Australia - Northern Territory: 1872 - 1988.
Darwin Post & Telegraph Office.

The following details of the Darwin Telegraph Office are provided on this page:

  1. establishment and the early days;
  2. the bombing and destruction of World War 2;
  3. the date stamps:
    Colonial and Interim period - Palmerston, Port Darwin and Darwin;
    Australian period;
    Telegraph Office date stamps.

1. The establishment and the early days.

The first Telegraph Office in the area was at Palmerston. That office opened in March 1869.

The Port Darwin Telegraph Office was opened in 1871 in anticipation of the cable from Java being laid by the British Australia Telegraph Company. The Palmerston Office was soon after transferred to the Port Darwin Office.

Mr. J. A. G. Little, who had been the Telegraph Master at Robe in South Australia, was selected in June 1871 for the important position of Telegraph Master at Port Darwin.

The Darwin Post Office was used as the point of observation for all Admiralty charts of the Howard Channel and beyond from 1888 instead of the Government Residence.

Darwin TO 1880s
Darwin Telegraph Office during the 1870s.
Source: National Archives of Australia J2879, QTH505.

Darwin Telegraph Office during the 1870s.

Darwin Telegraph Office during the 1870s with the addition of the stables.
Grote Street, north side, looking east from Brown Street, 29 January 1902, showing the laying of the Eastern Extension telegraph cable. Extreme left is about 28 yards east of Morphett Street. Darwin 1902
Source: State Library of South Australia B 5281.

On 25 September 1913, a Coastal Radio Wireless Station was established at Darwin.

As from 4 June 1923, the Darwin Telegraph Office opened on Sundays only from 9:00 to 9:10 am and from 9:00 to 9:30 pm.
From 29 September 1930, the  Office closed at 9 p.m. on Mondays to Fridays inclusive and at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Amy A special occasion for the Telegraph Office was the arrival in Darwin on 24 May 1930 of Amy Johnson - the pioneer aviator. She was the first aviatrix to fly London to Darwin solo - having commenced in Croydon on 5 May 1930.

The Sydney Morning Herald of 27 May 1930 reported that:

"The Darwin telegraph office has been inundated with work during Miss Amy Johnson's visit. Press telegrams about the flight amounted to 47,000 words and necessitated the working of an extra staff at full pressure throughout Sunday.

Today 300 telegrams arrived for Amy Johnson, making the grand total since she reached Darwin more than 800.

Before leaving this morning Miss Johnson received presents from Mrs. S. Hassan, a Chinese lady. These consisted of a gold ring set with a valuable green Jade, and a suit of green silk pyjamas. Miss Johnson described the gifts as "the most beautiful things she had ever seen".

Via Beam.
6 June 1930.

A remarkable telegram.

Sent to Amy Johnson from Louis Bleriot - the very famous and important French Aviator who had made the first flight across the English Channel in a heavier than air aircraft - on 25 July 1909.


After Darwin, Johnson flew to Brisbane and then, on 4 June, to Sydney on a National Airways plane "Southern Sun". Hence she was still in Sydney when the message "Via the Beam" arrived.


For a reference to her equally famous husband Jim (James Allan) Mollison, see IAB-DC-5. Amy accepted Jim's proposal made only 8 hours after they had met. When he proposed, Jim was actually piloting a commercial flight!!!!

IAA-DB-1B Johnson


Darwin PO 1930s Darwin1940

In October 1931, the old style batteries at the Telegraph Office were replaced with 18 accumulators which enhanced the efficiency of transmissions.


The World War 2 attack on Darwin.

The first enemy attack on Australia occurred on 19 February 1942 when Japanese fighters bombed Darwin.

It was the first of over 40 raids with more bombs (and greater tonnage) being dropped on Darwin than on Pearl Harbour.
See the first news reports based on information transmitted from the Darwin Telegraph Office and the history.

Caption by ACME Photo on the reverse of the above historical but tragic photograph.

The Darwin Post & Telegraph Office after being attacked by Japanese fighters and bombers.
Finally, on 22 February 1946, the following appeared in the Adelaide News:

"Civil Telegraph Office, Darwin, here. We have taken over.

This was the message that clattered through the teletype telegraph printing system at the Adelaide G.P.O. at 9 a.m. today. It was the first received from the new Darwin civil post office that replaced the one wrecked by Japanese bombers on the fateful morning of February 19, 1942. Immediately after the receipt of the message, a steady flow of telegraphic traffic began".


Colonial and interim periods date stamps.



Palmerston /N. T.
8 November 1873
(about a year after the OLT had opened).

Used on a SA Perkins Bacon 1d green.



Port Darwin.    

Port Darwin N.T./S.A.

Squared Circle date stamp.
Recorded from 2 August 1877.

Port Darwin N.T./S.A.
27 October 1890.

Squared circle date stamp.


Port Darwin/NT.
1 October 1881.

Circular date stamp.
Diameter: 23 mm.


Pt. Darwin/S.A. 19 squared circle date stamp.
Uused on a pair of 1/- brown lomg POSTAGE stamps.
18 March 1903.
Corinphila Sale December 2023, Lot 30253.

Used between 18 March 1903 and 1 August 1905.

Darwin 1905
Port Darwin 19/ S.A. squared circle date stamp (same as previously)
1 August 1905.

Australian date stamps - Darwin.
Separate administrative area from 1911.

Darwin 1912
Darwin. N.T. / Australia.
Circular date stamp.
10 June 1912.

Used between 10 June 1903 and 20 March 1939.

Darwin 1915
Darwin. N.T. / Australia.
Circular date stamp.
22 April 1915.

Same format as on 1/- POSTAGE.


Circular steel date stamp.
Diameter: 26 mm.
7 mm side arcs.

Used 15 October 1918 (on QI-DO-1C)
to 2 August 1940 (on AB-DO-7Bh with an International Label AB-LI-1).

The use on QI-DO-1C demonstrates the use of Queensland telegraph stationery in the Territory in the Establishment period.

Darwin N.T.
15 October 1918.

Telegraph Office.

Telegraph Office/
Darwin N.T.

Circular rubber date stamp in violet
Used on AW-DO-9Eb.

Diameter: 35 mm.
Used: 19 October 1943 to 22 March 1944.

Rated: RRRR.

Number in the Census: 2.

19 October 1943.
Used on AW-DO-10 (1942).
T.O. Darwin/
North Aust.

Circular steel date stamp.

Diameter: 30 mm.

Used: 8December 1951 to 15 August 1955.

Rated: RR.

Number in the Census: 4.


8 December 1951.
Used on a special Air cover for an Around Australia flight.

15 August 1955.
Used on AW-DO-10BB (49).
Telegraph Office Darwin/

Circular steel date stamp.

Diameter: 31 mm.

Used: 11 February 1963 to

Rated: RRR.

Number in the Census: 3.

11 February 1963.
Used on AA-DO-13C