Victoria - Colonial: 1854-1900.
A view of Horsham from the Hamilton Spectator.

The Hamilton Spectator of 29 July 1874, carried the following article:


The two most important districts at present in Victoria, so far as farming and free selection are concerned, are Gipps Land and the Wimmera. It is with the latter we have to deal and, in doing so, we shall associate with it the township of Horsham. Wherever one goes, you will find Horsham in everybody's mouth. Eager inquiries are made as to situation, soil and climate, the moment Horsham is mentioned and, to a close observer, with very good reason too.

Glancing at the map in the District Survey Office, one is astonished to witness the innumerable selections — a fact worthy of significance when one considers that the applicants hail from every part of Victoria as also from South Australia. Beyond a doubt, Horsham is the head centre of what will shortly prove the largest and most prolific wheat-growing district in the colony. Yet the Horsham Times tells us, in its leading article of a late issue, that, "with respect to telegraphic communication, Horsham is forty years behind the times" and asks, with an ingenuousness that must be properly known to be appreciated, "Why is this?"

Who or what is the Horsham press? We have been informed that, instead of the usual independent organ that looks after the interests of the community, it purports to represent, it is the mouthpiece of a selfish and narrow-minded clique to which it is abjectly subservient. Mr. Gillies, we are told, was surprised to find no telegraphic communication here. We do not doubt that he was, but we beg leave to assume that he was as fully aware as any resident in or about Horsham or as the writer of the article referred to, that the cause of there being no telegraph in Horsham was owing to the petty jealousies of certain individuals who, like spoilt children, would not have a telegraph unless they had it their own way. It has been laid down by an eminent moralist that a person knowing the whole truth and retaining part of it, is guilty of falsehood. In concealing the reason, our contemporary has been false to itself, the only deduction from which is that it cannot be true to anyone. Had the people of Horsham been unanimous in wishing for the prosperity of their township and district, telegraphic communication could and would have been established years ago. There was nothing to hinder it. Government would have granted it readily and the features of the country are favourable to its construction.

Disgraceful as the absence of the telegraph may be, still more so are the postal arrangements. It has been stated, on the best authority, that in the month of June, 14,000 letters passed through the Horsham Post Office. We are at a loss to imagine by what etiquette it is dignified by this title for, in shape and size, it bears a strong resemblance to a dog-kennel. Without entering into the niceties of calculation, suffice it to say that there is just room enough for a person to turn around in it; in fact, it is highly suggestive of a penny gaff where one is told, "you may walk in and walk out — pay your money and take your choice".

Only here, if a privileged person, you can walk in without being asked and walk out without bring told to do so. Moreover admission is free. When one considers the conveniences accruing from such a happy state of affairs, it is hard to believe that any one working under such advantages could possibly be bewildered. Yet letters addressed to Horsham are forwarded to Melbourne to discover the locality and a despatch addressed to Kent, England found its destination at Kewell.

Despite all this, if one appeals to the local press to ventilate his postal grievance with a view to having it rectified and of having justice done to a much-abused and ill-used individual (disregard the public entirely) who discharges his duties conscientiously and well, one is told that Government might possibly furnish a proper Post Office, thereby necessitating the loss of a faithful servant to the Horsham district and of £80 per annum to the faithful servant. For our own part, we do not care how soon this faithful servant enters into the joy of retirement, nor how soon (and the sooner the better) government provides Horsham with the necessary telegraphic and postal communication. The requirements of the district demand it, putting aside the inconvenience and delay caused to commercial travellers, buyers of stock, land buyer and, to cut a long story short, to anybody and everybody. We ask Mr. Gillies, in fairness to the district and its inhabitants, as well as to the colony at large, and to the Government of which he is a Minister, to remedy without delay the existing evils without consideration for party feeling which is only a rock of offence or for cliques that are merely stumbling blocks".