the up Glen Innes Mail we had 3279, FS, BS, EHO out of Glenn Innes, from Armidale it was 4520+4513, FS, BS, TAM, MHO. From Tamworth 4520+4513, MHO, ACS, CR, FS, BS, TAM, MHO and from Werris Creek 3526, MHO, KP, KP, MHO, MHO, ACS, CR, FS, BS, TAM, MHO. From Broadmeadow 3816 took over.
In that era mail Trains were well patronised and passengers were always getting dropped off or picked up all along the way. Holidays were always busy with Black Thursday before Easter having a full compliment of Mail trains. Many enthusiasts travelled to Demondrille or Tumulla to witness an almost constant stream of trains up the hill.