The Post Office Tree

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Sharing today, a very old tree that stands testimony to changing times. Have you been to South Africa? Then, I’m sure you will know about the Post Office Tree in Mossel Bay?

This 600 year old ancient milkwood tree, located in the Bartholomieu Dias Museum Complex of Mossel Bay, South Africa, is believed to be the country’s very first mailbox.

The story goes, that before returning to India, a Portuguese sea captain by the name Pêro de Ataíde who had lost much of his fleet in a storm, had written a message reporting the damage and warning of rough waters to the East. Ataíde had tucked the message in a boot dangling from a milkwood tree near a spring where sailors often drew water.

As luck would have it, the message reached its intended recipient, Joao de Nova, the following year. The tree thus became a de facto post office box, where sailors would exchange letters protected in boots, iron pots, or beneath rocks. Till this day, the tree continues to send and receive mail.

A large post office box shaped like a giant boot has been constructed beneath the tree, where people can send letters anywhere in the world and receive a special stamp. And, yes, delivery now takes less than a year. 🙂


Joining Parul today for #thursdaytreelove which is a photo feature on Parul’s blog where you get to see beautiful trees from different places. If you’d like to join in, do visit her blog to know more. 

  • Chandra Lynn


    This is wonderful. I love snail mail and trees, so this is perfect for me!

    • Esha M Dutta

      Oh, that’s fantastic, Chandra. So happy to know that. 🙂

  • G Angela


    Oh my what an interesting background to this tree, enjoyed reading this wonderful style of communication, thank you for sharing I learnt something I have never heard of:)

    • Esha M Dutta

      Thanks a lot, Angela. It is so interesting, isn’t it? Glad to see you stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  • arv


    One of my relatives went on a family holiday at Mossel Bay in SA. They talked about the stunning views of the sea as well as the solitude. Your picture and story certainly added more to it. I’m sure you SA trip must have been great.

  • Shilpa Nairy


    Amazing story behind milkwood tree! Happy to learn about it. I was not aware of this. Thank you Esha for sharing such unique tale.

  • Alana


    No, I haven’t ever heard of this tree – it’s an amazing story, which I have shared on Facebook. I also need to thank your commenter Alan Bates (isn’t it wonderful how we three are connected through Skywatch Friday?) re Postcrossing. I did a quick Google search and found the website (add dot com to the name of the site) you can set up a free account. I would love to join in on that one day.

  • Parul Thakur


    Wow! That’s such an amazing history. I loved that you shared a picture and the story from those days. I would love to see this one day 🙂 Thank you so much for joining.

    • Esha M Dutta

      Thanks so much, Parul. Happy to share. I still haven’t been able to write my travel posts on the SA trip, so making do with these snippets for now. Happy to join #TTL, it’s my favourite too. 🙂

  • Archana


    Wow! That’s so unique!! An old beautiful tree that connects people 🙂

    • Esha M Dutta

      Thank you very much, Archana. Yes, the tree stands a testimony to time across generations. Glad to see you stopping by here. 🙂

  • Pratikshya Mishra


    Wow . Strange and fascinating one. The tree had served such a unique purpose. Interesting story behind the majestic tree.

  • Alan Bates


    I love your post office tree and the backstory. I belong to where members send and receive post cards from all over the world. Some European countries can get a post card to me in five days. Other countries, elsewhere, especially those of authoritarian governments, it may take two or three months.

    I hope you are having a good weekend.

    • Esha M Dutta

      Thank you very much, Alan. Happy to know about and I think sending and receiving postcards from different parts of the world is truly an amazing experience. What do I need to do if I wish to join in?

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