The Hobart GPO is an iconic Tasmanian landmark.

It was designed in the Edwardian Baroque style by Alan Cameron Walker who was a local architect. Its foundation stone was laid in 1901 by King George V, who was the Duke of Cornwall and York at the time.

The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 9 Mar 1905

The GPO cost between £30,000 and £35,000 to build. The federal government, critical of the state government for the building, did not fund the construction of the tower and bells, so funds raised by public subscription paid for their construction instead. Construction was completed in 1905. Ironically, the GPO building is now listed on the Commonwealth Heritage Register.

The GPO had postal and telegraph services, like every other GPO in the country; but it is unique because it is the largest post office in Australia built in the Edwardian Baroque style.

The building has many distinctive architectural features. It is constructed of smooth sandstone with pronounced string courses and between the windows and doorways the stone work has heavy rustication. Under each of the pediments are Ionic half columns. All the windows are round-headed with a range of decorative features.

GPO architect Alan Walker was Hobart-born and educated at the Hutchins School. Other notable works by Walker that are still standing include the old State Library (now Carnegie Building, Maritime Museum of Tasmania), the National Mutual Life Building, Hobart, and St Peters Church at Kempton. 

The GPO building continues to operate as a post office to this day although it is no longer the main processing centre for mail.

Fun fact: Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen sent a telegram from the GPO to the King of Norway, Haakon VII, in 1912 to inform him of his successful trip to the South Pole.

Distances from Hobart GPO:

  • Launceston – 162km
  • Currie – 434km
  • Alice Springs – 2,457km
  • Casey Station, Antarctica – 3,399km
  • Port Moresby, PNG – 3,689km
  • Christmas Island – 5,414km
  • Pyongyang, North Korea – 9,219km
  • Galapagos Is, Ecuador – 12,588km
  • San Francisco, USA – 12,759km
  • Yoshkar-Ola, Republic of Mari El, Russian Federation – 14,327km
  • Istanbul, Turkey – 15,247km
  • Boston, USA – 16,900km
  • Reykjavik, Iceland – 17,238km
  • Galway, Ireland – 18,396km

Tas That Was is a column that includes anecdotes of life in Tasmania in the past, as well as historical photographs of locations in Tasmania.

If you have an anecdote or photograph you’d like to share with us, please send it to submit@tasmaniantimes.com.