This excellent collection of historic buildings marks the original
site of the first European settlement in Alice Springs. Established in
1872 to relay messages between Darwin and Adelaide, it is the best
preserved of the 12 stations along the Overland Telegraph Line. The
Station operated for 60 years, then served as a school for Aboriginal
children. The township of Alice Springs takes its name from the
The Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve preserves the
original stone buildings of The Telegraph Station, which have been
restored with furnishings and artefacts from the early 1900s. It gives
a rare insight into life in Central Australia over 100 years ago.
Wander through the grounds and buildings and use the special franking
stamp to post a letter at the post office. Set against the magnificent
MacDonnell Ranges, the reserve is also a popular place for a walk,
picnic and watching wildlife.
The Alice Springs Telegraph Station is the best preserved of the 12
stations along the Overland Telegraph Line, which was established in
1872 to relay messages between Darwin and Adelaide. All the original
buildings have survived and have been furnished appropriately.
Location: 4km north of Alice Springs along the Stuart Highway. The
reserve is accessible by two-wheel drive vehicle. There's a walking or
cycling track into the reserve from the Stuart highway and the Todd
River, or you could join the hop-on, hop-off Alice Wanderer bus.
Entry to the reserve is free but an entry fee applies to the historic precinct and includes a tour.Ph (08) 8951 8250.
The Overland Telegraph Line
Connecting Adelaide and the rest of Australia, through Darwin, with
England by means of a single wire in 1872, was one of the greatest
engineering achievements of the nineteenth century. It was completed by
South Australians, under the direction of Charles Todd, in less
than two years. It turned out to be a top business deal and a political
The Australian Overland Telegraph Line was a 3200 km telegraph line
that connected Darwin with Port Augusta in South Australia. Completed
in 1872 the Overland Telegraph Line allowed fast communication between
Australia and the rest of the world. An additional section was added in
1877 with the completion of the Western Australian section of the line.
It was one of the great engineering feats of 19th century Australia
and probably the most significant milestone in Australia's telegraphic
The South Australian Superintendent of Telegraphs, Charles Todd, was
appointed head of the project, and devised a timetable to complete the
immense project on schedule. Todd had built South Australia's first
telegraph line and extended it to Melbourne. The contract stipulated a
total cost of no more than ?128,000 and two years' construction time.
He divided the route into three regions: northern and southern sections
to be handled by private contractors, and a central section which would
be constructed by his own department. The telegraph line would comprise
more than 30,000 wrought iron poles, insulators, batteries, wire and
other equipment, ordered from England. The poles were placed 80 m apart
and repeater stations built every 250 km.
The line was erected in two sections - from Darwin south, and from
Port Augusta north. Running more than seven months late, the two lines
were finally joined at Frew's Ponds on Thursday, 22 August 1872. The
line proved immediate successful in opening the Northern Territory;
gold discoveries were made in several places along the northern section
(in particular Pine Creek), and the repeater stations in the MacDonnell
Ranges proved invaluable starting points for explorers like Ernest
Giles, W. C. Gosse, and Peter Egerton-Warburton who were heading west.