Phoning Home

The Postmaster-General’s Department (P.M.G.) of Australia was created in 1901 with Federation taking control over all six Colonies (States) Postal and Telegraphic services within Australia to form the national Postal and Telegraphic services within Australia. The Department was administered by the Postmaster-General. The PMG was broken in two in 1975, becoming the Australian Telecommunications Commission (Telecom, then later Telstra) and the Australian Postal Commission (Australia Post).

A century ago in the early 1920s, the telegraph system was extended to Stradbroke Island. It did this via an undersea cable from Cleveland to the south-west of Peel Island, then overland on Peel (on poles parallel to Horseshoe Bay), then again via an undersea cable to Dunwich on Stradbroke. Later, because of the danger of fallen trees due to storms, the overland cable was put underground. Nowadays, with the advent of wireless technology, all these cables have become obsolete.

Western telephone cable hut 2018 (photo courtesy Janet Bailey)

At Peel’s Lazaret, although there was a telephone in the office of the Nurses’ Quarters, it was out of bounds for patients who, it was feared, would always be trying to contact the Health Minister.  It was not until the latter days of the Lazaret, that patients were given access to a public telephone.

Telephone pole, Peel Island 2018 (photo courtesy Janet Bailey)
Repairing PMG cables near Peel (photo courtesy Graham Day)