When Julie Claessens turned up to former Thirroul postie Garry McCauley's farewell do, she greeted him with the big hug of an old friend.
It's a response that illustrates the strength of the warm relationships Garry has fostered with the residents of the northern Wollongong suburb in his 11 years doing the postal run there.
Garry became a postie 13 years ago and had been doing it for a couple of years when an opportunity arose to become a dedicated postal officer in Thirroul.
In his time since he has built friendships with the residents, who hail him a "legend".
"He was good from day one, he was always a gentleman, always had time to stop and chat," longtime resident Grahame Filtness said.
Two weeks ago Garry moved to a less strenuous run in the Keiraville and Gwynneville area for health reasons, prompting Thirroul resident Melissa Leslie to organise a farewell for the beloved postie.
Over the course of the afternoon and evening, some 30 people showed up to have a chat and wish Garry well.
Melissa described Garry as a "salt of the earth" kind of person who was able to put a smile on anyone's face.
"He's just able to connect and build rapport with everyone... he just spreads joy," she said.
When Julie and John Stubbs' son died five years ago, Garry was there to support Julie until emergency services arrived.
Paraphrasing Australian man Professor Arnold Dix, who recently helped free 41 trapped miners in India, John said: "That's what good people do".
"We'll never forget it," he said.
More than one person attested that Garry was the sort of person who would go above and beyond.
He is well-known for taking the time to ensure people's parcels are safe and, having been in Thirroul so long, knew where everyone's dogs lived - so if he saw an escapee from someone's backyard, he'd make sure they got home safe and sound.
He recalled on one occasion he kept on eye on someone he knew wasn't local and suspected was up to no good - and caught him in the act trying to steal someone's power tools.
Garry said he simply loved interacting with people.
"I totally enjoyed doing my run in Thirroul... it was the diversity of people," he said, speaking of the suburb's mix of white collar workers, blue collar workers and artists.
"Sometimes the struggling writers would use me to bounce ideas off," Garry said.
Plus, the suburb's location has held its own appeal, nestled below the escarpment with views over the ocean; he spoke of watching the whales go by during their migration as he did his work.
"It's just absolutely fantastic," he said.
While Garry has already started his new run, the residents of Thirroul say they will never forget him.
And the feeling was mutual: Garry said he would miss "all the lovely Thirroulians".