Victoria - Colonial period: 1854-1900.
The Echuca (Northern) line.

The first line into the Central-north region of Victoria was that to Sandhurst (Bendigo) in January 1857 to serve the goldfields in the surrounding district. In concert with the line construction around Ballarat to the south, lines were constructed from and around Sandhurst starting in 1858.

The first major construction from Sandhurst was towards the New South Wales border to Echuca with Moama on the New South Wales side. Echuca is close to the meeting of three major rivers - the Murray, Goulburn and Campaspe - and is the closest point on the Murray river to Melbourne. Commercial necessity therefore drove the urgent extension of the Sandhurst telegraph line to the north. It is very likely that one or two repeater stations might have been used between Bendigo and Echuca but their location is not presently known.

The Report to June 1858 notes that contracts had been completed for a line from Sandhurst to Echuca.

Echuca line The Echuca Telegraph Office was opened in 1858. Transmission of messages to NSW had, however, to wait until the Deniliquin Telegraph Office opened in August 1861.

The Inglewood Branch extended from Bendigo (Sandhurst) through Bridgewater to Inglewood. It was established in 1877 when the two new offices were opened. It created a connection to the earlier line linking Dunnolly through Maldon to Castlemaine at the southern end of the Swan Hill line as well as to the Wycheproof line.

In the 1864 Report, an attached map showed that it was proposed to link Sandhurst with Heathcote. The date of this connection cannot yet be established.

In the same 1864 Report, progress on transferring the line was described: "The work of removing and re-erecting along the railway the section between Sandhurst and Echuca (including a special wire for railway service) is now progressing rapidly and it is expected that the new line will be available for business within the ensuing six weeks" (from 2 January 1865).

The line south of Sandhurst (Bendigo) linked to Castlemaine and Kyneton and thence to Melbourne. After the significant construction activities, New Gisborne became the terminating station for the Echuca line from where a different line was used to relay the messages to Melbourne. All these stations were also on the Swan Hill line and details of the telegraph Offices can be found on the Swan Hill page.