Posted 9 months ago
The Kodak Austral card is unused and is perhaps a memory of a trip by Maude Lankester to the far north of New South Wales. No address, no date, just the name on the verandah of the store: “Geo. Mallam & Co.”.
At first I had no idea of the town. But the name of the store was enough to lead me to Mullumbimby - The Biggest Little Town in Australia. It lies 628 km (390 mi) NNE of my home in Sydney. That's a hell of a long war from Emu Park - Maude Lankester's home (1,317.7 km or 818.78 miles)!
The store was built in 1910. The building pictured no longer exists but was situated at the corner of Burringbar St. & Studal Lane, Mullumbimby NSW 2482. At that address these days there are the remnants of an Art Deco style building that replaced this store in 1939. But the name “Mallam’s“ persists in Mullum!
The card looks like it dates to the years of World War I.
"God Speed and Safe Return", “Welcome!” "God Speed and Safe Return"
At the moment I still do not know the event for these festivities. But on the veranda you can see some servicemen in uniform and someone on the left that I believe is the shopkeeper George Septimus Mallam (1874 – 1937).
“In 1910 Mr. Mallam foresaw the business possibilities of the district and built the present brick building of George Mallam and Co. Ltd., which was destined to play a great part in the establishment of the Mullumbimby of today.” Northern Star (Friday 26 February 1937)
This store became part of the life of the town. On the net I was able to find references to the store in both poetry and prose!
HOME DELIVERY - John "Jack" Bird.
"Pop delivered for God and Mallam's Store.
He stood up, stood up for Jesus
in the tray of their grocery cart –
upright as the Cross,
balanced by a fingertip of rein,
tapes of his flannel long-johns tied around his braces.
He sang God's praise to horse and town,
both loved him for his Joy
and honest delivery of songs and their groceries.
Mallam's kept their horses in a Stuart Street barn
(the place became Mitre 10)
It reeked of leather, grain, and horse piss,
home to a lumpy old carpet snake."
BOY WITH DOG - John "Jack" Bird.
“The word whips through Mullum, empties Mallam's store.
In Burringbar Street the Middle Pub yardman rests his broom
Rising from her midday nap, the gate lady gapes and asks what's up.
The sawmiller stills his docking saw, word is passed round,
"Come'n see there's this boy, about thirteen, dragging his dog through town."
Since the 1970s and 1980s Mullumbimby aka 'Mulla' and the surrounding area have became a centre of alternative or counter culture:
“Walking into Mallam’s Grocery, Mullumbimby, you can buy Byron Bay Chai tea, packets of gluten free hippie biscuits, thick mosquito coils, incense, tea tree oil, tins of tiger balm and rennet-less organic cheese. The soya chips and tofu burgers come with mango milkshakes, do you want sprouts with that, or grated beetroot?”
The family business became a ‘cause célèbre' recently when family members sold out to Woolworths. The town revolted!
The people of Mulla loved their “General Store”.