Tasmania: 1857-1900.
Lines 1862 to 1877.


The operation appeared to work efficiently and effectively. It was reported that, in 1872, 28, 122 messages were transmitted and that only six registered complaints of omission, errors, etc were received. It was also reported that from 1857 to 1872, only one instance was found of a breach of confidence and the officer was immediately dismissed.In 1871, the Launceston Examiner still headlined its stories with "By Magnetic Telegraph".

By the end of 1872, the following lines were operational:

Line Miles of wire
Hobart Town to Launceston and Low Head 161
Hobart Town to Mount Nelson 4
Green Ponds to Bothwell 21
Hobart Town to Hamilton 48
Launceston to Longford 14
Launceston to Deloraine 45
Total length of telegraph network in 1872: 291

1876 Hobart replaces Hobart Town

During the 1880s Tasmania emerged from 20 years of recession thanks to mineral discoveries on the West Coast and increased demand for Tasmanian primary produce on the Mainland.

1882 The need for the Hobart Town to Launceston line to be duplicated was considered to be urgent.

In 1875, the Main Line Railway telegraph network was connected to the Electric Telegraphs network at Hobart and Launceston.

The operation appeared to work efficiently and effectively. It was reported that, in 1872, 28, 122 messages were transmitted and that only six registered complaints of omission, errors, etc were received. It was also reported that from 1857 to 1872, only one instance was found of a breach of confidence and the officer was immediately dismissed.

At the end of 1877, there were 968 miles of wire and 57 telegraph stations (most being attached to a railway station and/or a post office).

On 31 December 1878, there were 910 miles of wire and 59 stations.

1891 Handbook

Electbio Telsoraphs. 244. At the close of 1890 there were 1,925 miles of telegrp.ph belonj^ing to Government open in Tasmania. There were 136 stations, communicating with every important centre of population, and extensions are always being made. The above does not include the telegraph lines on railways. The Tas- manian and Yictorian submarine telegraph, 359 miles, is worked by the Eastern Extension, Australasian, and China Telegraph Co., Limited, upon a guarantee from the Tasmanian HAND-BOOK OP TASMANIA. 67 Government. It connects Tasmania with the colonies and Europe. 245. The ntunber of messages transmitted between stations in Tasmania in 1890 was 194,662, and between Tasmania and other countries 98,532. 929 European messages were forwarded, making a total of 294,123 messages. The total revenue, including that from cablegrams, was £31,807 ; the total expenditure, including subsidy to the Cable Company, iB22,983. The persons employed in the department numbered 203.

The economic activity (keep hyperlink) in Tasmania varied from the highs (in the early 1850s and during the 1870s) to lows and depression (1858-1865 and from 1890).

Subsequent construction

In 1861, a new line was constructed along the north of the island from Launceston to Circular Head (known as Stanley after 1882).


Macquarie nominated Pontville, Oatlands, Campbell Town and Perth as being places at which inns for travellers between Hobart Town and Launceston could stay.



North Coast

A major push was started in the 1870s to open up the north coast region. A direct line was constructed from Launceston to Deloraine which was the centre of significant agricultural activity run by new settlers. In 1892, a Telegraph Office was opened at the Deloraine railway station and it operated through to 1959. The Post Office had opened in 1836 but closed in 1841 only to reopen in 1845.

In 1874, telegraph offices were opened along or south of the coast at Latrobe, Forth, Leven (now Ulverstone) and at Don and Torquay (both now Devonport). From the early 1870s, Torquay was established as a major shipping port. It was situated on the west side of the Mersey River with Formby on the east bank. After the river mouth was widened, regular steamer services connected the Mersey with Melbourne. Torquay and Formby merged to become Devonport after a popular vote in 1890.

In 1876, Telegraph Offices were opened at Burnie (previously Emu Bay), Wynard (previously Table Cape), Stanley (previously Circular Head) and a new line was constructed to Penguin (east of Burnie).

Tin was discovered at Mount Bischoff in 1871 by James Smith and his assistant Shawn Bischoff. In 1873, Smith sold his interest to the Mt Bischoff Tin Mining Company. Tin prospectors looked for their fortunes across the north-west in Tasmania's mountainous region. That led to initial attempts to link the West Coast of Tasmania to more settled areas commenced in the 1870s when the Van Diemen's Land Company engaged John C. Climie to undertake a survey of a line from near Burnie (Emu Bay) to Mount Bischoff.

Large-scale mining began in 1873 at Mount Bischoff under engineer Henry Kayser. The Burnie to Waratah Railway (1884) conveyed the ore for the tin smelters in Launceston.

West Coast: 1882: Silver-lead discovered at Zeehan. From 1877 (dates vary) mines opened at Renison (tin), Mount Lyell(copper), Zeehan(silver, lead) and Rosebery (zinc).

the North-West Coast extended to Burnie and stations were opened at Carrick, Bishopbourne and Chudleigh.

In 1885, an office opened in Deloraine.



I have to chronicle another case of stealing tin ore belonging to the Waratah Tin Mining Company. It appears that the person that packs the tin out has been in the habit of storing it in an empty shop, and the thief or thieves got in through through the window, where there was a pane of glass out. They then abstracted 10 bags ot tin, and no trace of it can be found anywhere, although the police were quickly on the spot. The windows are now all barred up with paling - a case of lock the stabledoor after the horse is stolen.

Licensing day is drawing nigh, and there are two residents here who intend to apply for a publican's license; both are making improvements to their places. How one expects to get a license granted to him I cannot say, for he has been twice convicted of sly grog-selling and the last time fined £100 and costs.



East and South east

1882 Telegraph wires were also constructed on the East coast.

In 1876, Telegraph Offices were opened at Richmond, Buckland, Sorell and Ouse. In 1876 Lines were constructed to Tunbridge

TOs opened Spring Bay, Swansea,


1885: Oatlands to Parattah Railway opened

From 1877, mines opened at Cornwall (coal),

Bicheno, to the north-east of Swansea, had been settled in 1803 as a whaling and sealing centre even before the Colony of Van Dieman's Land (as Waub's Boat Harbour). It expanded and became a port for the coal taken from the Denison River area. The Victorian gold rush reversed all development with most of the town's residents leaving about 1855. Hence when decisions were being made about constructing telegraph lines from Swansea, there was no economic and little social motivation to include Bicheno.

Offices were opened in 1885 at Lisdillon (below Swansea), Alberton, Glenorn, Eaglehawk Neck, Lower Junction Waldborough, Evandale, Lymington,


By the end of 1878, the Huon Line was completed to Geeveston,

Offices were opened in 1885 at Lymington,


South west

Hamilton opened in 1872. Green Ponds (Kempton) opened in 1872 to a farming area. (railway in 1891). New Norfolk opened a centre for invalid and sick convicts in 1827. In 1888, Australia's first telephone trunk call was connected from Hobart to the Bush Inn Hotel in New Norfolk. gateway to West coast via Hamilton and Ouse.

Offices were opened in 1885 at Glenora,

These are summarised in the following map.

Tas 1877



A little recognised fact was that in 1895, the widespread use of the telegraph led the Colonies to realise the necessity to adopt Standard Time statutes. During the First World War, to save energy, Tasmania temporarily enacted daylight saving time between 1916 and 1919, and in the Second World War, the commonwealth government established national daylight saving time from 1941 to 1945.


Oatlands was a central place between hobart & Lauceston and was a miitary base for the control and management of convicts. Railway in 1885.