From KellyGang
Jump to: navigation, search

Importance of the Telegraph Stations

See the following below The telegraph network , Towns with telegrph links , role of the telegraph - at the Mansfield Murders - Euroa - Jerilderie - Glenrowan

The first telegraph lines in Melbourne were installed in 1854. The arrival of the telegraph in 1870s meant that messages could be sent from one end of the Kelly country to the other in a matter of hours instead of days. In 1872 the telegraph linked Australia to England. While the system was expensive it meant that news of the main events of this story could be sent to the news papers so that they could inform the world.

The telegraph was also used by the police to get information about the KellyGang. For instance Mr Jefferson, the post master at Jerilderie managed to get a message out on the evening of the robbery. That message appeared in the press next morning. the Inspector-General of Police in New South Wales' response to the news of the Jerilderie robbery was to send some 30 to 40 telegrams to various parts of the State.

The history of the telegraph (Argus30/7/80)

Telegraph; new rates (Alexandra22/2/1879) (T&C18/5/1872)

The new thing. Its coming to replace the relegraph. We'll all be able to talk to each other directly. (Alexandra30/3/1878) (Argus30/7/80)

The telegraph network

Extent of the Network

The ' telegraph line, installed at a cost of £60 per mile fom Melbourne and £55 per mile from Sydney arrived in Albury in 1858

The telegraph arrived in Mansfield in 1868 (Alexandra3/11/1868)

In 1876 the telegraph line between Glenrowan and Wodonga was replaced by A Chitts

The line between Seymour and Glenrowan following the railway line was commenced

Equipment used

In 1876 There were lots of contracts in the area for telegraph poles and to repair the lines

Layout of the wires along the railway (Argus12/12/78)

Operation of the system

Towns in the Kelly Country with Telegraph stations and the people





Euroa Challen

Cheshire HE


Kelly MH

M'Nab William








Role of the Telegraph in the story of the KellyGang

The Telegraph was not as fast as the telephone today but it allowed the police and others to send messages quickly. At 10/- a word it was not cheap. It would cost £100 to send it to all the police districts. The Royal Commission report and other records have a lot of references that demonstrate that the police relied on the telegraph to send messages between police stations. The KellyGang and their friends perhaps understood this better than the police and played little games. Occasionally the lines would be broken without reason. Sometimes there would be garbled messages that got operators to doubt the effectiveness of the system. see also (RC16204)

Det Ward, when in Beechworth, used to attend at the telegraph station at ten o'clock every night to speak to Ass Com Nicolson, Sup Hare, or whatever officer it might be, and communicate any intelligence, and all surrounding stations, to know if there was anything fresh. (RC13860)

The police used the telegraph to communicate with its agents. An agent was given the following note Permit the bearer to send any messages to me, F.C.S (RC276)

News of the Mansfield murders in October 1878 Soon after the murders Mansfield was cut off from Benalla (Argus4/11/78)

Just before the Sebastopol cavalcade Beechwortg was cut off.(Argus8/11/78)


News of a possible bank robbery at Seymour 29/11/1878 - text. (RC2925)

KellyGang break the telegaph wires at Faithfull's Creek in December 1878 The telegraph ran along side the railway line. On one side were the wires that carried the public lines and on the other side was the railways separate network. Faithfull's Creek Station is north of Euroa. It is between Euroa and Violet Town. (Argus12/12/78)

During the afternoon of Tuesday 10/12/1878 a lineman, Mr Watt from Benalla, arrived on a train at Violet Town to investigate a break in the telegraph line between there and Euroa. (Argus12/12/78) (Argus13/11/78) (Argus13/12/78) (RC2129)

On that afternoon Sup Sadleir sent telegrams from Benalla without a problem (RC2453)

Mr Wyatt the magistrate got on the train at Violet Town at 4.40pm to go to Euroa for a licencing court hearing. (RC2122)

Within 100 yards after the train left the platform at Violet Town, it had started-while it was still going slowly, Mr Watt man came along and spoke to Mr Wyatt. He said, "Look here, the lines are down, and the queer feature of it is that the Government telegraph lines cross our railway telegraph line."

Watt and Wyatt agreed to watch from different sides of the train, Watt on the railway side, Wyatt watch on the Government line side. Watt left Wyatt and went off on the foot-plate to take up his position. When they came within sight of Faithfull's Creek station Wyatt could see a quarter of a mile ahead, and as the train came near to the spot, he saw that the Government line was down. (RC2125)

Wyatt leant out of the train to telegraph to the fireman to signal but the train had already stared to slow down.As the train was slowing, Mr Watt came along the foot-plate to Wyatt with a small handful of telegraph splicing wires-slender thin wires, used simply to splice one wire to another. He said to me- "Look here, Mr. Wyatt, I cannot mend this line; what must I do? I wish you would send a message through to Mr. Gorman, at Euroa, to Melbourne for me." (RC2126)

Wyatt, "All right." Watt said, "I shall want"- Wyatt anticipated his reply, "Six telegraph posts, thirty-six insulators, and a corresponding quantity of line wire," (RC2127)

The train never stopped but merely slowed. The fireman was watching Watt to see whether he would jump off the foot-plate. At the moment Wyatt had some misgivings about letting Watt get down at Faithfull's Creek station. (RC2128)

Wyatt later learned that this was all inspected by the [[../K_kellys/K_KellyGang.html|KellyGang]]. A few minutes after this Watt was walked up to the station in Mr. Byrne's custody, and that was the end of him for the day. (RC2129)

The authorities were not told about the delay in Mr Watt's return. (SMH12/12/78) (RC2123)

Mr Wyatt saw the broken wires on his way down on the train from Violet Town. This was several hours before the magistrate Mr Wyatt, tried to tell Nicolson and Sadleir about the break

Sadlier found that 8 telegrams were despatched from the Benalla police office from 2 pm. on the day of the bank robbery. He was not aware of any problems with the telegraph lines. (RC2003)(RC2453)

Nicolson and Sadlier were telegraphed in Albury with information of the Euroa robbery. Nicolson sent a telegram from Benalla to the police at Mansfield. (RC526)

When Sup Hare news that the KellyGang were about to head over the River Murray into New South Wales on about 4/2/1879 he sent out a series of telegrams to the police officers including to Const Mullane. (RC1275)

After this incident the police and the Telegraph Department had an agreement that every interruption to the telegraph line was to be reported to us at once. (RC2462) See also (RC2280)

The line to Beechworth was cut (Argus27/1/79)

. KellyGang break the telegaph wires at Jerilderie in February 1879

There were two wires from Deniliquin to Sydney; the line passed Jerilderie about a mile away; thence a loop-line led into Jerilderie post-office, two wires in and two out, making four wires on the poles of the loop line. (BWC)

About 10 a.m on the Monday, a cross occurred on the lines, andPeter Dunne, the operator in Deniliquin had to cast one free to get circuit with Sydney. They could not raise Jerilderie, and all day they called without result. At about 8.15 they got news that the KellyGang had stuck up Jerilderie and cut the lines. (BWC)

Before the KellyGang left for Jerilderie Sup Hare sent messages that they were about to cross the River Murray (RC1275)

Before the KellyGang left Jerilderie they visited the telegraph office and met the post master, Mr Jefferson and his staff. Joe Byrne checked all the telegrams that had been sent while they had been in town. Before they left the KellyGang cut down about 8 telegraph poles.

The police used the telegraph to spread the news of the KellyGang raid on Jerilderie and the press used the telegraph to get the story from the out back of Jerilderie to the main newspapers of Sydney and Melbourne and all over Australia.

After the Jerilderie robbery ther were a number of 'attacks' on the telegraph system. The wires were cut at Howlong. In mid February 1879 the telegraph wires at Tarawingi were cut and the KellyGang were seen in the area. In March 1879 the Wangaratta - Beechworth telegraph was jammed each night for a week

See also (Argus12/2/79)


In late 1879 when there was a threat that the KellyGang might hold up the banks in Beechworth, the postmaster, erected a telegraphic communication between all the banks and the police station, by wires being placed, and the uniting of these wires would cause an alarm at the banks and station, at any hour of the day or night that the KellyGang was likely to come. If they came to one of the banks, the station bell would ring, and police would be able to respond to the alert. (RC13584) (FH)

On Tuesday morning Mr Buckley (the S.M) and Mr Peter Dunne were near the Jerilderie line instrument, and heard Sir Henry Parkes (Colonial Secretary) and Mr Saul Samuel (PMG) instructing Mr Jefferson, the ptelegraph operator in Jerilderie would be relieved at once and sent to Albury for his safety (BWC)

KellyGang at Glenrowan Information of Aaron Sherritt's death was transmitted around the country by telegraph.

A line repairer,Mr Cheshire, climbed up a telegraph pole to fix the wire sometime after Sup Sadleir arrived.(Herald29/6/1880)(Herald4/7/1880)

Mr Hollows sent many of the telegraph traffic from Benalla (McPhee)

The first news of the Glenrowan siege was transmitted by telegraph.

The press people got out their reports by telegraph and people stod around the offices of newspapers in Melbourne to see the latest telegraph messages.

There were no fewer than three hundred telegrams—sixty of which were from Glenrowan alone—several of them containing over a thousand words, passed through Beechworth; and we can testify to the efficient manner in which Mr Alex Thomson, the chief operator, and the staff under him performed, their arduous task. (OMA1/7/80)

By the end of the day this story had generated about 90,000 word being sent between Melbourne and Sydney