Western Australia - Colonial: 1861-1900.
Eucla and the Telegraph Office.

The Eucla Telegraph Station is remembered through the following sections:

  1. the geographical location of Eucla.
  2. the buildings at the Telegraph Station;
  3. the inside room of the Station;
  4. the staff and the families at the Telegraph Station;
  5. aspects of the work outside;
  6. features in the area surrounding the Telegraph Station.
Eucla map
Eucla is just on the western side of the Western Australia - South Australia border.

For those who have not been there for some time, it is important to reiterate that Eucla is at the centre of everything (as the signpost indicates).

The Telegraph Station opened on 8 December 1877. Its status changed to a Post & Telegraph Office in 1895.

No special date stamp has been recorded for use with telegrams at Eucla.

 

Sign post
Eucla 1914
Usual postal date stamp.
12 May 1913.

 

The Telegraph Office.

The Eucla Telegraph Station was the largest station on the 1877 East-West Telegraph line It acted as a transfer point for telegraphic messages between South Australia and Western Australia from 1896 to 1905 at which time the operations were amalgamated under the Western Australian Post and Telegraph Department.

The weatherboard station erected at Eucla in 1876 served its purpose for twenty years.Then, to meet the needs of the enlarged staff and equipment due to the gold discoveries, a fine stone building together with separate stone quarters were built at a cost of about £6000.

A substantial jetty, running out into five fathoms of water, was completed in 1887, by Contractor Wishart, under the direction of Public Works Superintendent Fairgrieve.

A really wonderful first hand account of Eucla and life at the station is provided by Frederick G. Simmons in the Adelaide Mail of 4 August 1945.

Old station
The Eucla Telegraph station and other buildings 1905.
Source: Museum of South Australia B54057_5.
Eucla 1905
The Eucla Telegraph Station about 1905.
Source: Museum of South Australia B54057-1.
Registrars
The Registrars Office at the Telegraph Station 1902.
Source: Museum of South Australia B54057.
1956
The Eucla Telegraph Station about 1956.
Dunes
The Telegraph Station about 1980 - overcome by sand dunes.
Photograph by Yewenyi.

Inside the telegraph station.

Eucla JNJInside the Telegraph Office - dividing partition down the middle of the desks so that Western Australian operators sat on the western side and the South Australian operators sat on the eastern side. The holes in the dividing partition enabled the operators of one Colony to pass messages to those from the other Colony for retransmission.

Provenence: Gundersen, Johnstone.

TO 1
Inside the Telegraph Office - dividing wall taken down after the realisation of the room having the same time zone.
Source: National Library of South Australia B54060-12
.
Eucla telegraphsThe operating room housed three sets of automated repeaters.
The large roll of paper tape for recording messages for one machine can be seen under the clock.

Provenance: Johnstone.

 
Messages
Staff member (probably Albert Lionel Clayer) with a sign next to him summarising the messages.
The sign reads:
"EUCLA
direct SA 1905
T to C
Number of messages
5,240.
Source: Library of South Australia B54060-13.
 

 

The staff and their families.

Staff 1898
The staff at the Telegraph Office in 1898.
Source: National Library of South Australia B35784.

Staff
The South Australian staff at the Telegraph Office in 1905.
Source: National Library of South Australia B35782.
Residents 1905
Residents of the Eucla Telegraph Office in 1905.
Source: State Library of South Australia B54060-8.
picnic
Telegraph Office families picnicing near Eucla in 1905.
Source: State Library of South Australia B54060-33.
Women & children
Women and children at Eucla.
Source: State Library of South Australia B54060-27.
 
Family picnic
A family picnic.
Source: State Library of South Australia B54060-29.
Family
The Groper family in Eucla about 1905.
Source: State Library of South Australia B54060-26.
To SA
A family setting out for Adelaide.
Source: State Library of South Australia B54060-63.
 

 

Aspects of the life outside the Telegraph Office.

Line workers
South Australian workers at a camp on the outskirts of Eucla.
Source: State Library of South Australia B54060-11.
Moving camp
South Australian line workers moving camp.
Source: State Library of South Australia B54060 - 10.
Tennis
The Eucla tennis courts.
Source: State Library of South Australia B54060-60.
Billiards
Staff billiards about 1907.
Source: State Library of South Australia - B49181.
Mail to FB
Mail being sent to Fowlers Bay in South Australia.
Source: State Library of South Australia B54060-15.

Coolgardie
West party departing Eucla to construct the telegraph line to Coolgardie.
Source: State Library of South Australia B54060-21.

Swagman
A swagman with his barrow and possessions passing by Eucla on his journey through the desert.
Source: State Library of South Australia B54060-40.
Donkey
A large donkey train pulling a wagon and passing through Eucla.
Source: State Library of South Australia B54060-24.
Camel team
A large camel supply team arriving at Eucla about 1905.
Source: State Library of South Australia B54060-22.
 

 

Features in the area surrounding the Telegraph Station.

Ride 1
Going for a relaxing ride near Eucla amongst sandlewood trees.
Source: State Library of South Australia B54060-40.
10 miles
View from 10 miles west and looking across the plain towards the telegraph station 1905.
Source: State Library of South Australia B54060-35.
Jetty
The Jetty at Eucla in 1902.
Often used for delivery of supplies and equipment from vessels like the Iris shown in the background.
Source: State Library of South Australia B54057-6.
To Bight
View from the Telegraph Station towards the Great Australian Bight - about 1980.
Photograph by Yewenyi.
Wilsons BluffWilson's Bluff on the South Australia-Western Australia border and looking towards South Australia.
Source: State Library of South Australia B54060-34.
 

The monument at Eucla erected in July 1958.
The inscriptions read:

Erected
as a tribute
to
the staff who
manned and maintained
the EAST-WEST
TELEGRAPH SERVICE
between
December 1877 and March 1927.

C. W. Davidson, Postmaster General
and
Minister of the Navy, July 1958.

The establishment of the
East-West Telegraph Service
in December 1877
linked Western Australia
with the Eastern States
and through the North-South Telegraph Line
between Adelaide and Darwin
with Great Britain
& the rest of the world.

Monument

Thanks to the State Library of South Australia for assembling a 101 photograph collection and making it available to the public on the internet in an easy-to-access format.