I am keeping a background eye on this new cable business as we on the Gold Coast had our own overseas cable (Pacific Cable) to Canada from 1902 to 1963 when the replacement COMPAC cable was laid linking Sydney to Hawaii, and as a result the Pacific Cable was withdrawn from service and the Southport QLD Cable station was closed in 1964.
In fact, there was cable communication with Britain in 1872, the cable was connected through overland telegraph to Darwin, then though Asia and the Middle East. But the route was expensive and didn’t travel entirely through the British Empire. An alternative route was proposed connecting Australia to Britain via Vancouver, Fanning Island, Fiji and Norfolk Island. These territories were all part of the British Empire and while the official name of the cable was the Pacific Cable, it was part of the “All Red Line” so named since countries of the British Empire were coloured red by cartographers.
Southport QLD was chosen to be the Australian station of the network. Cable laying commenced in 1902 with two cable ships, Anglia and Colonia sharing duties. In March 1902, the Anglia was positioned just offshore of Narrowneck, between present day Surfers Paradise and Main Beach. At first it was proposed to row the cable to shore using surf boats. But the surf was too rough so instead the cable was attached to barrels and floated to the shore, where it was dragged through a trench in the sand and terminated at a hut close to the beach. The cable hut location is made into a park and the side street is named Cable St in Main Beach. The hut is in the park so can be viewed, although at the moment some developer is using the park to build some apartment block next to it.
From the hut in Cable St in Main Beach, the submarine cable was connected to another cable which crossed under the Nerang River to the especially built cable station in Bauer Street Southport. This was the first part of the route to be laid. The entire Pacific Cable was completed in October 1902. It was officially opened by the Postmaster General of Australia, JG Drake on 3 November and opened to public traffic on 8 December.
We have a geocache site there and this material is mainly copied from what we researched when we placed that geocache many years ago. https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC5GJ6M_the-cable-hut?guid=ad095587-bf3c-4660-ad4a-fada75843dc3
The cable itself consisted of a number of copper tubes, surrounded with a protective product called gutta-percha (a type of latex), then several layers of steel banding and finally covered in tar. It weighed roughly 10 kg/metre. Cables were received at Southport, and then relayed to Brisbane before being sent to Sydney and Melbourne via overland telegraph. At its peak, Southport was relaying over 6 million messages a year and operated 24 hours a day.
In 1963, the COMPAC cable was laid linking Sydney to Hawaii, and as a result the Pacific Cable was withdrawn from service and the Southport Cable station was closed in 1964, The land at Bauer Street was bought by the De La Salle Brothers and two of the original cable buildings were later shifted to The Southport School.
The cable hut is preserved in a park in Cable St Main Beach and was an anchorage point for the submarine cable. Originally a timber and iron building, time and weather reduced it to a cement slab and flagpole surrounded by a barbed wire fence. Serious erosion of the cable reserve threatened the cable connections and the current brick hut was built in 1951 to remedy the situation. This building is now on the Queensland and Gold Coast heritage registers as the only surviving portion of the Southport terminus of the Pacific Cable.