Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station includes the post office and postmaster’s quarters and is testimony to the first telecommunications in Shark Bay. Built in 1884 this telegraph station is one of the few surviving relics from a chain of stations that stretched from Wyndham to Albany. The buildings are listed on Western Australia’s State Register of Heritage Places.
This repeater station on the coastal line between Geraldton and Roebourne was originally called Flint Cliff Telegraph Station due to its proximity to a cliff used as a landmark by supply vessels. The line itself was a single strand of wire suspended on porcelain insulators on top of a series of rough wooden poles. Some of the original poles can still be seen along Shark Bay’s northeast coast.
Messages were sent by signals tapped in Morse code. These pulses of electricity flowed along the line to telegraph stations where banks of large batteries provided the necessary voltage to send the message on to the next station.
The system revolutionised communications but had its problems. Strong winds often blew branches across the wire, and poles were struck by lightning or washed away in floods. For many years full-time linesmen rode along the line, first on camels and later in trucks, inspecting the line and making repairs.
Later the post office also acted as the telephone exchange, but the arrival of coaxial cable in the 1970s made Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station obsolete. By the 1990s satellite technology revolutionised communications once again.
Hamelin Pool Telegraph Station is now a privately-owned enterprise. The original post office has been converted into a museum full of telegraphy paraphernalia and also houses a living stromatolite. Close by you can see where shell blocks (coquina) were quarried to build station homesteads and some of Denham’s oldest buildings.