Victoria - Colonial period: 1854-1900
The Horsham line.

The Horsham line began with part of the first line constructed in Victoria and with part of the first line to South Australia - by including the Ballarat and Beaufort Telegraph Offices. Gold discoveries also motivated the construction of the line - for example, in February 1860, a 96 ounce nugget was found at Fiery Creek (north of Beaufort) and another of 33 ounces. The line to Beaufort was also extended to Ararat at the same time as the line was constructed to Streatham because of the significant gold deposits found in 1857.

Horsham line

There was a pause in constructing the Horsham branch for about two years. On 25 January 1860, the Government announced in the House that it was "considering" the extension of the telegraph line from Ararat to Stawell, Pleasant Creek. In 1861, a new line went to Stawell which was still a major gold center and was named Stawell in that same year.

After a break of 13 years, further construction commenced. The lines through to South Australia via Portland and Apsley were both heavily used - especially after the Overland telegraph line had been opened in South Australia at the end of 1872. A new line via a more northern Victorian place was therefore a logical plan. Horsham had developed as a major centre for wheat and wool and these commercial interests justified the extension of the telegraph line - which was completed in January 1875. In 1878, tenders were called for a telegraph line of 35 miles in length to be constructed to Murtoa along the railway line from Stawell to Horsham.

In November 1879, the South Australian government established an office at Border Town and this therefore became the connection point for the third inter-colonial line.

On 7 May 1880, The Argus announced that "Mr. Todd has received a letter from the deputy postmaster general in Melbourne stating that directions for the survey of the telegraph line from Dimboola to the South Australian border will be proceeded with immediately, with the view to establish direct communication between Melbourne and Adelaide". In a reference in the December 1883 Border Watch, it was stated "there is now a direct line carrying two wires connecting us with Melbourne via Horsham and Dimboola".

The Victorian line was constructed through three towns in relatively close proximity to each other. Dimboola was the first to open a Telegraph Office. Kaniva was close to the border and was the centre of a wheat, wool, oats and barley growing area. The first settlers had arrived there in 1875 and a number were established there by 1879. Nhill had a saw-mill from which the town had developed and, from 1883, was serviced by Cobb & Co. coaches.

In 1883 (?), a Telegraph Office was also opened in Lillimur - between Kaniva and the border - but again not before great pressure from the community. One report, in the Horsham Times of 8 May 1883 stated: The line from - Dimboola to Border Town passes through the township, the office is erected (by a resident) and an approved lady operator is waiting, having been in the neighbourhood nearly a month, yet the required connection is not made. If the township were so insignificant as not to promise business for the telegraph office, this procrastination were excusable, but surely, with a bank, three hotels, three stores, police station and a dozen other places of business, besides a considerable surrounding agricultural population to support, there is no excuse for so long a delay. The inconvenience the lack of telegraphic communication causes is felt daily, and the more keenly because, seemingly, there is no reasonable excuse for delaying the connection with the wires. These disabilities have been stated at length, but the district is fast becoming an important one, so perhaps you, Sir (the editor), will grant space enough for their appearance in print. Persistent importunity, so the shape of communication with the authorities, has hitherto produced so little fruit that an appeal through the medium of the press is the only resource open".