Victoria - Colonial: 1854 - 1900.
The Bordertown Line (No. 5 West).

The Bordertown No. 5 West line began with the Geelong to Ballarat component of the first line and its extension to Beaufort/Raglan (Fiery Creek) during construction of the first line to South Australia. The Western line of the 1860s started from Beaufort and extended as a branch to Ararat and Stawell while the rest of the line ran to Hexam and Hamilton to form part of the which later became the Penola and the Narracoorte lines. In the 1870s, the Stawell Branch was absorbed into the Horsham line as the extension moved to the north-west before becoming part of the Border Town line..

Gold discoveries significantly motivated the construction of the line - for example, in February 1860, a 96 ounce nugget was found at Fiery Creek (Raglan) with a second find soon after of 33 ounces. Stawell is still the centre of significant gold mining in Victoria - decades after the telegraph had been terminated.

In circumstances where messages contain private and secret information - such as those in which gold finds were commonly reported through the telegraph network -staff working in Telegraph Offices have to maintain their required silence about the contents of telegrams. In addition, they can take no action as a result of seeing something in a telegram. These rules had been adopted very early in the development of the networks in every Colony. In 1881, the Mount Alexander Mail (Castlemaine) reported "In the course of the inquiry made by the Whitelaw Board, it transpired that Mr. Whitelaw had some mining transactions with a well-known Ballarat broker. The members of the board suggest that the regulation prohibiting officers of the Telegraph service from having any interest whatever in such transactions, should be strictly enforced. The Postmaster-General has accordingly issued further orders, stating that any infraction of the regulation will be considered a serious offence".

  This map leads to the Donald line and the Wycheproof line.  
This map leads to the Mount Gambier-Border Town line. Tis map leads to the Echuca-Deniliquin line.
This map leads to the Albury line to NSW.
  This map leads to the Narracoorte line and the Penola line.  

Ballarat to Stawell.

The original Western line - as noted above - began from the Ballarat - Raglan/Beaufort section of the first line to South Australia.

Line to Ararat.

On 19 June 1857, the Portland Guardian reported:

"The heaviest "rush" about here this week is to Mount Ararat, some ten or fifteen miles beyond Fiery Creek. About twelve months ago there was a good rush to the same locality, since which time very little was heard of it. At the present time, however, hundreds are flocking there from the surrounding diggings. The wires for the Electric Telegraph are laid nearly the whole distance from Ballarat to Mount Ararat".

The Star of 27 October 1857 commented: "Whatever may be said of the tardiness of Government in its ordinary manner of disposing of business or meeting the wants of the public, it is only fair to state that the application of the telegraph to the requirements of the colony has been managed in a better spirit. A line will shortly be laid down to Ararat, branching off from the main line to Adelaide somewhere beyond Fiery Creek. We believe the contract will shortly be entered on and Mr. McGowan's dominion extended to this latest of all the goldfields".

In late 1857, E.L. Growell was selected to construct a line of telegraph between Fiery Creek and Ararat at a cost of £50 15s. per mile. In August 1858, his contract was extended by £150 to enable him to complete extra work. The telegraph line reached Ararat and the Telegraph Office opened in November 1858.

There was then a pause in constructing the line beyond Ararat for about two years.

An extension line was constructed to Learmonth about 15 years later. The Herald of 22 August 1872 had reported that "Mr. Murray, President of the Ballarat Shire, and Councillor Gilchrist were introduced by Messrs. Longmore and Stewart, M.L.A.'s, to the hon. the Postmaster-General who was asked that a line of telegraph might be extended to Learmonth from the present main line running from Ballarat to Ararat — a distance of about five and a half miles. Mr. Langton promised to give the matter favorable consideration". The deputation pointed out that, if they had the advantage of telegraph communication, the farmers would get the chance of catching good markets in Melbourne when a rise occurred. Learmonth was theShire town. The Ballarat to Ararat wire passed within 5½ miles so that the cost of the extension would be small - not more than £150.


Ararat to Stawell.

On 19 January 1860, The Argus reported that "Mr. Woods gave notice that on Wednesday next he would ask the Hon. the Postmaster-General whether it was the intention of the Government to extend telegraphic communication from Ararat to Stawell, Pleasant Creek and, if so, when"? Mr. Bailey, in reply, stated that the extension of telegraphic communication from Ararat to Stawell, Pleasant Creek, was under consideration, as well as communication with other places in that direction". So the matter was then clear to everyone.

In a repeat answer to Mr, Woods on 25 January 1860, Mr. Bailey said "that he thought he had answered the hon. member at the time that he gave notice of his question. It was the intention of the Government to extend the telegraph from Ararat to Stawell, Pleasant Creek as soon as the revenue would permit of the necessary works being proceeded with". In 1861, the new line was constructed to Stawell which was still a major gold center and was named Stawell in that year. The Gazette of 5 July 1861 noted that the contract for the 25 mile extension of line of telegraph from Ararat to Stawell had been agreed with Thomas G. Green & Co. at £47 per mile - total £1,175.

On 21 December 1869, the Ballarat Star announced "Friday's Government Gazette formally announces that telegraphic communication has been opened with Quartz Reefs and Stuart Mill, and that the telegraph office at Stawell has been closed".

On 30 May 1874, The Ballarat Star reported that "In a few days, the second telegraph line to Stawell will be completed and the residents of Learmonth will then be in a position to send direct telegrams to Stawell, Ararat, Beaufort, Geelong and Melbourne. Besides this, the line will be of great benefit to Ballarat, for the business with Stawell and intermediate stations will be divided".

Stawell to Horsham.

Horsham had developed as a major centre for wheat and wool and these commercial interests justified the extension of the telegraph line. As is noted (strongly) elsewhere, Horsham should have had a telegraph office earlier than having to wait 14 years after Stawell and Ararat. In the Legislative Assembly of 2 September 1874, "Mr MacBain asked the Postmaster-General when he intended calling for tenders for the construction of the extension of the telegraph line from Stawell to Horsham. Mr Ramsay said that he hoped to call for tenders within the next ten days".

The Hamilton Spectator of 5 December 1874 noted that it expected the telegraph line to Horsham to be completed by 16-20 December. Other reports indicate the line was probably completed in January 1875. The Telegraph Office was another issue.

In January 1878, tenders were called for the construction of a telegraph line of 35 miles in length from Stawell to Murtoa as the first part of the Stawell to Horsham railway line. Tenders closed on 8 March. The railway line opened on 18 December 1878 and included a telegraph station at the railway station.

From Murtoa, a branch line was constructed to Warracknabeal

Line to Dimboola and beyond to Bordertown.

On 23 October 1879, The Hamilton Spectator noted: "Mr. E. Clark (Wimmera) gave notice in the Assembly on Tuesday to ask the Postmaster-General when he intends to call for tenders for the erection of the telegraph between Horsham and Dimboola; also between Harrow and Apsley via Edenhope. Our telegrams report a favorable answer".

In November 1879, the South Australian government established an office at Border Town and this therefore became the connection point for the third inter-colonial line between Victoria and South Australia.

The Victorian line was constructed through three towns in relatively close proximity to each other:

On 7 May 1880, The Argus announced that "Mr. Todd has received a letter from the deputy postmaster general in Melbourne stating that directions for the survey of the telegraph line from Dimboola to the South Australian border will be proceeded with immediately, with the view to establish direct communication between Melbourne and Adelaide". In a reference in the December 1883 Border Watch, it was stated "there is now a direct line carrying two wires connecting us with Melbourne via Horsham and Dimboola".

In 1881, a tender was advertised in the Gazette and in various newspapers for the supply and erection of 768 Telegraph Poles (more or less) for the Stawell-Murtoa line.

In 1883 (?), a Telegraph Office was also opened in Lillimur - between Kaniva and the border - but again not before great pressure from the community. One report, in the Horsham Times of 8 May 1883 stated:

"The line from Dimboola to Border Town passes through the township, the office is erected (by a resident) and an approved lady operator is waiting, having been in the neighbourhood nearly a month, yet the required connection is not made. If the township were so insignificant as not to promise business for the telegraph office, this procrastination were excusable, but surely, with a bank, three hotels, three stores, police station and a dozen other places of business, besides a considerable surrounding agricultural population to support, there is no excuse for so long a delay. The inconvenience the lack of telegraphic communication causes is felt daily, and the more keenly because, seemingly, there is no reasonable excuse for delaying the connection with the wires. These disabilities have been stated at length, but the district is fast becoming an important one, so perhaps you, Sir (the editor), will grant space enough for their appearance in print. Persistent importunity, so the shape of communication with the authorities, has hitherto produced so little fruit that an appeal through the medium of the press is the only resource open".

By 1890, increased construction and a re-configuring of the linkages meant that there were 3 lines to and in the general north-west area of Victoria. Those lines which were not solely for telephones include:

Line 5: Melbourne through Newport Test Box, Werribee, Geelong, Wabdallah, Meredith, Ballarat, Learmonth, Beaufort, Ararat, Stawell, Murtoa, Horsham, Dimboola Railway Station, Dimboola, Nhill, Kaniva, Lillimur North, across S.A. border to Bordetown.
Line 6: Melbourne through Newport Test Box, Werribee, Geelong, Meredith, Ballarat, Beaufort, Ararat Railway, Ararat, Stawell, Glenorchy, Lubeck Railway, Murtoa to Horsham.
Line 20: Melbourne through Footscray Test Box, Bacchus Marsh, Gordons, Ballarat, Beaufort, Ararat, Stawell, Horsham, Dimboola, Nhill, across S.A. border to Bordertown and Adelaide (Quadruplex).
Line 89: Melbourne through Footscray Test Box, Bacchus Marsh, Ballarat, Ararat, Horsham, across S.A. border to Bordertown and Adelaide (quadruplex),
Copper wire No. 12 gauge.
Line 104: Horsham, Natimuk to Goroke.