Barbara James Memorial Lecture, The Overland Telegraph: Connecting Australia to the World
In 1872, the greatest engineering problem facing Australia–the tyranny of distance–had a solution: the electric telegraph, and its champion was the sheep-farming state of South Australia.
In two years, Charles Todd, leading hundreds of men, constructed a telegraph line across the centre of the continent from Port Augusta to Port Darwin. At nearly 3,000 kilometres long and using 36,000 poles at ’20 to the mile’, it was a mammoth undertaking, but at last, in October 1872, Adelaide was linked to London.
The Overland Telegraph Line crossed Aboriginal lands visited by John McDouall Stuart just 10 years before. Messages which previously took weeks to cross the country now took hours.
Passing through eleven new repeater stations built in the remotest parts of Australia, the line joined the vast global telegraph network, and a new era was ushered in – 150 years ago this August.
Derek Pugh will share some of the unique stories of the men and women who lived and/or died on the line. The stories range from heroic to tragic, but they remain an indelible part of Australia’s history.
Drinks and nibbles available. Please register your attendance by emailing: email@example.com