Herbert’s Store

I always have fond memories of Herbert’s Store which was situated on the site where Yvonne and Gordon Symons’ home now stands.

There was a -house built at the back of the block behind the store which was a branch of Bill Herbert’s Noorinbee and Cann River Stores. The Herbert family owned what could only be described as an Emporium in Nicholson Street, Orbost now the site of IGA. The Mallacoota Branch was certainly a General Store as they sold everything’, groceries drapery, ironmongery, you name it.

lt was a fairly large building with glass windows in front; and to me as a cnlld the counter seemed very high. I can recall clearly Mione and I clutching our penny coins, sometimes only a halfpenny standing on a chair as those wonderful 1 and 1/2d lollies were revealed in different compartments when the lid was lifted off the large flat boxes. We never touched the penny ones it was far better to have two halfpenny ones, one to eat and one to save for later. I can still remember the agony of making the decision of which sweet to choose. Perhaps we would have been the only customers in the shop that day so there was time for children to deliberate. They were the days when everything came in bulk and had to be weighed auf in pound lots, when eggs were rolled, three at a time in newspaper and anything in brown paper bags was enclosed by the shopkeeper holding each corner and with great dexterity, flip the bag over, thus twisting the corners closed. It was also the time when there were tins of biscuits on the shelves with the familiar parrot on the side, which coined that old Australian saying if you had missed out on something “Like the parrot on the biscuit tin, you’re not in it!” How fortunate we children were when the tins were nearly empty and we could buy’ 3d.(cents) worth of broken biscuits. How sad today’s children have not
experienced such joy.

Norm and Von Rankin ran the shop for sometime and their daughter, Dawn York remembers when her Dad, Norm used to make ice cream for the shop. Von’s mother Mrs. Ada Hite from Eden was also in the shop’ for a while as did her sister my mother-in law, Mrs. Helena Pheeney. Recently I found a book labelled Remittance Book. Inside the front
cover was an example, dated 4/7/36 for her to follow in remitting weekly takings to Orbost Snowy’ River Stores. Cheques, notes and cash to be listed seperately and 5% commission to be deducted. looking back through the book I notice that the best week (in September, 1938) , the takings were 38 pounds, 2 shillings and 7 pence, so the commission would have been good. Other weeks the takings would be 14 shillings.

Mrs Pheeney had meticulously kept that book with Herbert’s receipt attached to each remittance detail. Looking through the names of the customers, I thought how very few there were, but there was only a small number of families living here in those years. Names like Greer, Allan, Brady, Bolton (Hotel) Luckins (Mallacoota Guest House), Jim Luckins who had the transport service into Mallacoota, Rankin (who later had the Bakery) Smith (owned the store now the block next to Coull Waters Holiday Apartments) H Robertson (now Medical Centre), R. Mitchelson (Grevillea Apartments), JJ Bristow (Double Creek) Helena Bucklana (Karbeethong Guest House,) W. Downey, and Mrs. G Mattson (Gipsy Pomt Hotel), who all apparently paid by cheque. I guess there was little coinage available in Mallacoota then.

Bill Herbert was a wonderful business man and no matter, what item was requested he could always procure . Sadly, with the onset of the war and acute shortages he was forced to close down the Mallacoota store. The Army took it over during the war years and with a large Army tent erected next to it, used it as their sfore for supplies.

Two of the men stationed there were Ray Magnuson, who married Joyce Allan (Joan’s sister) and Ron Dahlsen (Dahlsens store Bairnsdale) who after the war owned a home here the property now owned by Ian and Sue Morrisson.

I shall always remember Herbert’s Store and the excitement a visit to it created. My children remember it too, for years later when they were young, Flo and Jack Savage (Pat Ingram’s brother) reopened it as a fish ana chip shop. So another generation of Mallacoota children Will have fond memories of the ‘old’ Herbert’s Store.

Leone Pheeney

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