New South Wales - Colonial period: 1858-1900.
Overview of line construction.

The construction of the telegraph lines up until about 1900 is described as follows:

  1. first line South Head-Redfern-Liverpool;
  2. first line south to Victoria;
  3. first line north to Queensland;
  4. line extensions within the five regions of New South Wales as shown in the following map.

In the Central Telegraph Office in Britannia House in the 1870s, the central room upstairs was but small - about 30ft x 15ft - and it had a large table down the centre. On the table, connected back to back, were six telegraph instruments which were the starting point of the following lines or circuits:

  1. the line to Albury, which office retransmitted telegrams to and from Victoria. It was able to do a little wayside business as well with intermediate offices.
  2. the line to Tenterfield where telegrams were repeated for Queensland;
  3. the line to West Maitland, Newcastle, Grafton, Casino, etc.
  4. the line catered west to Bathurst and beyond;
  5. a line to Wentworth - the repeating station for South Australia. This line was able to look after a number of stations including Wagga and Deniliquin
  6. a line to Goulburn, bifurcating there, one leg reaching Kiandra and the other reaching Eden.

Changes to the operations of these lines make discussion of line construction difficult. Instead descriptions are grouped within regions of the Colony/ State. Details of the lines in each region can be obtained by clicking on the appropriate hyperlink.

North-west: extends from Tibooburra east to Bourke and down to just below the level of Broken Hill in the west and Cobar and Nymagee in the west. Ivanhoe is in the south-west region.

Telegraph offices in the region.

North-central: the area to the west of the line to Queensland to Bourke. Hence the region extends from east of Bourke across to the telegraph line to Queensland, down west of Glen Innes and east of Gunnedah, to Morpeth and then across to include Bathurst and Forbes in the west.

Telegraph offices in the region.

Line overview


North-east: extends from the line to Queensland near Maryland and Tenterfield south to Parramatta and then north along the east coast from Sydney to Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads.

Telegraph offices in the region.



South-west: extends from just below Broken Hill along the South Australian border to Wentworth and the Victorian border and then across to Albury and up west of the first NSW telegraph line to Albury to include Wagga Wagga and Condobolin.

Telegraph offices in the region.

South-east: extends below the line from Sydney to Bathurst and Forbes, down to the Victorian border along the first line to Albury including Cootamundra and Gundagai and across to the east coast to Eden and up via Moruya and Kiama to Sydney.

Telegraph offices in the region.


Private telegraph lines are not included - partly because of the extreme difficulty in accessing the information. In the 1864 Report by the Superintendent, he states:

"no additional lines to connect line stations with business establishments have been constructed (1863-1865), the Government requiring further legal powers for the purpose. A bill to confer these powers is to be submitted to the house".