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1872: Underwater Telegraph Extension to Australia

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Innovation: Underwater Telegraph Extension to Australia
Location: Port Darwin, Australia
Year: 1872
By: Charles Todd

The Australian Overland Telegraph Line, the communication wire that would connect Australia to the rest of the globe, was completed in 1872 after a seven-month delay. The project is one of Australia’s most important engineering feats in that news could be exchanged with London in a matter of hours instead of months. Charles Todd was appointed head of the project by the South Australian government to construct the line. Todd divided the project into three sections: Northern, Southern, and Central regions; each region would employ its own team of surveyors, construction workers, and iron workers. The project proved to be challenging because supplies and provisions were expensive to transport across the Australian wilderness. Also, the iron poles, insulators, wires, and batteries had to be shipped from England.

On June 8, 1872 the line connecting Java, Singapore to Port Darwin, Australia was completed at Frews Ironstone Ponds. The line required 3200 kilometers (1988 miles) of wire, 30,000 poles placed eighty meters apart, and repeater stations 250 kilometers apart. The line also helped connect Australian cities such as Adelaide to Port Darwin. The project led to the development of many towns and the economic boom of cities like Adelaide, an important communications center.

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Written by Priscilla Nguyen

October 8, 1872 at 12:44 am

Posted in Communication

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