Telegrams in Australia: 1854-1988.



This site aims to record the details of the development of the telegraphic system in Australia. It hopes that it can contribute to the general understanding of the people of Australia and those overseas who have a positive feeling about this wonderful country and its tantalising history.

RECENT NEW ADDITIONS (after a major computer crash) - as of 28 July 2022.
  1. Revision of a very large number of entries and improvements in many images.
  2. More than 200 new images of Telegraph Offices in various Colonies/States.
  3. The story of the death of Mr. C. W. Kraegen (Telegraph Operator) through thirst in the desert near Alice Springs.
  4. Queensland - major revision to the descriptions of the construction of the telegraph lines - especially the Lines in Cape York and to the information about Telegraph Offices;
  5. South Australia - a complete revision with new maps on the construction of the telegraph lines throughout the Colony. Great reports of developments - for example see the line to NSW from Gawler to Blanchetown in SA and on to Wellington, NSW;
  6. South Australia - many new images of Telegraph Offices including Arno Bay, Laura, Petersberg (Peterborough),
  7. Tasmania - example of ad hoc transmission forms (more coming).
  8. Tasmania - complete revision of the Hobart (Central) Telegraph Office date stamps.
  9. Victoria - Extracts related to Telegraphs from the 1880 and 1881 Annual Reports;.
  10. Victoria - major revisions to date stamps at Melbourne Central Telegraph Office.
  11. Victoria - New find of ERD Flinders Telegraph Office (2nd strike now known and earlier by 3 years).
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This site is still being developed. It is being uploaded progressively to enable readers to see what is available in the amazingly diverse field of Australian Telegrams in the hope that feedback can be received to improve the site even further. Please contact me through apta42@gmail.com. Thanks to the many readers who have asked questions or suggested modifucations. All comments and suggestions very welcome.

Amongst the many details given are:

All of these stories - and host more - can be found among the 1300+ pages on this site. Use the menu at the top (and described below) to find narratives, to open pages, to read telegraphic stories in old newspapers, to read original reports and documents and to see old Offices, scenes, events, etc.

Only some of the history has been recorded or analysed in the various books and articles written by various people and many of these sources are invaluable and a reflection of the professionalism of their creators.

For example - the Overland Telegraph Line from Adelaide to Darwin - perhaps one of the greatest engineering feats of the world. Think of a Government today saying to a person:

"build a line of telegraph from here to there. There is no job description but you should select some men, some horses and camels. We have no idea what is in the middle and we have little idea of what you need to survive. Kangaroo is quite tasty apparently. Don't worry about OH&S concerns and there is no environmental impact study. Just do it. The line is going to be about 2,000 miles long. Oh - one more thing: Good Luck".

BUT - we have little idea how such a massive development which served Australia so exceptionally well for about 100 years ended. It just sort of faded out of consciousness - as did so many of the undertakings - large and small. There was no closing ceremony. Some people remember that "we had not really used that line for a few years - don't know what happened".

People visiting Bondi Beach or Cottlesloe Beach don't know they are probably treading on a telegraph cable leading to the deep ocean. Where was your nearest telegraph station?

To complete the story I need your assistance. Thanks to those of you who have already provided information and data which have been unobtainable elsewhere. Every little bit counts!!

Please contact me at apta42@gmail.com with stories, corrections, information about forms or your local office, etc. I will get back to you.

All suggestions welcome.

Using the site:

  1. Placing (not clicking) your mouse/cursor above one of the components of the main menu at the top of each page will activate the primary sub-menu;
  2. move your cursor down this sub-menu to select a topic of interest and click that.
  3. sometimes hovering the cursor above an primary sub-item with activate a secondary sub-menu - so select your topic from that.
    The most commonly used secondary sub-items will relate to types of telegram form or to features of Telegraph Offices. Try calling up the overview of Telegraph Offices or the datestamps for one of the Colonies.

ALTERNATIVELY

Use the first main menu item "Site home & details" and go down to index. Think of a topic and select the first letter of that word.

Definitions:

A telegraph is a system used to transmit and receive a messages over a long distance.

A telegram is the message resulting from that transmission. The word "telegram" was created by the American newspaper Albany Evening Journal on April 6,1852, when the following paragraph appeared: "A friend desires us to give notice that he will ask leave at some convenient time to introduce a new word into the vocabulary. It is "telegram" instead of "telegraphic communication". 

An electrical telegraph system uses electrical current and magnetism to convert codes to represent words (generally typed into the system using a key or a keyboard) into electrical impulses. These impulses are transmitted over a metallic circuit (overhead wires or underground/submarine cables) to a distant location. At the receiving end, the impulses are converted back into magnetic fields to operate a mechanical device to make a sound or operate a device converting the impulses into a written document of some type - either onto a tape or a (telegram) form.

28 July 2022.

All suggestions welcome.

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