Today in Sydney, Telstra is hosting a reunion of workers who helped build the first coaxial cable connecting Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. These days we’re busy arguing over the benefits of fibre and copper for the NBN, but one thing hasn’t changed: laying those cables is some seriously hard slog, as you can see in these pictures of the network being built.
This was a serious undertaking, as Telstra’s description makes clear:
- Work commenced in Casula, NSW in 1960 and was opened on April 9th 1962 when the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies made an interstate direct call
- The cable travelled through Sydney, Campbelltown, Mittagong, Bowral, Moss Vale, Marulan, Goulburn, Canberra, Yass, Gundagai, Wagga Wagga, Albury, Wodonga, Wangaratta, Benalla, Euroa, Seymour and Melbourne
- The cable was laid across a 600 mile route (960km) following the path tracked by Hume and Hovell
- The rugged areas were surveyed by air before surveyors walked the route
- A pegging party followed the surveyors pegging out the path for the cable to be laid
- The cable was laid two to four feet (60cm-1.2m) below the earth at a rate of approximately six feet (1.8m) a minute, averaging at best rate of five miles (8km) a day
- 15,000 tonnes of cable and other equipment were hauled across the route
- The cable passes under 17 rivers including the Murrumbidgee
- 2000 hand drawn plans were drafted in the design of the project
- 103 minor repeater stations were built
- The cable has 3000 coaxial joints
- The cable was built in Germany and transported to Australia by ship
- The cable took two and half years to build at a cost of seven million pounds
- The cable supported the simultaneous live broadcast of the 5th test of the 1962-63 Ashes series to Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne – a major milestone in Australian television history
- The cable remained in use for two decades, when it was finally superseded by optical fibre links.
For more pictures, check out the full gallery at Lifehacker.