Western Australia.
Telegraph lines in the Mid West region.

The Mid West Region of Western Australia is defined here, for purposes of describing telegraph line construction, as being the region:

Geraldton was a major centre in the north. It had been established as a military outpost but later developed through the influx of pastoralists as well as through the discovery of lead deposits which led to the establishment of the Geraldine mine. It had a good harbour which was developed for various ships and, by the 1870s, it was the port through which the lead from mines at Northampton further to the north was shipped. Geraldton was proclaimed a town in 1871.

The telegraph line construction activities in the Mid West region are described as follows:


The line between New Norcia and Geraldton.

Mid West In 1867, the mail route to Geraldton was changed from the coast road via Dandaragan to an inland route passing through New Norcia, Walebing, Berkshire Valley, Marah, Coorow, Carnamah and on to Geraldton. The route was designed to cater for the inland settlers.

The route for the construction of the telegraph line to the north was that favoured by Governor Weld. It began at Newcastle (in the Wheatbelt) and followed the new mail line north through New Norcia and Berkshire Valley in the Wheatbelt region and then extended north to Geraldton via Marah, Carnamah and Arrino in the Mid West.


Work on the line commenced reasonably soon after contract agreement with Nunnan and Smith on 2 November 1872. Construction was started in two directions - north from New Norcia and south from Champion Bay (Geraldton). The Mid West line linking Berkshire Valley to Geraldton was completed on 4 August 1873 but the late arrival of plant delayed the opening of the line until 5 June 1874.

The line south from Geraldton followed the coast through Goodenough and Dongara before veering inland to Mingenew. This line along the coast always created problems because of the wind and salt air conditions.

The Perth Inquirer of 3 June 1874 reported it was informed "by overland mail" that "telegraphic communication with Champion Bay (Geraldton) might be daily expected, the erection of the wire from the Bay towards the Victoria Plains (New Norcia), to join that already erected, being in rapid progress. Communication between the offices at Geraldton, Greenough and Dongarra (i.e. from the north), was opened about a fortnight ago; and, at the time mail passed, the Superintendent of Telegraphs had opened another office at Carnamah, on the (northern part of the) Plains, and was in communication with the northern offices".

The five Telegraph Offices opened along this long stretch in the Mid West region gave nine altogether along the line from Newcastle. That was half of the number of Telegraph Offices in the Colony at the end of 1874. That so many Offices were opened over the new lines in about three months is a tribute to the crews involved.

The Inquirer of 10 June 1874 described the achievement as follows:


The public may be congratulated on the fact that the telegraph is now stretched to every township in the colony south of Champion Bay; thus bringing the metropolis into instantaneous communication with the whole of the settled districts. At one o'clock on Friday afternoon last, at Carnamah (Mr. Duncan Macpherson's station), the Superintendent of Telegraphs — Mr. Fleming — witnessed the connecting of the last link of the northern line, and the wire was available for public purposes in less than an hour afterwards. Thus in the space of less than five years we have spread the magic wire over about 800 miles of our territory.

All the Telegraph Officers along this line were female. The Inquirer went on the state: "There are seven offices on the Champion Bay line, all in the charge of lady operators, who, we understand, are remarkably good telegraphists, and have required but little training, and we think that in this as in the telegraph itself, the Government have taken a progressive step in the right direction".


The extension of the line to Northampton.

There was a pause in construction activity in this region after the line between Geraldton and Newcastle was completed in 1873. There were however discussions at that time about the desirability of building a railway line north between Geraldton and Northampton through the mineral district.

The minutes of the Legislative Council of 3 July 1873, include the following:


The COLONIAL SECRETARY in moving the first reading of a bill for raising the sum of £100,000 by loan for the construction of certain public works, said the undertakings contemplated in the bill were the construction of a railway and telegraph from Geraldton to Northampton through the mineral portion of the Victoria district, for which £80,000 was set down, and also the construction of a telegraph line from Newcastle to Champion Bay, for which £11,000 was provided.

With regard to the first item the Hon. gentleman thought it better not to enter into details relative to it at present; he would simply lay on the table of the House for the information of Hon. Members a schedule of plans, drawings, and papers connected with the proposed railway, as also the engineer's report, specifications of the work to be performed, and an estimate of the cost and of the traffic. Being desirous that ample time should be afforded Hon. Members to peruse and consider the various papers connected with the undertaking, he would postpone the second reading of the bill until such time as the House would be prepared to discuss, it with some knowledge of its details.

With reference to the construction of a telegraph line from Newcastle to Champion Bay, the House had already sanctioned the work, and His Excellency was in receipt of a despatch from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, affirming the resolution of the House, and empowering His Excellency to approve of a bill to raise the necessary sum for the construction of the line.

As it was considered inadvisable for the colony to go into the market for the purpose of borrowing a small sum of £15,000 or £16,000, it was proposed to incorporate in one loan, the capital necessary for the construction of the two undertakings, thereby increasing it to £100,000-a sum which it was proposed to raise in the colony, and in Victoria, where there would be no difficulty in obtaining the required amount, at a rate of interest not exceeding five per cent per >annum. With these few observations he would move that the bill be read a first time, and, if in accordance with the rest of the House, he would move that the Second reading be made an order of the day for Friday, the 10th instant".

The Perth Inquirer of 14 July 1875 noted that "the important mining and pastoral district north of Geraldton is about to be included in the telegraph system of the colony. Tenders are invited by the Government for the supply of posts necessary for the construction of the line from Geraldton to Northampton. When this is completed, every township south of Roebourne will be in instantaneous communication with Perth and there will be 830 miles of wire in operation".

The line from Northampton back to Geraldton was constructed in 1878 to support the commercial activity especially related to the lead mining.


Alternative western route to Geraldton.

On 19 July 1886, Mr Shenton addressed the House to ask that "a humble address be presented to the Governor, praying his Excellency to place on the Estimates for 1887, the sum required to provide for the extension of the telegraph line from Gingin to Dandarragan". The line from Guilford to Gingin was opened in October 1876. This extension from Guilford marked the beginning of a second line in the northern region. It roughly followed the old mail line. A new Telegraph Office was opened at Gin Gin following the construction especially to serve the rich agricultural production in the surrounding area. The cost of constructing the 35 mile line from Guilford was £610.

Gingin was also an important rest-stop for horses travelling between Perth and Geraldton and it also had a Police station - all good reasons to have telegraphic facilities opened there. The population was about 200.

No further activity took place to extend that line until 1894. In September 1894, an intermediate Office was opened at Mingenew on the first telegraph line (in the heart of ideal cattle country).

In 1896, the second telegraph line in the Northern region was constructed starting at Gingin and laid out via Dandaragan (connected in August 1896) in the Wheatbelt Region to the north to link with the first line at Mingenew. Hence there was then a back-up facility which made the push to the far north a more reliable proposition.


Telegraph lines to the Murchison Goldfields.

Goldfields The W. A. Record of 4 August 1892 reported on a speech the Premier Sir John Forrest made at Geraldton:

We have already ordered the material for a telegraph line from Geraldton to the Murchison Goldfield — (cheers) — and I hope it will soon arrive, so that we may lose no time in erecting it. (Cheers). We have also ordered the material for a telegraph line from Cossack to Marble Bar, to the rich goldfields at the Oakover and the De Grey. I think this shows that the government has faith in the fields and in those important districts, and it also shows that we are not afraid to act upon our own judgment and to anticipate the approval of Parliament when pressing wants are brought prominently before us.

On 28 April 1893, the Geraldton Victorian Express reported that "the Saladin arrived at Geraldton from Singapore via North West Ports on Saturday, and left for Fremantle on Sunday. Her delay here was occasioned by her discharging 250 tons of telegraph poles, transhipped at Singapore, for the Murchison telegraph line".

The line from Geraldton to Cue

Tenders were called for the construction of the Geraldton-Nannine telegraph line in the Government Gazette and in various newspapers from 19 August 1893 with the closing date of 19 September.

The Perth Daily News of 28 September 1893 reported:

"Tenders for the construction of the telegraph line to the Murchison goldfields were opened yesterday and the successful tenderers were announced to be Messrs. Atkins & Law at £6,100. The work has to be completed in twelve months, that is by the 23rd September, 1894. The distance of the line is 231 miles and it commences at Mullewa Springs and terminates at the Nannine Turnpike. The contract specifies that the Government provides all material and as this is lying at Geraldton. The contractors anticipate being able to make an early start with the work".

For reasons at present not wholly discernable, the first stage of the telegraph line construction was severely delayed. This stage was the section from Geraldton to Cue via Mullewa.The Murchison Times of 11 December 1895 gives some insight into the problem:

"The Post and Telegraph Department has recently fallen in for a considerable amount of criticism—both publicly and privately—being held decidedly responsible for the inadequate length of wires in the colony, the contention being that the department should have exercised business-like forethought to have sufficient material always on hand to meet requirements.

Whilst we are not disposed to say that the Government are not in some way to blame for the insufficiency of the line accommodation and that the public have not got just cause for complaint, it is only fair that the blame should be laid upon the proper shoulders. The Hon. E. H. Wittenoom gave a satisfactory explanation regarding this subject during his recent visit to the Murchison.

The whole confusion appears to be due to the bad system in vogue by which the Works Department is entrusted with the erection of telegraph lines instead of leaving that work in the hands of the Post and Telegraph Department. As a matter of fact, hitherto the Government have decided regarding the lines to be erected and the work has been handed to the Works Department to carry out. The indents for the material have, in all cases, been sent and prepared by the Works Department. In many cases the Postmaster-General has known nothing of it until a line was completed and handed over to him for working".

There was a suggestion to re-route this part of the line after construction had commenced. In the Assembly on 6 August 1894, the Colonial Treasurer, in reply to a question, said "he had not promised to arrange a detour of the telegraph line (now in the course of construction from Mullewa to Cue) so as to accommodate the residents of Mt. Magnet and Lake Austin. It was not possible to arrange for the detour, owing to the line being far advanced, but the Government intended to erect a telegraph line from Cue to Mt. Magnet, the work to be commenced as soon as possible".The Murchison Times of 26 September 1894 reported:

The beginning of the end, so far as the contract for the telegraph line is concerned, is now in view. A letter received from the contractors says that the line would be completed fifty miles towards Mullewa by the 5th of Oct. and three other gangs are at work on different sections of the line. Mr. Law speaks of running a bicycle express from Mullewa to the completed portion at this end, but this cannot be done until materials for a battery arrive at the local office. Up to date, only the instruments have come to hand.

The Post & Telegraph Office opened at Mullewa on 13 October 1894.

The Murchison Times of 16 October 1895 reported the opening of the Telegraph Office at Yalgoo:

The extension of the telegraph line to Yalgoo has at last been completed. Our correspondent, by wire, yesterday states: " The following telegrams were despatched and received by the Warden re the establishment of telegraphic communication with Yalgoo:

To the Hon. Sir John Forrest, K.C.M.G. Premier, and E. H. Wittenoom, Esq., Minister for Mines. Yalgoo telegraph line opened today (Saturday 12 October). On behalf of the residents of this district, I beg to congratulate the Government on the completion of this line as it will materially assist in developing the mineral resources of this extensive district. (Signed), P. L. GIBBONS, Warden.

In reply, the following wires were received:

I thank the people of Yalgoo for the congratulations on the establishment of  telegraphic communication and wish them all prosperity. The railway will be the next advance and will then place the people of Yalgoo and the Murchison Goldfields in a position to develop their great resources. (Signed) JOHN FORREST, Premier.

Mr. Wittenoom replied: I thank you for the telegram of Saturday. Very pleased to hear telegraph line has reached Yalgoo".

The Western Mail of 17 November 1894 reported that its Reporter in Cue indicated that "much satisfaction was expressed at the opening of the telegraph line (to Cue) and it was working smoothly".

On 1 December 1894, the Bunbury Southern Times reported:

"The extension of the telegraph system to the various goldfields was also the source of much expense during the year. No less than 486 miles of line were under construction or completed during the year including Geraldton to Nannine, a distance of about 231 miles; Marble Bar to Condon, 88 miles; Southern Cross to Coolgardie, about 116 miles and various short lines such as Coolgardie to Hannan's, Bannister to Wandering and Northern main line to Mingenew. The majority of these were thus in connection with the goldfield centres and were works of absolute importance, more particularly Coolgardie where the  telegraph line is in great requisition at all times".

Short lines were also opened to various minesites a short distance from Cue. For example a telegraph line from Cue to Cuddingwarra and Bell was opened in November 1895. Nearby mines included Cuddingwarra Gold Mines Ltd, the Siege of Paris and Fraser's South Mine. Almost immediately, the Murchison Times was asking the Government to allow six penny telegrams between Cue, Day Dawn and Cuddingwarra (23 November 1895).

The Murchison Times of 7 September 1895 reported on the cost of telegrams sent between Cue and Day Dawn:

"In reply to a request by Dr. Olivey Mayor of Day Dawn, that sixpenny telegrams should be the rule between that town and Cue, the Minister of the Post and Telegraph department wired yesterday: Regret cannot recommend sixpenny telegrams as Department have had to refuse other places under similar circumstances." Mr. Wittenoom, if he wishes to be considered an up-to-date administrator, must bring his department into line with the progressive spirit of the goldfields. Cue and Day Dawn are only four miles apart — the staff need not be increased — and sixpenny telegrams would give an immediate increase of revenue. It is bound to come and the concession might just as well be made gracefully at once".

In an article in the Victorian Express in early June 1892, the correspondent described the conditions and isolation of Nannine being in contrast to the riches of the gold deposits and bemoans the situation that there was no telegraph station to assist the miners - and that the town had never been gazetted. On 15 July 1892, the Express claims "our goldfields are suffering from chronic neglect at the hands of the Government ... and the necessity for telegraphic communications between Nannine and the Port (of Geraldton)".

On 13 January 1896, the Perth Daily News reported that the Supervisor of Telegraphs for the district north of Geraldton had left with the material required to construct the Day Dawn to Mount Magnet via The Island. Soon after, the Murchison Times of 8 February 1896 reported:


"The construction of the Mount Magnet telegraph line promises to be one of the quickest pieces of work on record. All being well, this line will be at The Island on Tuesday. The survey, clearing and hole sinking is finished, with the exception of nine miles. The whole of the material for the erection of the line has been delivered, and it is anticipated that within four weeks communication will be established with Mount Magnet. The rapidity with which the work has been pushed ahead reflects great credit upon tbe inspector, Mr. McKenzie, and the contractors. The material did not leave Fremantle until January 10th, and the line is now half completed".

On 7 March 1896, the Murchison Times reported on the great event as follows:

"The telegraph line from Day Dawn and Cue was opened this afternoon. The sending of the first two wires was taken in hand by our energetic Progress Committee. The first was to Sir John Forrest, Premier of Western Australia, and was as follows: "The Mount Magnet Progress Committee congratulate you on the speedy completion of the telegraph line. Your efforts in advancing the well-being of Western Australia are fully appreciated by the inhabitants of Mount Magnet as telegraphic facilities were urgently required by this extensive mining centre. The Progress Committee hope soon to congratulate you on the completion of the telegraph line to Lawlers from Mount Magnet. B. B. Hill, Honorary Secretary, Mount Magnet Progress Committee."

"The Minister for Mines and Post and Telegraphs—The Mount Magnet Progress Committee congratulate you on the remarkably rapid completion of the telegraph line to Mount Magnet. They wish to express their great satisfaction in now having telegraphic communication with the capital of the colony and the outside world. We thoroughly admire the abilities of Mr. McKenzie, the engineer in charge and his effective resourcefulness. The further extension of the line to Lawlers from Mount Magnet in now desirable to give that rising district the mining and business facilities provided for this important goldfield.

After other congratulatory wires were sent, an adjournment was made to luncheon at the One and All Hotel and success was drunk to Lawler's, Menzie's, Cue and Mount Magnet and also to Mr. McKenzie who effected all arrangements for the transmissions in a masterly manner. It is hoped he will be repeatedly at Mount Magnet when he starts constructing the telegraph line to Lawler's, some of the material for which is already at Mount Magnet.

No message was sent to Mr. Illingworth M.L.A., because it is generally thought that he is not to be politically trusted since it has become known that he did not oppose Clause 11 when the Bill was before Parliament".

On 22 June 1896, the West Australian noted that "In consequence of the increase of the telegraphic business between Perth and Cue, it has become necessary to install the duplex system between the two stations. This alteration will be carried out shortly".

On a lighter note, the Mount Magnet Miner of 7 August contained the following:

"There is a lonely telegraph office not far from Magnet to which the mulga scrub creeps up on all sides but one. It is an elegant structure, though the solitary operator can stand on the floors of its spacious verandahs and gaze in vain for a sight of a human being.

The operator was sitting one day and dreaming of the glorious future that lay before the office he ocoupied when he heard light steps on the verandah close to the door. He looked up and a smile of pleasure lightened up his countenance at the thought of a visitor or perchance a customer. His glance met the maturing gaze of three emus who had come to demand by what right their ancient domain had thus been trespassed on. Legend does not tell whether the lonely operator entertained the visitors at lunch or whether he invited them to walk across to the pub (about three quarters of a mile) for a refresher.

The lot of the bush postmaster is not always a happy one - but it is sometimes relieved by such incidents as the above".

The Mingenew to Mullewa link.

As the importance of the Murchison Goldfields became recognised, the Telegraph Department began planning an extension of the lines to enable a more direct connection to the Goldfields line which would by-pass Geraldton. The Geraldton-Dongara coastal route was subject to the deleterious weathering effects of any coastal situation. In addition, Geraldton was the gateway to the north and it made sense to ease the pressure of transmissions on that center. Hence another branch of the line south and east from Geraldton was announced (The Western Australian 10 March 1897):

"Great satisfaction is expressed at the decision of the Government to construct the telegraph line from Mingenew to Mullewa. This being the great stock route from the north-west, the efforts of a few persons at Yalgoo to effect a diversion of this connection to that centre is regarded with so much disfavour that residents, stockowners and business people feel that neither the Minister nor the Postmaster-General, with the information at their command, will entertain a suggestion so preposterous. The distance from Mullewa to Minginew is under 50 miles while that Mingenew to Yalgoo is 110 miles".

The West Australian of 12 March 1897 reported on a deputation asking that a telegraph line be constructed from Mingenew to Yalgoo via Gullewa, so as to accomodate the miners and settlers in that locality:

"The Minister, in reply, said the chief object of the deputation appeared to be to secure telegraphic communication for Gullewa but it also appeared that they advocated, instead of the line decided upon by the Government from Mingenew to Mullewa, it would be preferable to construct one from Mingenew to Yalgoo via Gullewa.

The object of the proposed  Mingenew-Mullewa line was in the first instance to facilitate the work of the Department. The coast telegraph line between Dongarra and Geraldton was subject to damage by the sea air to such an extent that it was sometimes difficult to transmit messages. To facilitate the despatch of the messages from the Cue and other goldfields, as well as the cables from London, it was necessary to find an alternative route.

After due consideration it was decided to take the line some way inland as far as Mullewa - thereby giving the goldfields an alternative line and thus enabling all the business from that centre to be forwarded through Mullewa. The object of the line was to provide a good circuit, and that could be done more successfully by the Mingenew-Mullewa line than by the Mingenew-Yalgoo line. The distance from Mingenew to Mullewa was fifty miles and the cost of that line would be £2,800. The distance from Gullewa to Yalgoo was 35 miles and the cost of that line would be £1,800, while a line from Mingenew to Yalgoo via Gullewa - 110 miles, roughly - would cost £5,800. To connect Gullewa with the telegraph system to the north could be done 30 percent, cheaper than by connecting it with Yalgoo.

He did not see that it mattered much to Gullewa so long as it was connected with the telegraph system at some point - either Yalgoo or some other spot as the question of distance would not matter to them. The department intended to construct the line from Mingenew to Mullewa. As to an extension from some point to Gullewa it would be considered and as it was the desire of the Government to give facilities to any settlements which were developing the gold-mining industry, and as he was agreeably surprised to find there were so many people in the Gullewa district, he was inclined to think they were entitled to some facilities. The Government did not expect these new telegraph lines to pay at once, and he was inclined to think that an expenditure of £1,800 on a line from Yalgoo to Gullewa would be justified.

As Mr. Alexander and Mr. Phillips had said that they felt it desirable to go to this expense, he was inclined to look upon the matter in a most favourable light; and, as far as he could see now, he would most probably recommend that that expenditure should be incurred, so as to put Gullewa in communication with the other parts of the colony. His reply to the deputation, therefore, must be that the department would construct the Mullewa-Mingenew line and also take steps at an early date to connect Gullewa with the telegraph system of the colony".

The deputation thanked the Minister for his promise".

The W.A. Record reported on 10 April 1897 that on the previous Tuesday (6 April) the local member Mr. Phillips said he had just heard that

"the Government were having the telegraph poles for the Minginew-Mullewa telegraph line carried by camels instead of teams. As he was going to Perth the next day, he would inquire into it. (The Chairman of the meeting here stated that four weeks ago he had written to the Postmaster-General asking if tenders had been called for, and informing him that there were plenty of local teams idle, but he had received no reply)".

The Nannine to Peak Hill line.

The West Australian reported on 14 April 1898 that:

"A large meeting was held at Peak Hill last night to urge upon the Government the necessity of the immediate construction of the telegraph from Nannine. Mr. J. Inglis presided. The meeting was convened to impress upon the Government the urgent necessity of attending to Peak Hill requirements, especially in the matter of a telegraph. It was considered that the district was fairly entitled to the small favour asked. Mr. Frank Reed, the manager of the Peak Hill mine, moved that the Government be requested to instruct the department to proceed with the erection of a telegraph line from Nannine at once. The motion was seconded by Mr Heddley, of the Golden Treasure mine, and was carried unanimously".

The Murchison Times of 16 April 1898, followed up the report of the meeting with the following description:

"Since my last visit, about 18 months ago, Peak Hill has grown into a town of respectable proportions. It occupies an excellent site, about a quarter of a mile distant from the Conical Hill, which gives the place its name. The streets are broad and well-kept, and as the ground falls away on every side, the site is about as good as any on the Murchison. There are three hotels, several stores, many private dwellings and a large and well furnished Post and Telegraph office, but there is no telegraphic operator for the simple reason that the line stops at Nannine - over a hundred miles away"

The West Australian of 18 April showed the Government acted quickly: "The Peak Hill, it is stated, is to be connected with Nannine by telegraph (a distance of 90 miles), the work to be commenced almost immediately".

The Murchison Times followed up with more information on 21 April 1898:

"We have been informed by Mr. E. D. Fels, the local Postmaster, that Mt. A. McKenzie, the Supervisor of construction of telegraph lines in Western Australia, will shortly arrive in Cue for the purpose of pulling down the old telegraph line to Cue. This line, which has done service for years along the old track to Mullewa, is no longer required as a wire has been stretched along the railway line on posts that will withstand twice as much strain as the old posts. The old line will be pulled down between Melville and Cuddingwarra and between Yalgoo and Mullewa and the portions of the line that are serviceable will be erected between Nannine and Peak Hill. Therefore the quest of the Peak Hill people is already on a fair way to being granted".

The survey for the 90 mile line was completed in July 1898. Construction began by the end of that month under the supervision of Mr. A. McKenzie.

On 17 August 1898, the West Australian reported:

Last evening the Nannine-Peak Hill telegraph line was opened as far as Abbots.

As soon as communication was established Mr. H. E. Kenny, the member for North Murchison, received the following telegram from Mr. B. J. Mason, a leading mine proprietor at Abbots:"Congratulations and thanks of residents here on communication being opened".

In reply Mr. Kenny despatched the following message: " Sincerely thank people of Abbots and yourself for your kind expression. Hope telegraph will mark an era of renewed prosperity for your district".

The West Australian of 11 October 1898 announced that " Peak Hill was connected by telegraph yesterday". Much toasting to various people involved followed but especially to Mr. McKenzie and his staff.


Lawlers to Wiluna.

On 28 July 1898, the Perth Daily News reported that "Lake Way or Wiluna as the town is known officially badly wants telegraph communication with the outside world, and as the Public Works Department, has promised £3,000 towards the new road from Nannine, a strong effort effort should be made to have a telegraph line constructed at the same time".

In the Assembly of 17 December 1899, mention was made of the Government's intention to erect a telegraph line from Mt. Sir Samuel to Wiluna. Then, on 22 February 1900, came news that Parliament had approved the construction of a telegraph line from Lawlers (in the Goldfields) to Wiluna. About 16 June 1900, advertisements appeared in the Gazette and various newspapers calling for "Tenders to be received at the Public Works office, Perth, up to noon on Tuesday, the 3rd July, 1900, for the erection of post offices at  Wiluna (Lake Way) and Mt. Sir Samuel, and police station at Wiluna". On 3 July, Crooks and Brooker were announced as having submitted the lowest tender for the construction of the Police Station and the Post Office at Wiluna.

On 7 November 1900, the Premier announced that telegraphic communication had been opened with Wiluna. He received telegrams of congratulations from the Warden at Lawlers and from the Chairman of the Wiluna Progress Committee.


Problems arose concerning the hours of opening of telegraph offices especially those in the Murchison Goldfields. The West Australian of 12 March 1897 reported a typical example of the considerations to be made with respect to this problem:


"Mr. Phillips, M.L.A., had an interview with the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs yesterday morning and asked that the telegraph offices at Moora, Mingenew and other provincial places should be kept open longer than at present. He explained that under the present system at the intermediate telegraph stations between the city and Geraldton, such as Mingenew, Moora, &c, the offices were only open for three separate half hours during each day, namely, about 9 a.m., 2 p.m., and 6 p.m.; and it would be a great convenience if the hours were extended. He hoped the offices could be kept open after 6 p.m.

The Minister, in reply, said some stipulation limiting the hours during which offices should be opened was necessary, owing to the immense amount of work on the line including the cable traffic with London and the Murchison goldfield traffic. While those messages were being sent forward, the intermediate stations had to be shut off. So far as he could see, there was only one remedy which was the erection of more wires.

Mr. Alexander, M.L.C., who was present at the interview, asked the Minister how the work of extending the additional wires between Perth and Geraldton was getting on and whether the work had been carried out yet as far as Mingenew. Mr. Wittenoom, in his reply, said he must defer answering that question until he had had time to look the matter up".