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Shop works the old-fashioned way with Queensland’s last ‘flying fox’

July 21, 2016

Mellors, built in the 1920s, is for sale. The store is home to a piece of Australian history. Photo: Supplied

It’s perhaps fitting that a shop in one of Australia’s oldest towns plays host to one of the last remaining examples of an antiquated, yet fully operational payment system.

Mellors store in the Queensland town of Gayndah is fitted with the last working “flying fox” change dispenser in the state.

The flying fox up closer. Photo: Supplied The flying fox system up close. Photo: Supplied

The aerial system works by transferring money with a docket from the shop counter to a till located in a back room, where the correct change is organised and then sent back down the line.

Listing agent Edwina Randall, of LJ Hooker Gayndah, says the heritage-listed flying fox attracts locals and tourists alike to the shop, which has been used as a haberdashery since 1954.

“It’s quite an attraction really to have it there,” she said. “In years gone by they used to have someone sitting in the room and that’s all they would do – handle the change.”

Flying foxes were once common in stores around Australia, according to A Lot in Store: Celebrating Our Shopping Heritage – a publication of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

Shop assistants could devote themselves to serving customers at the counter without using precious selling time to visit the cashier’s office.

The flying fox is still used by the current owners of the shop, although the back room is no longer staffed full time.

Mellors has been on the market since 2011, when the owners decided to sell due to health reasons. The store belonged to the Mellor family until 2005.

The flying fox stretches across the store. Photo: Supplied The flying fox stretches across the store. Photo: Supplied

The Overell family, free settlers who came to Tasmania in the early 1800s, established the store along with others in London, Brisbane, Charleville and Laidley.

According to Ms Randall, the original store was established around the time Gayndah was gazetted as a town in 1848.

The first store was burnt down in 1920 and was then rebuilt as the current store.

“It’s under the paint, the Overell name,” Ms Randall said.

The store would be suited to a business with a historical bent, she said.

“It’s suited to other operations than a haberdashery. It’s got all the original pine fittings and display cabinets, and it’s like stepping back in time when you go inside,” she said.

“It would lend itself to an emporium of sorts – or  you could divide the shop in two and use the other side as a separate store.”

The Mellors store, at 28 Capper Street, Gayndah, is listed for $180,000 with stock optional – and flying fox included.

 

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