New South Wales - Colonial period: 1858-1900.
Lines in the south-east region.

The south-east region of New South Wales is defined in this site as being bounded by the area below the line from Sydney to Bathurst, Orange and Forbes, down to the Victorian border to the east of Young, Cootamundra and Gundagai and across to the coast.

The map of the region below shows the main Telegraph lines and the Telegraph Offices opened to about 1880. The top of the map joins to north-east region while the left of the map joins to the south-west region.

The colours used for the telegraph lines on the map indicate the broad time periods with details of developments provided below:

South east

To 1862:

Apart from the lines south to Victoria and north to Queensland, the major line was that over the Blue Mountains west to Bathurst and then via Guyong and Orange to Forbes. This line was intended to open the agricultural regions as well as gold mining discoveries north of Bathurst around Sofala. It also facilitated major lines to the south (see next section).

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".

Three other branch lines were also established from the line to Victoria:


The first extension in the region was in 1864 to Queanbeyan from Yass. Queanbeyan was the economic, social and legal centre of the region at that time but it was quite isolated from the rest of the world! In 1860, it took 13 hours to communicate with Sydney. The linking of Queanbeyan to the main line was therefore accorded high priority especially through the active support from the local community.

A Telegraph Committee was established in Queanbeyan and, when the Braidwood link was announced, a push was made to have Queanbeyan linked to the main line. The Government backed the plan as long as Queanbeyan residents guaranteed 5% of the construction cost.

The other major development was the extension of the line, which had been constructed from Bathurst through Orange to Forbes, to the south via Young to Wagga Wagga. This was a major line noted in the 1864 Report.

The lines from Bathurst to Carcoar via Cowra and then Grenfell on the Forbes-Young line were constructed in response to the gold mining developments during the 1860s. The former line was raised as a possibility in the 1864 Report. Communications were important for various reasons related to the gold itself as well as to associated law and order troubles.

The other major construction activity in this region during this period was the push to the south-east and to the coast.

1873 onwards:

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) (for the extensions see the south-west lines).

Other construction of telegraph lines in the general region were focussed both on completing connections especially with alternative routes and on major economic activities:

It is unlikely that the Cootamundra telegraph office was opened in anticipation of the birth of the great cricketer Sir Don Bradman some 30 years later !!! :)