Political map of Australia, New Zealand & the Southwest Pacific 22 August 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 (Electrical telegraph) in Java (and from there Europe and the world). With Stuart’s successful crossing of the continent in 1862 (John McDouall Stuart), 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.