Updated: Aug 21, 2019
A story from "Beyond the Leopard Trees" by Petra Lester
Peter Anderson, owner of Childers Heritage Gift Shop and Post Office, likes to make his customers happy by telling them jokes, however, one day when a lady from South Australia came into the Post Office looking for a gift and she said: “You told me that joke last year!”
Peter's parents, Keith and Jan Anderson, are sugar cane farmers related to pioneer John William Anderson (1899). Peter became an electrician and after an apprenticeship at the Isis Sugar Mill and several jobs around Australia and Papua New Guinea, he came back to Childers to settle down. His wife Janet Anderson (nee Rodger) grew up on a farm in Taroom and found a job at an accounting office in Childers.
In 1994 the Childers Post Office was for sale. “Actually it was my mother who said: Look the Post Office is up for tender. We were looking for something but we didn't know what. Mum wanted to keep a little flock around her; both my sisters moved interstate,” Peter says. After some research he thought: “This is going to be a very good deal and 22 years later it still is. It's good to have a Post Office along the Bruce Highway.”
It took four months to learn the ropes; the old counter was moved across the shop and the caretakers' quarters were renovated into a coffee shop with a deck. Peter and Janet had help from Hazel Carruthers, who worked in the Post Office until her retirement in 2016. The Post Office employs high school students on traineeships; they do two hour shifts in the morning before school, sorting mail and learning counter work. Once a year a group of primary school children visits and Peter tells them how it all works. The kids get excited at the back of the post boxes when a customer opens their end of the box to collect the mail. The Post Office now employs 12 local part-timers.
Peter and Janet have ordered macadamia trees for the Anderson's family farm that is still under sugar cane in the summer of 2016. The fourth generation of this pioneering family still has a connection to the same acres of fertile red soil as their ancestors.
“The best start of the day is my walk through town to the shop at 6 am. I'm continually waving every morning. You see the same people every day. It's a nice time of the day.”