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A coast to coast TV opportunity for CQUni professor

A coast to coast TV opportunity for CQUni professor

Published:12 March 2018

CQUni Emeritus Professor Denis Cryle will feature on the next series of the Coast Australia TV series.

CQUniversity Emeritus Professor Denis Cryle will feature in a major television series thanks to his expertise on Australia's overland telegraph pioneer Charles Todd.

As author of a recent biography on Todd, Professor Cryle was approached to appear as an expert interviewee on Series 4 of Coast Australia, a documentary series which screens on Foxtel and is distributed internationally by the BBC.

"The designated coastline for this program extends from Port Lincoln to Eucla, the site of an important 19th-century telegraph station which linked the great East- West line at the border of South Australia and Western Australia," Professor Cryle says.

Professor Cryle accompanied two former Telecom telegraphists from Western Australia to the historic site where he set the scene for the planning and construction of this remote yet important station, in conversation with world-renowned Scottish Coastline host, Neil Oliver.

Series 4 of Coast Australia is due for release in January 2019.

Professor Cryle was inspired to write the much-needed biography on Charles Todd by the example of Kevin Livingston, a former CQUniversity professor and telecommunications scholar, who first researched Todd's career for his important book, the Wired Nation Continent, published in 1996.

Like the modern National Broadband Network with its 10-year rollout plan, the construction of the 19th-century electric telegraph proceeded in stages across Australia. At the state or colonial level, Todd proceeded first to link South Australia to Victoria and New South Wales, where the bulk of the early population was based.

Another decade elapsed before Todd, in the face of some scepticism, undertook two great transcontinental projects linking the existing network to Western Australia and Northern Australia in the 1870s. His Overland Telegraph Line which stretched from the southern coast to Alice Springs and on to Darwin, was planned to proceed in three stages simultaneously, enabling his construction parties under adverse conditions, to complete the task in around two years.

This time frame compares very favourably with the labour-intensive efforts undertaken for the NBN today. Only then could colonial Australia be connected from Darwin to Asia and to the outside world via underwater cable, a feat for which Telstra continues to honour him.

Professor Cryle began his own monumental task researching about Charles Todd while working at CQUniversity and has continued it since his retirement in 2013.