Documenting Democracy
Australia's Story

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Harriet Douglas proudly holds the commemorative mallet

Though the completion of the overland telegraph line on 22 August 1872 was celebrated with jovial banquets in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, solemnity prevailed on this occasion, marking the start of line construction, at Port Darwin on 15 September 1870. Harriet Douglas, eldest of the six children of newly arrived Government Resident Bloomfield Douglas and Ellen Douglas, proudly holds the commemorative mallet after performing the ceremonial planting of the first pole. To her left is Mary Packard, who had lived at the original survey camp at the Adelaide River in 1865; next is Ellen Douglas and the Government Resident himself stands fourth from the left. The telegraph line linked the Australian colonies to Britain via the undersea cable brought ashore at Port Darwin on 7 November 1871.