Manly Post Office in Central Ave is set to partially reopen on 12 July, four months after flooding damaged the interior and forced its closure.
The national mail carrier confirmed this in an official statement today:
“Australia Post is pleased to announce we are re-opening parcel pick up and PO Box services at the Manly post office on Monday 12 July. We continue to investigate options to provide over-the-counter services such as Bill Pay facilities and apologise for the delay in restoring services to our Manly community.”
Australia Post added that they are in discussions with local businesses to offer the over-the-counter services, which they expect will be finalised in the next few weeks.
The post office and shop, at 22 Central Ave Manly, was closed and its windows blacked-out in mid-March 2022 following an East Coast Low intense weather phenomenon. The torrential rains that accompanied it inundated streets in Central Manly with stormwater and caused minor flooding at a number of premises around Pittwater Rd, including the post office.
An official Australia Post printed notice appeared in the window stating: “Due to ongoing fallout from the recent flooding, Manly PO is temporarily closed from Friday 18 March. This is because the health and safety of our customers is our highest priority…”
Customers were advised to travel to Dee Why Post Office to collect PO Box mail and carded parcels, or further afield to Balgowlah, Balgowlah Heights, Freshwater, Harbord West and Warringah Mall for counter services.
The poster apologised to customers with the comment, “Timing is uncertain at this stage, but we are hopeful of restoring normal service within a couple of weeks.”
However, a month passed, and customers began expressing dissatisfaction that the central Manly shop had not been refurbished and reopened, unlike other stormwater-affected businesses in the vicinity.
Then, inexplicably, a ‘For Lease’ sign appeared in the window, posted by Belle Property, managers of the 22 Central Ave premises.
The realtor’s sign declared, “Rare large ground floor offering with prime exposure” plus “25m2 storeroom, shared parking for 6 cars, can be subdivided.”
Belle Property did not respond to our enquiries concerning the sign, but Australia Post insisted there were no plans to relinquish Manly Post Office at 22 Central Ave, because “Australia Post has a lease in its primary site until December 2022.”
On 29 April, a spokesperson for Australia Post told Manly Observer, “Manly Post Office was temporarily closed in March due to severe flooding, which resulted in extensive damage. Following a detailed assessment, a full re-fit of the premises is required, which will take some time to complete.
“Australia Post remains focused on restoring a full-service Post Office to Manly as soon as we can. We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused our local customers and we will keep the community informed of our progress.”
Temporary replacement touted
Instead, a ‘pop-up’ post office was proposed to meet customer demands while the Central Ave shop was being refurbished.
Warringah MP Zali Steggall told Manly Observer that Australia Post had also informed her a temporary post office was forthcoming.
“The plan is for the current office to re-open in the same location (despite the ‘For Lease’ sign), once all the [flood damage] repairs have been made,” she said. “In the meantime, they are planning on opening up a temporary site in Manly for parcel and PO Box collection, but this is a couple of weeks away.”
The spokesperson for Australia Post told Manly Observer on 29 April, “Australia Post is working to confirm its temporary pop-up site in Manly in the coming days, and once confirmed it will look to open in the coming weeks. Australia Post remains focused on restoring a full-service Post Office to Manly as soon as we can. We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused our local customers and we will keep the community informed of our progress.”
Pop-up didn’t pop up as planned
However, at the end of May, ten weeks after Manly Post Office was originally closed, Australia Post revealed that they wouldn’t be opening the planned pop-up post office due to “a lack of disability access” at the available premises they had inspected in Manly town centre.
This reporter strolled the streets surrounding Central Ave peering into the shop windows of empty premises, several of them cafes that had ceased trading due to the coronavirus pandemic. Most appeared wheelchair-accessible, so Manly Observer asked Australia Post if a lack of disability access was the main reason why a temporary store couldn’t be leased.
Australia Post replied, “We have been working hard to restore services at the current post office site, although due to the extensive flood damage, significant remediation works were needed to ensure the safety of our people and customers.
“A new concrete slab had to be poured and dried before work could continue. Due to the current cold weather, dehumidifiers and heaters were needed to expedite this process.”
Member for Manly, James Griffin MP, who advocated for the return of Manly Post Office during its closure, said of the reopening, “I am delighted that the post office ‘back of house’ service will resume on Tuesday July 12th. This means that post office box holders will no longer have to travel to Dee Why to collect their mail and will be able to use their post office boxes at Manly again.
“I would like to thank Australia Post for their efforts in getting the post office back up and running for the people of Manly, This really highlights the importance of having a post office in the Manly CBD”.