Telegraph Offices in the Otways region.

The Post & Telegraph Offices on the two lines on the Otways region are listed in the table below

Apollo Bay Birregurra Cape Otway Geelong
Lorne Werribee Winchelsea  


Apollo Bay (Kambruk).

The original settlement was known as Apollo named after a schooner which had shelted ther while en route from Port Phillip Bay to Portland.

In 1877, the name was changed to Krambruk. In 1898, the name of the town Krambruk was changed back to Apollo Bay after a number of heated public meetings. For example, on 1 April 1898, the Colac Herald reported that the Postmaster-General was asked to change the name because

"the name Krambruk is objectionable to the residents and is unknown to outsiders. A large percentage of the business people of the cities doing business with Apollo Bay residents do not know where Krambruk is. Telegraph operators who know Apollo Bay have to look up their books to find out Krambruk on receiving a telegraph for that place".

A Post & Telegraph Office opened at Krambruk in about 1885-86 although there were no premises.

In 1885, the Postmaster at Krambruk received a salary of £24 per year and the Line Repairer received a salary of £117 per year.

The Colac Herald of 7 October 1887 reported as follows (repeated in full because of the social commentary included):

"How thankful everybody appears to be for a short spell of fine weather and last night, with the beautiful moon for a guide, many left their homes among the hills to attend the Blue Ribbon meeting at the Wesleyan Church. This proved a very enjoyable change from the monotony of bush life and, as a proof of this, whole families could be seen wending their way to the meeting - ladies carrying little children on horseback, travelling steep inclines which would make a novice shudder at the sight of, but it shows that public opinion is being educated in that direction. Mr. Morris was Chairman and, not to be invidious, I must say that all acquitted themselves with credit. Some of the singing was really enjoyable and everyone seemed happier for their visit.

As the meeting was dispersing, a bell was heard at the Post Office and a general stampede took place to "the Corner" or Mr. Costin's store. Here was assembled the sawmill managers and storekeepers whose interests are bound up in the progress of the district and it turned out that an indignation meeting was to be held in consequence of the action of the Post Office authorities. Mr Lachlan, Manager of the Apollo Bay Timber Company, stated that the Government had, without notice, determined to remove the Post Office to the teacher's quarters and close the Telegraph business until the teacher had mastered the art of telegraphy.

To show the unjustness of this proceeding, it was only last year that the Department accepted tenders for premises for the business to be conducted in. Mr. Costin being the successful tenderer, had to alter his premises to suit the requirements of the Office. This he did to the satisfaction of the Inspector and it is eminently suited for the purpose, providing shelter etc and this alone has been a great boon to the public through the long rainy winter, when the mail delivery is uncertain for an hour and many, after the delivery, have several miles to travel to their homes in the darkness and gloom of the winter's night.

Now after putting this gentleman to a considerable expense, they entirely ignore him and offer the office to the teacher, and purpose putting the country to considerable expense in extending the telegraph line to the teacher's residence which is unfortunately situated in a very inaccessible position and without even the shadow of suitability.

No greater proof could be shown of Mr. Costin's suitability for the position than the meeting called by bell at the corner. A petition was read setting forth the grievances and asking the Government to leave the Office as at present with the very obliging lady as Operator and Postmistress. By her urbanity, Miss Davies has made herself a power in the community and her loss would be felt by nearly all residents.

With the exception of two cynics (who appeared to have been taking something strong) the meeting was unanimous in favour of the present arrangements and as Mr. McLachlan was leaving by the Lay Loch for Melbourne the next morning, he was entrusted with the petition which was signed by nearly one hundred residents. Considering the large increase of business likely to result from two wealthy sawmill properties which will be in full working in a short time, it appears strange that greater discretion is not shown in the cheese paring policy pursued by the postal authorities who are now making large salaries larger and small subsidies smaller. If this policy is pursued much further, I fancy the public horse will be found kicking over the traces and no wonder.

The deputation above alluded to, which consisted of Messrs McLachlan, Gill and Heath waited upon the Postmaster-General on Wednesday in reference to the closing of the Office. After hearing the arguments advanced, Mr Derham proposed to continue the Office as at present for one month to enable the residents to make arrangements to conduct the Office on the two-thirds principle".

The Colac Herald of 3 October 1889 reported that:

"much dissatisfaction is expressed by the residents owing to the business of the Post and Telegraph being conducted in a hotelThe matter was brought up as the second item of business at a public meeting of 50 people in Mr Gosney's dining room to consider the completion of a free Public Library and the large hall attached.. A lengthy discussion ensued and it was resolved by those present to petition the Government to erect Offices of its own - or, failing that, to lease a portion of the Public Library building (Item 1 on the agenda) for the purposes in question".

In 1890, the Telegraph Office transmitted 1,188 messages and received 1,018 messages.

In July 1901, the Postmaster-General threatened to close the Apollo Bay Telegraph Office due to a lack of staff. The Department had been paying a skilled operator 2s 9d per day for duties of 22 hours per day for 7 days per week. The operator could be called at any time during the night to attend to shipping news. No operator would therefore apply for this position.

In August 1904, the oldest resident in the district was about to leave having been transferred to Geelong. Mr Carwood had been in charge of the telegraph lines from Lorne to Cape Otway and from Birregurra to Apollo Bay for over 30 years.

The Telegraph Station closed in 1963.


The Geelong Advertiser of 6 December 1873 noted that:

"The erection of new post and telegraph offices is being proceeded with at Winchelsea and Birregurra and it is anticipated that they will be completed by the commencement of the new year. They are being constructed of hardwood, but will be comfortable and commodious, while the sites chosen are conveniently situated in the centre of the townships".

The Telegraph Office was opened in (23?) February 1874 with another office opening on the Railway Circuit in July 1883.

A Post Office had been opened on 1 October 1858 but it changed its name to Mount Gellibrand on 15 April 1864. A second Birregurra Post Office was opened on 19 April 1864 in a slightly different location.

As an article in The Age (18 May 1874) indicated, the appointment of a female Post and Telegraph Mistress to Birregurra was fortunate because not only was there "the opportunity of earning a respectable maintenance for themselves and the families dependent upon them, but a considerable saving has been effected" due to the much lower salaries paid to women.

The Colac Herald of 9 March 1888 reported that "Mrs. Dawkins, the local Post and Telegraph Mistress, has severed her connection with the Department after many years of faithful service. Before leaving Birregurra, she was presented with a purse of fifty sovereigns accompanied with an address. Miss Batten, formerly of Nhill, has been appointed to fill the vacancy".

The Office was issued with a 2 hole Belt & Buckle date stamp.
  1. Used in black: 12 November 1890 to 2 July 1894.


Rated: RRR.

Number in the Census: 5.

Birr 1892
28 July 1892.
18 January 1893.

Used in blue: 12 November 1890.


Rated: RRR.

Number in the Census: 0.

Cape Otway.

The Telegraph Office opened in September 1859. It was a critical point in the surveillance of shipping along the Victorian coast - especially in times of difficulty or distress.

"Amongst the changes ... of a retrogressive character which we are called on to notice is the suppression of the public shipping telegrams, of which, for some 16 years, the people of this colony have enjoyed the use. From the time of the extension of the electric telegraph to Cape Otway, it was the practice to telegraph all over the colony the names of ships signalled from that station. The information was valued by merchants and most serviceable to the friends of immigrants. Ministers, however, for economical reasons, have restricted the information here-after to be given to the public to the arrival of the mail steamers. The change has created considerable discontent".

(The Argus, 25 April 1861, p. 5).

The office became of critical importance when the first cable was laid between Tasmania and Victoria in 1869.

For a number of years, H.M. Colonial steamship Victoria regularly dropped stores at the Cape for both the lighthouse and the Telegraph Office. This was often a difficult service. For example, in March 1864, the surf was very high and the Victoria had to wait off shore for ten days before an opportunity to approach the shore arose. This situation was not infrequent.

In September 1884, the Post and Telegraph Office at Ballarat East was found "guilty of an irregularity" and was hence transferred to Cape Otway (the Ultima Thule" of the public service). Mr Kelsall who had been in charge of Cape Otway was transferred to Bright and the Mr. Outtrim from Bright was transferred to Ballarat East.

In 1885, the Postmaster at Cape Otway received a salary of £230 per year.

In January 1886, a major bush fire threatened the lighthouse but the buildings were saved "by all hands fighting the fire". The danger did not however pass as the fire then moved on to Apollo Bay fuelled by a strong north-easterly gale.

Some tales of incidents at Cape Otway are included elsewhere.

Cape Otway rev








The Telegraph Office at Cape Otway from the front.

Cape Otway
The Telegraph Office at Cape Otway from the rear.
The Cape Otway region was thick with forests and was considered to be rich in gold. The Argus of 1 April 1868 reported that the township of Camperdown contributed to pay the expenses of a prospecting party consisting of six experienced miners for ten weeks to prospect for gold in the neighborhood of Cape Otway. " That there is gold in the Cape Otway forests there is no doubt".


An interesting newspaper article on Holiday Rambles to Cape Otway was published in the Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers published on 31 December 1873.

Cape otway bush
Photograph by Roger Holdsworth.
Source: State Library of Victoria H201290/47.
No special date stamp was issued to Cape Otway for use with telegraphic work. Instead the usual postal date stamp was used.

Unframed date stamp for usual postal use.

Diameter: 24 mm.

Rated: RRR.

Nuber in the Census: 1.

Cape Otway
14 November 1921.
Lorne (or Loutit Bay).

The Telegraph Station opened at the new township of Lorne on the Cape Otway line on 11 January 1876, closed on 10 July 1876 and reopened on 18 November 1876.

On 7 April 1882, the Colac Herald reported:

Lorne has become of sufficient importance in the estimation of the Government to have a separate building set apart for a Post and Telegraph Office. The business until quite recently was conducted in an apartment of Erskine House, but it has been decided to move the office into a separate building, which is in course of erection and which the department will rent from the proprietor.

One consequence of the change will cause regret to the frequenters of Lorne, viz. the retirement of the popular Post and Telegraph Master, Mr. James Mountjoy, who has had the management of the office since its establishment, and has earned the good opinion of all classes of visitors. The new departmental arrangements will, however, be to his advantage, for Lorne, of course, is a narrow field for a public officer.



The Telegraph Office opened in April 1862 on the Railway Circuit.

By 1890, there was a major test box used at Newport.


The Telegraph Office opened on the Railway Circuit on 16 April 1862 probably in conjunction with the Werribee Encampment.

About 2,000 volunteers caught trains from Spencer Street Station (all Officers being left behind when the first train departed). The first train contained 100 Castlemain rifleman dressed in light gray and red uniforms. It was met at Werribee by Colonel Anderson who had the Union Jack flying before his tent as well as by the Castlemain Light Dragoons, the Geelong and Bacchus Marsh Mounted Rifles and others from Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong. The first rifle matches on a 200 yards range began at 2:00 pm on 17 August with longer distances planned to be shot later in the tournament. Unfortunately a big storm hit the encampment and the tournament had to be abandoned on the day after.

No wonder a telegraph station was needed!!

The Telegraph Office at the Werribee Railway Station transmitted 11,662 messages in 1862 (289 private and 11,3,7 OHMS). It was still operating in 1880 and was transmitting about 2,500 messages in each year during the first part of the 1880s at least.

The location of the Werribee Post Office had been argued for many years and residents had failed to agree. Postal business had been conducted at the Wyndham Store, the Telegraph Office was still at the Railway station and there was a separate location for the telephone bureau. After Federation, a grant of land from a resident - which also created insuperable problems and precedents for the new Government - was accepted to house all three services plus living quarters. In June 1904, the local Member in the House of Representatives (Mr. Crouch) asked if the Government intended to proceed with the erection of the Werribee Post Office.

From 7 March 1864 to 15 December 1909 the area was the Shire of Wyndham after which it reverted to Werribee until 1994 when it reverted to Wyndham.

The Post Office was renamed from Wyndham on 1 November 1904 when the new combined building was opened (opposite Blitz's Painless Dentistry) in Elizabeth Street. It closed in 1992.

Werribee Post & Telegraph Office in 1911.


The Geelong Advertiser of 6 December 1873 noted that:

"The erection of new post and telegraph offices is being proceeded with at Winchelsea and Birregurra and it is anticipated that they will be completed by the commencement of the new year. They are being constructed of hardwood, but will be comfortable and commodious, while the sites chosen are conveniently situated in the centre of the townships".

On 14 February 1874, the same source updated its previous advice:

"In a fortnight or less, telegraphic communication will be opened with Winchelsea, the building in which the business along with that connected with the Post Office will be transacted being nearly completed. It is a neat substantial place, just above Mr Stirling's store, and when the approaches have been repaired, as suggested by the President of the Shire, it will be everything that can be desired".

The Telegraph Office opened on 25 February 1874 and opened on the Railway Circuit in August 1878.

By 7 March 1874, the first reviews were published in the Geelong Advertiser:

"The new Telegraph and Post Office at Winchelsea is now in full swing and is found to be of great convenience. When it was first proposed to open an office there, a dial instrument was thought to be all that would be necessary, but we noticed yesterday the office, which was nicely fitted up, contained one of Morse's best instruments under the charge of Miss Belling, whose skill, courtesy, and attention have already secured her many friends".

As an article in The Age (18 May 1874) indicated, the appointment of a female Post and Telegraph Mistress to Winchelsea was fortunate because not only was there "the opportunity of earning a respectable maintenance for themselves and the families dependent upon them, but a considerable saving has been effected" due to the much lower salaries paid to women.

In 1885, the Postmistress at Winchelsea received a salary of £96 per year while the Messenger received £24.