Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cable Park, Southport

You are reading this blog on a computer connected to the World Wide Web. Through this medium, the blog can be read almost anywhere in the world by a number of people simultaneously (I should be so lucky!), and the posts are visible the instant I upload them to Technology is fabulous these days - we have instantaneous email, and programs like Skype make international phone calls cheap and easy. Spare a thought for a time not all that long ago when there was no internet, no international telephones and only rudimentary cable communication existed between continents. An international telegraph link between Australia and Britain existed as far back as 1872, with the cable travelling through Singapore, India, Suez and Gibraltar. There were concerns about the high cost of this service as well as vulnerability of the cable in the event of war. For these reasons, it was proposed to lay another cable from Britain through Canada and across the Pacific Ocean to Australia, all via British Commonwealth land points. This was commenced in 1901, and was completed in 1902. Here is a picture of a crowd attending the event of the cable coming ashore at Southport in Queensland in 1902.(Photo: GCCC; Image No LS-LSP-CD129-IMG0005)

The new cable from Britain was laid to Canada which it crossed on the back of the Canadian Pacific Railway infrastructure to Vancouver, then via Fanning Island, Fiji, Norfolk Island and on to Southport. A branch split off to New Zealand. When the cable reached Southport, it was laid in a trench through the sand at Narrow Neck to a Cable Hut, where it was connected to a land line before being sent to the nearby Cable Station to be linked up with the Australian cable network. For a good few years, Southport was the epicentre of communication in Australia. The undersea cable was laid by two specialist ships, taking most of 1902 and costing £2 million. Although this cable ceased operation in 1962, the Cable Hut is still standing, preserved at Cable Park, Main Beach. (Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

The structure above is the Cable Hut, where the incoming cable connected with the Australian land line. There is a plaque on the wall of the Hut (click the picture for a larger image):
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

A few metres away stands a cement plinth with a map on it. The map shows the route of the cable between Australia and Canada, and around the edge is written some facts about the distances involved. At the bottom is a quote from Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", and it says "I'll put a girdle around the earth in forty minutes". If only he had known that it would eventually take much less than that!
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Modern communication is wonderful and these days it is affordable for most of us. How lucky we are in comparison to our forefathers. On the subject of the internet and communication, today marks my 200th post on this blog. And they said it would never last! ;-)

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Next: Goin' for a dip in yer togs


  1. Congratulations on achieving your 200th post Trevor.

  2. Thank you Janet. As you well know, there's a lot of work involved in maintaining a blog!


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