Old Telegraph Station

A Slice of History


The first South Australian electric telegraph link was established between Adelaide and Port Adelaide in 1856. A line was opened between Adelaide and Gawler in 1857 and that line was extended to Angaston in 1866 (see below re early telegraph communications). Mr Louis Iverson maintained the Greenock telegraph service in a small office in his home located in the main street of Greenock. Lightning struck the flagstaff outside the telegraph office during a severe thunderstorm in October 1870 and caused it to split in halves. The main telegraph line also caught fire and the current followed the conductor into the telegraph office, setting the window curtain alight. Fortunately, Mr Iverson was able to extinguish the blaze before it did much damage. The telegraphic service was transferred to the Greenock Post Office after it was opened in 1880, and combined with the postal service. Located in the main street of Greenock in the world famous Barossa Valley, Greenock’s Old Telegraph Station today operates as a beautifully restored self-catered bed and breakfast accommodation. With its peaceful location in the quaint village of Greenock, the Old Telegraph Station offers guests a relaxing environment with all the conveniences of modern living whilst retaining its old charm.


These days we take for granted the facility of rapid communication via a wide range of devices and services unheard of by pioneers in the Greenock district. EG Landline and mobile telephones, message bank, text messaging, email, Facebook, Twitter, chat sites, blogs etc. We seek faster and clearer communication without the need for manual operators to all parts of the developed world 24 hours of the day. Perhaps we should spare a thought for the early generations of settlers and the limited means of communication that was available to them.

Despite petitioning the government of the day the local community was unsuccessful in 1854 and again in 1855 in gaining a mail service to Greenock. A limited service was established the following year. Morse code telegraph was extended to Greenock and other Barossa towns in 1866. If any local resident wanted to send a telegram to another person or business in the state they would have to bring their message to the telegraph officer who would then convey the message in Morse code.

This form of communication was not cheap. The system used a “key” to open or close a switch. Each letter of the alphabet and each number and special symbol had a unique combination of “dots and dashes” and each character had to be entered with this key. It was transmitted through phone lines from the telegraph office in Greenock to the central telegraph exchange in Adelaide and then sent from there to the respective telegraph office in the state. The message (usually very brief) was written out as a telegram at the receiving telegraph station to give to the recipient. The telegraph service was transferred to the Greenock Post Office in 1880.

The first manual telephone service at Greenock commenced with one subscriber in 1910 – the public telephone booth located outside the Post Office. It took another ten years before the first five private phones were installed in the town and a further few years before more subscribers could be accommodated. Morse code telegrams remained as a means of communication locally until the early 1920s, but the service was discontinued when telephones began to be installed in more private homes.


A postal service to Greenock commenced in 1856 and was conducted in conjunction with a general retail store on the site of the present Greenock Creek Tavern. The Greenock Post and Telegraph Office was erected in 1879, combining the postal service and the telegraph service. Telegraph services were maintained from here until the mid 1920s and the staff operated a manual telephone exchange from 1910 to 1965. Today it functions as a licensed Post Office with the premises being privately owned.


An Institute facility has operated in Greenock since 1883, with a commemorative plaque unveiled at a special dinner in 1983. A second plaque was unveiled in 2005 to observe the centenary of the present Institute building which was opened in 1905 and has provided a library and community hall facility in the district since that time. A kitchen and supper room were added in 1925.

The large, partly burnt out eucalypt tree in the background of the image (across the road from the Institute) is believed to have been a corroboree site of the local aboriginal tribe prior to European settlement in the district.


The cemetery was opened in the early 1850s but few details are known of burials prior to the proclamation of the Cemeteries Act of 1864 which made the recording of all burials compulsory. Buried in the cemetery are two young children of Louis Iverson, the local Telegraph Officer (Jacob, age 3 who died in 1875 of Scarlet Fever and one year old Hermann who died in  1876 of bronchitis). The local school teacher, FW Klewitz lost four of his five children in the 1875 Scarlet Fever plague.


Branson Memorial Methodist Church (later the Uniting Church) was dedicated in 1955, the church building was used in the traditional way until 2007. Then, faced with limited resources, the small and ageing congregation made the bold decision to cease Sunday worship services and use the Church building for community outreach ventures instead.

The bell from the first Methodist Church in Greenock, built in 1855, is located at the Uniting Church.


This church was dedicated in 1900 and its bell tower was added in 1975. The Lutheran Manse adjoining the church was erected in 1955 and the Church Hall and Parish Office was built in 1988. Major renovations and extensions to the Church were completed in May 2009. An earlier Lutheran Church at Greenock was situated in Bevan Street and remained open as a Lutheran Church from 1857 to 1866, and thereafter as a Catholic Church until the late 1920s.


You can read about the settlement and development of Greenock from 1846 in the book written by Geoff Saegenschnitter titled “Greenock and District 1846-1986”. A copy of the book is in the cottage. Also available in the cottage is a small pamphlet produced by the Greenock Heritage Group outlining an Historical Walk of Greenock. Extra copies of this pamphlet are available from the Greenock Post Office.

Leave a Reply