Australasia 1872: Australian Overland Telegraph Line

From the mid-1850s the Australian colonies competed to survey a route to connect their continent with the new telegraph cable in Java (and from there Europe and the world). With Stuart’s successful crossing of the continent in 1862, South Australia won the bid and was granted the Northern Territory to build the line. Construction on the Australian Overland Telegraph Line began in 1870 and, despite delays, was completed less than two years later.

Main Events

5 Feb 1869 Founding of Darwin

George Goyder, the Surveyor-General of South Australia, established a settlement of 135 people at Port Darwin, on the north coast of South Australia’s Northern Territory. Goyder named the settlement Palmerston, after the British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston, but it soon became locally known as Darwin (which would become its official name in 1911). The establishment of Palmerston marked the end of 45 years of failed attempts to settle the Northern Territory and allowed for the commencement of the Overland Telegraph Line in wikipedia

19 Jul 1870–10 May 1871 Franco-Prussian War

An alliance of German states led by the Kingdom of Prussia defeated the Second French Empire in the Franco-Prussian War. The war unified Germany under Otto von Bismarck’s Prussia, and led to the abdication of French Emperor Napoleon III and the German annexation of wikipedia

15 Sep 1870–22 Aug 1872 Australian Overland Telegraph Line

In 1870 the South Australian Superintendent of Telegraphs, Charles Todd, made use of explorer John McDouall Stuart’s maps to plan the construction of a telegraph line from Port Augusta, South Australia, to Palmerston (Darwin), Northern Territory; this would effectively connect Adelaide and the Australian colonies to the rest of the world via an undersea cable between Palmerston and Java. Construction on the telegraph began in September, with separate parties contracted to build converging lines from Port Augusta and from Palmerston. Despite problems with rain storms in the north, the two lines were finally joined at Frew’s Ponds on 22 August 1872—over seven months behind schedule but nonetheless impressive for a 2,700 km route across recently unexplored wikipedia

5 Jun 1871 Kingdom of Fiji

In 1871 John Bates Thurston, British Consul for Fiji and Tonga, persuaded the chiefs of Fiji to acknowledge Cakobau, ruler of Bau, as King of Fiji (Tui Viti). Under pressure from British/Australian settlers and US traders, Cakobau agreed to a constitutional monarchy with a cabinet and legislature dominated by the settlers. However, continued dissent among the chiefs of Fiji and growing debts soon persuaded Cakobau to agree to cede his kingdom to the wikipedia