Victoria - Colonial period: 1854-1900.
Ballarat line (No. 8 West) - the Wycheproof branch.

Ballarat and Sandhurst (Bendigo) were two critically important hubs for telegraph line development in Victoria. From Ballarat, lines extended:

This map leads to the Swan Hill line.  


This map leads to the Echuca-Deniliquin line.

This map leads to the Narracoorte line.  

Early foundations.

The basis for the Wycheproof line was the pre-1862 line development in Central Victoria. Some new or at least replacement lines had to be constructed to enable different connections between Bendigo and Ballarat. Those evolving connection differences typified the changes which were continually made up to the 1890s to make the overall network of lines more effective and efficient.

An interesting but little known development was reported in the Ballarat Star of 20 February 1871:

"The Government has intimated to the borough council of Clunes, in reply to an application on the subject, that as soon as the funds are available an additional telegraph wire will be fixed between Ballarat and Creswick so as to afford direct communication between Ballarat and Maryborough via Creswick and Clunes and thus ensure increased facilities in the transmission of telegraphic messages". In 1877, the line between Maryborough and Clunes was erected along the railway lines while those between Clunes and Creswick and between Maryborough and Avoca were under construction.

In 1861, the original Inglewood Branch had been constructed without intermediate stations from SandhurstBendigo to Inglewood. Hence when further construction in the region was contemplated, in about 1870, the original 1861 branch was the basis for lines from Bendigo to the north-west.

Line to Eaglehawk.

In June 1871, a deputation from the Borough Council of Eaglehawk met with the Chief Secretary. One of their requests was "that the telegraph should be extended to Eaglehawk and also that there should be a postal delivery in the borough at least once a day". Presumably meeting this request would have required either a short branch line or a re-routing of the line to Inglewood.

On 31 October 1871, the Geelong Advertiser reported "The promise of the Chief Secretary to extend the telegraph from Sandhurst to Eaglehawk has been promptly redeemed. We learn from Mr Vivian that telegraphic communication between the two places was established yesterday".


Bridgewater - on - Loddon

Tenders were called in June 1876 "for the supply and erection of Telegraph Poles along the railway line between Sandhurst and Inglewood". This line would be a second or a replacement line for that constructed in 1871. In August 1876, advertisements were placed in newspapers for "Men to sink Telegraph Holes between Sandhurst and Inglewoood". In June 1877, a Telegraph Office was opened at Bridgewater on the Railway Station.

The Bendigo Advertiser of 27 March 1877 summed up the local attitudes: "Bridgewater is still indignant at the manner in which she is treated in postal and telegraph matters. Only one mail a day is granted at that township - although Inglewood has two - and it has no telegraph communication at all. Moreover the present postal business is conducted in a store. This, in itself, is a matter of great inconvenience. Some time since a promise was made that this state of affairs should be remedied but nothing has been done". That statement really does reflect frustration.

To add to that feeling was the letter to the Editor of The Age of 4 April 1877:

Sir, Bridgewater, with six hundred electors, one of the townships through which the new Inglewood railway runs, months ago begged for a Telegraph Office and second post a day.

The wires are actually laid to the station, the room ready and a second mail passes in the train to come back again. The one mail now costs £65 per annum and, for £15 more, the telegraph office and a second mail can be had which would be a profit to the Post Office.

Why the present arrangement is kept on is only a secret to a few. Petitions and deputation after deputation are treated as farces. By the old coach it took fifteen hours from the closing of the mail till its delivery. When the railway started, it took forty-two and a half hours. But by frequent calls and a great deal of trouble, the Post Office Department were got to reduce it to eighteen and a quarter hours.

Important telegrams are now sent via the nearest station, and the letters advising same often arrive twelve hours before the telegrams. Four cases of this kind occurred in one week; also other blunders too numerous to mention.

A Post Office letter is drafting to honor the Government supporter. Now let us have no baits or blarney on the eve of this election but true and honest men.

As an elector, may I trespass on your space. I send my card and sign my old motto. Yours, etc, 28th March UBIQUE.

On 5 June 1877 (without any further information available) the Bendigo Advertiser reported "Bridgewater people have at last got what they have long been agitating for - namely a properly arranged and managed Post and Telegraph Office. They are at the railway station under the charge of Mr. Hutchinson,Actually Miss. Hutchinson but maybe an error or perhaps an admission of the view in those days that it was so much better to have a man in charge :-( the Stationmaster. Bridgewater is also to have two mails a day". It was Gazetted on 16 June 1877.


Inglewood to Wycheproof.

Until 1858, Wedderburn was known as Korong. An extension from Inglewood to Wedderburn was sought early - motivated by the first gold discoveries and by agriculture. . The earliest indication of construction was in St. Arnaud Mercury of 12 September when they reported " the construction of the telegraph line from Inglewood to Wedderburn is to be proceeded with at once". A few months later, the Bendigo Advertiser 19 January 1876 reported "The Government contract undertaken by Mt. T. Sly Jnr, for the erection of the telegraph line between here and Wedderburn is also going ahead and a long distance has been poled". On 27 January, 1876, the Herald announced "The telegraph line to Wedderburn will be finished this afternoon".

The Wedderburn Telegraph Office was opened in early February 1876. The 1876 Report lists this station as the only station on the "Wedderburn Branch" which, at that time, extended from Inglewood. The town was described by one of these meetings held to advocate the direct line as being "an important township, having at present a population of about 1,000 inhabitants, irrespective of its immediate surroundings. There are in it two branch banks — one of the Bank of Australasia, the other of the Bank of Victoria. Seven hotels, twenty-five general stores, post and telegraph office and Savings Bank, Shire Hall and Council Chambers, Mechanics' Institute - containing 3,000 volumes of well-assorted books - five churches, five establishments employing a considerable number of hands in the manufacture of farming implements, two saddler's shops, three schools — one of them being the State school, having an average attendance of 140 scholars; the other two private schools, each having a good average attendance - a police camp and court-house, large flour mill giving employment to a considerable number of hands, six butchers' shops and a large number of substantially constructed private residences".

The Leader on 1 January 1876 reported:

"A petition is being numerously signed to obtain an extension of the telegraph wire from Wedderburn to East Charlton and also for a daily mail from that place. Our friends in Wedderburn have promised to give us every assistance. When the railway is opened to Inglewood, the whole of the traffic on the Lower Avoca will pass through Wedderburn to the above place. It will take a large amount of trade from St. Arnaud. In a short time Wedderburn, Donald and East Charlton will supply nearly the whole of the agricultural districts up here". Charlton was an important agricultural and grazing centre especially for various grains including wheat, oats and barley. Charlton had a purely agricultural population and was described as "an important agricultural township situated on the banks of the river Avoca and containing in or about 800 inhabitants. In it there are two flour mills, always kept fully employed, two branch banks - one of the Bank of Victoria, the other of the Bank of New South Wales - a court-house, post and telegraph office, Savings' Bank, literary institute and reading room, large number of first-class hotels, general stores, saddleries, butchers' shops, private residences and a foundry. Some of the public and the private buildings of Charlton lay claim to architectural beauty. The Bank of Victoria, for instance, is a large well-constructed building and would be a credit to any up-country town. The Post and Telegraph office is likewise a handsomely constructed brick building. The flour mills are each built of brick and occupy a prominent position in the town. King's Hotel is perhaps the next best building after the banks and the post office. It is fitted up with every convenience of a modern hotel".

The Report for 1877 indicated that the line from Wedderburn to East Charlton was one of two main telegraph lines to be constructed in that year. The line from Inglewood to Charlton was 37.5 miles in length. It was constructed "by the northern route" rather than "by the direct line" from Inglewood to Wedderburn and Charlton. A number of public meetings had been held to advocate the construction of the direct line because the freight potentially to be carried on this line would be significant and so the line would "form part of a great national scheme of railway extension intended to "top" the Murray trade". The Charlton Telegraph Office open in January 1878.

The Bendigo Advertiser of 10 September 1877 noted that telegraphic communication had been extended to Wycheproof near Mount Wycheproof.

In January 1882, tenders were called for the construction of the direct railway line involving "the four (railway) stations which it has been decided to erect between Korong Vale and East Charlton and, in a short time, tenders will also be called for three stations between Korong Vale and Boort and for a like number between East Charlton and Wycheproof". This work was implemented in concert with the laying of the telegraph line - which reached Wycheproof in October 1883.


Other Telegraph Offices.

In the region to the east of the Inglewood to Wycheproof line in particular, a number of small offices were opened. These Offices were located along the railway line and hence operated from the Railway Station rather in the township. These Offices provided both mail and telegraph facilities. They are shown in the above map.

In a summary of the news for Mysia, Wychitella and Boort, the Kerang Times of 11 September 1883 noted "It is surprising the numerous petitions that are being hawked around at present for cattle yards, weigh-bridges, telegraph communications and everything that is conceivable as well as inconceivable". On 26 October 1883, the same newspaper reported "The opening of railway communication through these districts has completely revolutionised all old and inconvenient arrangements. From the 1st of next month, a daily mail service will be accorded the residents in the western portion of Mysia (Boyle's). The residents in the eastern part of that district will also have on the 1st of November daily mail communication opened at the Mysia Railway Station as well as a telegraph station".

Some other stations had similar stories having Telegraph Offices opening along the railway line. These stories did not however include Borung:

"The efforts of the residents of Borung to obtain telegraphic communication have resulted in failure - a letter having just been received from the Department by the Hon. D. Coutts M.L.C. stating that the probable receipts would not justify the expenditure which would mean £30 for instruments and £70 per annum for the services of an operator. I see that a wire is being placed along the Boort line to connect Wedderburn with Boort. It would have been very convenient for the Borung folks to have a connection at Borung now but, according to the letter received, it would not pay".
Kerang Times 25 March 1884.


By 1890, increased construction and a re-configuring of the linkages meant that there four telegraph lines in the general north-west area of Victoria above the Bordertown line - Donald, Wycheproof, Swan Hill and Echuca. The Wycheproof Line had been reconfigured as follows:

Line 11:

Melbourne through Footscray Test Box, New Gisborne, Kyneton, Malmsbury, Taradale, Castlemaine, Maldon, Eddington, Dunnolly, Tarnagulla, Inglewood, Wedderburn, Charlton to Wycheproof.