There is a small graveyard in front of the Barrow Creek Telegraph Station. It contains the remains of two telegraph station workers killed in a surprise attack by Aboriginals in 1874. Connecting the Continent gives the details of what happened.
Barrow Creek was chosen as a site for an Overland Telegraph Line repeater station by John Ross in September 1871. The site was chosen due to the presence of surface water and a good chance of water by sinking a well about 10 to 12 feet. Construction began in January 1872 and the station was officially opened on 16 August 1872 by Charles Todd. It was one of 15 such repeater stations. The Barrow Creek Station was part of a single strand of wire ~3000 km long that went from Port Augusta to Port Darwin and connected Central Australia to the rest of the world. In 1935 the Line stopped carrying international traffic when submarine cables were laid across the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
When World War II broke out, Darwin telephone communications became important. Cross arms and new copper wire were added to the old telegraph poles so they could carry trunk line telephone calls. The Barrow Creek Telegraph Station became a telephone linesmen's depot. Over time the Station was also used as a post office, an Aboriginal ration depot, a police station, and a staging camp for army convoys during World War II. In 1941 a storm destroyed the roof of the Telegraph Office and Australian Army personnel replaced the roof with the one it has now. In 1980 the microwave telecommunications link replaced the telephone carrier wave system.
Tom Roberts, the last linesman to live at the Station, came for a week in 1952 but ended up staying until 1986 acting as caretaker. The Barrow Creek Telegraph Station is now one of only four remaining intact telegraph stations along the original Overland Telegraph Line. In 2010 the population of Barrow Creek was 11 people all of whom worked at the roadhouse. There are two nearby Aboriginal communities: the Tara community with ~80 people which is 12 km northeast, and Pmatajunata at Stirling Station which is about 35 km from Barrow Creek and has ~120 people.
The Blacksmith Workshop was first built in 1879 and reconstructed in 1965-66 by Telecom Australia. At the same time, stone fences were built around the Station buildings.
In the 1960's when drovers or other station workers stopped at the Barrow Creek Roadhouse, they wanted to be sure that they could buy "wan" the next time they were there. They knew that they might spend more than they expected on the current visit, so they signed a bill and left it pinned to the wall. Things have evolved some since those days. I saw an 8 USD Barack Obama bill and a 1,000,000 USD Michael Jackson bill. Strange, never see them here in the USA, LOL.
May 26th 2008. If you have that sort of pastime in your travelling read on.
For those who remember the case this, another step along the, at times, jumbled path of Australia's most recent outback tragic and controversial, murder mystery, today's news will be of interest.
I have long wondered what eventually happened to the centrpiece of the drama - the couple's Kombivan.
The vehicle was released to The Northern Territory police yesterday from the Darwin Supreme Court precincts
It was originally taken from the crime scene, just north of Barrow Creek, to Alice Springs 300kms. south, for absolutely thorough scrutinising before the ensuing arrest and court cases.
That transfer took place back in July 2001.
It was first thought that it woud be auctioned in public - as is normal practice.
I pricked my ears up at that prospect.
However on advising her in Britain, Ms Lees told the N.T. police that she wants the vehicle destroyed.
I think that I understand her attitude.
Fondest memory: More to come in my eventual search for Peter.