"In the beginning"


The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of the blog management, (on the other hand, they are not necessarily not the views of the blog management).

No effort has been made to stay within the bounds of the truth in this blog as it has always been the view of the management that the truth should never be allowed to stand in the way of a good story.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Overland Telegraph Line

The Overland Telegraph Line. (OTL)

With the news of a submarine cable to be laid between the existing line at Suva, and Darwin in the far north of Australia it was decided to build an overland telegraph line between Adelaide and Darwin. Connecting Adelaide and the rest of Australia, through Darwin, with England and Europe by means of a single wire in 1872, was one of the greatest engineering achievements of the nineteenth century.

It was completed in less than two years by South Australians, under the direction of Charles Todd, who was the Post Master General of SA at that time. It turned out to be a top business deal and a political triumph.

The Alice Springs repeater station shown here as it was in 1908, it is maintained by the NPWS and is in pristine condition to this day.

The total cost of the line, including its eleven repeater stations came to $676,120.00 The line made it possible, and assisted in the opening up and settlement of Central Australia.

It was instrumental in the start of both the gold mining and pastoral industries of the Northern Territory. Almost all suitable grazing land along the line was taken up by the 1890s.

The line was a single galvanised iron wire which connected Australia with the rest of the world, In 1899 a second wire was added but this time it was a copper wire, In 1941 a second copper wire was added.

This system was still in use during WW2 and the rest of Australia learned of the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese via the OTL.

The original route was based on the discoveries of explorer John McDouall Stuart (1858-62) and the poles were made from termite resistant Cyprus Pine.

Soon after construction was completed many of the original wooden OTL poles were replaced with galvanized steel Oppenheimer Poles and then, with the completion of the Ghan Railway as far as Oodnadatta in 1891, the entire original OTL was realigned along the railway.

This photo taken in 1996 shows one of the few remaining wooden poles, there are none left now.

There are many reminders of Charles Todd and his wife Alice in the central Australian town of Alice Springs, these include;

Todd Mall, Todd Street, Charles River, and the Todd River are all named after him,

Alice Springs, Alice Well, and Alice Lodge are named after his wife, Alice.


WT said...

I played with you widget, although it seems a bit redundant seeing that I already subscribe in a reader. But Merle looked so lonely up there ;)

kenju said...

Peter, I cannot find the active link for "following".

The amount that line cost was an absolute fortune back in those days!
(and still is)

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Your blog is always good for first-rate visual aides and a taste of Australian history and culture.

Bravo, Peter the Great.

Jack K. said...

Peter, thanks for the history lesson. The photos are amazing. Just think, now we don't have to rely on wires that can be broken. giggle.

I had added the follow this blog just yesterday. As you can see, I signed up to follow yours. I hope others will do the same and, should they choose, stop by and sign up at my site.

Dave said...

Excellent history lesson and lesson on Australia Peter!!!

Keep up the great work!

Gattina said...

Yes, even the so far away Australia has become closer to Europe ! In the 70th it was impossible to telephone to Australia only to the Belgian Embassy ! My friend's son had left parents at 21 and had disappeared in Australia ! It was terrible, she couldn't find him only almost 15 years later when suddenly he remembered that he had parents !

Cliff said...

Peter, this was good. Those kinds of stories really tell of the determination to make progress by the pioneers.
Our little town got telephone (one wire)in 1890.

linda may said...

Goodness, I had forgotten about learning that in school.
Hey Peter, what about doing a post on Billy tea. Another good aussie thing that people over seas wouldn't know about. The prompt on Sunday scribblings was about coffee but I wrote about tea and got questioned what billy tea was.

Pamela said...

the amazing things those generations did. Today everything has to have an environmental study. Can you imagine what that would have done to their project? Whew.

I'm just not sure about playing with your widget.. ha ha ha ha ha.

swampy said...

I absolutely LOVE Australia.
Thanks for taking the time to educate us.
Your masthead photo is awesome. I love the "dimension" from top to bottom... with the trees "underneath."
Wow !
Sorry I've not been over more, but it's been a wee bit hectic here with all these wee ones living here for awhile.

Walker said...

It took alot of work back then to get everyone connected especially in large countries such as your.
We have come a long way in 100 years since then