Developed in the 1830s and 1840s by Samuel Morse and other inventors, the telegraph revolutionized long-distance communication. It worked by transmitting electrical signals over a wire laid between stations.
A telegraph is a communication system that sends information by making and breaking an electrical connection. It is most associated with sending electrical current pulses along a wire with Morse code encoding.
Samuel Morse helped to create the first modern communication array in the United States in the 19th century, blurring the endless miles between cities and major urban areas in a way that brought commerce, politics, and social issues ever closer to the American people.
Australia's first telegraph line began operation between Melbourne and Williamstown in 1854. Within four years, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide were connected.
Western Australia's first telegraph line within the state opened on the 21st June 1869. The overland telegraph system was initiated in 1874 at an estimated cost of 30,000 pounds. Western Australia's population was 25,000 and considering the total of Western Australia's annual income was 135,000 pounds it represented a huge chunk of revenue. The poles had to be installed across the Nullabor Plain, a vast expanse of desert.
Telegrams were sent for a variety of reasons, it was not unusual to receive telegrams from well-wishers on the wedding day of family and friends. These were read out during the speeches at the wedding breakfast. They were often humorous and not always truthful, but it was the highlight of the night.
This telegram is part of the Mundaring and Hills Historical Society collection. Telegrams were expensive, so it was important to keep them short and to the point. As you can see by the above example. Our early post offices were often the location for bank agencies and telegrams.
Not all telegrams were welcomed with joy, during the war years, families dreaded the arrival of telegrams, because they usually contained news of loved ones being injured or even killed during the battles.
For more information don't hesitate to visit our offices at the Mundaring Stationmaster's House Mundaring.