Victoria - Colonial period: 1854-1900.
Gippsland lines.


The lines through the Gippsland region are described (in geographical order not chronologically) as follows:

1. The first line from Melbourne: Dandenong - Sale - Port Albert.

2. Adding the first offices to the main west-east lines.

2.1: Adding additional telegraph offices.
2.2: The Walhalla Branch.

3. The other Gippsland lines.

3.1: The Bairnsdale Branch and beyond.
3.2.1: The Maffra Branch.

3.2. The Port Albert line.

3.3. Lines in Southern Gippsland.

3.4 The line to Wilson's Promontory.

8. Later developments.


1. The first line through the Gippsland region - to Sale.

The beginning of the telegraph lines running throughout the Gippsland region to the east of Melbourne was the construction of a long distance line from Melbourne to Sale. No intermediate stations were opened at this time. The line from Melbourne Central Telegraph Office passed through the general region of Oakleigh - Dandenong. This strategy was in keeping with the policy of opening up the facility of telegraphic communication to the widest area possible to serve important economic and social needs. The construction of appropriate intermediate and/or extension offices could then be implemented at later times as and when needs arose.

Map copied from the Chart included in McGowan's Annual Report
for the year 1862.
The McGowan Report for 1862 notes that provision had been made for the construction of a line from Melbourne to Sale and Port Albert (Gipps Land) during 1863. The Report continues (p. 2) as follows:

"It has been strongly recommended that the route of the Gipps Land line should follow the main road via Oakleigh, Dandenong and Cranbourne thence via Sawtell's Creek crossing to the southward of the Koo-We-Rup, or Great Swamp (Ed. now the general region from Westernport Bay to around Bunyip), keeping the best track thence to Rosedale, Sale and Port Albert in preference to the old track via Packenham and the Bunyip; but the selection of the route will only be decided upon after the most accurate information may have been collected with reference to the nature of the country through those best acquainted with its peculiarities and most conversant with the several requirements of the case.

The instructions for the guidance of the surveyors specially direct that, in marking the route for the telegraph line, the facilities attainable for the eventual formation of a permanent road on the same survey are to be constantly kept prominently in view; by this means, it is hoped that both services may be practically benefited - such a result having already accrued under similar conditions in other portions of the colony".

Almost immediately came the response: "Rosedale has taken the initiatory step and claims as being "the most central township in Gippsland" and so has the immediate right to the extension of a telegraph line. We have no desire to deprive Rosedale of any of the advantages which may arise from telegraphic communication but, at the same time, we hope to find that the claims of Sale as being the most important township will not be quite forgotten". (Gippsland Times 23 May 1862).

On 18 July 1862, the Gippsland Guardian included the following: "the committee appointed some time ago for the purpose of memorialising the Government to grant telegraphic communication with Melbourne and Sale, received from G. D. Hedley, Esq., M.L.A., for South Gipps Land, a letter from the Postmaster General enclosing a statement showing the probable cost of establishing Telegraphic Communication with Sale and Port Albert, Gipps Land in which two estimates are given:

1st estimate Intersecting and connecting with the Cape Schanck line at Frankston, thence via Pakenham and Buneep to Sale £6,330
  Sale to Port Albert £2,750
  Port Albert to Welshpool £750
2nd estimate Commencing at the Electric Telegraph Office, Melbourne, and proceeding via Oakleigh, Dandenong and Pakenham and Buneep to Sale £8,650
  Sale to Port Albert £2,750
  Port Albert to Welshpool £750


On 28 February 1863, the Gazette advertised for "Tenders to be received at the office of Lands and Survey up to Monday, the 16th day of March, 1863, for surveying a telegraph line from Melbourne to Port Albert, via Oakleigh, Dandenong, Cranbourne, Rosedale, and Sale. Tenderers will state a rate per lineal mile".

Perhaps it was just as well that the February approval was given because, in the House of 3 June 1863, a rather vivid debate took place - unearthing some deep-seated hostilities. The Gippsland Times of 5 June 1863 reported the debate as follows:

"During the passing of the estimates for 1863, there was one night of more than ordinary excitement. A large sum of money was wanted for the purpose of forming a telegraphic communication between Melbourne and Gippsland and an active debate ensued during which the importance of this district was prominently urged forward proving the necessity of immediate action being taken in promoting the work. This time, however, the Ministry were on our side, and the ex-Chief Secretary, Mr. R. Heales, in the Opposition. To a casual observer it would seem as if the one party were really the friends of Gippsland whilst the other was its bitterest enemy. But to us it was apparent that the whole question resolved itself into a Ministerial measure and as such the sum of £10,000 was placed upon the estimates for constructing a line of telegraph between Melbourne, Sale and Port Albert.

From the beginning to the end of the debate, we saw no great love for Gippsland neither could we discover any particular desire to have even common justice done to our interests. The sum of ten thousand pounds was placed there for the purpose of softening the asperities between a tergiversating member of the Assembly and his constituency — in fact, it was a sham bribe and North Gippsland was unfortunately gullible enough to swallow the bait.

The farce, however, had to be carried a little further to give the whole working the semblance of truth. Tenders were called for forming a telegraphic line from Cranbourne to Sale via MacDonald's track (Ed. in the region of where Lang Lang is now). This looked feasible enough. Nevertheless there was not one particle of feasibility about it. This track was brought forward, not with any intention of carrying out the telegraphic communication, but the Ministry knew well that they threw a bone of contention in the way and that ere long foolish curs would quarrel and fight over the bare bone, whilst it afforded a good excuse for the Government to withdraw until the people here had settled the matter amongst themselves. The bone was accordingly thrown and the curs fought, and consequently Gippsland has lost all chance of having for many years a telegraphic communication with the metropolis. It is a great pity that we have no member who could look after the rights of the district. It is quite evident that Dr. Mackay carries no weight with him and, though he at times tries to do something, he must know as well as we can tell him "that a bird once snared needs no enticing.

In fact, North Gippsland, though daily improving in importance, was never in such a wretched plight than at this moment. We have no place on the estimates for 1863 for roads and bridges; our public hovels or, as they are designated, buildings, are fast crumbling to decay; and our roads and our bridges are actually impassable. Money was placed on the estimates in no very niggardly sums for public buildings in Sale but now, in the sixth month of the year, not one tender has as yet been called for nor do we know that the site for the buildings is yet permanently fixed.

Between Sale and Stratford we have two bridges impassable, which have remained in their present state since the February floods and the only means of communication is now kept up by the courtesy of land-owners who have hitherto permitted drays to pass through their enclosed land. Again, between Sale and Port Albert, Monkey Creek is in a most dangerous state and when we ask for money to repair the only available highway for traffic between North and South Gippsland, the hypothetical telegraph is brought forward as an instance of the liberality of the Government towards Gippsland and they reply that they cannot afford to supply our wants any further.

To sum up the whole of our just causes of complaint would be an almost Herculean task and one which would be thoroughly useless unless we had a representative in Melbourne with sufficient activity and watchfulness to take some care for our interests".

The Age of 13 June 1863 noted "There is a probability of the telegraph line from Melbourne to Gipps Land being proceeded with, Dr Evans having made a promise to that effect in the Assembly yesterday evening so far at east as the commencement and termination of the line from Melbourne to Pakenham, and from the eastern side of the Dividing Range to Sale and Port Albert are concerned. The central portion is delayed, pending determination as to the exact route to be selected for this purpose and for that of the main road to Gipps Land".

On 26 June 1863, Dr. Mackay asked the Postmaster-General, in the Assembly, on Friday evening, what steps had been taken for the construction of the proposed line of telegraph to Gipps Land and how soon, probably, would the line be in operation?

"To this question Dr. Evans is reported to have replied that, immediately on the money being voted, tenders had been called for the completion of the work, but subsequently withdrawn, on its being ascertained that probably a better route than the existing main road to Gipps Land would be found for the purpose. For some months past the departments of Land and Survey, and of Roads and Bridges, had been engaged in endeavoring to fix a better route and there was every reason to believe from the reports of Mr. McDonald (Ed: see above for MacDonald's Track), on the Melbourne side, and Mr. Rawlinson, District Surveyor, on the Gipps Land side, that from Pakenham, following a line south of the great swamp, a much better line could be obtained. For the completing of the line from Melbourne to Pakenham, therefore, tenders would be immediately called for and also for that portion of the route on the eastern (Gipps Land) side of the dividing range. The intermediate portion he would not be in a position to call tenders for until the best route for both telegraph line and main road were definitely settled".

Soon after, the Gazette listed:

On 27 November 1863, the Gippsland Times shared a letter they had received from a correspondent "complaining of the certain injury which must result to the cattle road between Sale and Melbourne from laying down a telegraph line according to the present specification. As far as the Buneep, he says, the road will be cleared 80 feet wide; but from the Buneep to Sale, only 5 feet round each post is proposed to be cleared. This clearing, as far as we can understand, he imagines will cause a considerable amount of fallen timber to lie on the track and, in some cases, shut it up altogether. In our opinion, we have not much fear of this result as the present track is so circuitous that the straight lines of the telegraph will seldom come in contact with it".

Once telegraph lines were erected, they often formed the basis for a road through the developing region. Sometimes this was a good thing. Sometimes the double purpose reflected the problems which had been encountered erecting telegraph lines through rough and unexplored terrain in the early stages of opening up a region. The Gippsland Times of 4 March 1864, for example, reported:

"The necessity for opening a road to Melbourne is now greater than ever, the only track hitherto travelled being made utterly unavailable for taking stock to market and in many places the road is quite blocked up with timber fallen around the telegraph posts. On the extreme ends of the telegraph line — say from Port Albert to the Morewell and from Melbourne to Cannibal Creek (Ed: say midway between Packenham and Bunyip near Garfield North) — all fallen timber is to be cleared but in the centre of the line merely a bridle track of five feet wide is to be left on which is to pass all overland traffic between North Gippsland and Melbourne".

On 18 March 1864, the Gippsland Guardian reprinted an answer given by the Commissioner of Public Works, "with reference to the telegraph, the poles had been set and the wires strained up to within two miles of the Bunyip. Bad weather alone had interfered with the construction of the telegraph beyond that point".

By September 1864, the Melbourne to Sale telegraph line (as it was described) had all the posts erected as far as the site reserved for a Telegraph and Post Office and connection was made on 22 September. The line was immediately continued to Port Albert and a Telegraph Office was opened there on 1 December. The first Press announcement of an interruption on the Melbourne-Sale line appears to have been on 14 October 1864.

On 22 March 1865, The Argus recounted a report from a horseman who had travelled the route for the telegraph line and the new Gippsland Road:

"The Gipps Land road possesses but small attractions to the lover of the picturesque but in summer at least is tolerably good for a horseman. The track lies in the exact line of the telegraph posts from Dandenong to Sale and is sufficiently clear of timber to admit of the passage of a bullock dray, or an American buggy, the whole way. For the greater part of it, it is as dreary and hungry, and the eternal monotony of stringy bark and white gum is unbroken save by the unlovely wattle. Occasionally, in the gullies, there is a little bit of more refreshing greenery. Clumps of damp fern-trees mingle with the musk plant and a thicker and more varied vegetation attests the presence of water. The rank grass gives promise of the richer soil beneath and the birds are more numerous and cheerful.

The general character of the scenery is, however, dull and commonplace. At Buneep there is a little break in the monotony through the river, which is actually running in this hot and dry February, and the dense scrub of light-wood and other nobler timber on its banks; but again you come to the country of crab-holes and barrenness and the gum tree. The bridges on the road are of a peculiar eccentric design and grotesque habit, constituting in themselves the chief dangers of the passage, yet they are elaborate and expensive of construction. At Traralgon, the face of the country improves and thence to Rosedale is a fine pastoral district with good grass watered by the Glengarry and its tributaries. Rosedale itself is a neat and smart little town with a look of prosperity not usual in this drowsy region. Sale, the capital of Gipps Land, has the character usual to all our interior towns, a little relieved by the bustle consequent on the opening of the new gold-fields in the north of which it is the present storehouse and entrepot".

A 6 September 1865 report in the Gippsland Times described "the telegraph track is all but impassable except to horsemen, winding through amongst the fallen timber, in mortal danger from falls in hidden crab-holes which are numerous, deep and dangerous".

Even as recently as 1873, a traveller penned "The roads from the Bunyip to Brandy Creek are beyond the power of description being almost impassable. The tracks are but rivers of mud and the broken coach lying on the wayside told its own tale of the difficulties of transit in this neglected locality; and the wonder is how any vehicle can escape such a catastrophe. How a railway from Melbourne to Sale has been so long delayed seemed to me incomprehensible" (Leader 27 July 1873).

The Railway did begin to contribute significantly to opening up areas within Gippsland from 1877. On 23 May 1877, the Geelong Advertiser reported that "trains will run as far as the Moe Swamp in about two months, leaving 97 miles of the journey to be performed by coach. The section from Oakleigh to Bunyip, a distance of 43 miles, it is anticipated, will be completed by the 1st July, thus bringing Sale within 10 hours of Melbourne, instead of 24 as at present". That first section of the Gipps Land Railway - from Oakleigh to Bunyip - opened in October. In conjunction with that, Telegraph Offices were also opened in November at Pakenham and at Bunyip at the Railway stations and in August at Packenham in conjunction with the Post Office. Indeed the map below indicates for just part of Gippsland, four Telegraph Offices were opened in 1877.


2. Adding the first offices to the main west-east lines.

Telegraph stations were not to be opened at any of these places along the telegraph line as it was being constructed except at Sale. The precise route cannot now be determined in terms of our current orientations and so inferences are necessary about the precise details of the route. For example the line went through Buneep which was a few miles north of where Bunyip is now located. Of course, as with any telegraph lines, the first route was often replaced with another as population centres grew or the difficulty of accessing certain locations became apparent.

Stations were probably established (at some places now unknown) but only as repeater stations or as branch stations for other lines and so did not have offices open to the public.

The line to Sale passed through Rosedale but no Office was opened there at the time of construction. As early as 1862 however, as noted in the Gippsland Guardian of 16 May: "A public meeting was held at the Rosedale Hotel, Rosedale, on the 10th instant, to consider the propriety of petitioning the Government to extend the Electric Telegraph to Rosedale. Proposed by Mr. Morris and seconded by Mr. Allen and carried unanimously " that a petition be forwarded to the Government shewing the great necessity of extending Telegraphic communication to Rosedale that being the most central township in Gipps Land".

In the Report for the year 1866, Mr. McGowan noted: "Arrangements have been made, under your previous instructions, for opening an office at Rosedale, a convenience which is likely, I think, to receive a fair amount of support through the traffic to Stringer's Creek gold-fields and other localities in the vicinity. Communication with Rosedale can be opened immediately the expenditure provided for the purpose on the Estimates for 1867 may be available".

A Telegraph Office was opened at Rosedale in March 1867.

The job of a linesman is never finished. The Gippsland Times of 29 May 1875 reported "Some considerable time since a large number of telegraph posts on the road from Sale to Rosedale were condemned by a Government Inspector, and it was then proposed that the line should be renewed. Since that time, however, nothing has been done, and now in several places the posts have rotted out of the ground, and should some steps not be at once taken, the probability is that the line may at any moment be rendered unserviceable".

The next offices to open to the public on this line were in 1871 at Shady Creek (January) and then at Dandenong (June) and at Berwick in March 1873.

The line being constructed through Bunyip and Shady Creek is not well documented but there are sufficient references to confirm that route. In the Report for the year 1866, Mr. McGowan suggested the too frequent occurrences of interruption to communication between Melbourne and Sale might be alleviated by "some additional clearing along a portion of the route between the Bunyip River and Shady Creek before the winter rains set in".

On 23 February 1869, the Gippsland Times observed "Owing to the telegraph line between Traralgon and Shady Creek being injured - it is supposed by bush-fire - circuit was lost at the Sale Telegraph Office last night, hence we are without our usual Melbourne telegram". This comment also indicates that the line had been constructed through these places but Telegraph Offices had not yet been established. It also indicates that the line might have continued easterly from Buneep (Bunyip) to the area near Shady Creek and then traced a path to Traralgon before moving on to Rosedale.

On 28 June 1870, the Gipps Land Mercury: "It appears to be necessary again to call the attention of the postal authorities to the expense and loss to which the Government and the community are put by the frequent breakages of the telegraphic wires in the Shady Creek district. Last week the Sale line repairer and one from Melbourne were occupied several days in repairing the line in the district indicated at a cost to the Government of at least £20. There is reason to believe that the Government have spent more in repairing the line during the past year than it would cost to erect a station at or near Shady Creek and pay the salary of an operator for twelve months. If a telegraph office was erected at the spot known as the Junction Hotel, near Shady Creek, on the Melbourne Road, the centre of a rising district, it would soon pay for itself and a line repairer starting therefrom, as a central point, would not cost the Government one-quarter the amount they now spend in line-repairing to say nothing of the great advantage the community would derive from an improvement that would cause breakages to be repaired in half the time they occupy at present".

Sometimes an inducement to construct something can come about in unexpected ways. The Weekly Times of 19 November 1870 reported the following:

"It has long been advocated by the residents of Gipps Land that there should be a telegraph station between Melbourne and Rosedale. Shady Creek - situated about sixty miles from each of the above places - has been suggested as a most convenient spot for the purpose. One of the evils of having a line of 120 miles will be gathered from an extract from a letter written by a well-known Queenslander to a friend in Melbourne: "I fully intended to have been over for the races but when they were put off, I went up to Stringer's (Walhalla). On my return from there, the wire was broken but I left a telegram in the office at Rosedale to be sent, whenever repaired, to back Nimblefoot to the extent of £50 for the Cup. The wire was not repaired until the day after the Cup race, so you may say 'I lost about £1,600 as the odds against him at the time I wanted to send the message were about 38 to 1'.

It is an ill wind that blows nobody good and, in this instance the ring has reaped the benefit of inadequate telegraphic communication between Melbourne and the various parts of Gipps Land. Had there been a telegraph station at Shady Creek, Nimblefoot's admirer would have been richer by a considerable number of pounds and some member of the betting confraternity would have been the victim".

The Telegraph Office at Shady Creek opened in January 1871 - but it closed in March 1877. An interesting insight is provided by the Gippsland Times of 21 February 1871: "The telegraph wire is down again, this time on the Melbourne side of Shady Creek, and we are of course unable to give our readers the usual latest news". This confirms that the telegraph line at least went near Shady Creek and, initially not as far south as Warragul or Yarragon.

In 1875, plans prepared earlier for the Gipps Land Railway line were being made available at the district survey office. Those plans showed the portion of the second section of the line linked the Buneep and Shady Creek, while those for the remaining portion detailed the route from Shady Creek to the Morewell. These plans would have been very influential in planning the next routes for the telegraph and for the roads.


2.1: Adding other Telegraph Offices along the main Gippsland line.

By 1875, a push for a Telegraph Office to be opened at Traralgon (west of Rosedale) was gaining in strength. "Directly the new bridge is completed at Traralgon there will be a considerable influx of the Walhalla business, which now tends to Shady Creek, and the establishment of a telegraph office will become a necessity. The cost could not ruin the department and the accommodation would be great to the travelling public. The wires run right through the town and the present postmistress is a competent operator. An instrument, battery and a few yards of wire would complete all requirements" (Gippsland Times 16 February 1875).

The Traralgon office opened in May 1875 and the Shady Creek Telegraph Office closed in March 1877. Once that closure was effected, lines began to be erected to the south to bring places like Moe and Morwell into the main Gippsland line - and closer to the Railway line. For example, in July 1877, the Gazette listed tenders for "extra works on contract for constructing a line of telegraph along the railway route between Sale and Morwell - £53 - to Milliar and James".

The Ballarat Courier reported a bad incident on 7 February 1877:

"a diabolical attempt was made to upset a train, running from the Morwell to Sale. The train consisted of several trucks laden with telegraph poles and drawn by an engine and tender — the latter being in front. On approaching the bridge over the Sheepwash Creek, about half-past six o'clock, it was seen that an obstruction had been placed on the line and that it was of a formidable character. Brakes were immediately applied but the distance was too short and the incline at this point too great to prevent collision. Fortunately, the obstruction was driven on end and in a short time caught up by the tender. When the train was brought up, it was found that a large and heavy portion of a turn-table had formed the obstacle and that it had been torn and wrenched by the force of the shock. There is no doubt that it was willfully placed on the line. Had the train been thrown off the track, the consequences would have been fearful. Nothing could have saved engine and trucks from going over into the creek and, as several persons were travelling on the engine, loss of life must have occurred as well as destruction of property".

In McGowan's Report for 1876, it was noted that tenders had been called for the erection of a second line of telegraph between Sale and Morwell along the railway line. Perhaps in response to that initiative, a public meeting in Morwell in October 1877 presented "a petition for the removal of the Post Office from the railway station into the township with the view of getting a telegraph office in connection with it".

In 1879, telegraph lines were erected along the railway lines from Oakleigh to Bunyip and from Moe to Sale while another in the intervening Bunyip to Moe stage was still in progress at the end of 1879. The Gazette of 5 March 1881 also announced a contract had been accepted for additional works constructing a telegraph line between Bunyip and Moe from A. Chitts for £301 l9s 5d.

The Annual Report for 1876 notes (p. 9) that a 6 mile loop line was constructed to connect Buln Buln with the main Gippsland Line from Warragul. The Telegraph Office was opened there in March 1877.


2.2 The Walhalla Branch.

It was common practice in all Colonies to require a guarantee from the local community for a sum to cover anticipated operational costs of a proposed Telegraph Office for a certain period. Walhalla was no exception. It cannot be determined here what the guarantee amount was but "As the principal men at Walhalla have already guaranteed the Government for the establishment of a telegraph office there, we may soon expect to be connected with them from the Rosedale office. Many people are of the opinion that this extension will lower the receipts of the Rosedale office but with the secession of population about here and the consequent increase of business, this seems hardly probable" (Gippsland Times 6 July 1867). In a more official context, McGowans's Report for 1867 noted "a guarantee bond was executed by the residents of Stringer's Creek (Walhalla) with a view of securing the extension of a line from Rosedale to that place and the establishment of an office. Five percent per annum is guaranteed to the Government on the expenditure necessary for extending a line and £150 per annum on account of the office on the same terms as for offices at Penshurst and Colleraine. The cost of this extension would not exceed £2,250".

Only two years later:

"A deputation from Gippsland ... waited on the Postmaster General on Wednesday, in reference to the construction of a telegraph line to Walhalla and other portions of the mining centres of that district. It appears that the money has already been voted for the line from Rosedale to Stringer's Creek (i.e Walhalla) but operations seem to have been delayed pending the making of the Bairnsdale line.

The deputation, in drawing the Minister's attention to the subject, expressed their surprise that the Bairnsdale line had been first attended to, the population and business to be transacted being so small that it would hardly pay while the line to the mines was of tenfold importance while there was a large increasing traffic and the stability and richness of the reefs were drawing population daily. The line not having yet been surveyed, a discussion took place as to which route would be best - namely via Wood's Point, Shady Creek or Rosedale. The latter was eventually approved of and the Minister promised immediate attention to the construction of the line".
(Gippsland Times 19 June 1869).

On 18 September 1869, The Gippsland Times reported that "The Commissioner of Public Works has given instructions that an immediate survey of the proposed telegraph line between Rosedale and Walhalla via Toongabbi is made and we understand that tenders have been forwarded by Mr. W. Liddiard, G. T. Jones, George Hastings, J. H. W. Pettit and A. G. Peers, for the execution of the work. The Government, we hear, are very anxious to have the work put in hand without delay as it is considered of great importance".

On 8 January 1870, the Gippsland Times noted that a dray road had been proposed for quite some time between Shady Creek and Walhalla. "Had the residents of Walhalla joined with us in getting a telegraph line between Shady Creek and Walhalla, as they were long ago requested to do, they would have conferred an inestimable benefit upon the whole district".

The Argus of 27 September 1870, commented that "Walhalla as a gold producing district will bear favourable comparison with any other in the colony. I must not forget to inform you that the telegraph is completed in the neighbourhood of the township and in a few days - I am informed - we could be in communication with Rosedale. But the battery has not arrived; neither is the office being got ready for its reception - so surely there must be neglect somewhere".

The Walhalla Office - 32 miles from Rosedale - opened in November 1870. The Gippsland Times of 5 November 1879 described the connection as "Telegraphic communication was opened on Thursday 3 November between Sale and Walhalla, the line having been completed from Rosedale to that place in the early part of the week" . The cost of this branch line was £2,500 - although the construction had been originally tendered for £1,198 10s. The line would be important to residents for, in 1870, "Walhalla was very nearly two days journey from Sale and the road for some distance extended over mountainous country, steep and rugged" - see Walhalla TO entry.

A Telegraph Office was opened at Toongabbie at the Railway Station. It was probably closed when the railway line was diverted direct to Walhalla from Moe not from Rosedale.

On 31 May 1889, the Gippsland Farmers' Journal included a memo from Mr. Harris M.L.A.: "Adverting to previous conferences with the Hon. the Postmaster-General and myself, the Minister has now advised the writer that all arrangements for the erection of direct telegraph communication between Walhalla and Melbourne are completed and instructions have been issued for a special wire to be run along the line with the least possible delay". Such a change is not reflected in the lines included in the 1890 lists shown below.


3. Later developments.

Small Telegraph Offices continued to be opened throughout the region as population centres developed. As expected, demand for telegraphic services grew rapidly over time requiring more wires. For example, even by 1877, a second line to Melbourne was being requested:

"The present line is utterly inadequate to fulfill the requirements of the district and no single line will be able to do it. The outside public often blame the telegraph officials for the delays experienced in the delivery of their messages but the operators can do no more than send messages as the line is clear for them and the Gippsland line has only one wire to convey the business of Bairnsdale at one end of its ramifications, Walhalla at another, Wilson's Promontory and Sale at others, besides over a dozen intermediate stations - it will be pretty evident that for that line to be clear at any time during business hours must be rather an exception to the general rule, even when the line is in working order, to say nothing of its chronic state of "line down and communication interrupted"."
(Gippsland Times 16 March 1877). Special hand stamps to indicate delays in transmission were used quite often in all Colonies and States.


8. Classification of the lines in this region.

The consequence of this problem was special lines were dedicated to serving special districts - and sometimes increasing the number of wires on each of those lines. For example, in 1887, Gippsland telegraphic traffic was supported by three lines - running together between some Telegraph Offices. These were:

Designation of Line Names of Stations Branch Lines Length of line Length of wires Names of Stations
From To
Wilson's Promontory Line (No. 1 East): Wilson's Promontory, Foster, Port Albert, Tarraville, Sale, Rosedale, Traralgon, Morewell, Moe, Yarragon, Trafalgar, Warragul, Drouin, Pakenham, Berwick, Dandenong, Oakleigh.

Port Albert




Yarram Yarram


4 8 Port Albert, Alberton, Yarram Yarram
Rosedale Walhalla 35 36 Rosedale, Toongabbie, Walhalla
Warragul Buln Buln 4 4 Wallagul, Buln Buln
Berwick Beaconsfield 5 5 Berwick, Beaconsfield
Gippsland Line (No. 2 East): Dandenong, Warrugul, Sale.          
Omeo Line (No. 3 East): Omeo, Bruthen, Bairnsdale, Stratford, Maffra, Sale, Rosedale, Traralgon, Warragul, Dandenong, Malvern, Armadale. Bairnsdale Cunninghame 18 33 Bairnsdale,Bruthen, Cunninghame
Bruthen Buchan 24¼ 30½ Bruthen, Buchan

By 1890, increased construction and a re-configuring of the linkages meant that there were 12 lines to and in the Gippsland area. Those lines which were not solely for telephones include:
Line 29: Melbourne through Malvern Test Box, Dandenong, Warragul, Rosedale, Sale, Tarraville, Port Albert, Foster, Yanakie, to Wilson's Promontory.
Line 30: Melbourne through Malvern Test Box, Oakleigh, Dandenong, Berwick, Packenhan, Drouin, Warragul, Yarragon, Trafalgar, Morwell, Traralgon, Rosedale, Sale, Maffra, Stratford.
Line 31: Melbourne through Instrument Room, Malvern Test Box, Oakleigh, Dandenong, Packenhan, Warragul, Morwell, Traralgon, Rosedale, Sale, Maffra, Stratford, Bairnsdale, Bruthen to Omeo.
Line 62: Melbourne through Malvern Test Box, Oakleigh, Dandenong, Berwick, Pakenham, Drouin, Warragul, Traralgon, Toongabbie to Walhalla.
Line 115: Warragul through Drouin to Buln Buln.
Line 117: Port Albert through Alberton to Yarram Yarram.
Line 119: Bairnsdale through Bruthen, Cunninghame to Orbost.
Line 120: Bruthen to Buchan.
Line 196: Maffra to Upper Maffra.
Line 197: Cunningham to Lake Tyres.
Line 198: Port Albert to Woodside.
Line 202: Foster through Toora to Welshpool.
Line 204: Foster to Landing Place.


27 October 1916: Gippsland Mercury:


During the past few days, members of the Telegraph Staffing Committee, have been officially visiting Sale in connection with their system of establishing repeating telegraph centres through the Commonwealth. We understand that it is proposed to make Sale a repeating centre for Gippsland, business being centered here from Omeo, Orbost and Bairnsdale on the east, as far as Moe on the west and Foster on the south. Telegrams from those and intermediate localities would come into Sale, and then be rattled through on the duplex system to Melbourne. This would mean a much more speedy and effective service.

The system is working well in Queensland and New South Wales, where it has already been established. There will be at Sale a staff of about five operators on duty at a time, kept constantly going and to accommodate them certain alterations to the present office will be effected.

Under the duplex system from the local office, a hundred messages an hour could be sent and received on one wire".