Customs House looking good as new

October 04, 2017

Bill Gleeson painting the new panel boards of the outside of the newly refurbished Customs House.

The newly refurbished building retaining its original structure and style.

The Yarrawonga Mulwala Historical Society has been hard at work on replacing the boards on the outside of the Customs House.

After 22 years the historic building on the entry to the bridge received its well needed makeover.

The project only took one day to complete as work was solely done to the outside of the building but Vice President of the Yarrawonga Mulwala Historical Society Jim Drysdale said the house needed some work done if it was to still stay standing.

“There is still a lot of fixing up we can do but luckily the white-ants haven’t got to it yet,” Jim said.

John Ridley had a heavy hand in the project along with Yarrawonga Mulwala Historical Society president Bill Gleeson, Bill Church and Kevin Evans all lending a hand to get the place looking well and resembling its former glory.

The refurbishments cost around $1000 but it was a love job in a sense with the men all being involved in the Customs House in some capacity.

Now-a days the building stores historical information on the construction of the bridge, costs of travelling from Victoria to New South Wales and the railway extension to Yarrawonga.

With the possibility of the house being moved depending on which route is taken for the bridge, it needed to still be in good nick to be moved if need be.

“We don’t want to lose such a big part of the community’s history, so we may have to move it to stop it from being demolished for the bridge,” Jim said.

New boards replaced the rotted ones, a new paint job made the boards smooth again and wood panelling recreated the old style feature.

“The building was built in 1892 and occupied from then until 1920 by the Customs Department making it 125 years old.” Bill said.

“Something of that age with that type of history needs to be saved.”

In the late 1800s, early 1900s during harvest period the Customs House was very busy and profitable with the traffic crossing borders making for profit.

Prior to 1900 Colonies of both New South Wales and Victoria had Customs Houses on their borders.

“All people entering the Colony of New South Wales had to report to the Customs House,” Bill said.

“These houses were able to impose import duty and stock taxes depending on the amount of wool or wheat the people carted and how many horses were pulling the wagons.”

The customs officer inspected ‘transport’ for any goods that would attract colonial duties and taxes that the traveller would then have to pay.

The Customs House now can be opened to the public if enough people show interest to look inside.

Jim, Bill and the other members of the Yarrawonga Mulwala Historical Society just wanted the community to know that it is still cared for as it has been neglected in terms of publicity.

“We just want people to know we are still caring for the old place,” Jim said.

Although not in use anymore, Jim says the house is important to the history of Yarrawonga.

“It’s just nice every now and then to remind people about the place and the historical value it has for the town.” Jim said.

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