Victoria - Colonial: 1854-1900.
The first line to South Australia.

The December 1856 Report of the Superintendent of the Electric Telegraph to both Houses of the Victorian Telegraph contained a Joint Report by Samuel McGowan and Charles Todd recommending an inter-colonial telegraph link between the Colonies of Victoria and South Australia and foreshadowing an additional link to incorporate New South Wales into the system.

This report was adopted and both Colonies planned their construction programs during 1857.

Advertisements were placed for the construction of the Victorian line in the Gazette and in newspapers in January/February 1857 as follows:

Public Works Office. Melbourne,
20th January, 1857.

CONSTRUCTING A LINE of ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH between BALLARAT and PORTLAND, via Raglan, Warrnambool, and Belfast.

TENDERS will be received until 11 o'clock on Tuesday, 3rd March, 1857, for Constructing a Line of Electric Telegraph between Ballarat and Portland, via Raglan, Warrnambool and Belfast.

The Tenderers in each case to state:

  • the rate per mile for Posts, Insulators, and Wires.
  • the rate per set for Instruments.
  • a gross sum for the supply of a stated number of Cells of Battery, and a quantity of Insulated Copper Wire, Binding, Screws, etc

Plan and Specification may be seen at the Office of the Superintendent of the Electric Telegraph, Melbourne.

Tenders to be endorsed 'Tender for Constructing a Line of Electric Telegraph between Ballarat and Portland' and addressed (if by post prepaid) to the Commissioner of Public Works, Melbourne. The Government wiil not necessarily accept the lowest or any Tender.


As reflected by the annotations on the map below, the Victorian lines was developed from both ends - from Portland in the west and from Ballarat in the east. (See elsewhere for the construction of the No. 1 South Australian line). Intermediate Telegraph stations were opened at five locations as well as a line constructed from Portland across the border to Mount Gambier.

Line to SA

The Victoria-South Australia inter-colonial telegraph line became operational on 22 May 1858 (Todd's Annual Report for the year to 30 June 1858).

The importance of the link is demonstrated by the commencement of planning on a second inter-colonial line within months of the first Victorian to South Australia line being opened.

As the telegraph became more popular, additional lines were constructed throughout Victoria. These new lines brought rationalisation of the telegraph offices along them. Hence all the offices on the above map gradually became part of other lines. Details of each office can be found through the listing of all Telegraph Offices in Victoria.