State Library of South Australia logo Taking it to the edge
SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future

36 hours without water
Title : 36 hours without water 36 hours without water
Add To My SA Memory
Creator : Giles, Alfred, 1847?-1931
Source : Exploring in the 'seventies and the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line, p. 43
Place Of Creation : Adelaide?
Publisher : W.K. Thomas
Date of creation : 1926?
Format : Book
Catalogue record
The State Library of South Australia is keen to find out more about SA Memory items. We encourage you to contact the Library if you have additional information about any of these items.
Copyright : Reproduction rights are owned by State Library of South Australia. This image may be printed or saved for research or study. Use for any other purpose requires permission from the State Library of South Australia. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.
Description :
View a "virtual book" version.

Alfred Giles and the other men of John Ross's party of explorers had been 36 hours without water, in Central Australia December 1870. The heat was scorching and the grass dry and inedible for thirsty horses. Giles compared it to a previous occasion when the party went 72 hours without water, but the temperature that time was considerably cooler and the horses had access to green feed. The party rested here a day to recoup the horses and attend to their shoes and mended some of their gear. They were also able to obtain a young emu which improved their diet. This was a previously unexplored part of the country and John Ross named some of the geographical features.

The construction of the Overland Telegraph Line was an enormous engineering feat, stringing a strand of copper wire across the centre of the Australian continent, to link it to the underwater telegraph cable that would enable almost instant communication with the rest of the world. However further exploration along the route was necessary. Alfred Giles had been appointed to John Ross's exploratory party 4 July 1870: his wages were one pound a week with food and kit which included 3 pairs of moleskin trousers, several shirts, 3 pairs of boots and 2 hats. The men would find the gear totally unsuited to withstand the harshness of the bush--poor quality canvas packbags would be torn to shreds quite readily; the saddle girths were not leather but webbing and the saddle trees were constantly breaking resulting in the horses' backs being rubbed. Tents were inadequate and the rest of their kit had been scrimped by the suppliers. Fortunately the quality of the horses was more than adequate as the selection of them had been closely supervised by John Ross. They set out from Beltana on 28 July.

Related names :

Giles, Alfred, 1847?-1931

Ross, John, 1817-1903

Coverage year : 1870
Place : Central Australia
Further reading :
Giles, Alfred, Exploring in the 'seventies and the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line Adelaide: Friends of the State Library of South Australia, 1995
Cameron, A. R The story of the Overland Telegraph Line: [a lecture] delivered 11.10.32 Adelaide: S.A. Postal Institute Lecture Society, [1932]
Symes, G. W. Exploring in the MacDonnell Ranges, 1870-72 Adelaide: Royal Geographical Society of Australasia, S.A.Branch, Historical Division, 1960
Internet links :
Exhibitions and events :

State Library of South Australia: Mortlock Wing. Taking it to the edge August 2004-



About SA Memory

Explore SA Memory

SA Memory Themes


My SA Memory


What's on