Postman Pete’s long run ends

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Pakenham postie Peter Vivash has called it a day, retiring after more than 40 years of delivering mail to Cardinia Shire communities and almost 60 years in the postal industry.

The 72-year-old postman has seen Pakenham’s postal service grow from two people on a pushbike in the early 1970s to a network of drivers and motorbike postmen.

Mr Vivash grew up on a Toomuc Valley farm from age nine with cows, pigs and chickens, and has continued to live in the Pakenham area ever since.

He began his career as a junior postal officer for the Postmaster-General in 1958. He has spent the past 40 years as a rural and roadside postman covering Australia Post’s Pakenham South patch.

“Pakenham was a country town, and in ’73 Pakenham had two pushbikes that delivered mail to the whole town,“ Mr Vivash said.

“But the urban sprawl caught up with it. It expanded so quickly and got too big that they needed more postmen. By ’85 Australia Post had about 18 motorbike postmen.”

Mr Vivash’s morning routine involves sorting through the tubs of mail from 6.30am and gathering the packages by street name.

It would require three hours of preparation before packing up the car with the bundles of mail for the day’s postal run.

Then he would set off on a 100 kilometre four-hour drive through rural Pakenham South roads, taking the same route each day – not with a cliché red van, but driving his own cars that have seen him through an estimated 1.3 million kilometres of delivering mail in his career.

Mr Vivash said it had been sad to see mail volumes drop in the past 18 months. In the early days he could have as many as 300 deliveries in one day.

He recalled that prior to the arrival of the internet, VCE students used to wait at the letter box for their end-of-year results and would often even hang around at the mail centre before it opened for the day to get their results first thing in the morning.

“We used to be that busy that we used to deliver newspapers to every door every morning,” the 72-year-old reminisced.

“Rural areas used to rely on us for their news because they were much more isolated from the town community than they are now. People always relied on the mail man and technology’s changed that.

“It’s dropping that rapidly that it makes you wonder where it’s going to end. Soon it won’t be worth going out to rural areas.

“What we could deliver used to be restricted but with the way the industry’s going, now we can take anything.”

Mr Vivash has delivered anything from live plants through to live insects to fight aphids off roses.

The long-time postman said he has got to know many people in the community over the years, especially at the height of newspaper deliveries when residents would wait for their paper at the same time every day.

“People look after you at Christmas – plenty of chocolates or wine from customers who you’ve been loyal to,” Mr Vivash said.

“It’s nice that customers are appreciative when you have gone out of your way a bit to give them good service, like running up to the house on a rainy day if the letter box is exposed to the elements.”

Mr Vivash recounted how unkind unsealed Cardinia roads had been on the many cars he has gone through over the years.

He has also come across roadkill from time to time and endured floods, particularly in 2011 where he was unable to deliver mail out to some areas as he couldn’t reach them.

He has learnt to be prepared for anything and always carries an axe and a shovel in his boot in case he needs to clear the road of a fallen tree.

For Mr Vivash, the postal runs have never felt like work because he has enjoyed his job so much.

“I thought about maybe going for the 60 years milestone, but at age 72, I thought it was time to finish,” he said.

Mr Vivash is looking forward to a much-needed holiday, doing odd jobs he had put on the backburner like restoring cars and tractors, and plans to travel around Australia next year.

Australia Post Pakenham delivery centre manager Wayne Camilleri said he could not have asked for a better employee.

“Pete always put the customer first,” Mr Camilleri said.

“He loved his job. I never had to tell him what to do, he would come in every day with a plan.”

The Pakenham Australia Post team surprised Mr Vivash with a send-off celebration on his last day at work.

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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