Tasmania: 1857-1900.
Telegraph lines in the south-east region.


The south-east area is defined, for the purpose of analysing the development of the telegraph lines, as being south of Campbell Town (so below the Fingal-St Marys line) and east of the main Hobart-Launceston line.

Tas SE The first construction in the south-east region was in 1876 - a little after construction started in other areas. This delay was partly because of the dire financial circumstances of the Colonial government and also the need to spend funds on areas with mineral discoveries which would in turn assist the Government's position.

In 1876, a line was constructed from Richmond to Buckland, Spring Bay, Lisdillon and Swansea with Telegraph Offices opening as required - for example Lisdillon did not open until 1885.

Swansea was always an important town and was the third area in the Australian Colony to be declared a municipality (after Sydney and Hobart). In addition to agriculture and grazing, Swansea was an important area for whaling. Black wattle bark was also produced there for use in tanning.

Swansea, together with Spring Bay, were also important ports for vessels sailing to Melbourne and Sydney (together with Torquay and Circular Head). For example, The Mercury would carry details, transmitted "By Electric Telegraph", about ships stopping at either port (see, in 1885: 14 May, 11 June and 7 October).

Another article in The Mercury on 22 March 1878 mentions (second paragraph) the use of the Telegraph Office.

 

Also in 1876, construction of a line to the difficult region where the convict settlement of Port Arthur was situated began. The Telegraph Office at Richmond was used as the branching point and the line constructed to Sorell. In 1881, it was extended to Coppington, in 1883 to Nubeena and in 1885 an intermediate station was opened at Eaglehawk Neck. As a measure of achievements, it is sometimes quoted that construction progressed so well that the telegraph line was constructed though to Salt Water River by 1900.

A Telegraph Office was also opened at Tunbridge between Oatlands and Ross in 1876.

In 1882, s second line was constructed north from Richmond to ease the load on the Brighton-Green Ponds-Oatlands line and to provide a back-up route. Hence Telegraph Offices were opened and the line went through at Campania, Jerusalem and Parattah. A branch line back from Parattah to Tunnack was also constructed in the same year. Three years later, in 1885, the Oatlands to Parattah Railway opened

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.