New South Wales - Colonial period: 1858-1900.
Lines in the Central West region.

The Central West region of New South Wales is defined in this site as being the region as:

  This map extends to the North Central region. This map extends to the North East Region.
This map extends to the western section of the Central North region (see map below).
  This map extends to the Riverina-Murray Region. This map extends to the South East Region.
  This map extends to the North Central region.  
This map extends to the Far West Region. This map extends to the eastern section of the Central North region (see map above.
This map continues to the remaining part of the Riverina-Murray region.
  This map continues to the remaining part of the Riverina-Murray region.  


The lines in the Central West Region of NSW are described as follows:

1. The line to Bathurst.

1.1: Preparations leading to the tender.

1.2: The route to Bathurst and construction.

1.3: Post construction.

2. Lines to the north of Bathurst.

2.1: North from Hartley to Mudgee.

2.2: Mudgee north-west through Dubbo and Trangie to Nyngan.

2.3 Mudgee north to Gilgandra.

2.4: Mudgee north-east to Cassilis and Murrurundi.

2.5: Muswellbrook north to Cassilis.

3. Line west from Bathurst to Orange and Forbes. (60-62)

3.1: To Orange.

3.2: To Forbes.

4: Orange north to Molong and Wellington. (77)

4.1 Wellington north-west via Dubbo to Narromine and Nyngan.

5: Forbes north to Parkes. (75+)

6: Parkes to Molong.(67).

7. Parkes via Peak Hill to Dubbo.

8. Lines south from Forbes to Grenfell and Young (67).

8.1. Lines from Forbes to Young.

9: Lines from Young.

9.1: Young to Wagga Wagga.

9.2: Burrowa to Young.

9.3: Young to

9: Yass (Southern line) via Burrowa to Young. (66--67)

9.1 The Yass to Burrowa line.

9.2: The Burrowa to Young line.

9.3: The Young to Murrumburrah.

10: Bathurst south-west to Cowra and Grenfell. (71+)

11: Bathurst south to Goulburn. (79-80)

12: Forbes south-west via Condobolin and Hillston to Booligal. (76+)

13. Euabolong - Mount Hope. (83)

14: Cootamundra to West Wyalong.


"The introduction of the telegraphic system into this colony has been attended with very beneficial results, both as a remunerative public investment and as the most convenient means of forwarding commercial and other intelligence. In the latter respect the telegraph is particularly valuable in a country where the mountainous character of the interior and the want of large and navigable rivers render ordinary communication tedious and slow. The palpable benefits derived from tho construction of the telegraph between Sydney and Melbourne induced the Legislature last session to vote money for its extension to the great centres of trade in the Western and Northern districts" (Sydney Morning Herald 12 November 1859).


1. The line to Bathurst.

In 1851, Edward Hargraves had found gold found in quantity and announced his find in a hotel in Bathurst. Other discoveries were made during the 1850's at Sofala and Hill End. Hence, Bathurst was the first gold centre in Australia.

Bushrangers soon became numerous in the area from the late 1850s. In 1862, John Piesley was the first of the bushrangers to be hanged in Bathurst Gaol. Ben Hall - one of the most famous bushrangers (although a local of Murrurundi) - carried out his first robbery (with four of his friends) in Bathurst in October 1863.

From 1862, Cobb & Co. relocated the centre of its operations to Bathurst. There was, therefore, throughout the period from the mid-1850's a significant need for telegraphic communication to serve the gold prospectors as well as to monitor law and order.

In addition, Bathurst was then the centre for trade in the western districts.

1.1 Preparations leading to the tender.

A notice was tabled in the Legislative Assembly that Mr. Henry Rotton would ask the Honourable the Minister for Lands and Works on 8 June 1858 "Whether the Government has any intention to establish telegraphic communication between Sydney and Bathurst, in accordance with the recommendation of a Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly in 1856". On 24 June 1858, Michael Fitzpatrick of the Department of Public Works wrote to Mr. Rotten at the Sydney Club to indicate that "the Chief Commissioner of Railways, has been requested to report on this matter without delay, as it is the desire of the Government, that the work should be speedily carried out. As soon as the report in question shall have been reviewed a further communication will be made to you".

On 3 September 1858, the Sydney Morning Herald published a Parliamentary Paper - Report of the lines to Bathurst and the Hunter by Captain Martindale dated 13 August 1858:

Sir,—In reply to your letter of the 26th June last, requesting me to report the estimated cost of establishing telegraphic communication between Sydney and Bathurst, and Sydney and the Hunter, the routes which the lines should follow and the stations to be established, I have the honor to report:

1. The line to Bathurst should be constructed along that of the proposed railway to Penrith, and thence follow generally the direction of the main road to Bathurst. The length of the line would be about 107 miles; the estimated cost £10,500: the stations might be Parramatta, Penrith, Bowenfels, and Bathurst.

2. The line to the Hunter should leave the southern and western lines at Parramatta and follow the main road to Windsor, thence to Wiseman's Ferry and, via Wollombi to Maitland, and from Maitland along the line of railway to Newcastle, and the proposed extension to Singleton.

The length of the line as far as Newcastle would be about 142 miles. The estimated cost £13,000. The stations might be at Parramatta, Wollambi, West Maitland and Newcastle.

The additional length of line from Maitland to Singleton would be twenty-eight miles and would require an additional sum of about £3,000, which may be taken as a separate vote.

The terminus on the Hunter should be Newcastle. I have not been over this country myself but I have put myself in communication with persons well acquainted with this part of the colony and, from the information they have been good enough to give me, I recommend this route.

It will be observed that I propose to take the line by way of Windsor to Wiseman's Ferry in place of by the direct road. The distance will be thus increased by about 5 miles but the trifling additional expenses thus incurred will be, I conceive, amply repaid by placing in telegraphic communication with Sydney so important a neighbourhood as that of Windsor, at as early a period as practicable.

I have, etc.,

The Honorable the Secretary for Lands and Public Works. 

On 10 November 1858, the Legislative Assembly dealt with a paper which had been postponed. "The vote for £10,500, for the electric telegraph to Bathurst provoked strong opposition, on the ground that such works should be left to private enterprise. In defence of the vote, it was urged the great importance of the Western Districts, and the Secretary for Lands and Public Works stated the Government had received information of gold in one finding to the amount of 120 lbs. weight having been obtained, and it was reported that another find of 90 lbs. weight had occurred. The vote was eventually passed, by a majority of 20 to 11".

On 21 February 1859 the Department of Lands and Public Works advertised in the Government Gazette for:

"tenders for the supply of material (wire excepted) and for the workmanship necessary for the erection of a line of Electric Telegraph from Parramatta by the line of Railway or main road according to the Superintendent to Bathurst ... the Government supplying the telegraph and binding wire in Sydney".was laid upon the Estimates for "

The advertisement also called for, Tenders for the construction of a line to Newcastle from the Blacktown Road (between Parramatta and Penrith).

By November 1859, An additional wire was being stretched upon the old poles to Parramatta, to link with the extensions to Maitland and Bathurst. It was anticipated that link would be finished before the end of that month - approximately about the time when both lines would be ready for working. The telegraph office at the Parramatta Railway Station was to be used for forwarding messages to and from Sydney pending the completion and opening of a new Parramatta station on the western extension to Penrith.

By December 1859, "The instruments for the Hunter and Bathurst lines (which have been ordered from Messrs. Henley and Co. of London and are shortly expected) are on a somewhat novel principle - the ordinary Morse register being worked by a permanent magnet thus entirely dispensing with the use of main batteries".

Nearly ten years later, on 16 April 1868, an amount of £3,718 was laid upon the Estimates for "one half the cost of telegraph line from Penrith to Bathurst, along the line of railway, chargeable to telegraphs".


1.2 The route to Bathurst and construction.

Construction of the 90 mile line began on 23 May 1859. The line started from Parramatta and followed the railway line to Penrith, thence up by Knapsack Gully to the main road near the Pilgrim's Inn. It was then constructed generally along the north side of the main road to Mount Victoria whence it passed along the flat at Little Hartley. It rejoined the main road and followed it to Mount Lambie deviating so as to go around its base. The telegraph line then rejoined the main road near Thorp's Pinch and followed it to Bathurst. The route therefore avoided the circuitous detours which the precipitous character of the country required the main channel of communication to take.

The contract price for the construction was £51 per mile. In early July, the posts for the Bathurst line had been erected for many miles beyond Penrith. By early August, the posts were up as far as Hartley and it was expected the line would be finished in October - about the same as the line was expected to open to Maitland. On 5 November 1859, the Goulburn Herald informed its readers that the line to Bathurst had been completed and that "the erection of an office with usual working apparatus is now all that is necessary in order that the telegraph may be brought into complete operation"
AH - That is the tricky and unexpected bit. Who would have thought an office was needed also?!?!?!?!

The poles and wires for the 132 mile line from Parramatta to Bathurst were in place in December 1859. Again communications had to await the connection of the batteries. It was anticipated that these would be connected quickly under the charge of the Assistant-Superintendent of Telegraphs, who was to "initiate operations". The Bathurst Telegraph Office was temporarily established at the Court House. It opened on 29 December 1859.

Lithgow, to the east of Bathurst, was not incorporated into the telegraph line until 27 February 1877.


1.3 Post construction.

The Sydney-Penrith-Bathurst telegraph line opened for traffic on 29 December 1859 with the Telegraph Office being part of the Court House - not unsurprising that even at that stage, no decision had been made even as to where the Telegraph Office should be located. At that time, the line to Bathurst was only opened for messages at either end of the line.

The lack of the necessary instruments delayed the opening of the intermediate stations at Penrith and Hartley for a few weeks. Perhaps that delay was just as well because, in the massive floods of January 1860, the Nepean bridge at Penrith had nearly 20 feetjust over 6 metres. of water above it. The Sydney Morning Herald of 13 March 1860 reported:

"The telegraph to Bathurst, which crosses the same river at Penrith as that crossed at the Hawkesbury, also sustained some injury from the floods. The poles carrying the wires, which were fixed along the Penrith bridge, were completely carried away by the branches of trees and other debris brought down by the violence of the swollen stream coming in contact with them. The cause of the interruption being discovered, it was promptly remedied by the provision of a lead-covered gutta percha wire, which was fixed to the parapet of the bridge. Telegraphic communication with the western districts was only suspended three days and has not since been interrupted".

Telegraph Offices in temporary locations were opened on 23 March 1860 (at Penrith) and on 23 April 1860 (at Hartley). The Gazette of 12 March 1860: "Tenders are advertised for by the Government for the erection of telegraph stations at Hartley and Bathurst ... Each building is to be tendered for separately and the tenders are to be received up to the 17th April next".

Just before that opening, the Sydney Morning Herald of 12 November 1859 announced that "An additional wire is being stretched upon the old poles to Parramatta, to unite with the above extensions to Maitland and Bathurst, and will be finished before tho end of this month, when both the above lines will be ready for working. The telegraph office at the present Parramatta railway station will be used for forwarding messages to and from Sydney pending the completion and opening of the new Parramatta station on the western extension to Penrith".

About six weeks after the Bathurst line had been opened, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, on 13 February 1860, that "The line to Bathurst, which has been in use for a few weeks, has attracted a fair amount of business - the advantages of instant communication with the metropolis were at once recognised and are becoming daily more appreciated. The working of the western wires has been remarkably free from interruptions. Both the western and the northern lines are now worked by Morse's magnetic instruments which are found to act better than the voltaic batteries in operation on the other lines. It is intended, we believe, to use the former description of instrument on all the future lines".

The Sydney Morning Herald of 14 April 1860 reported yet another effect of legislators not attending to their responsibilities expected by the electors:

"The unfortunate delay in passing the Estimates for the present year has put off, in common with many other important works, the further extension of the telegraphic system throughout the country. Many of the rising and important centres of inland trade would, by this time, have been placed in immediate communication with the metropolis by means of the telegraph had the proposed appropriations been made, as they should have been, before the close of last year. It is intended to continue the northern telegraphic line - which now terminates at Maitland - to the southern frontier of Queensland, passing trough Singleton, Scone, Murrurundi, Tamworth, Bendemeer and Armidale. The western line which now ends at Bathurst is to be extended to Orange and Mudgee. Those works will probably be sanctioned by the Assembly in a few days, and will be at once undertaken and tenders called for their construction.

"The western telegraphic line was, on its completion to Bathurst, available for the transmission of messages only between that town and Sydney. A fortnight since (23 March), a station was opened at Penrith. Although at present a comparatively small amount of communication has arisen with Penrith, the business will be considerable on the completion of the western extension of the railway to that town, now in progress. A telegraphic station will be opened at Hartley in a few days (see above)".

The presence of the bushrangers around Bathurst threatened the operation of the lines. For example, on 28 February 1862, "Mr. Lewis, telegraph line inspector, was stuck up this afternoon, near Guyong (on the Bathurst to Orange line) by four mounted men who pulled him off his horse. He resisted and a desperate encounter ensued. Mr. Lewis struck one of the men with the blunt end of his axe and hit another behind the ear with the sharp edge knocking them both down. They fired at him — the ball passed through his hat - and he escaped unhurt but his horse was stabbed".

In the Gazette and various other sources in June 1860, the following advertisement appeared:

"The Government have advertised for tenders to be sent in until Tuesday, 24th July, for the construction of upwards of 750 miles of telegraphThe other two lines (included elsewhere) were for:
1. In the Riverina-Murray from Gundagai to Wagga Wagga and Deniliquin.
2. The Northern line from Maitland to Queensland.

3rd. From Bathurst via Sofala, Tambaroora and Louisa Creek to Mudgee, an estimated distance of 97 miles.

4th. From Bathurst to Orange, an estimated distance of 36 miles.

The payment to the contractor will be made in monthly installments to the extent of £90 per cent on the value of the work certified by the Assistant Superintendent of Telegraphs to have been completed, and the remaining £10 per cent when the entire contract is satisfactorily completed".


2: Lines to the north of Bathurst.

2.1: North from Hartley to Mudgee.

At the time, there was considerable debate about where a telegraph line to Mudgee should start - Bowenfels, Hartley or Bathurst.

Bowenfels: On 7 February 1860, the Bathurst Free Press reported "Several public meetings have been held at Bowenfels with the object of affirming this place as preferable to Hartley for a Telegraph Station. Captain Martindale, it is said, has recommended Bowenfels. Situated at the junction of the Mudgee and Bathurst roads and, having out of six hundred Electors, four hundred nearer to Bowenfel's than to Hartley, are the arguments used and thought to be sufficient reasons why Bowenfels should be preferred".
Hartley: A public meeting held on Tuesday, lst May 1860 is reported in the Mudgee papers when a petition to the Executive Council was adopted, praying that the telegraph from Sydney to Mudgee might proceed by way of Hartley instead of via Bathurst".
Bathurst: The Examiner of 28 July 1860 reported that "the Western extension of the telegraph will connect Bathurst with Mudgee by way of Sofala, Tambaroora and Louisa Creek - a distance of 97 miles. A more direct line to Mudgee could have been taken from Hartley but it was considered desirable to connect some of the rising and populous townnships on the Western gold-fields".



Mining activities required telegraphic facilities to be made available north of Bathurst. Hence a link was made to Sofala (15 May 1861) and then through to Mudgee (16 May 1861). Intermediate telegraph stations were later opened at Tambaroora (1 January 1870) and at Wattle Flat (29 July 1889).


In June 1860, tenders were called for four telegraph lines - one of which was from Bathurst, via Sofala, Tambaroora and Louisa Creek, to Mudgee - an estimated distance of 97 miles. The 1872 image of the telegraph office in Tambaroora should really be viewed (its # 14 on the list) along with the other great pictures of Tambaroora from the Mitchell Library!!! On 9 November 1860, some late news from the Sydney Morning Herald noted that a tender had been accepted from Mr. Macauley for this 97 mile line from Bathurst via "Sofala, Tambaroora. Louisa Creek, Windeyer, Grattai and Mudgee at a cost per completed mile of £44. The tender was accepted on the 31st July last and the time for completion is six months from the notification of the acceptance of the tender". The Armidale Express of 17 November 1860 noted that "the works on the line of telegraph between that town and Bathurst are progressing very favourably. It is also understood that an extension to Dubbo is to follow".

A branch line was constructed from a point just north of One Tree Hill (now Mount Victoria) to Mudgee in 1861. At that time, the Telegraph Office had not been opened at One Tree Hill (that happened in 1868) and there were no intermediate stations before the line reached Mudgee. The reason why this line was constructed was that Mudgee was also significantly affected by the discovery of gold and it was therefore was a more convenient point than Bathurst for many prospectors. On 1 November 1860, the Mudgee Newspaper reported:

"We understand that works on the line of telegraph between here and Bathurst are progressing very favourably, the line having been cleared, posts delivered and holes sunk to near Wyagden from Bathurst outward. It is estimated that the first section from the last named town to Sofala will be completed in a month or five weeks from this date. There are several parties working on various parts of the line so we may expect to see the telegraph completed to our town in about four months.

We understand before long it is intended to extend the electric wire to Dubbo. This will be a profitable, useful and beneficial extension - that town being the last of departure for the cattle of our north western and other districts en route for the Melbourne, Adelaide and other markets thereby materially assisting the sale and purchase of stock and bringing squatters residing in town in daily intercourse with their squattages".

On 18 February 1861, the Sydney Morning Herald noted, in its update of line construction, that "The other Western line —from Bathurst to Mudgee — a length of nearly a hundred miles, is in a forward state. This line will pass through the most important gold-fields in the Western district. A large portion of the country to be traversed is very mountainous, the wire having to be carried along the backs of the ranges forming the heads of the various watersheds of the diggings. The sinking for the poles is consequently very difficult, blasting being constantly necessary, owing to the existence of rock. The wire was fixed as far as Sofala, twenty-seven miles from Bathurst, several weeks since and, at the date of our last accounts, twelve miles of posts and two miles of wire had been completed. Besides this, a commencement is being made about Tambaroora".

The Sydney Mail of 23 February 1861 had been in contact with Mr. Steele, the surveyor of the telegraph line, who informed them that the road had been nearly surveyed to Louisa Creek and Mudgee and there was a hope that, in about a month or two, communication with friends at a distance might be possible. The line to Mudgee was completed at the beginning of May "but its opening awaits the choice of a terminus". Such a common story. The opening of a Mudgee Telegraph Office somewhere (perhaps at the Court House) took place on 16 May 1861 - and that was very soon after Mudgee had been proclaimed a municipality.

The Telegraph Office at Sofala was opened a day before the Mudgee opening - on 15 May 1861 - along the line between Bathurst and Mudgee. Tambaroora opened on 3 October 1862. By April 1872, there were reports that "The large increase in the telegraphic business mining development of the Tambaroora district, renders it necessary for the Government to make some arrangement to increase the provision of the department in that respect".

The Gazette of 30 May 1874 called for tenders "from persons desirous of contracting for the erection of a line of electric telegraph from Mudgee to Ryalston, an estimated distance of 30 miles, to be completed in two months at the rate of not less than 5 miles per week". In the Legislative Assembly of 13 June 1876, Mr. Burns stated, in answer to a question, that there did not appear to be sufficient business at Ryalston to warrant the construction of a Post and Telegraph Office.


2.2: Mudgee north-west through Dubbo and Trangie to Nyngan.

Tenders were invited to construct the Mudgee-Wellington line in January 1862. The sum of £8,400 had been placed on the loan account for a Mudgee to Wellington telegraph line by the Legislative Assembly on 16 December 1861. Construction of the line was commenced running to the north-west from Mudgee to Wellington. By May 1862, the line was cleared 25 miles from Mudgee, holes had been sunk for 20 miles and posts had been erected for 15 miles. No wire had been stretched at that stage. The 48.5 mile Mudgee-Wellington line was completed in 1862 for a cost of £43 per mile. The Wellington Telegraph Office opened on 12 September 1862.

Later a telegraph line was constructed from Orange to Wellington - it being completed in June 1876.

Extensions of the gold mining telegraph required lines to Dubbo through Hill End to be constructed. Dubbo was at the cross-roads of important coach links from east to west and from north to south. Indeed, the stimulus for growth about the 1860s was the increased trade brought about by the Victorian gold rush. In October 1862, the Legislative Assembly approved the inclusion in the 1863 Estimates of £2,600 for the construction of a 35 mile telegraph line between Wellington and Dubbo at a cost of £41 10s. per mile.

By April 1864, construction had commenced subject to the arrangement with the residents that the Government would receive five per cent on the outlay. By July the Wellington-Dubbo line was completed. The Superintendent's Report for 1863-64 noted that the extension from Wellington to Dubbo had been completed.

Immediately after the line from Mudgee to Wellington had been opened at the end of 1862, work commenced to extend the line to Dubbo. A sum of £2,600 was placed on the Estimates for this Wellington to Dubbo line in October 1862. This construction was completed during 1863. This line was one of several which had been underwritten by the inhabitants of the district. They were responsible for the annual payment of 5% return on the capital used for the lines after the provision for the working expenses.

In the Legislative Assembly of March 1869, £2,400 was placed on the Estimates for the construction of a line from Bathurst to Carcoar and Cowra - which had been guaranteed.

In 1870, massive floods swept through NSW. Wellington has the Macquarie River on one side and the Bell on the other. "The two rivers on Saturday morning the 23rd were more than bank high. At the bridge, the top pieces of timber connected to the last pier in the middle of the river were washed away. The piles that are driven into the bed of the river are standing, and I believe no other damage is done to the building, which is being very strongly constructed by the contractors. Dr. Bohme had to clear his things out of his house, the water being right through it. A great deal of fencing has been destroyed. At Fisher's Fall, the water was up to tho top of the telegraph posts".

During the discussion in the Legislative Assembly of 21 January 1877 about possible railway extensions, one of four possible railway routes being noted was that extending the Bathurst-Dubbo line north-west to Fort Bourke. Details of the route were not provided but such a line would access the upper reaches of the Darling and would also intercept traffic from Queensland. Certainly such a route would not constitute a good line of telegraphs because it would miss many large centers of population. In addition, the reaches between stations would require (non-paying) repeater stations for no benefit.

In October 1875, Mr. William Corneille was awarded the tender to construct the line of telegraph from Dubbo to Warren.


2.3: Mudgee north to Gilgandra.

Lines north from Mudgee were constructed to Cobbora (18 May 1881) and Mundooran (13 February 1882). A telegraph office was opened in Gilgandra on 4 August 1882 but it cannot yet be determined if that line came from Mundooran or from Coonabarabran. In 1882, a line north from Gulgong to Mundooran was constructed.

In 1864, a line linked Orange to Dubbo (12 November 1864) with a subsequent office at Molong (29 March 1876) - the telegraph office at Molong Railway station not being opened until 14 September 1894. After the Dubbo office was opened, there were few additions made until after 1875.

After tenders had been called for the construction of the line from Mudgee south-east to Rylstone in May 1874, the line was completed on 8 March 1875 - Rylstone Railway Station also opening a Telegraph office on 14 September 1894. The line was also extended to the north-west from Dubbo to Warren (26 October 1876) en route to Cannonbar (26 November 1878). Much later, a second line to Nyngan via Trangie was constructed (1 August 1887).

In 1880, a short line was constructed between Mundooran and Gulgong.

In 1890, there was major activity around Wellington at which time the line from Dubbo would have been linked to Mudgee. On 30 July 1883, an office was opened at Maryvale followed by five offices within a radius of less than 20 miles from either Wellington or Molong:


2.4: Mudgee north-east to Cassilis and Murrurundi.

In his Report for 1861, Cracknell made special note of a new line from Mudgee. At that time, it was not decided whether to take the line from Mudgee to Muswellbrook or to some place further north - even as far as Murrurundi. It was felt that the further north the connection was moved, the more advantages would accrue. It was always considered that Cassillis should be on this junction line.

The costs for the Mudgee to Murrurundi line were voted in the Legislative Council on 14 April 1864. Construction of the line commenced in July 1864.

The line to Queensland was a major consideration in subsequent planning. It had to be supported in every way to ensure minimum disruption and lessening of the load where ever possible. Cracknell was mindful of this policy when, in his 1864 Report (dated 14 December 1865), he noted:

"A satisfactory report is given of the condition of the lines (throughout the Colony) generally. Inconvenience through interruptions on the Northern line will be still further reduced on completion of the junction between Mudgee and Murrurundi, when there will be not more than 275 miles to the Queensland boundary unduplicated by a separate route. The lines in this colony appear during the summer months to be much more affected by lightning than those in the neighbouring colonies; and, to save injury to the instruments, the Superintendent has devised a simple "cutting out switch" to disconnect them from the line (the main batteries excepted). This plan has saved many instruments and much delay".

The line did pass through Cassillis (Office opened 26 April 1865) and joined the main line at Murrurundi having linked through Merriwa (Office opened 6 October 1865) also. The line was completed about February 1865. It was seen as ensuring more regular communication with the Northern stations in the Colony and with those in Queensland. That line also enabled an alternative route via Merriwa to Singleton. Later Cassilis became a key station on the important line through to Coonabarabran (1 May 1875) in the North Central region.

In his Report for 1865, Cracknell emphasised that "The line in progress from Murrurundi to Mudgee will ensure more regular communication with the Northern stations in this colony and those in Queensland and will be completed about the end of February 1866".

2.5: Muswellbrook north to Cassilis.

To supplement the Cassilis-Murrurundi link, a branch was constructed about three years later from the main Northern line at Muswellbrook. This branch tracked for a short distance southwest to Denman and then north-west through Merriwa to Cassilis (and later to Coolah in the North Central region). That area was then developing as a major agricultural area and had strong political connections through William Busby M.L.C. The connection via Merriwa provided an alternative telegraph route for traffic to a number of destinations from the north.

On 28 January 1868, the Legislative Assembly voted £800 for the construction of this line from Muswellbrook to Denman which had a guarantee attached. In July 1868, Thomas Smith accepted the contract to construct the line. It was opened on 5 October 1868.

The line was then constructed from Denman through Merriwa to Cassilis where it met the line from Mudgee. From Cassilis it branched:


3: Line west from Bathurst to Orange and Forbes.

Lines constructed to the west of Bathurst linked to the significant areas of Orange and Forbes but they also established the foundation for a more ambitious project to link through Lambing Flat (Young) to Wagga Wagga.


3.1: To Orange.

3.2: To Forbes (the Lachlan).

south-west to Forbes (aka the Lachlan Diggings). Forbes station opened 27th October 1862.

In his Report for the years 1863-1864, Mr. Cracknell stated that the Orange to Forbes line had been completed and that "extension had proved a valuable addition to the Southern intercolonial lines, and had reduced the interruptions between Sydney and Victoria to a minimum, in all amounting to six hours during the year 1864".

In 1882, a telegraph line was constructed from Orange west to Cudal. It was presumably a terminating branch line.


4: Orange north to Molong and Wellington.

In July 1875, £3,500 was placed on the Estimates for a line from Orange to Wellington via Molong. In the same month, the tender was awarded to Mr. W. Wright to construct the line of telegraph from Orange to Wellington.

The line to Molong was opened on 13 March 1876 by Mr. Cracknell, the Superintendent of Telegraphs. The people of Molong congratulated themselves on being placed by wire in commemoration with Sydney. A public dinner in celebration of the opening was held - the best spread ever seen at Molong.

By the end of April 1876, the line was completed to Baker's Swamp and was expected to reach Wellington about mid-June. And this prediction turned out to be accurate. The Sydney Morning Herald of 12 June 1876 reported

"The line connecting Orange and Wellington, via Molong, was completed at noon on the 10th instant (says the Wellington Gazette), when several townsmen met at the telegraph office and congratulated Mr. Wright upon the successful completion of the contract in the quickest time, for the distance, on record. It was stated that the posts erected were throughout of the most substantial nature and that some of them might be called trees. This connecting line will be a great saving of time to the inhabitants- of the North-west, as hitherto all telegrams have gone by Mudgee and Tambaroora, and the business upon the one line has sometimes been very great".

This line therefore opened access to the western area in the North Central region.

In the Gazette of 23 September 1890, the tender submitted by Messrs. Pantlin and Pidding was accepted to construct a line of telegraph from Molong to Wellington at £2 15s per mile and a line complete thence to Cumnock at £13 19 6d per mile, struts 9s each.


4.1: Wellington north-west via Dubbo to Narromine and Nyngan.

Tenders were called for the erection of the telegraph line from Wellington to Dubbo in January 1863.


5. Forbes north to Parkes.

Inter-town rivalry makes the heart beat faster. The Australian Town and Country Journal of 13 December 1873 printed the following:

"I notice by the telegrams in the daily papers, that Forbes will give us (Parkes) credit for nothing but our vices, for every telegram sent from here for the express purpose of drawing the attention of the authorities to this place, is made to appear as though it emanated from Forbes. But if it is mentioning an attempt to murder or to commit any other crime, we are sure to get all the credit of it.

And all this seems to be because we have no Telegraph Office here. Our Government appears quick to promise but slow to perform. The petition containing 800 signatures asking for a direct mail from Orange to Parkes via Boree and Bumbory, was sent from Parkes not from Forbes as would appear by telegram in the Herald. And I trust the Government will see to it at once for, as I have already stated, we must have the mail by this route, and that three times a week, so they may as well give it to us at once".

The Sydney Mail gave a glimmer of hope on 4 April 1874 by reporting "It is asserted that the Government intend soon to extend the line of telegraph to here (Parkes) and appoint a telegraph and postmaster". The Gazette of 30 May 1874 called for tenders "from persons desirous of contracting for the erection of a line of electric telegraph from Forbes to Parkes, an estimated distance of 24 miles, to be completed in five weeks at the rate of not less than 5 miles per week".

By July 1874, laments were reported in several newspapers such as "I hope Mr. Armstrong will stir them up with respect to the new court-house, and give them a rap at the same time about the telegraph and mails. We sent down a petition, with 1,200 signatures, about three weeks ago, asking for another mail per week, and I hear nothing further about it yet. Neither is there a word about the telegraph, which we should have had here eighteen months ago. Mr. Parkes, I hope, will not forget his offspring altogether, for I am sure it has borne a very fair character so far. He should see that it gets a fair share of its birthright or else it may be strangled in its infancy; if so, its blood be upon its godfather's head, and may the ghost of ruined homesteads and deserted villages haunt his parliamentary life as long as it lasts".

The Empire of 29 August 1874 reported that: "In the town, improvement seems to be the order of the day with the exception of the Government works. Some time back the tender of a Mr. Cotton was accepted by the Government for the construction of the Telegraph from Forbes to Parkes. But I can't yet see either him or the telegraph line".

A report - but perhaps not a progress report was printed in the Australian Town and Country Journal of 19 September 1974:

"Another week past and no word of the telegraph line from Forbes to Parkes being commenced; neither is there any tidings of the contractor. Only fancy a town doing, I believe, more business than any other in the western district, save Bathurst, being without a telegraph and only requiring 25 miles of line to be erected.

The Government is surely playing a game with us for they have promised us money to make a large water reservoir, not one penny of which has been expended. Yet they also promised us the telegraph, a new Court House, money for repairing the approaches to the town and to build two bridges across the Billabong Creek - none of these things have been commenced yet.

The Postmaster-General is also sending our mails as awkwardly as possible for they go round about 30 miles out of their way to get to Parkes. I cannot understand how it is that the postal authorities do not send the Sunday's mail direct from Orange to Parkes instead of sending it around by Forbes".

On 10 October 1874, the Australian Town and Country Journal reported: "There is great dissatisfaction expressed that our public works are not being carried on. I notice by the Parkes Gazette of last Saturday that the contractor and his sureties for the erection of the Court House at Parkes, are called for to sign the bond; but I have not heard yet of the call being responded to. Tenders were also called, about nine months back, for the erection of a Court House, which was not carried out.

Tenders were called about five months back for the extension of the telegraph to Parkes. The contractor is supposed to be a myth. Still there are no steps being taken for the acceptance of the next tender. Last month tenders were called and accepted for the erection of a Court House; this contractor is also supposed to be a myth. So I ask, what are we to think if those in authority allow themselves to be played with in such a manner; any person feeling inclined to have what he might call a lark could tender for all the public works in his district, and sign imaginary names to them, and thus torment the people, and make the Government appear ridiculous".

2 November 1874: the Empire reported "A Mr. Ahearn is about to commence the telegraph from Forbes to Parkes".

A meeting with a deputation from Parkes and the Minister of Works was reported in the Empire of 7 November 1874. In part, the deputation pointed out:

"The growing prosperity of Parkes was retarded in consequence of the want of several things that were urgently needed. A telegraph line between Parkes and Forbes was very much needed because, at the present time, to send a telegram from Parkes to any other place, it was necessary to go to Forbes - a distance of twenty-five miles, where the nearest telegraph station was. Application for such a telegraph line was made twelve months ago, but nothing had been done until recently, when it was believed tenders had been invited by the Government for its construction. It was mentioned that a court-house was needed in the town, but the deputation believed that tenders had been called for that work. The Post Office was carried on in a public-house and that was felt to be a great inconvenience for many reasons. The deputation hoped that the Minister for Works would bring that matter under the notice of his colleague, the Postmaster-General".

A progress item in the Sydney Mail of 19 December 1874 noted that "on Friday (18th) they were clearing the line within two miles of Parkes for the telegraph posts". Ah - now the good news and the bad:

"about 15 months back we were promised a reservoir, telegraph, repairs to our roads, and several other things, neither of which we have obtained yet; true the telegraph line is erected, but there is no working apparatus on the ground yet" (Australian Town and Country Journal 30 January 1875).

The Australian Town and Country Journal of 13 February 1875 brought its readers up to date with the lack of progress: "We are still without telegraphic communication, although the line has been finished for some time. It surely must be a great source of gratification to the business people to see a line of unsightly poles passing along between this town and Forbes with a wire stretched along the tops of them, answering no earthly purpose save to look at".

A telegraph line connection was made at Parkes on 17 March 1875. The telegraph office, together with the Post Office was in a public house.


6: Parkes to Molong.

At this stage (first half of 1875), the telegraph line from Forbes ended at Parkes while there were plans being prepared to extend the telegraph line from Orange through Molong to Wellington and the process of tendering that extension was close to advertising. As noted elsewhere, that line to Wellington was completed in June 1876.

A link from Parkes to Molong would therefore provide an additional circuit north from the Bathurst--Orange-Forbes in case of line breakages. Over a decade earlier there had been suggestions of a line south from Orange through Forbes to Lambing Flat (Young).

Then - a decade later on 15 August 1885 - the Sydney Mail reported an early initiative for a new line of telegraph

"The (Parkes) Municipal Council held the usual fortnightly meeting on Monday evening. The Mayor, Mr. B. Talbott, presided. The Mayor referred to the matter of telegraph communication direct with Molong, and the following motion was carried: "That the council-clerk be instructed to write to the Postal Department requesting the erection of a telegraph line between Parkes and Molong and that the co-operation of the Molong Municipal Council be requested in reference to the matter".

The Evening News of 6 May 1886 reported that "Arrangements are being made for holding public meetings in the Molong district to agitate for the extension of the railway to Cumnock and also for the erection of a telegraph line to that place". On 25 October 1886, the Council adopted a motion "that the members for the district be requested to obtain from the Department the report of the Inspector of Telegraph Lines as to the necessity of a direct line between Parkes and Molong".

The Australian Town and Country Journal of 9 March 1889 reported that "a line from Molong (to Parkes) is much wanted and the sooner it is made the better, as the numerous new settlements to the north and west of us will soon want to be tied on telegraphically to some place". A similar motion was passed at the Parkes Municipal Council meeting in September 1889.

Even after telegraph lines had been constructed, there were still many complaints about the workmanship. For example, the Sydney Morning Herald of 26 January 1910 report on from Parkes noted

"Complaints about the condition of the telegraph posts on the lines in the district are very frequent. Whilst returning home from town Mrs. Wright, of Bartley's Creek, had a narrow escape from serious accident. A telegraph post had collapsed and the horse became entangled in the wire, which was lying across the road, and fell. In its struggles, the animal freed himself from the harness. Mrs. Wright luckily escaped injury".

7: Parkes via Peak Hill to Dubbo.

The Evening News of 1 November 1889 provided an editorial comment on the NSW Government's neglect of postal services. This problem has been demonstrated in several pages on line construction in this site. In part, it was stated:

"One of the peculiarities of official management in New South Wales is the persistent failure to meet rising requirements: When a district has been thoroughly established, and is able to 'run alone, the Government departments require an immense deal of outside pressure be fore they will supply the just demands of the people for those facilities which can only be provided by the State. As for doing anything to assist enterprise in its early stages, no official will even listen to the idea ...

Now we have the cases of Peak Hill and Alicktown, some miles from Dubbo the nearest post office. There is already a population at these new goldfields of about two thousand men and they have no postal facilities whatever. Letters are sent twice a week by private means to Dubbo, but, of course, there is no responsibility attaching to the persons who have assisted the miners thus far. There is no money order office and no means of registering letters. Why should there not be a daily mail to the Peak and why should not a temporary office be established on the field for the issue of money orders and the transaction of ordinary postal business? There is no necessity for an extravagant and expensive establishment, and nobody asks for it. All that is required is just the small amount of accommodation to the. public which will suffice for immediate wants.

Surely, instead of the Post Office authorities holding back in a matter of this kind, they ought to be the very first to propose to do what is needful. It cannot be necessary to go through the tedious banality of sending up an officer to report and another to confirm and a Cabinet minute to ratify, before the Postmaster-General can take action. Any private business manager would act promptly and decisively and the required facilities would be provided at once. Mr. O'Connor has now an opportunity of showing that he is a man of action as well as of words; and we trust, therefore, that he will see that this matter is attended to immediately. A brief direction by him will effect the purpose, provided that it is decisive and energetic".

The Bathurst Free Press of 26 November 1889 reported "A telegraph line is being constructed from Dubbo via Peak and Alicktown to Parkes, which will be of great convenience. A daily mail is also about to be started; two private coaches per day have been running for some time past".

In December 1889, "Mr. H. H. Cooke, M.L.A., had been informed by the department that the Postmaster-GeneraL, in consequence of representations to him, has inquired as to the necessity for a 90 mile telegraph line from Dubbo to Parkes. It is decided to construct the line via Tomingley and Peak Hill to Parkes and the papers have been forwarded to the Telegraph Department for the necessary action". Tenders were called soon after in the Gazette for the construction of a line of telegraph from Parkes via Peak Hill (and Alicktown) to Dubbo.

In a possibly delayed article, the Sydney Morning Herald of 23 January 1890 reported that "The erection of the telegraph line from Dubbo to Peak Hill and Parkes will, we are informed, be commenced next week". Another report stated that tenders for the telegraph line to the nearest telegraph station would be opened on 6 February 1890.

On 7 March 1890, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that "Mr. R. R. Knuckey has just completed the survey of a telegraph line from Narramine, via Peak Hill and Alicktown, to Parkes, a distance of about 60 miles".

Two months later, in the Legislative Assembly of 13 May 1890, Mr. O'Connor, in answer to a question from Dr. Ross stated "the question of extending the telegraph from Molong to Cumnock and Cumnock to Peak Hill was under consideration". On 18th May, the same two gentlemen exchanged further ideas and information: Mr. Dalton (for Dr. Ross) asked the Post-Master-General:

  1. Has any decision yet been arrived at to extend the telegraph from Molong to Cumnock; if so, is it likely that the further extension will be continued from Cumnock to Peak Hill?
  2. Is not Cumnock the centre of a large settled farming population?
  3. When will steps be taken to erect a Post and Telegraph Office at Cumnock?

Mr Connor answered:

  1. The petition presented by the hon. member of the 2nd instant, on this subject, is now under inquiry, but no decision has yet been arrived at.
  2. I am not at present aware. The report regarding Cumnock stated that the population was 'very small and scattered'.
  3. Until I receive the official reports, I shall not be able to answer this question.

The Molong Express of 23 August 1890 raised great hopes:

"Cumnock is at last to have a telegraph office, and not a day too soon. An advertisement in another column calls for tenders for erecting an additional wire from Molong to Wellington and also a line therefrom to Cumnock. The next, thing is a court of petty sessions, instead of a man having to be dragged in nearly 20 miles to Molong for perhaps being drunk or speaking the 'classics'".

On 6 February 1891, the decision was reversed somewhat and the line was to be used for telephone services and so telegrams could be phoned through to Wellington.


Peak Hill.

"The Telegraph poles were erected along the main street and up to the new Post and Telegraph office at Peak Hill to-day and we hope, before many days, to be able to send telegraphic reports of result of crushing or any other important matter that may arise" (Australian Town and Country Journal 5 July 1890).

No extensions were made from Parkes until 1889.

More recently:


8: Lines south from Forbes.

The line from Bathurst to Orange began a major extension of over 260 miles - from Orange via Forbes to Wagga Wagga in the Riverina-Murray region. It was not just a single line in isolation but comprised sections which were amalgamated to form this important connection. Activity was just starting in May 1862.


8.1: Forbes via Grenfell to Young.

The line of telegraphs was extended from Forbes to Young. A connection was then available to Sydney via Bathurst or

The Grenfell General Advertiser of 22 June 1867 noted that "It is, we believe, the universal opinion that the telegraph line should be brought into Grenfell and that a District Court should be established without delay. By the one, that rapid communication, now so necessary for public convenience, would be available for our commercial men and by the other (viz. the District Court) a very large amount of money and valuable time would be saved to the town and district".

In the Assembly on 23 July 1867, Mr. Thornton asked the Secretary of Public Works "whether it was the intention of the Government to extend the telegraphic line so as to connect Grenfell, Emu Creek with the main line". In a subsequent session, Mr. Byrnes answered that "it was not the intention of the Government to connect this line with the main line".

Again the tide turns. The Mining Record of 5 October 1867 reported "At last we have positive assurance that the telegraph line will be brought into our town (Grenfell) without delay. A gentleman arrived here during the week to superintend arrangements and we understand that, early in the week, workmen will be employed clearing the line for the posts to connect Grenfell with the Forbes line. We may expect that, within a month from this date, the line will be in working order". The Yass Courier of 19 October 1867 reported "The extension of the telegraph line from the Weddin Mountains to here (Emu Creek) is rapidly progressing, the distance is about five miles. Heavy rail, last night".

"The Superintendent of Telegraphs, Mr. Cracknell, opened the station at Grenfell yesterday (1 November 1867). By this extension, the Emu Creek gold-field is placed in direct communication with Sydney". (Sydney Morning Herald 2 November 1867).

From Orange to Wagga Wagga via Forbes and Burrangong (Young) 225 miles ; contract price per mile, £43


9. Lines from Young.

9.1: Wagga Wagga to Young.

In 1862, construction began on a line running north from Wagga Wagga to Lambing Flat (Young). By November it was about 50 miles from Wagga Wagga. Hence the people of Young were looking forward to being served by two connections to Sydney - one by way of Orange/Forbes and the other through Wagga Wagga and Yass (Burrangong Courier 29 October 1862).

The Yass Courier of 28 January 1863 noted the lack of progress as follows: "I was much amused the other day at the paragraph referring to the telegraph, in the Sydney Morning Herald, in which it states that owing to the dry weather the works have not been completed to Young in the Wagga Wagga extension — almost word for word with what appeared in the December summary of the same journal. The fact is that since the middle of December, when the wire reached the Flat, per bullock teams, and a few days subsequently, when it was taken out and laid down on the line, no steps have been taken towards stretching it on the posts, which have been ready for its reception for nearly three months".

News in the Yass Courier of 18 March 1863 was more positive: "Our Burrangong correspondent writes, under date the 16th instant: There is nothing just now occurring of sufficient interest to call for remark. When there is, I shall not fail to drop you a line on the subject.

The telegraph wire has not yet reached here. In fact, it is only now at Bogolong, about half-way. I hear, however, the work is being looked after by Mr. Goldring, of the Telegraph Department, and that it is being pushed on rapidly. It is expected to be completed by Monday next".

The Annual Report of the Telegraph Department for 1862 indicated that "Wagga Wagga Young the line was drawing near completion and, when opened through to Wagga Wagga, will form a second and distinct means of communication with Victoria via Echuca and Sandhurst, so that only under extraordinary circumstances could an interruption between the two colonies occur and which will render prolonged delays, from the crowded state of the lines, less frequent".

In the 1870s, a major road and the telegraph line led from Wagga Wagga through Junee (20 miles), Bethungra (20 miles), Cootamundra (15 miles), Murrumburrah (25 miles) and Burrowa before branching to Yass or Goulburn. That road was also to be followed by the extension of the railway from Goulburn..

In December 1874 (closing 15 January) and again in February 1875, tenders were called for the construction of a second line of telegraph from Young to Wagga Wagga. The line had to be completed in six weeks. The tender also specified "The Contractors will be responsible for claims for compensation for damage to fences or other property caused during the erection of the line; and if such claims are not defrayed, the Superintendent or other authorized officer will pay the same from any moneys due to the Contractors".


9.2: Young to Morangarell.

In the Appropriations Act for 1876, the Assembly of 18 August 1876 allocated £2,700 for the erection of a telegraph line from Young to Morangarell on the Bland. Tenders were called for this 45 mile line - to be completed in 4 months - in December 1876 with a closing date of 12 December. In early January 1877, the tender submitted by Mr. J. McEvoy was accepted.

At a Progress Association at Morangarell in December 1877, "Mr. Bell spoke of the non-opening of the telegraph line from Young to Morangarell. The line was erected and the instruments had been lying down at Morangarell some two months, yet nothing was being done in the matter. The Government would do nothing in it until the line was inspected and taken over from tho contractor, and there had been a great delay in doing this. Mr. Gate proposed 'That Mr. Watson be communicated with in reference to the opening of the telegraph office at Morangarell' which was seconded by Mr. Brock, and carried" (The Burrangong Argus 1 December 1877).


Young (Lambing Flat).

On 16 April 1868, the Legislative Assembly placed £1,500 on the Estimates for the construction of a telegraph line from Burrowa to Young (for a connecting line between the southern and western districts).

Until 1860, the town known (from 1863) as Young, was known as Lambing Flat because sheep grazing was the main industry in the surrounding district. In June 1860, a group from Binalong - to the north-west of Yass - discovered gold just outside Lambing Flat on the large property called Burrangong. Starting from later in 1860, 20,000 prospectors descended on the town - of whom 2,000 were Chinese miners. As gold became scarce, the Chinese were attacked as they were more industrious than the others and were retrieving more gold. There was constant and high levels of tension between the miners and the Chinese to the extent that the Gold Commissioner advised on 16 July 1861 that "The whole of the police have retreated from Lambing Flat and the gold-field is left entirely without police protection". After the Lambing Flat Riots in 1861, the government passed the Chinese Immigration Act which needed to be monitored especially in this area.

The population of Lambing Flat was rapidly increasing in February 1861. The distance from Yass to Lambing Flat, via Binalong and Murphy's and Robert's stations, was 65 miles and there was a "splendid level road" the whole way. The Albury Banner of 15 May 1861 reported "A general desire is becoming manifest for the extension of the electric telegraph to Burrangong and some of the more settled residents propose to get up a public meeting to petition the Government to carry out this work. It is very probable that, were the line extended, a business would be done that would soon pay, not only the working expenses, but the cost of construction. The subject is, no doubt, worthy the consideration of the Executive".

On 20 May 1861, The Empire published a story from a Correspondent in Lambing Flat which in part noted there were currently three rushesThe first of these rushes was at Perseverance Gully. The whole of this gully, which is two miles below Tipperary, some three miles in extent, has been taken up, a township marked, business sites pegged out and many people moving with tents and stores to reap a harvest.
The second rush took place at Little Wombat, a place of very little consequence hitherto
{Ed: except presumably to Mother Wombat :-)}
with the result that:

"Our population is on the increase; and, if reports speak true, there are several thousand diggers on the road from Victoria which, compared with our present yield, stands far in the background. We have not 5,000 actual diggers, who, according to our escort returns, make more than half-an-ounce a week per man; whereas, 108,000 miners in the sister colony only return some 35,000 ounces per week, and I have good reason to believe that, as soon as our population is a little more settled and the rains fairly set in, that our escort returns will reach fully 4,000 ounces. Tipperary Gully is still increasing, many substantial houses going up and business people doing pretty well.

Considering that this place is only second to Sydney in the colony, it is astonishing that no steps have as yet been taken to connect us with Yass by telegraph, which is badly wanted, our mail communication still being very uncertain. A line from here to Yass would not cost more than £2,500 and this small sum would very soon be repaid for there is no place in New South Wales where, with the exception of the metropolis, so much business is transacted as here".

The mob had taken matters into their own hands and the Government appeared ready to impose Martial Law. A description of the fighting on 14 July and the consequent immediate actions with the Government withdrawing from Lambing Flat can be accessed elsewhere. A review of the situation as of 20 July is reported by the Illawarra Mercury.

In January 1862, the Sydney Morning Herald noted that "The longest of the (telegraph) lines to be constructed this year will be that to the Burrangong gold-fields; its route has not yet been decided on, but it is probable that it will start from Orange, and pass through the new diggings on the Lachlan, should the population remaining there be sufficient to justify the diversion ; the cost of the line is estimated at £14,000". About 1862, there was considerable traffic through the Orange-Forbes-Lambing FlatYoung. region because of the gold-fields. A bridge was needed at Cowra (but denied) and the coaches could not always get through - requiring a canoe to transport the mail when the Lachlan River was flooded. "A notion prevails in this quarter that the Government want to cut us off from the rest of the colony, depriving us thereby of our rights. A short time since, we were in great hopes that the telegraph would be established, via Carcoar and Cowra, to the Lambing Flat and LachlanForbes. diggings, but now all these hopes are in vain, for the Government called tenders for a line of telegraph from Orange to Forbes and from thence to Lambing Flat - a distance of 170 miles of a barren country, without a township and very few inhabitants; whereas, the Carcoar and Cowra line would be the shortest and by far the most profitable to the Government. Why should this be?" (Sydney Morning Herald 4 March 1862).

The posts for the electric telegraph were erected in the town of Forbes about the middle of November 1862 having been erected and completed to Bogolong (Grenfell) at the beginning of that month. It was then expected that in about two weeks the line would be completed and work could start on the final section extending south to Lambing Flat.

On 5 October 1861, a public meeting was held at Lambing Flat to petition the Government to have the mail delivered from Yass on the same day as it left Yass. The meeting pointed out that every week, the Sydney papers were received one day earlier by the Bathurst than by the Yass line of route - consequently the usefulness of the latter was very materially affected by the present arrangement.

The Sydney Morning Herald of 12 December 1862, under the heading Lambing Flat, reported:

"It was supposed ere this that we should have had the advantage of telegraphic communication. Such, however, is not the case. The telegraph posts are within two miles of the township and in a week or so doubtless we shall be enabled to send telegraphic messages to the various colonies. The buildings for the telegraph and post office are at present not commenced, although the contract for them was taken months since. This, I may state, is no fault of the Government; for interested parties here hare represented - or rather misrepresented - the advantages of so many sites for the building that it is no wonder they have been bewildered. The Government, it is generally understood, have at last decided on building the offices in the most central part of the town and it is to be hoped that no more time will be lost but that the buildings will be proceeded with at once. With one or two exceptions, this township is equal in importance to any other in the colony and its permanence is established beyond the shadow of a doubt. As a gold field alone it must last for many many years to come. This in itself will be quite sufficient to settle and extend the district and make it one of importance".

After a delay of about two years, another major development commenced in part due to the need for communications related to the gold areas to the south as well as to associated law and order troubles. Hence the line from Bathurst through Orange to Forbes was extended to the south via Cowra and then Grenfell to Young. Later that line was extended further south to Wagga Wagga. This construction in progress formed a major line noted in the 1864 Report.

The major construction initiative in this period began in 1876 with the construction of the first stage of the lines which would open up the far west of the Colony. One line in this strategy linked Yass to Murrumburrah (1876) and then to Cootamundra (1877).



to the south-west were constructed starting in 1873 from Yass to Murrumburrah and then on to Cootamundra (and Hay)?????.

Murrumburah (29 July 1876);


After a break of five years, the Forbes line was extended south to Grenfell (10 November 1867) and then to Young (4 July 1867). The line then ran east from Grenfell to Cowra (1874) which enabled two link lines to be constructed at the same time - one to the north-east back to Bathurst through Blayney (18 August 1876) and the other south-west to Murrumburrah (29 July 1876). The link between Young and Yass was also completed through Murrumburrah at this time.


9: Yass (Southern line) via Burrowa to Young.

9.1: The Yass-Burrowa line.

The Sydney Morning Herald of 23 May 1866 reported "tenders have been invited for the construction of a branch line of telegraph from Yass to Burrowa, being a distance of thirty-six miles. The construction of this branch line will be in pursuance of a requisition to the Government by the people of Burrowa and a guarantee by them to the Government of a profit of five per cent on the undertaking. A bond having been executed, the application was granted and tenders for the works were immediately invited. The time for receiving these tenders expired on the 15th instant, but no decision will be arrived at until the return to Sydney of the hon the Minister for Works, who is at present inspecting public works in the Southern districts". Construction work commenced in August 1866.

The Yass Courier of 22 December 1866 reported that " Mr. E. .C. Cracknel, Superintendent of Telegraphs, arrived in Yass on Wednesday evening last on his way to Burrowa for the purpose of opening the new line to that town. On the following morning he proceeded there and returned to Yass the same evening".

As noted, the loop line had been constructed from Yass to Burrowa after the signing of the usual guarantee by local residents. There had been a history of lawlessness in the area for over 20 years. The 1861 Robertson Land Act initiated a "land-grab" in the area especially by "ticket-of-leave" men. They established the region mainly for grazing purposes. Unfortunately the guarantee for the telegraph did not work out well for some of the signatories. The Armidale Express of 8 August 1868 gave the following details:

"The 'Burrangong Argus' reports a case heard at the Small Debts Court, Young, last week, J. N. Ryan and others v. R. Clay, in which it appeared that plaintiffs had, in January 1866, entered into a bond guaranteeing the Government, for five years, the difference between the actual receipts at the local Telegraph Office and the cost of constructing a telegraph line from Yass and maintaining a station at Burrowa for that period.

Previous to this bond being signed, another, or sub-bond, was signed by a number of gentlemen in the district, amongst whom the defendant was one, who bound themselves to contribute the sums set against their names. A claim amounting to £135, for deficiency, had been made by the Superintendent of Telegraphs and some of the guarantors had paid in according to the several proportions to which they had rendered themselves liable in the bond. Others, and the defendant was among them, refused to pay. Hence the present action was brought. Defendant was examined as a witness, but could not deny his signature, and a verdict was entered for the plaintiffs in the amount claimed".

The Yass Courier of 17 August 1867 noted that a meeting would be held of persons who are under guarantee for the telegraph at Burrowa that day at the Australia Hotel.


9.2: The Burrowa - Young line.

In the Legislative Assembly of 16 April 1868, £1,300 was placed on the Estimates for a connecting line between the southern and western districts between Burrowa and Young to provide another link from the main Southern line to Victoria and the main interior line in this region from Forbes to Wagga Wagga. Tenders were called in May for the 30 mile line to be completed within two months of a tender being accepted. In July 1868, a tender was accepted from John Hammond to construct a telegraph line from Burrowa to Young at £33 per mile. Mr. Hammond had recently completed the construction of some government bridges at Young and "is reported to be a gentleman of energetic habits; and doubtless we shall be able to report by and by that he has successfully performed his work". By 15 August 1868, the Burrangong Argus was able to relate to its readers that "The works are being pushed forward for the extension of the telegraph line from Young to Burrowa. The holes are dug and the posts laid for a good distance along the line. We understand that the wire is expected to be ready for the transmission of messages by about October next".

The Maitland Mercury of 15 September 1868 reported the sad news that "Mr. A. M. Bellhouse, Clerk of Works in connection with the telegraph line between Young and here (Burrowa) died here at 6.30 p.m. yesterday. He will be interred today". The Yass Courier of the same day described the event as follows:


It has seldom been my province to chronicle so painful an event as the death of Mr Alexander M. Bellhouse which took place at the Commercial Hotel on the evening of Thursday last.

The deceased gentleman had been employed for some years as clerk of works on the various telegraph lines and had been long a sufferer to a painful disease known as diabetes In the early part of the week, the symptoms of the disorder became so alarming that he considered it advisable to obtain medical advice and he accordingly arrived in this town (Burrowa) from Young on Monday intending to reach Sydney in a few days.

Man proposes, but God disposes. His state of health grew gradually worse and, on Thursday, so prostrated was he that Mr. O'Neill found it necessary to send a telegram to Dr. O'Connor requesting his attendance. The doctor did not arrive till late that night when the unfortunate gentleman had ceased to exist. Deceased was about thirty-five years, unmarried and was supposed to have spent his early years in the city of Montreal, Canada. Although far from the tender care of relations, nothing was left undone to make the close of his life happy. A few kind, sympathising friends watched his last moments and offered him all the consolation which they could devise for the dread ordeal which was to bring him face to face with his Redeemer.

An inquest was held on Friday before the district coroner, W. D. Campbell. Esq., and a verdict of having died from natural causes was returned. His remains were escorted to their last resting place by a few of the inhabitants on that evening and, after a few short prayers had been uttered for his eternal rest, the grave soon closed on all this earth contained of Alexander M. Bellhouse".

The Gazette of 13 October reported that Mr. G. F. Haight had been appointed as overseer for the construction of the electric telegraph line from Burrowa to Young.

The Wagga Wagga Advertiser of 17 October 1868 recorded that the telegraph line connecting Young with Burrowa was completed Wednesday (14 October) and "experimental conversation" carried on satisfactorily.

On 8 June 1880, the Yass Courier noted that "it is intended to renew the telegraphic poles (where required) on the line from Yass to Young, and tenders are invited in today's issue for the supply of three hundred and sixty-five poles for this purpose".


9.3: The Young to Murrumburrah line.

Freeman's Journal of 27 February 1861 reported that "a new rush has been discovered about three miles from Murrumburrah. A good many people are going there. There is every probability of the diggings extending the whole way from Lambing Flat to Murrumburrah".

The Tender for the line to be constructed to Murrumburrah from Young line was advertised in the Gazette in November 1875.

The Wagga Wagga Advertiser of 2 February 1876 reported that "Mr. Parrott, the manager for Mr. Bates, the contractor, has just had completed the clearing of the telegraph line from Young to Murrumburrah. It is intended to proceed with the erection of the poles at once but a little delay is likely to arise on account of the scarcity of suitable timber. The men are now busily engaged procuring poles and, before long, we hope to be able to communicate with Murrumburrah in minutes instead of hours". A deputation from Murrumburrah had met with the Postmaster-General in Sydney and received positive news about the construction of a Post and Telegraph Office.

But two weeks later, on 16 February, the Wagga Wagga Advertiser printed the following details: "A new line of telegraph has been surveyed, the route cleared, and every facility afforded for the diversion of the traffic from the hitherto declared line. Now the people who have purchased allotments in WombatWombat is about half way between Young and Murrumburrah and a little west of a direct line between them., many of them years ago did so under the implied promise from the Government of the day that the road from Murrumburrah to Young should pass through Wombat. Surely, by the present action of the authorities, they have repudiated the engagements of their predecessors, which should, as a matter of course, be held to be binding on themselves. Moreover, the above mentioned telegraph line might have been constructed at a considerable saving of expense by taking up the connection from the point at which the present Wagga line diverges at Wombat. A deputation of certain inhabitants of Murrumburrah waited on the Minister for Works some few days since with the purpose of influencing his decision (which it appears had been previously taken) as to the line of route to be adopted. The answer accorded to the deputation by this august Minister of the Crown was couched in terms calculated to afford encouragement to the hopes of the petitioners. The Murrumburrah people have not forgotten the sentiment "Everybody for himself and God for us all"".

On 8 April 1876, the Burrangong Argus reported their correspondent at Murrumburrah had observed "Things are serious here as regards stock; cattle are dying fast, and there is no grass and no sign of any for the winter. Milk, butter, eggs and fodder are exceedingly scarce, in fact not to be had for love or money. If the contractor for the telegraph line goes on no faster with the work than he is going present, the line will not be finished for a considerable time". About two weeks later, the Evening News of 21 April noted "About thirty of the telegraph posts, laid down on the line between Young and Murrumburrah, were stolen".

The Wagga Wagga Advertiser of 14 June 1876 reported some positive news: "The telegraph line from Young to Murrumburrah was completed on Saturday, the 10th inst, but the operator has not arrived to take charge". One step forward ... The telegraph line between Young and Murrumburrah opened in temporary quarters on 26 June 1876. Then, around Murrumburrah, stations were opened at Harden (8 August 1881 - and on the same date at the Railway Station - Harden is only 2 km from Murrumburrah), at Wallendbeen (18 October 1880) and at Galong to the east (14 April 1890).

Near Yass, over time, stations were created at Bowning (8 July 1876) and at Jerrawa (14 April 1890).


Other lines from Yass.

The next stations established along lines constructed to the west from Yass were:

The Gazette of 22 July 1878 to Mr. W. Davis for the erection of a telegraph line between Cootamundra and Gundagai via Coolac with erection of wire on existing poles between Gundagai and Coolac..

10. Lines from Bathurst south-west to Cowra and Grenfell.

In the Legislative Assembly on 3 January 1861, Mr. Watt tabled a question for the Secretary of Public Works asking "If the Government intends extending the telegraph line to Burrangong, Lambing Flat; if so, will the Government do so from Bathurst by way of Carcoar and Cowra"? In reply, "Mr. Arnold begged to inform the hon. member that no sum having yet been voted by the Legislature for the purpose of extending the electric telegraph to Burrangong, the Government were not in a position to determine which line they would adopt".


By the 1860s, Carcoar was the second largest town after Bathurst west of the mountains. A public school was opened there in 1857 and it is still operating - making it one of the oldest continuous schools in Australia. The discovery of gold in the general region around Carcoar in the mid-1860s changed the nature of the town.

Lawlessness was rife with many bushrangers roaming the area since the late 1840s. In July 1863, the infamous Ben Hall, supported by Johnny Gilbert and John O'Meally, held up the Commercial Bank in Carcoar - the first bank robbery in Australia's history. Around 1862 to 1865 or so, the Bushranger Ben Hall roamed the general region around Forbes, Canowindra and Bathurst.

The line from Bathurst to Carcoar was constructed in response to the gold mining developments during the 1860s. It was raised as a possibility in the 1864 Report. The Gazette of May/June 1870 reported "Tenders are invited by the Department of Works up to the 5th July for the erection of a line of telegraph from Bathurst to Carcoar, an estimated distance of thirty-five miles, to be completed in three months, and the rate of progress not to be less than three miles per week". No tender was selected so advertisements for tenders were again called in July. Still nothing happened until, in March 1869, the Legislative Assembly passed a vote of £2,400 for a line from Bathurst to Carcoar and Cowra with immediate effect. The guarantee from residents had been obtained.

The Gazette of 5 August 1870 announced that the tender had been accepted from Mr. J. Ahearn. By November, the line was under construction and 13 miles of poles had been completed. No construction is without its incidents - and about a month later on 10 December, the Sydney Mail reported "last week a man who is employed in the erection of the telegraph from Bathurst to Carcoar, on going to a hole for some water was attacked by a large brown snake which attempted to bite his thigh, but failed to penetrate his thick trousers. The man tried to beat the reptile away from his leg and, in doing so, received a severe bite on one of his fingers. Captain Scott, the Superintendent, tied the finger tightly with a piece of string and the man, having sucked the wound, was driven to Carcoar, where, under the care of Dr. Getty, it was scarified and dressed with ipecacuanha. With the aid of other medicaments the man recovered, and experienced no ill effects thereafter".

The Empire of 7 March 1871 reported that the Electric Telegraph Office had been opened at Carcoar on Saturday last (4 March). By May 1871, two months after the Telegraph Office had opened in Carcoar to replace the temporary arrangements, the town was much subdued but at least it had instant communications especially with Bathurst.

An extremely concerning incident with major implications for the urgent construction of telegraph lines through certain areas was reported by the Sydney Morning Herald on 28 June 1864:

"Movements of Ben Hall and his Mates.

Our Carcoar correspondent, writing last Saturday, says: After an absence of several months, I am sorry to inform you that Ben Hall and his two associates in crime have again commenced their depredations in this district. They visited their old quarter (Canowindra) on Wednesday evening, proceeding to Messrs. Pearce and Hillier's stores, where they bailed up Mr. John Pearce, the brother of one of the proprietors and who manages the business of the store. They searched the place very carefully for money but were only able to find £3 at which they were very much dissatisfied. They ill-treated Mr. Pearce, burnt the ledgers in which were accounts to a considerable amount and plundered the place of a valuable quantity of property which they took away, and compelled Mr. J. Pearce to go several miles in the bush with them when they tied him to a tree and left him. So securely was he bound that he was not able to liberate himself for three or four hours.

These stores, it may be recollected, were robbed several times last winter of money and property to a large amount by Hall, Gilbert and their gang. The proprietors have suffered so severely by these repeated robberies, that it is their intention to give up the premises although doing a good trade. There is a police barracks at Canowindra, about two hundred and fifty yards from the store, and separated from it by the Belubula River and, at the time of the robbery, the troopers were in the barracks but they heard nothing about it until all was over for some time.

About eight o'clock, on Thursday evening, Hall and his mates paid another visit to Mr. Rothery's residence with the intention of forcing an entrance into his house in which was Mr. and Mrs. Rothery, their daughters and several young children. Mr. Rothery's sons were away from home. Mr. Rothery was so well prepared to resist their entrance that the gang were afraid to attempt it. They therefore went and took four of that gentleman's horses, set fire to a stack containing about fourteen tons of hay - burnt it and a large shed to ashes and then left the place.

Information of the occurrence was sent to Carcoar (sixteen miles) without delay and, at twelve o'clock at night, four troopers left Carcoar for the scene of the outrage but as yet have not been able to fall in with Ben Hall or his party. As the bushrangers have again made a descent on our district, it is to be hoped the Government will not be dilatory in erecting for us the telegraphic wires, that speedy communication may be practicable which would be of great assistance in putting down these lawless scoundrels. Mr. Superintendent Liddiard arrived yesterday from Bathurst without having heard of any of Hall's late exploits until be reached Carcoar. Upon learning the state of affairs in this neighbourhood, that gentleman was most anxious to forward speedy directions to his troopers - but could only do it by mounting a man on horseback".

The Evening News of 8 January 1870 reported of a deputation's meeting with the Minister of Works about the urgent need for a good road between Bathurst and the newly formed Trunkey gold-fields.

"...The township of Trunkey, with near two thousand people accumulating there within the last six months, has a wretched bush road only for the great traffic to Bathurst. Mr. Sutherland, after discussing the question, promised that the portion of road in the hands of the Government should be classed as a third class road. This will be a great advantage to all the varied interests at Trunkey and along the line of road via Calloola.

Mr. Sutherland's attention was also called to the fact that a sum of money had been voted to to complete a telegraph line from Bathurst to Carcoar and Cowra and, if this line was taken through Trunkey to Carcoar, it would only increase the distance a few miles, and would be the means of increasing very considerably, the earnings of the wire.

Mr. Cracknell was sent for and stated in reply to Mr. Sutherland's questions, that the money voted would be sufficientThe difference in distance would be only about 15 miles. to carry the line via Trunkey as it would be as easy country to make a line through. The Hon. the Minister for Works then said, if the Trunkey people would join those of Carcoar in the usual guarantee as to interest, the wire should be taken through Trunkey".

In June 1870, tenders were called for the construction of the 35 mile telegraph line from Bathurst to Carcoar. The work was to be completed in three months with the rate of progress not to be less than three miles per week. In August, the tender from Mr. J. Ahern was accepted by the Government and the line was completed in early December.

In March 1871, a report in the Empire noted "the Belubula RiverWanders everywhere starting near Bathurst and meandering through Blayney, Carcoar and Canowindra until meeting the Lachlan River near Gooloogong. runs through the centre of Carcoar and is spanned by a wide and long strong bridge; but in no case can the town be flooded, the fall on either side being not less than 700 feet. The telegraph line is being but slowly, laid along the road from Bathurst". The Sydney Morning Herald of 17 March 1871 reported that "The following telegram was received by us yesterday morning from Bathurst: A well defined payable reef was struck yesterday five miles west of Trunkey on the Carcoar Road. Coarse gold discernible all through the stone; width of reef, two feet".

In May 1871, the Burrangong Argus a stage-coach was held up between Carcoar and Cowra and the mails taken. The coach returned to Carcoar "and reported the circumstance to the police, when information was sent to Cowra, and telegraphed to Grenfell and other places". This report infers there was no telegraphic communication between Carcoar and Cowra at that time.


During the discussion in the Legislative Assembly of 21 January 1877 about possible railway extensions, one of the four possible railway routes being noted was that extending the line from Bathurst to Cowra and then on to Booligal (on the Lachlan River) and through to the Darling River (possibly at Pooncarie).

?????At least by the early 1900's, the telegraph line reached from Cowra to Grenfell.



The original town called Weddin was renamed Grenfell on 24 December 1866 after the Gold Commissioner at Forbes (John Grenfell) was killed when bushrangers attacked his stagecoach. The Grenfell mines soon became the richest deposits in New South Wales.

The telegraph line was opened to Grenfell on 10 November 1867. It was an important commercial link - and it is probable that Grenfell's most famous son - the poet Henry Lawson - might have used that line of communication on occasions.


The Grenfell Record of August 1876 reports on an incident related to the work of constructing the lines in that area:

"One day during the week, a curious specimen of seeming rock, which had previously puzzled the brains of all the savans of the town, was brought to our office for inspection. The piece brought had a white coating like flour, was of a pale yellowish tint where broken, had a smell like that of sealing wax, burnt similarly when set fire to and was, as we were led to believe, a specimen taken at random from a large reef.

Ignorant as we confess to be of many important matters in the geological formation of our globe, we listened attentively to the suppositions advanced - one person pronouncing it to be bitumen, a second bismuth, while another employed a name not easily to be rendered again; but true discoverers themselves were sanguine, no matter what mineral might be contained therein, that the presumed reef was valuable, and disjointed exclamations of "scrip", "promoters' shares" and other stock broking phrases were circulating through our composing room. It was finally decided to send a specimen to Sydney in order to obtain an opinion as to its value.

We since heard that, in fixing the caps of earthenware on telegraph posts, a composition of resin and chalk is used which, when cold, is identical with the specimen of the supposed new rock shown us. The enigma is easily solved - some telegraph line repairing has been going on on the Forbes road, the repairer had left some of the said composition behind him and our friends, suffering in a slight degree from "quartz upon the brain", came across it and imagined their "piles" were made".

In the Legislative Assembly of 20 March 1878, a sum of £2,000 was assigned in the Estimates for a telegraph line from Cowra to Grenfell.

11: Bathurst south to Goulburn.

A line linking Bathurst via Rockley (13 September 1879), Trunkey Creek (20 September 1880), Tuena (23 August 1880) and Crookwell (19 May 1880) to Goulburn on the main Southern line was opened along with any other places which were encountered along the way. These telegraph stations opened in the Southern Tablelands region in responses to secondary activities related to gold deposits in the region as well as to the construction of the railway through the area about 1877.

To Rockley.

On 23 July 1878, the Gazette announced a tender from Mr. G. Webb had been accepted for the construction of a telegraph line from George's Plains to Rockley. Then on 24 September 1878, the Yass Courier reprinted an earlier article from the Bathurst Independent:

"Mode de Departmental.

About fourteen months ago tenders were called for by the Minister for Works for the extension of the telegraph line fromGeorge's PlainsAbout half way between Bathurst and Rockley. by Rockley. One tender was accepted at a price at which the officials must have been aware it was impossible to complete the work without loss and an inspector was then appointed by the Government at a salary of £1 a day to see the work properly carried out.

The tenderers arrived, had a look at the place, shook their heads and departed, disgusted and, shortly afterwards refused to complete the contract. In July last fresh tenders were called for and accepted but nothing has yet been done towards the erection of the line.

The lucky individual who has the good fortune to enjoy this really good thing has drawn altogether from the Government for inspecting a line which is not yet even commenced, just thirteen sixteenths of the contract price of one of the tenderers for the completion of the whole line This is a specimen of the system of official bungling which the much vaunted Works Department tacitly permits. We forgot to mention that the Inspector is boarding at a public-house at Cow Flat, hourly — for the last fourteen months — expecting instructions which, now that we have brought the matter rather forcibly before the public, he is very likely to get soon".

The Gazette of October 1878 advertised for tenders to construct the 16 mile George's Plains to Rockley telegraph line - closing 12 November. In December 1878, the tender submitted by Mr. J. Caples was accepted but the tender was readvertised in January. On 12 February 1879, the Gazette announced that the tender for the line construction had been awarded to Mr. W. Flemming.

On October 1 in the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Burns, in a reply to Mr. Pilcher, said that the work to erect the Post and Telegraph Office at Rockley was being proceeded with and that, if the work on the telegraph line from Back Creek to Rockley was not proceeded with, the contract would be cancelled.


Rockley to Crookwell.

The Gazette of 18 July 1879 called for tenders for the construction of the telegraph line from Rockley to Goulburn via Trunkey and Crookwell. The Goulburn Herald of 9 August 1879 reported that "A gentleman connected with the telegraph passed through Junction Point on Friday last for the purpose of ascertaining how the district was furnished with timber suitable for the extension of the line from Rockley to Crookwell". Then the Yass Courier of 29 August 1879 reported that Mr. J. Elder had been offered the tender to construct the telegraph line from Rockley to Goulburn viz Trunkey and Crookwell. The Telegraph Office at Rockley opened on 13 September.

On 10 January 1880, the Goulburn Herald reported "The construction of this telegraph line has been commenced some time. The progress of the work however has necessarily been slow; but it is to be hoped that, within a reasonable: time, we may see the magic wire lead into our town (Crookwell). I believe the route has been altered so as to follow a main road through i.e. via Laggan and Peelwood." Only two months later, the same newspaper reported "The construction of the (telegraph) line has progressed so far as erecting the poles about three miles beyond the townSo just outside of Laggan. and the wire will be in here tomorrow. The office at the Post Office stores (Cox Bros.) is ready for the reception of the instruments, etc., so that all that is needful is the operator, who we hope will soon be appointed. The appearance of the line running through our main street gives an air of more importance to the township and marks another step in our progress - and a very important one".

Goulburn to Crookwell.

In the Legislative Assembly of 23 January 1878, Mr. Burns, in reply to Mr. W. Davies, said that the petition for the construction of a telegraph line from Goulburn to Crookwell was referred to an inspector for his report, which he had not yet sent in. In the Assembly on 11 October 1878, the same conversation was extended with Mr. Davies stating that provision would be made on the 1879 Estimates for a telegraph line from Goulburn to Crookwell.

The Goulburn Herald of 19 May 1880 reported "For some weeks the telegraph line from Goulburn to Crookwell has been completed; but it was not until this morning that it was opened for the use of the public. This line will be of great advantage to business people, and will doubtless get a fair share of work".


Another possible line further to the east was also possibly opened much later. Oberon - about 16 miles east of Rockley and 24 miles south of Bathurst - opened a telegraph office on 4 January 1881. Dirty Swamp, only about 26k from Bathurst changed its name to Locksley in February 1880 and opened a telegraph station on 14 April 1890 apparently on the Bathurst-Oberon line.





In 1861, a number of developments had or were taking place:


12: Forbes south-west via Condobolin and Hillston to Booligal.

After a pause of 14 years, the lines from Forbes north-west to Condobolin then to Booligal were being planned with construction following relatively soon after. On 9 August 1876: The Riverine Grazier reported that "A monster petition to Government is being set afoot for the purpose of securing a line of telegraph from Forbes through Condobolin, Cudgellico, Euabalong, Hillston and Booligal to Hay, which will tend to enhance the value of Hillston property".

On 13 September 1876, the Riverine Grazier published an account of a petition and the implications of constructing a telegraph line between Forbes and Hay:

"The memorial of the inhabitants of the Hay and Forbes districts, including Condoblin, Euabalong, Cudgellico, Hillston, Booligal etc.:—

To His Excellency Sir Hercules George Robert Robinson, Knight, K. C.M.G., Governor and Commander-in-Chief, and Vice-Admiral of New South Wales and its Dependencies.
Humbly sheweth that the rapid strides made in the settlement of the whole line of country for many miles to the north and south of the Lachlan River, from Forbes to its confluence with the Murrumbidgee, must be regarded as positive evidence of the necessity for connecting all the townships thereon by direct telegraphic communication with the colonies generally.

  • That nearly the whole of the intervening country is settled; and the more unsettled portion thereof is comprised of most extensive and valuable pastoral leases, which have been and are being improved at enormous cost and outlay.
  • That the business elements of the entire Lachlan river districts absorbs many hundreds of thousands of pounds, which is invested by all classes of the community, in a more or less degree, in squatting, selecting, mining, by merchants, brokers and traders of all grades and degree, and also by the import and export merchants and other traders operating in all the principal and larger business centres,
  • That the establishment of a telegraph has now become imperatively necessary if only for the purpose of preventing and detecting crime. That the whole of the Riverine district would be largely benefited by the erection of a telegraph line between the points indicated is apparent:
  1. Because the business in the sale and purchase of stations, property, store and fat stock of all kinds, has immeasurably increased of late years.
  2. Because the other items of produce, viz: — wool, tallow, hides, grain, etc., etc., have also necessarily increased in an almost incalculable degree.
  3. Because the traffic in general merchandise ranging over such a vast area is materially retarded by the total absence of the telegraphic system on the Lachlan River to the great inconvenience of all parties concerned.
  4. Because justice in both civil and criminal cases frequently fails for the want of it.
  5. Because many lives are yearly sacrificed owing to the impossibility of rapidly procuring medical attendance in cases of severe accidents or sudden illness.

The subjoined official statistics of the Hay and Forbes districts, in the sale and conditional sale of Crown lands, clearly illustrate the progressive rate of settlement upon that wide belt of territory of which the Lachlan river forms the natural centre".

Forbes to Condobolin.

On 5 January 1878, The Clarence and Richmond Examiner listed a 60 mile line from Forbes to Condobolin as having been under construction at the end of 1877.

In July 1881, a tender was let to Mr. M. Conlon for the construction of a telegraph line from Cowra to Condobolin at a cost of £26 9s per mile. (NOTE: The Cowra to Forbes line had already been constructed).

Condobolin to Hillston.

In July 1879, tenders were called to extend the Forbes-Condobolin line by constructing a 120 mile line of telegraph from Hillston to Condobolin. This line passed by Lake Cudgellico but no station was contemplated for that place. Construction had to be completed in five months.

Booligal to Hillston.

This tender must have been cancelled because in July 1879, a tender from Mr. Dickson was accepted for the construction of the telegraph line between Booligal and Hillston and work had to be completed before Christmas.

The Hillston News of 24 March 1883 reported that "Mr. R. Rowe, who was putting the telegraph wire on one of the poles that have lately been erected between the main line and the new Post and Telegraph office (at Hillston), was thrown from the top of the post (about 25 ft.), in consequence of the wire giving way. He, like a true sailor, caught the nearest line (which happened to be the telegraph). This broke his fall and landed him on his feet, with no other harm than a big fright and a little cut-on one finger".

See elsewhere for the description of the extension of the line from Hay to Booligal.

13. Euabolong - Mount Hope.

The Hillston News of 27 January 1883 noted "that through the efforts of the Progress Committee, a Post and Telegraph Office has been promised (to the residents of Mount Hope) by "the powers that be".

Important visits are important by definition. So on 4 August 1883, the Hillston News revealed that "Mr. Buchanan, Inspector of Post Offices, the Tanks Inspector from Cobar and the District Warden have also been here, the latter on an official visit through the mines. The next one we want to see here is the Telegraph Inspector to recommend a telegraph line for Mount Hope".

On 3 May 1884, the Sydney Mail followed up with the concept of the "next visitor to Mount Hope" with a description of a well-attended public meeting. In part, the report of the meeting on 25 April:

"Since my last letter the naughty clouds promised a supply of water to this parched-up and neglected district; neglected it is to all intents and purposes, not only by our representative, but by the Government, who promise, when pressure is brought to bear, to give the inhabitants a tithe of their just right. But when the screw is loosened they forget, so likewise the clouds have deceived, and left close on a thousand persons depending on the Government tank for a supply of water. Thus our saving Government will, if rain still keeps off, deprive those 1,000 inhabitants of a home, and leave Mount Hope as it originally was - a sheep walk.

The replies given by the Honorable the Premier, on two occasions, to Mr. A. G. Taylor's questions in the House, re magistrates for Mount Hope, have created no little comment and called forth one of the largest meetings yet held in the district. The Good Templars' Hall was crowded; in fact, if Mr. Clarke and his tenants had attended, the meeting would have to be an open a air one. The resolutions passed at the meeting I enclose, for they speak for themselves, and will show the outside public how this district has been treated in matters of vital importance to the community at large

Just imagine our Court being held in a billard-room - joining the bar of a public-house; certainly it unites the two bars, but the unity is neither creditable to the Government nor beneficial to society. If the Minister of Justice were informed how the holding of the Court in the billard-room interferes with the due administration of justice, he would not allow the sum placed on the Estimates for a courthouse in Mount Hope to lapse or fall through. Mr. O'Neil could inform the Premier that he was in error as to the efficiency of our J. P. for since the Court was established, they only attended once and that through his own and their non-attendance. We had no Court on several days, appointed prisoners were discharged and, in civil cases, fresh summons had to issue, thus impelling the unfortunate to expend money that could be avoided by appointing a resident J.P. who could, if nothing else, adjourn the Court and remand prisoners. Even today we had no Court, there being no J.P., fresh sumomnses will have to be issued. ....

Two of the resolutions passed at the public meeting held recently are subjoined:

l. That Government be requested to purchase two tanks owned by Coan Downs station, now within the boundaries of the common....

3. That the Postmaster-General be requested to place a sum of money on the Estimates for a Post and Telegraph Office at Mount Hope and that tenders be called immediately for the erection of same".

The Sydney Mail reported on 7 June 1884 that "The contractor for the Euabalong and Mount Hope telegraph line expects to have the line complete about the beginning of July. Where the office will be, none can tell, Government not having decided on a site. They have vacant land adjoining Johnson's selection, yet it is thought Mr. Clarice, the mineral township selector, will build an office adjoining his public-house, dancing-saloon and rent it to the Postal Department. Sooner than this should be the case, let Government erect a Post and Telegraph office at Government township".

The Post and Telegraph Office at Mount Hope opened on 7 October 1884.




East of Cootamundra (20 km), a telegraph station was opened at Wallendbeen (18 October 1880). Then a line was constructed

to Illabo (14 April 1890).


14: Cootamundra to West Wyalong.

14.1: Temora to Barmedman.

On 25 November 1880, several newspapers indicated that the telegraph line to Temora would be completed by the middle of the following week.

The Temora Star of 17 February 1883 reported on the minutes of the Progress Committee meeting as follows: "Agreeably with your request we have, in conjunction with Mr. Vaughn, applied for telegraphic communication between Barmedman and Temora, which doubtless will be granted". Optimistic conclusion. The telegraph line had linked to Temora from Cootamundra in the last quarter of 1880 while the Office in Barmedman - called Wyalong before 22 May 1882 - was opened on 10 September 1883. In a similar vein, at the Temora Progress Meeting, according to the Evening News of 23 June 1883, a letter was read to report the Barmedman telegraph line "would be proceeded without delay. The letter when read caused much amusement as, before its receipt, the contractor (Mr. Airey) had got through half of the work".



14.2: Line to West Wyalong.

As noted elsewhere, Barmedman had been called Wyalong up to May 1882 (see the name development elsewhere). So on 20 March 1894, the Yass Courier reported that

"The latest crushings of Wyalong stone by Frazer and Party gave 39½ ozs of gold from 10 tons of stone ... The party of Mr. Meldrum, a surveyor found, when at work, a gold-bearing reef on Jamieson's selection, on Allen's Buddigower station, 12 miles south of Wyalong. A small rush has set in and 12 applications for permits have been received. The new find is believed to be a continuation of the main lode. There have been 200 to 300 applications for business sites in the township and they are still coming in freely". Clearly with the possibility of gold in the region, it was appropriate to extend the telegraph line from Temora to Wyalong. The same article continued: "The officer acting for the Postmaster-General Mr. Suttor, states that the Postal Inspector at Wyalong advises that a piece of land be obtained from the Government reserve for postal purposes. It probably might be necessary to open the office in a tent or some other temporary structure pending the erection of a more suitable building. The requisite arrangements have been made for the construction of a telegraph line from Barmedman to the field. The reports as to probable permanency of the field justifying this expenditure. An endeavour is being made to establish a daily mail which will probably shortly he carried out".

Freeman's Journal of 24 March 1894 reported "Arrangements have been completed for a daily mail to Wyalong from Barmedman. The Post Office will be in a temporary and rough building for the present. Tenders have been invited for a telegraph line, to be returnable on April 4. The line is to be completed within a month". In the same month, the tender of Messrs. Crimson and Pantlin of 77 Elizabeth Street, Redfern was accepted for the erection of the telegraph line between Barmedman and Wyalong at a cost of £11 per mile complete. Additional wire on existing poles was to be charged at £2 per mile and struts were 15s. each.

The Cootamundra Herald of 16 June 1894 raised the interest level further when it reported: "Before this appears in print — a convenience which will be welcomed by every person in the district. I don't think any provision has been made so far for connecting the line with the government township (of West Wyalong). A communication and a numerously signed petition were forwarded some time ago by the towns people, asking for Post and Telegraphic communication, but the reply led them to infer that the authorities in Sydney knew about as much in relation to the position of affairs here as they might be expected to know about a goat run in the back blocks of Japan. In fact, they didn't know whether there was a surveyed township or not, or whether there was any township other than a police camp and a temporary Post Office. The reply to the petition said so much and no one doubts it just now". Soon after, the Gazette of 23 June announced "The Post and Telegraph office at present known as Wyalong, now bears the designation of West Wyalong. An official Post and Telegraph office has been opened at Wyalong township, to be known as Wyalong". So good to clarify the issue and to be able to infer the telegraph line might have been connected - might being the operative word.

To ensure everyone was clear on the present position, the Daily Telegraph summarised the situation as "The tenders have closed for the erection of two public school buildings. The contractors have commenced the erection of the Catholic church at West Wyalong. The business of the C.P.'s office is to be removed to the Wyalong surveyed town as soon as the courthouse has been completed. The Post and Telegraph offices are now open in both towns" - within three miles of each other..

In the Gazette of 2 November 1894, it was announced that the tender submitted by Mr. Thomas Potts of Gladesville had been selected to construct a line of telegraph, on wooden poles, from West Wyalong to Ungarie.

On 18 December 1894, the Wyalong Star reported on the requests of a petition as follows: