New sign to mark 150th anniversary of the first message sent via subsea telegraph cable from Java to Darwin

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A brand new interpretative sign has been unveiled to mark the 150th anniversary of the first message sent via subsea telegraph cable from Java to Darwin.

Territory Families, Housing and Communities recently celebrated the 150th anniversary of the first message sent via subsea telegraph cable from Java to Darwin.

The strong historical links established through the message were evident, with a contingent representing the Indonesian consul in Darwin attending the celebrations near Darwin Harbour.

The anniversary celebration included the unveiling of a brand new interpretative sign, which features Captain Sweet’s photograph of the cable landing on 7 November 1871 on a transparent panel to allow observers to ‘see’ the historic arrival of the cable on the beach.

The unveiling was led by the Northern Territory Administrator, the Hon Vicki O’Halloran, Republic of Indonesia Consul representative, Mr Siuaji Raja, and Member for Port Darwin, the Hon Paul Kirby MLA.

The subsea telegraph cable connected Australia to the world. It was part of an international revolution in communications, and helped to transform Australian business, politics and society.

The first message received via the cable from Java to Darwin read:

“I have the honour to announce to you in the name of the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company that we yesterday completed a perfect submarine cable, connecting your Colonies with Java, the mother country, and the Western world. May it long speak words of peace, and reiterate 'Advance Australia'.”

Did you know? The cable can still be seen during low tide and the landing site is a heritage place. You can see the new sign at Jervois Park.

From left: Our Heritage Branch team, Director Michael Wells, Samantha Wells, Sarah Hubbard and David Steinberg.
From left: Our Heritage Branch team, Director Michael Wells, Samantha Wells, Sarah Hubbard and David Steinberg.

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