State Library of South Australia logoThe Foundation of South Australia 1852 - 1883
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1872 The Overland Telegraph Line (OTL)

The Overland Telegraph Line was finally completed in August 1872 and largely followed Stuart's route, as did the railway. The Stuart Highway also follows his route to a large extent. When settlement began in the Top End, people searched for Stuart's tree but could not find it.  Doubts proliferated as to whether he had reached the coast or not. 

David Lindsay later identified the river Stuart had thought was the Adelaide - it was in fact the Mary, some 20 miles to the east.  In 1883 GR McMinn, acting Government Resident located the blazed tree.  The bush had encroached upon it but when cleared away the tree was revealed with the blaze still plainly visible. Inspector Foelsche, who was with McMinn, took a photograph of the tree. Stuart's reputation was restored. A pony express had carried the telegraph messages across the gap between the telegraph line coming north from Adelaide, and the line coming south from Darwin. The wet season in the Northern Territory had imposed greater restraints on construction than anticipated, but the Line had been completed. It would become a line of demarcation in the future exploration of South Australia and the Northern Territory in the years ahead as expeditions were planned to travel either west or east of the Line.

For more information see Taking it to the edge: Land: Overland Telegraph Line.



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