Travelling Australia
Overland Telegraph Electrics
Meidinger cell
Cross-section through a Meidinger cell.
Building the overland Telegraph between Darwin and Adelaide is readily accepted as one of the major engineering works of Australian history. The difficulties of transporting and handling 3,200 kilometres of wire and 36,000 poles and insulators are fairly obvious. But providing the electricity to power the telegraph is often overlooked and electricity was essential.

Electricity for the telegraph was provided by a large number of batteries at each Telegraph Station. The batteries were Meidinger cells filled with solutions of copper sulphate and magnesium sulphate. These were glass cells 25 centimetres tall and 15 centimetres diameter, each cell operated at about 1.5 volts. The Overland Telegraph worked at 120 volts so a large number of cells was needed at each station. Frederick Goss, who served as a telegraphist on the Overland Telegraph for many years, recorded a bank of 350 cells at Daly Waters and that a section of the batteries was renewed each week so that all batteries were renewed over a period of four months. Battery maintenance was a time-consuming task for the station staff.

   Display material at Alice Springs Telegraph Station.
   "Never-Never Telegraphist" by Frederick Goss at http:/