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ABC News
ABC News

Australia's last mounted postie Bruce Dennis farewelled by historic town of Gundagai

Bruce Dennis crosses the Prince Alfred Bridge during a flood.  (Supplied: Gundagai Library)

A community in Southern NSW is mourning the loss of Bruce Dennis, who created history as Australia's last postman to deliver mail the old-fashioned way — on horseback.

Mr Dennis started his mail delivery career in Gundagai in 1950 with his first horse Lolly and continued to do so until his retirement in 1985 with his final horse Frosty. 

He was considered to be the country's last mounted postie, with a plaque mounted in Gundagai's main street celebrating his name.  

"Bruce delivered the mail six days a week and travelled the 18 mile delivery route, come hail, rain or shine," it reads.

Bruce Dennis delivered mail on horseback for 35 years. (Supplied: Australia Post)

"Even when Gundagai was knee deep in flood in 1974, Bruce made sure that the residents got their deliveries."

A plaque in Gundagai's main street pays tribute to Bruce Dennis.  (ABC News: Adriane Reardon)

National recognition

Mr Dennis garnered national attention during an episode of Ask the Leyland Brothers, a program which aired on the Nine Network in the 1970s and 80s.

Australia's last horseback postie Bruce Dennis interviewed on Ask the Leyland Brothers(Supplied: Ask the Leyland Brothers/ Nine Network)

The episode documented his daily routine, showing that Gundagai's hilly terrain made it more efficient to do the mail run using a horse.

When asked by the Leyland Brothers if he ever considered switching to a motorbike, the idea was quickly shut down.

"I can't ride one and I've got no intention of learning," he said at the time. 

Loved by a town

Mr Dennis was 94 when he died earlier this month.

His funeral will be held in Gundagai today.

Lifelong friend Don Smith knew him since he was nine-years-old.

They had a shared interest in poultry and spent nearly 40 years in the poultry pavilion, competing at a number of shows, locally and abroad.

"The chooks kept us together more or less," Mr Smith said. 

"70 years we were involved with poultry. We went to the Royal [Show], Wagga, all round."

Don Smith was a friend of Bruce Dennis for many years. (ABC News: Adriane Reardon)

Mr Smith recalled how Mr Dennis would ask to drive him to Corowa to see a friend, more than two hours away, at a moment's notice.

"What are you doing? We're going to Corowa," Bruce would tell him randomly over the phone, and he would happily agree.

Gundagai even had a local tradition where residents would shout Mr Dennis a beer on Christmas Eve. 

"When he pulled up at the mailbox, there'd be a bottle of beer and he'd drink it and go to the next one," Mr Smith said.

"About half past two in the afternoon, he finished up falling off the horse.

"The whole town loved him, and everyone knew him."

Bruce Dennis retired from the postal service on July 1, 1985. (Supplied: Don Smith)
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