Australia -South Australia/Northern Territory.
The Overland Telegraph Line - messages sent and received
.


Data describing the use of the Overland Telegraph Line are provided below for:

  1. immediate use in October-November 1872;
  2. for week ending 22 February 1873;
  3. by Colony for 1872 to 1889.

 

At the time Todd was making his final connections to the OTL, gold was discovered at several locations in the Northern Territory - especially in the general Yam Creek area.

The news of these discoveries placed immediate pressure on the new line as possible prospectors tried to seek more details and to lodge claims. One report noted:

"By reason of the discovery of gold in the Northern Territory, the traffic upon it since the formal opening took place has been incessant but it has stood the test admirably. So complete is the insulation and so perfect the circuit that messages can be transmitted to Palmerston and replies received (in Adelaide) in ten or twelve seconds".

A return was prepared at for the Electric Telegraph Office showing the amount of business handled on the British and Australian line since the opening of direct communication with London, on the 21st October 1872 to the 16th November 1872 - a period of four weeks. The total number of messsages transmitted was 866, representing a money value of £9,158 19s. More than half the total number of messages - the value of which amounted to more than half the total receipts - were credited to Victoria. The following are the particulars relating to the different colonies:

Colony Messages Value
NSW 231 £2,701 6s 6d
Queensland 40 £510 14s 9d
South Australia 150 £1,121 5s
Tasmania 7 £78 15s
Victoria 438 £4,746 17s 9d
Total 866 £9,158 19s
Source: The Australasian, 30 November 1872, p. 19.

 

The SA Advertiser of 24 February 1873 reported further usage details:

"The following is the number of telegrams transmitted through the British-Australian Telegraph Company cable from Port Darwin for the week ending Saturday, February 22,1873:

Even with the existing high tariff of charges, business was still being conducted on the line at the rate of £120,000 per annum of which more that one-half belonged to Victoria.

Data for transmitted and received telegrams by Colony for 1872 to 1889 is provided below:

Number of messages sent over the Overland Telegraph Line to Europe and the East: 1872 to 1889.

  Year Transmitted Received Total
NSW 1872 250 242 492
  1873             1,429            1,362       2,791
  1874      
  1875      
  1876             1,343            1,397       2,740
  1877             2,251            2,401       4,652
  1878             2,546            2,598       5,144
  1879             2,961            3,081       6,042
  1880             3,816            3,824       7,640
  1881             4,822            4,345       9,167
  1882             6,317            5,566     11,883
  1883      
  1884      
  1885      
  1886      
  1887             8,162            7,044     15,206
  1888      
  1889             9,599            8,612     18,211
  Year Transmitted Received Total
Queensland 1872 43 36 79
  1873             200           141         341
  1874      
  1875      
  1876             184           128         312
  1877             507           294         801
  1878             392           321         713
  1879             347           343         690
  1880             524           401         925
  1881             863           603      1,466
  1882          1,052           731      1,783
  1883      
  1884      
  1885      
  1886      
  1887          2,477        1,837      4,314
  1888      
  1889          2,622        1,997      4,619
  Year Transmitted Received Total
Sth. Aust. 1872 126 134 260
  1873               472              469         941
  1874      
  1875      
  1876               505              512       1,017
  1877               916            1,003       1,919
  1878             1,190            1,685       2,875
  1879             1,324            1,887       3,211
  1880             1,881            3,037       4,918
  1881             2,361            3,208       5,569
  1882             2,441            3,364       5,805
  1883      
  1884      
  1885      
  1886      
  1887             2,988            3,710       6,698
  1888      
  1889             3,321            4,801       8,122
  Year Transmitted Received Total
Tasmania 1872 8 6 14
  1873               40             36           76
  1874      
  1875      
  1876               28             24           52
  1877      
  1878               83             84         167
  1879               97           153         250
  1880             200           250         450
  1881             183           241         424
  1882             210           265         475
  1883      
  1884      
  1885      
  1886      
  1887             342           339         681
  1888      
  1889             429           362         791
  Year Transmitted Received Total
Victoria 1872 405 554 959
  1873             2,231            2,614       4,845
  1874      
  1875      
  1876             1,091            1,453       2,544
  1877             1,882            2,632       4,514
  1878             2,596            3,383       5,979
  1879             3,174            4,194       7,368
  1880             4,271            5,232       9,503
  1881             5,643            6,525     12,168
  1882             6,094            6,803     12,897
  1883      
  1884      
  1885      
  1886      
  1887             8,804            9,376     18,180
  1888      
  1889           10,079          11,462     21,541
  Year Transmitted Received Total
West. Aust 1872      
  1873      
  1874      
  1875      
  1876      
  1877                3               8           11
  1878               97           107         204
  1879             138           160         298
  1880             128           208         336
  1881             194           232         426
  1882             280           272         552
  1883      
  1884      
  1885      
  1886      
  1887             695           541      1,236
  1888      
  1889             744           520      1,264
Source: all data from Annual Reports of the Superintendent of Telegraphs, Victoria.

1872 data cover the period 22 October to 31 December, 1872.