Western Australia: 1869-1900.
Telegraph lines in the Southern Region.


The southern region is defined for the purpose of describing telegraph line construction as being the area:

The main lines constructed in this region were:



First line to Albany via Kojunup.

The original intention for the first line south to Albany was to construct the line from Perth to Bunbury and then via Bridgetown to Albany. As noted elsewhere, Albany had the only deep-water port in Western Australia and was the first port of call for ships with mail.

The Electro-Magnetic Telegraph Company commenced work on the line to Bunbury while the eastern line to York was still being constructed.

The advertisement to the right shows the requirements for both the line to York and the proposed line to Bunbury.

One of the first reports of the construction was published in the Perth Gazette on 24 February 1871: "The Contractor for the erection of the posts along the lines of this company is doing his work both rapidly and satisfactorily ... On the Albany line the posts are erected to within two miles of the Canning Bridge".

EMTC advert
Advertisement appearing in the Perth Gazette on 29 September 1871.

The Perth Inquirer of 28 February 1872 reported on the Annual Meeting of the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph Company held in the Town Hall on the 6th February. The Directors' first Annual Report was submitted to the shareholders, embodying a brief statement of the progress made in carrying out the provisions of the Company's prospectus. The following extract from the Report will be interesting to our extra-colonial readers:

"The posts are all erected in the Southern Districts section between Perth and Pinjarrah and Bunbury and the wiring party, under the Superintendent, Mr. Fleming (who deserves the highest praise for the celerity with which this service was performed on the Eastern Line) are now engaged in erecting the wires and insulators on the line to Pinjarrah and Bunbury, which latter place may be expected to be in communication with Perth in about a month's time ... A dividend of 6 per cent per annum for the half-year ending 1st September last, was paid to those shareholders who paid up their shares in full and a second dividend at the same rate will be payable on the 1st March next, which will be distributed to all the shareholders in proportion to their shares and from the dates they have paid their respective calls".

As an example of costs, the Mandurah to Pinjarra branch line was tendered at £17 15s per mile.


The alternative route via Williams and Kojunup.

The southern route to Bunbury proved to be too difficult for construction partly because of the need to cross the Darling Range. The route selected as an alternative to that via Bunbury was via Kojonup and Mount Barker - which were down the Albany Road. The line from Perth and Fremantle extended via Canning and Armadale and down to Williams. This followed one of the old Aboriginal trade routes to were Albany is now. For that same reason it was also the most common track to follow on horseback.

The Perth Inquirer of 4 October 1871 reported this decision to change the route as follows: "We understand that it has been decided by the Electric Telegraph Company to connect the metropolis with Albany by the wire along the main line of road instead of by Bunbury via Bridgetown as was first proposed. The line to the Southern districts will be a tributary one".

The Annual Meeting of the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph Company on the 6th February was informed:

The line to Albany is not progressing as fast as the Directors could wish, only about 40 miles having the posts erected thereon. This has been owing chiefly to the heavy clearing required. But the contractor will now be able to push forward faster as very little clearing will be required on the Sound Road after leaving the Bannister (Ed: Bannister was about half way to Williams).

It was the intention of the Directors at one time to have carried the line to Albany via Bunbury and Bridgetown and tenders were called for the work. But upon having the line surveyed by the Electrician from Albany to Bunbury, such insuperable difficulties presented themselves and Mr. Fleming's report was so opposed to that route, that the directors felt themselves bound to agree with Mr. Fleming's recommendation, more especially as the Government also signified their opposition to this line. The Directors decided to carry the line as proposed in the first instance, and as laid down in the prospectus, viz., along the mail road to Albany. The contractor is bound under a heavy penalty to have the posts erected to Albany by the 1st July and, as the wiring party will follow him closely, it is hoped that six months' work at the farthest will finish the undertaking. (Perth Inquirer, 28 February 1872).

The Perth Inquirer of 27 March 1872 kept its readers up to date with the following report: "The work on the south eastern line, connecting the mail packet station at Albany, 256 miles distance, progresses and we understand that a temporary station will be opened at Williams River about the end of next month. This will give us English and Intercolonial news at least one day earlier, until the line is carried through to Albany, when we shall benefit by three days earlier intelligence than the mail conveyance brings. The introduction of the Telegraph is altogether a great improvement in our local affairs, and we are assured it will be felt more and more a public convenience throughout the Colony".

A communication dated 1 July was sent by a correspondent at Williams to the Fremantle Herald (published 13 July 1872):

"Wait till telegraphic communication is established between here and Perth and I will send down weekly despatches as the events, accidents and offences which may from time to time occur in this flourishing and extensive settlement. At present I am dependent upon the regular but infrequent postal services for the transmission of my epistle or upon the more irregular if more constant means of communication with the great metropolis afforded by teams taking sandalwood ... Here at the bridge, on which I am sitting as I write, we are 101 miles from Perth - a considerably shorter distance than from London to Birmingham - and yet we have only a monthly mail. Advance Australia! particularly the Western portion of it though the prospect is not of the brightest. How shall we poor people between earth and heaven - I mean between Perth and Albany - send and receive letters when the mail service from India ceases to call in at any of our ports. By telegraph perhaps, and that reminds me that I have one piece of good news to communicate, namely that the telegraph posts are all erected as far as this place, and I hear that the wires will be soon up. You shall have the first message sent if I can possibly raise the money to pay for it. Have you perhaps made any arrangement with the Government to be allowed to receive telegrams free of cost?"

The Fremantle Herald of 20 July 1872 also gave a progress report of the construction to the south: "The progress of the telegraph construction party on the Albany has been seriously hindered by the severe and inclement weather of the past few weeks, but through the untiring efforts of the indomitable and indefatigable superintendent Mr. Fleming, the works are now so far completed as to allow of telegraphic communication as far as the Williams River where a temporary station has been erected. The first message between there and Perth was transmitted on Thursday last and the line is now open for public business. This will enable us to receive English and Colonial news twenty four hours earlier than heretofore".

Further down the road was Kojonup - the centre of a large wool producing area and a staging place on the road to Albany. It had an established Police Station and hotel. Being about 250 kms from Perth, Kojonup was in a good position to serve, in the first few years, as a repeater station. After fulfilling that role, Kojonup opened as a Post & Telegraph Office in May 1875.

Mount Barker also had a Police Station and a Coach house as well as a special chapel. The Police Station was also used as the Telegraph Office from 1871 to 1873.

In the early 1880s, intermediate Telegraph Offices were opened along the line. Most stations were added because they served a special need in a district. For example, Arthur River was an important wool growing district located 24 miles from Williams and 35 miles from Kojunup. It was also important for its supply of sandalwood. The Telegraph Offices at both the other places were difficult to access so, in November 1881, a petition was raised seeking a telegraph office on the Jarrahdale-Kojunup line. It was noted that "in cases of sickness or accident, the line would be invaluable. From a financial point of view also, a telegraph station would be more remunerative than country stations usually are from the fact that the settlers only receive one mail a fortnight".

A correspondent of the West Australian also suggested on 27 January 1882 "that, if possible, a person should be placed in charge of the telegraph office (at Arthur River) - supposing it to be granted - who should have the power to issue cart, carriage, dog and sandalwood licenses. At the present time, when any such licenses are required, a journey either to Kojonup or to the Williams is found necessary, taking the better part of two days to accomplish. No doubt this might be satisfactorily arranged, as I have suggested, greatly to the advantage of the neighbouring settlers".

Tenders were called at the end of 1885 for the construction of a duplicate Perth-Albury line and work began on the duplicate line in February 1886. The cost was tendered at £742 19s with new poles and/or new struts as required at 5s each.

Telegraph lines - especially those in harsh environments - need to be constantly inspected and repaired. "An official inspection of the posts along the Perth-Albany telegraph line has been made previous to the work of duplicating the wire being commenced by the contractor (Mr. J. Elsegood). The result is that over seven hundred posts have been condemned as unfit for future use and these will be replaced without delay. Hitherto sawn square posts have been used but it has been found that the round posts last longer and therefore they will be substituted for the decayed square ones along the line" (The Inquirer (17 March 1886)).


Line south to Bunbury and Busselton.


The line to Bunbury.

The Bunbury area was named by the Governor in recognition of Lieutenant William St. Pierre Bunbury who developed the very difficult inland route from Pinjarra to Bunbury.

"The Eastern telegraph lines, connecting Perth and Fremantle with Guildford, Newcastle, Northam and York together with the Southern lines, connecting Pinjarrah and Bunbury, are now fully opened to traffic which, we believe, exceeds the anticipations of the promoters of the undertaking. The number of messages transmitted during the months of January and February amounted to 1,486 and this number will, without doubt, be greatly exceeded as the Telegraph gets into general use.

In July 1878, the Governor was "pleased to set apart" the land as a public reserve comprising one hundred acres for a roadside well near the 1,266th telegraph pole between Pinjarrah and Bunbury.


The Bunbury to Vasse (Busselton) line.

On 1 November 1872, the Perth Gazette noted that "The tenders for telegraph posts between Vasse and Bunbury went up last Saturday. We are anxiously looking forward to the time when this line is in full working order". On 7 December 1872, the Fremantle Herald noted that "The telegraph extensions to Geraldton from Newcastle and from Bunbury to the Vasse will be proceeded within the course of a few weeks". By March 1873, the telegraph posts between the two places in the Southern Region were all but erected and the wiring party was about to commence its work. Unfortunately the Fremantle Herald of 22 March 1873 reported:

"After a long interval Mr. Jas. Manning has been once more to visit us and to pass or examine some public works. He has been obliged to condemn a large number of telegraph poles (about 75) on the Bunbury line as well as to find fault with the clearing. I think a careful inspection must endorse his opinion. Some of the poles are a perfect disgrace to a district boasting of its timber. The foundation of the (Bunbury) Telegraph and Post Office will be laid almost immediately".

Some difficulties did arise - the Fremantle Herald noting on 26 April 1873 that "The contractors for the work of extension of the telegraph line between Vasse (Busselton) and Bunbury are only awaiting the arrival of the wire from England to complete their work". The correspondent for the same newspaper noted in a despatch of 4 August 1873 that "the wire for our telegraph has not arrived yet". On 4 October the Herald updated its readership with the news that " The telegraph wire is on its way down in the Argo; there is some chance therefore of the Vasse becoming civilized before long".

The first lines opened communication from Perth to Vasse (Busselton) via Pinjarra and Bunbury in November 1873. On 13 December 1873, the Fremantle Herald reported that "the Telegraph has now been in operation for ten days and must have done some good already, if we may judge from the fact, that during the first week no less than 70 messages were sent and about as many received".

The West Australian Times of 5 August 1879 reported on an investigation into several suggestions about the extension of the telegraph lines: "In pursuance of a resolution passed by the Legislative Council last year, His Excellency the Governor appointed a commission to report on the best route and the probable cost of establishing telegraphic communication ... between Pinjarrah and Mandurah, and Bunbury and Bridgetown. The commission consisted of the Surveyor General, the Director of Public Works, and the Superintendent of Telegraphs. In their report, presented to the legislature last week, the committee estimates that with regard to the extension from Pinjarrah to Mandurah, the cost of the line and a station at the latter place is estimated at £800; and the cost of a line between Bunbury and Bridgetown is set down at £2,550 The commission add that, they are unable to find a single fact to lead them to consider the construction of either of these extensions expedient".

Along the coast, many intermediate Telegraph Offices were opened during the 1890s at places including Donnybrook (Preston), Dardanup and Capel (Coolingup). A branch line from Mandurah to Pinjarra (rejected in the 1878 inquiry) was also opened - it having been tendered at £17 15s per mile.

A line to Collie was also constructed from Bunbury in 1898 (a year after the town was gazetted). It is not known whether this line was just to link to the coal fields there or whether it also served to link with the first line at about Mount Arthur. One account at least seems to indicate the telegraph line to Collie was almost an after-thought following the construction of the railway to Collie in February 1898. Certainly any link was independent of the Collie-Narrogin rail link 20 years later.

A major expenditure for the Post & Telegraph Department was repair and maintenance of the network. Unfortunately, the real funds required were not always allocated. As example of the many problems throughout the Colony, it was noted in the Legislative Council on 7 September 1882 that "the working of the telegraph between Bunbury and Perth was in bad condition - scarcely a day elapsed when there was not great difficulty in getting a message forwarded. The Superintendent had been asked as to the reason for this problem and had been informed that a junior telegraph operator at one of the stations was so deaf that he could not hear; he was otherwise a good boy and could perhaps be transferred to some other employment".

The area was relatively quiet in those days although Bunbury had received a major boost from the shipments of materials for the telegraph lines along the south-west coast. Nevertheless, even the March 1909 Bunbury Herald suggested that "the whole population in those days seemed to fish all day and play euchre all night, except Sunday, which was religiously spent under the purview of the Rev. David Buchanan, the respected Congregational parson of those free and easy times".


The line beyond Vasse (Busselton).

The second session of the first Parliament under Responsible Government was opened on Monday 7 December 1891 by His Excellency the Administrator and in his speech he noted that the survey of the line from Busselton to Hamelin was in progress.

The major extension from this line was, in 1893, that further to the south to Karridale and then to Cape Leeuwin in 1898. Karridale was the centre of major timber operations cutting down the large Karri trees. The township of Karridale, which existed at that stage, was however destroyed by bushfires in 1961 and a new township was built a little to the north-east. Cape Leeuwin is the most south-westerly mainland point of Australia and a lighthouse was constructed there in 1896 - making it essential to have telegraphic communication with Perth.

In 1886, the line was extended to the south-east from Bunbury to Bridgetown which had been gazetted as a town in 1868 - despite its rejection in the 1878 Report noted previously. Bridgetown was at the centre of a major agricultural area and a number of important buildings had been constructed in the town including a school, a Post Office and two hotels. Later, in 1892, it too was to be subjected to a gold rush for a short period. The cost of this line between Bunbury and Bridgetown was tendered at £18 10s per mile with re-wiring as required at £1 10s per mile.

In 1896, the line to Bridgetown was extended to Balbarrup to the homestead of John Giblett and his three daughters who had been responsible for the postal services to the entire district since the early 1860s (as summarised in a wonderful account by John Stewart for the ABC). This extension was questioned by some. For example, the Bunbury Herald of 16 November 1895 carried the comment:

"The telegraph line to Balbarrup is drawing near to a completion and will be finished in about three weeks time. The Government do some strange things. They construct a line to Balbarrup where there are only a few settlers but the Upper Blackwood, where there are nearly double the number of people, they ignore. But it is easily to be seen which way the cat jumps. There is splendid land around Jayes and the Upper Blackwood and if we had a line there, it would become too public". (p.3)


The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse.

A lighthouse was erected at Cape Leeuwin - the extreme south-westerly point of the Australian continent. The lantern and lighting apparatus for the lighthouse was shipped to Perth by the steamer Gulf of Siam (Wagga Wagga Express, 23 January 1896). It arrived in October 1896 but the equipment was not installed immediately.

The West Australian of 7 November 1896 had the following information:

"A notification has been published stating that on and after the 10th December 1896, a light will be displayed from the new lighthouse on the extreme point of Cape Leeuwin. The light is revolving, of the Faux Eclairs, or lightning flash lights type, and will show a single flash of white light every five seconds; duration of flash one-fifth of a second, eclipse four and four-fifths seconds. The tower is cylindrical in form, 135ft. in height from base to vane, and is of a natural stone colour. The focal plane of the light is 185ft. above high water and the light will be visible all round the horizon from a distance of 19 miles in clear weather. The subsidiary light formerly advertised will not be exhibited. The approximate position is latitude 34 deg. 22min. south and longitude 115 deg. 8min. east". 

The opening arrangements were reported by the the Perth Inquirer of 27 November 1896 as follows:

"The ceremony of turning on of the light at the new lighthouse at Cape Leeuwin will be performed by Sir John Forrest on December 10 in the presence of a small but select company. On account of the difficulties of obtaining accommodation in the neighborhood, only a few invitations have been issued. Mr. M. C. Davies, of Karridale has asked about 20 people to make his home their headquarters at the time of the ceremony. The party will leave Perth on the evening of December 8 for Busselton, arriving there early next morning. They will thence drive 65 miles to Karridale, stopping at the Margaret River for luncheon. Karridale will be reached that night and, on the following morning, the journey will be continued - the distance from there to Cape Leeuwin being 20 miles. The opening celebration will take place soon after the arrival of the party on the scene and, after this function has been performed, luncheon will be partaken of and probably a few formal speeches made. The party will then return to Karridale and will probably spend a portion of the following day (Saturday) inspecting the famous local caves. Perth will be reached on Sunday the 12th".

The Daily News of 11 December 1896 reported the opening ceremony as follows:

"Karridale December 10.

The Perth visitors arrived a Cape Leeuwin at midday and, as they reached the lighthouse, which stands on a rocky point running from the mainland, the formal proceedings began. Sir John Forrest, accompanied by Lady Forrest, Messrs. F. H. Piesse, and S. Burt, Bishop Riley, Sir George Shenton and a large number of others, ascended the spiral staircase to the lantern tower, &c, and under the guidance of Mr. T. Taylor, the representative of Messrs. Chance and Co., of Birmingham, the makers of the magnificent light, ignited the wicks of the lamp.

Mr. Taylor then minutely explained the mechanism of the light, which is a marvellous piece of work. Quite as delicate as the works of a watch is the apparatus that causes the light to revolve and the enormous lantern, which is composed of numbers of prisms with the 108-candle power lamp inside, slowly turns round and flashes a light equal to a quarter of a million candle power, towards all points of the compass at regular intervals. The light will be visible in ordinary weather at a distance of about 20 miles.

Shortly afterwards Mr. G. T. Poole, Assistant Engineer-in-Chief in a brief speech requested the Director of Public Works to take possession of the lighthouse on behalf of the department and the Government. The Director of Public Works, requested Sir John Forrest to dedicate the lighthouse to the world at large. It would, he said, be of great help to those mariners who were accustomed to visit the colony, especially in time of storms.

The Premier thanked Mr. Piesse for the very kind manner in which he had asked him to dedicate the lighthouse for public use and he assured them that it was very gratifying to him to have the opportunity of doing as they desired. He referred to the desire of the colony to have a lighthouse there. The successive Governors had endeavored to bring about the work, and the late Sir Frederick Napier Broome had sought the cooperation of the other colonies in the carrying out of the work, as at that time the colony was unable to undertake the work itself. In the 1890 Loan Bill, an item providing funds for the erection of the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse appeared. In February, 1891, he asked the Legislative Assembly to grant the necessary funds for the work. So it would therefore be seen that nearly six years had elapsed from the time when the Legislature acquiesced in the vote until the work was completed. Various things contributed to the delays, but of all the difficulties the question of the site was the most troublesome. Many other delays had occurred, but all the difficulties had been overcome the work having been completed with the colony's own funds (Cheers). It was not a work for this colony, which had no large merchant service of its own. The ships that came here were owned in other parts of the world, and he would therefore repeat that the construction of the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse showed that this colony, with its own resources, had desired to do its duty, not only to its own people, but also to all the nations of the earth. (Cheers.) Sir John then read a declaration embodying the terms of the dedication, as follows : On behalf of the Government and the people of Western Australia, I dedicate this lighthouse, erected at Cape Leeuwin, the extreme south west-point of the Australian continent, to the world's mariners.

The Bishop of Perth (Dr. Riley) then offered up the following prayer: That this light may be a light of hope for those in danger and distress, and a light of welcome for those who come to these shores, and for ourselves we pray that as we toss upon the stormy main of life we may always see before us burning brightly the light of truth and at last reach the haven where we all would be. Sir George Shenton added his congratulations. The Director of Public Works then handed over the charge of the lighthouse to the chief harbormaster Capt. Russell. Capt. Russell replied and the dedication ceremony was completed".

It was not long before agitation to improve communication from the various Western Australian lighthouses began. For example, the Daily News of 6 March 1897 outlined the problems as follows:

"The inaccuracy of the Fremantle Post Office shipping board and the lack of method in reporting movements of vessels, coastwise and intercolonial, are a matter of unvarying public adverse public comment. The public would be convenienced if the arrivals at Albany, Geraldton and off Rottnest were immediately posted on a shipping telegraph board. This latter could be accomplished by a telephone from a signal station to a post-office. A system of direct telegraphic shipping intelligence - coastal at say 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., intercolonial at 9 a.m. - would be of immense public benefit, and some such methodical system as ruling in eastern colonies should be adopted in the shipping port of W.A. (Fremantle). The (Steamship Owners) Association congratulates the Government on the completion of  Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse and hopes soon to learn that a regular system of telegraphic reports of passing vessels will be arranged".

The Telegraph Office at Cape Leeuwin was opened in February 1898.

Second line to Albany via Katanning.

An alternative telegraph route is always considered as a desirable precaution in case of local disturbances which break lines or take down poles. This issue of interruptions was a much debated one in various places. For example, in Albany:

"At a meeting of the Political and Progress Association, held last night (4 February 1891), the question of the proposed telegraph extension from Beverley to Broome Hill was discussed. It was unanimously decided that the Government be urged to extend the line to Albany. It was pointed out that the settlers and business people south of Broome Hill have to depend on the Land Company's telephone, that all trade from Katanning comes to Albany and that a telegraph line is badly needed. It was also urged that the recent interruption on the line showed the necessity for duplicating the line, the existing one being in continual danger from bush fires and falling timber".

The opportunity arose for this option to Albany soon after. The second session of the first Parliament under Responsible Government was opened on Monday 7 December 1891 by His Excellency the Administrator and in his speech he noted the construction of the telegraph line from Beverley to Broome Hill will be undertaken as soon as the material arrives.

Construction of the railway line between Beverley and Albany had begun in October 1886. There was therefore a great opportunity to duplicate the Perth to Albany telegraph line by linking with the railway line.

In 1889, the Great Southern Railway created a railway station at Narrogin because it provided a safe, plentiful supply of water on the route from Perth to Albany. A town began to develop there and Telegraph Offices were opened in 1893 at Narrogin and at Wagin, just down the railway line. The two towns were not however to be gazetted for another four years.

A Telegraph Office was also opened in 1893 on the telegraph line at Katanning - which was the centre of a major wheat belt - and the day after at Broomehill.


The Breaksea Island Lighthouse

Breaksea Island is a small island in King George's Sound off Albany. The original lighthouse was built by convicts in 1858. In 1902, the cylindrical granite tower which we know today was constructed.

The Perth Inquirer of 5 August 1885 detailed the laying of the cable to the Island as follows:

On Thursday morning, the 16th July, the mail steamer Parramatta arrived at Albany from Colombo after a very quick passage of 10 days and 9 hours. She had on board the telegraph cable for Breaksea Island. This was discharged into the schooner Walter and Mary by the torpedo men of H.M.S. Opal, and was completed by 5 p.m. The next day the cable was tested by Mr. E. H. Innes and Lieutenant Moore of H.M.S. Opal, and it was found the insulation was perfect.

At 2 o'clock on Saturday morning, the steam launches Loch Lomond and Perseverance, accompanied by the steam pinnnace of the Opal, started for Nanarup with the schooner in tow. Through the courtesy of Captain Brooke, at the request of His Excellency the Governor, he had consented to send an officer and a number of men to lay the cable. Accordingly just before 3 a.m. the launches left the harbour with 25 blue jackets under command of Lieutenant Moore; Captain Butcher, Harbor Master, and Mr. E. H. Innes, telegraphist, accompanied the party. The schooner, with the cable on board, was towed at the rate of about four knots, and the wind being from the north, it was resolved to commence to lay the cable from the mainland.

Just before daybreak the vessels reached the point fixed upon, a sandy beach between Herald Point and Nanarup Boat Harbor, where a strong post had been placed to which to lash the end of the cable. After breakfast was over, the sun was just rising and a party of bluejackets were sent into the boat harbor to land and take the end of the line attached to the cable. The man-of-war's dingy then took a line which, after two or three failures, was thrown on shore. The surf on the beach was very heavy, so that the boat had to remain outside the breakers. The line was caught by the men on the rocks and carried to the post. The first time however it caught on the rocks, and a fresh line had to be past on shore. This was done, and the end of the cable buoyed was cast off from the ship and was soon hauled ashore.

The mainland shore end was then made fast to the fixed post and, to the other end on the schooner, a small battery was attached to test the insulation. This was found correct and the party on shore embarked again leaving two men behind. No sooner had they left the shore than the galvanometer showed that something was wrong. This was however found to be the end of the cable touching the land and establishing the connection. By signals from the schooner, this was soon rectified and, with little delay, the launches were ready with their tow lines fast and the anchor was weighed. The vessels then proceeded at the rate of about two knots direct for Breaksea Lighthouse, the cable being paid out from the hold over a derrick to the stem, where an admirable brake had been fixed under the superintendence of Mr. Beal, carpenter of the Opal. The galvanometer was still attached to the end onboard, which would indicate the slightest leakage or defective portion of the cable when it touched the water. The instrument was carefully watched by Mr. Innes and showed that the insulation was perfect all the way across.

At one o'clock, after making a curve round Michaelmas Island, the schooner's anchor was dropped within twenty yards of Breaksea landing place. The distance traversed had been about four miles so there was quite half a mile of cable to spare as it was four and a half miles long. There was no difficulty in effecting a landing at Breaksea, as there was little swell, and the boat could go up to the steps. After cutting off the surplus length, the end was landed and hauled taut and lashed to the jetty. This was completed at 3 pm., when Lieutenant Moore, with the steam pinnace and crew, steamed back to the mainland, while Mr. Innes landed at Breaksea with instruments to complete the test.

In the meantime, the launches, with the schooner in tow, had started for town. About a mile from Breaksea Island one of the pipes of the Loch Lomond burst and the Perseverance had to do all the work towing the Loch Lomond as well. This caused very slow progress and it was past seven o'clock when the town was reached. Just as the schooner dropped anchor off the coal jetty, the steam pinnace came up and Mr. Innes reported that the insulation of the cable was perfect and had stood every test.

The promptness with which this work has been carried out is very creditable and we trust that the Government will act with equal despatch in having the land lines completed and connection made between the lighthouse and tie telegraph office. The length of cable over will be quite sufficient to complete the line across the entrance to Oyster Harbor and lay a second line for the Breaksea telegraph. — Albany Mail.

On 1 September 1885, the Albany Mail reported that "Tenders are to be sent in by noon tomorrow to the Government Resident's Office for the erection of the land connections with the  Breaksea Island Submarine Cable from Oyster Harbor to Nanarup and from the landing place at Breaksea to the lighthouse".

It was not long before operational difficulties became evident. For example, the Albany Mail of 19 January 1886 reported "Now the telegraph cable is laid from Nanarup to Breaksea Island and two wires have to cross the entrance of Oyster Harbor at Emu Point, it is necessary that some means of transit should be offered at the latter place for horses, in order to save the long journey entailed by going round by the Kalgan Bridge. If a break occurs in the line on the East side of Emu Point, it is necessary for the lineman to travel nearly 40 miles to do work at a point only seven miles from the town. Two days ago, a couple of men had to cross Emu Point to repair the new Breaksea line. They had been there the week before but, being unable to cross the strait, returned. Hearing there was a boat at the Point they went there last Sunday. The boat was seen at the hut on the other side but they could make no one hear. After waiting a couple of hours, one of them swam across and fetched the boat. This was a plucky action, as the place is infested with sharks and the tide runs very strongly. We suggest that the Government should spend about £150 on a punt at this strait, which would be a convenience to travellers to the eastward as well as a ready means of obtaining access to the Harbor".

Further complications were reported by the Albany Mail in May 1886: "The Superintendent of Telephones (Mr. W. J. Hancock) has been for some time in Albany in connection with establishing telephonic communication between Breaksea Island and Albany. The Public Works Department have made a mess of the undertaking and incurred far greater expense than necessary. At first it was intended to have the usual Morse instrument, but it was subsequently decided to have communication by telephone and the land lines were run on the telegraph poles for 7 miles, 5 miles of new line also being laid. Mr. Hancock, who is a telephonic expert, has represented to the Government that telephone wires on telegraph poles do not work satisfactorily, as the strong electric current on the ordinary telegraph wires, interferes with that for the telephone. Consequently it has now been decided to run the Breaksea wire on independent poles to the Harbourmaster's house and thence to the telegraph station. This will cause another month's delay. The Breaksea end of the line will, however, be finished on May 5".

On 28 May 1886, the West Australian reported the next stage in the saga:

" The Director of Public Works yesterday received a most satisfactory telegram from Mr. Hancock who has been engaged recently in establishing communication by electric cable between the lighthouse and signalling station on Breaksea Island and Albany. It was the Director's desire that the communication should be telephonic, as much the simplest and least expensive. A submarine cable had not, however, we understand, ever before been practically utilized for this purpose, and when Mr. Hancock started upon the work, failure was freely prophesied and some anxiety as to the result was felt.

This has now been wholly removed and the practicability of Mr. Wright's proposal proved, for Mr. Hancock was in a position yesterday to report that from Emu Point, where the cable reaches the land, he had been able to converse with ease by telephone with the lighthouse residents, and even to distinguish one voice from another. The success of the experiment is now considered to be fully established.

The cable at Emu Point is not yet connected with Albany, but this work is being pushed forward as rapidly as the supply of poles available permits. This Breaksea signalling station has for years been urgently required. It will prove of the greatest value to the shipping of our neighbours, will considerably add to our revenue from telegraphs and, indirectly, cannot fail also specially to benefit Albany".

On 29 June 1886, the Acting Colonial Secretary announced that Breaksea Island had been connected to Albany by cable and that vessels could henceforth be reported. On 21 July, the Perth Inquirer reported:

"telephonic communication is now established between Breaksea Island and the Pilot Station. The wires run on separate poles from Emu Point. A prison party, under Warden Passmore, are now engaged in erecting a new line of poles from Nanarup to Emu Point. Recently Mr. Hancock, Inspector of Telephones, went to Breaksea and adjusted the instrument and all vessels that have come in during the past few weeks have been reported by telephone to the Harbor Master at the Pilot Station".

The Albany Mail of 31 July 1886 gave the following report:

"The telephone cable to Breaksea Island is now completed, communication having been established with the telegraph office by way of the pilot station. The cable runs from the island to Nanarup and the wire on separate posts to Emu Point, across which passage it is conveyed on high poles, giving sufficient room for small vessels to sail under. From Emu Point the line runs direct to the pilot station watch-house, where there is an instrument. The harbor-master can now communicate with the telegraph office or with Breaksea, and the light keeper and telegraph clerks can communicate directly with each other. All steamers and ships now arriving and passing the Sound are signalled, and the lightkeeper has a copy of the commercial code of signals by which he can read the numbers of any passing vessels if they fly their flags.

The establishment of Breaksea as a signal station is therefore complete and its advantage will be at once apparent to the maritime world. On Wednesday Mr. Hancock, Superintendent of Telephones courteously invited our representative to inspect the instrument at the Telegraph Office and speak to Breaksea. He was able to do so, and the lightkeeper recognised his voice. The loud ticking of the Morse instrument in the office rather interferes with the distinctness but the words were quite audible. When the place is quiet every syllable is heard clearly".

Captain H. K. Toll was appointed Lighthouse Keeper at Breaksea Island in August 1886. He also had an assistant Light Keeper plus a reserve assistant (Albany Mail, 25 August 1886).

The Western Mail of 25 December 1886 noted the importance of Breaksea Island, King George's Sound as follows:

"The value of Breaksea Island as a signalling station will henceforward be considerable.

It is the first land made by inward-bound mail steamers after passing Cape Leeuwin. There has long been a lighthouse on the island, but until it was connected with the mainland by cable the signals exhibited by vessels as they went by were only useful to enter in the lighthousekeeper's book, and could not be transmitted to the eastern ports of Australia. All P. and O. steamers are telegraphed from the Sound because they turn aside to land mails at Albany; but Orient steamers until lately were not heard of, though spoken with by the Breaksea signalman, until they arrived within sight of Cape Borda, Kangaroo Island, where they bear up for Adelaide.

The steamer Orient was signalled off Breaksea Island on Saturday, and thus persons expecting friends or letters or cargo had time to prepare for the landing of mails and passengers in Adelaide on Monday. After this we shall have as early notice of the coming of Orient, Messageries German, and other mail and passenger carrying steamers from Europe as we have hitherto had of P. and O. steamers. The cable across the Indian Ocean keeps us in daily communication with London, so we are not so dependent as we used to be on the mail steamers for important news.

But in time of war the sea and land lines of telegraph may be interfered with and Breaksea Island is the first point at which news coming by water can be dropped by steamers which desire to avoid turning out of their course to call at Albany. Hostile men-of-war may be seen off the Australian coast by mail steamers, and they will be able to hoist signals, putting us all on our guard, as they pass the lighthouse. Breaksea Island will besides be an excellent station in itself for detecting the approach of ships of war. The enemy will either have to give King George's Sound a wide berth, or risk being observed and reported. The first requirement of men-of-war on entering Australian waters will be coal; and the only outlying ports at which it will be obtainable, provided they are strong enough to seize it, are Albany, where supplies are stored, and the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, which is the site of working mines. Without coal, a powerfully-armed fleet would soon become helpless from its inability to move about; and herein lies one of our safeguards against attack".