Burton, Rosamund

The 3200-kilometre-long Overland Telegraph Line from Adelaide to Darwin was completed in 1872. It transformed Adelaide into Australia’s communication hub, connecting the continent with the rest of the world and heralding the dawn of instant global communication. One-hundred-and-fifty years later, author Rosamund Burton traced the path of this largely forgotten strand of wire through the country’s vast desert interior to the flood-prone Top End.

Struggling with a lack of experience and fitness, Rosamund and her friend cycle the first 800 kilometres from Adelaide through the Flinders Ranges to the deserted outback town of Farina, battling piercing winds and pelting rain, visiting sites and chatting with locals as they go. Climbing aboard a four-wheel drive with her husband, she continues along remote dirt tracks searching for derelict telegraph repeater stations, before completing the journey, from Alice Springs to Darwin, delivering an unwieldy campervan.

The author moves across the continent, storytelling, sharing its sometimes brutal history and listening to those who live in this harsh but beautiful country. This quest for connection with the land and an understanding of its people is also an exploration of what it means for the author, being Irish born, to belong in Australia.

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Wakefield Press, October 2022.  266 pages, paperback