Telegraph Track


This is our answer the the Cape York Telegraph track. Having never driven the QLD one, I can't compare them, other than to say they are both pretty remote and require a fair bit of preparation.


The track basically starts at Israelite Bay telegraph station and heads east towards Eucla. These notes will apply to the original line from Israelite Bay to Twilight Cove, then the new line (1896) from south of Cocklebiddy to Eyre Bird Observatory (once the Eyre Sandpatch Telegraph Station).


The original telegraph line was commissioned around 1876 and started at Albany and travelled east to Bremer Bay, Esperance Bay, Israelite Bay, Eyre Sandpatch then to Eucla before crossing into South Australia. The line was a single wire and the poles were all wood.

This line was augmented/replace by a new line in 1896. A line was run from Coolgardie to Esperance via Norseman, where it went east to Balladonia before heading towards Eyre. This line used steel poles and was duplex. The old wooden telegraph station building were also replaced with beautiful stone buildings that also provided housing for the staff.

Eucla was a fairly substantial town. The only ruin remaining is a house that was either the telegraph or post master's home. The actual telegraph station was dismantled in the 1950s to become the Amber roadhouse (you can win a bet with this). The main building housed both the post office and telegraph office (as did all station except Eyre which was too isolated to need a post office. At Eucla there were two sides to the telegraph room, one for WA and the other for SA. Many say that it was the time difference between the state for this, but reality is that Eucla had its own time (minus 45 from western time). The reason for the two staffs was as simple as the two colonies having different morse code standards.

Both lines were decommissioned in 1926 with the opening of the trans Australian railway.

Trip Report 

We undertook this trip in April 2012 and it is the fourth in our expedition series.

The section to Israelite Bay was pretty corrugated and a bit unpleasant. March flies were out especially around Israelite Bay. We headed toward Wattle Camp, but didn't find anything that we liked and headed on, which was a mistake..it was worse. But at night any campsite looks good. We did walk some miles searching for a better site but the track kept going and the scrub didn't allow anyway to pull off.

The were some sections where a previous bushfire had devastated the bush, which had started to regrow and was very dense causing much scraping along the cars.

Toolina Cove was a bit scary standing at the top looking down into the small beach, thinking about dragging telegraph poles up from the ships!

Bilbunya Dunes were pretty spectacular. The walk up was pretty hard on the legs, but the view was worth it. One side has a very steep slope and considering the height, a bit of care is required. The drive across the flats beforehand required us to search for the track as the windblown sand had covered the wheels marks. Fortunately the flats were not boggy, but had the potential to cause some havoc if water was present, and it is a long drive across. We saw some miniature pinnacles on the way too!

Twilight Cove was very beautiful in the sunset, but the wind was a tad annoying. One of our vehicles has trouble getting over the dunes with the trailer so it didn't get in. WE lost radio comms with them too and when we got a bit stuck, there was some concern for a while. The camp site at Twilight was pretty good and we saw some marsupial jumping mice there scavenging our crumbs. The drive down the escarpment to Twilight was easy but you need to go slow as the track is rutted and bouncy.

We followed some miles and miles of wooden telegraph poles, which was a real blast too.

We never found the track from Twilight to Eyre, so we headed north again and eventually got onto a track which took us onto the more modern line. We ended up in some pretty thick scrub here. But the reward was travelling on the old telegraph line with many hundreds of steel poles still standing and often with wire running between them.

The decent down to the sand for Eyre was easy as it is maintained, though the section of sand to Eyre was slow as the sand was churned up a bit, possibly due to the traffic. The old station museum is well worth seeing.

On the way out we detoured easterly to Burnabbie
. and had a look around there to.

We came across a few big lizards and a couple of snakes, one looked like a dugite and the other seemed to be a western brown, both of which we steered clear of.

Places to See

Israelite Bay telegraph station and graves
Eyre Bird Observatory
Baxter Cliffs (sheer 200 foot drop to the ocean)
Baxter memorial
Twilight Cove
Bilbunya Dunes
Burnabbie ruins.
Miles of old telegraph line

Degree of Difficulty 

This trip is not too difficult. I would probably class it as easy except for the isolation. We took enough fuel and water to get us pretty much from Esperance all the way to Cocklebiddy. There are absolutely no services available on the way. 

There varying track conditions from limestone, muddy claypans, sand and some steep hills. There are many reports that some sections are no trafficable. We did not find this the case, however, there are some section where your vehicle will be scratched and low overhanging trees.

We had to clear some trees from tracks. But other than scratches had no vehicle damage. Our average speed was probably below 40km/h. Remember the track is very narrow and speeding will get you into trouble. Expect cars coming from the opposite direction.


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