Adam Courtenay is a Sydney-based writer and journalist who has had a long career in the UK and Australia, writing for papers such as the Financial Times, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review. He is the author of the popular narrative history books The Ship that Never Was, The Ghost and the Bounty Hunter, and Three Sheets to the Wind (ABC Books). He is the son of iconic Australian writer Bryce Courtenay.
In 1855 talented astronomer and scientist Charles Todd had a dream to build a telegraph line across Australia to connect it to the world. This dream was a bold one and he would have to wait for technological advances to catch up with his ideas. By 1870, however, Singapore and Indonesia were joined to the world's growing telegraph network and it was Australia's turn. Todd and his men would have to erect thousands of telegraph poles across the entire expanse of the country, from Adelaide to the northern coast - one pole every 80 metres - across land that was relentlessly inhospitable and largely unknown to them. They overcame every obstacle and, as well as reducing the transmission of information to the country from months to hours, revealed the splendour of the continent's interior to its rapidly growing population. This is their story.