In 1869, it was agreed that if South Australia completed an overland line across the centre of Australia, a London firm would lay an undersea cable from Java to Darwin to link Australia to the world.
In 1855, at the age of 28, Charles Todd accepted the dual position of Government Astronomer and Superintendent of Telegraphs in South Australia. One of his first tasks was to construct Australia's first inter-colonial telegraph line between Adelaide and Melbourne.|
At this time, the only news-link the colonies had with the rest of the world was via letters or newspapers which could take up to 3 months to arrive.
Between Port Augusta and Port Darwin some 36,000 telegraph poles were erected across some of the most inhospitable country on earth. Death, disease and starvation faced Todd and his men every day, but with incredible strength, will and ingenuity, the line was finally completed in 1872.
Australia's isolation was finally over and Todd's heroic achievement was celebrated across the nation. In his own words:
'The Australian Colonies were now connected with the grand electric chain which unites all nations of the earth'.
Todd died near Adelaide in 1910.
Source: Booklet accompanying the 1995 Masterpieces in Silver - Colonial Australia - Set.
Charles Todd is featured on the following Australian coins:
1995 Five Dollars
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Last modified: 05 December, 2007