Sir Charles ToddPrint Page Print this page

(Diane Watson)
(Diane Watson)

Photographs supplied by Diane Watson / Arthur Garland

The monument, also known as the Telegraph Memorial, commemorates Sir Charles Todd (1826-1910), Post Master General, Superintendant of Telegraphs and Government Astronomer of South Australia.

The monument is near the spot where the final join of the Overland Telegraph Line was made on 22nd August 1872. The monument also pays tribute to those who built the telegraph line and the explorer, John Ross.

The South Australian government, influenced by Charles Todd (later Sir Charles), the Superintendent of Telegraphs, decided to build a line from Port Augusta to Darwin independent of the other colonies, and work began in September 1870. The Overland Telegraph Line was one of the greatest civil engineering feats in the history of Australia.

Sir Charles Todd  planned, organized and supplied the eternal drive that carried the project through to its successful end. He also sent the first telegraphic message: "We have this day, within two years, completed a line of communications two thousand miles long through the very centre of Australia, until a few years ago a terra incognita believed to be a desert..."

At a lonely spot 50 miles south of Daly Waters, about one mile from where the Stuart Highway now ribbons north, engineers joined the south & north lines of the mighty Overland Telegraph, The time was 3.15 p.m., Thursday, August 22, 1872. Last week the P.M.G. Department finished erecting a memorial to the man responsible for the construction of the line which linked Darwin with Adelaide — Sir Charles Todd, then Postmaster-General of Australia. P.M.G builders and tradesmen from the south worked on the memorial for some weeks before news of the work was released. The 14ft. stone cairn stands beside the Stuart Highway and can be seen for miles by travellers from both directions.

There is a plaque on the memorial on which is inscribed the names of the construction gang leaders. The plaque also tells in a few words just what the monumental overland telegraph meant to Australia and the world. On it are the words:

"The north and south parts of this epic overland telegraph line were finally joined about one mile west of this spot by R. C. Patterson, engineer, at 3.15 p.m. on Thursday, August 22, 1872, thus making possible for the first time instantaneous telegraph communications between Australia and Great Britain."

In a special vault at the top of the shrine are copies of official records of the construction of the line. This will be opened in 100 years from now.
Centralian Advocate (Alice Springs), 10th September 1954.




Address:Stuart Highway, 1 kilometre east of Frew Pond, Birdum, 0862
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -16.921721
Long: 133.422562
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
View Google Map


Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Government - Colonial


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:September-1954
Front Inscription

Overland Telegraph Line

This column was erected to the memory of Sir Charles Todd KCMG, MA, FRS, FRAS, FRMS, FSTE. 
Postmaster General of the Province of South Australia

His gallant construction teams, operators and linemen under R C Patterson, A T Woods, W H Abbott, B H Babbage, R C Burton, W Harvey, R R Knuckey, G G MacLaughlan, G R McMinn, W McMinn, W W Mills, A J Mitchell, R Rutt and explorer John Ross.

The northern and southern parts of this epic Overland Telegraph Line were finally joined about one mile west of this spot by RC Patterson engineer at 3.15 PM on Thursday 22 August 1872. 

Thus making possible for the first time instantaneous telegraph communications between Australia and Great Britain.

Finus Coronat Opus

This memorial was constructed and erected by the Line Training School  PMG`s Department South Australia

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
Proudly sponsored by UBC Web Design