In December 1875, a submarine communication cable ran from Normanville to Kingscote on Kangaroo Island. Society member and local resident, David Muirhead sent us the following details and photographs concerning the cable: –

The spot where the communication cable to Kangaroo Island ran into the sea at Normanville

(Taken by David Muirhead)

The jigsaw-shaped bit of wet sand at the water’s edge on the northern corner (far right in the image) is exactly where the communication cable from the mainland ran into the sea at Normanville.

The cable ran from the Normanville Police Station and Courthouse and through the sand dunes (from the dunes outpost, a.k.a the dunes relay station).

(According to the web page found at , work on installing the submarine cable commenced on Christmas Day in 1875 and it was completed in six days. The web page goes on to state, “Later an overland line was constructed connecting Kingscote with the Cape Borda Lighthouse on the western end of Kangaroo Island. The system from Cape Borda to Adelaide was opened on 13 August 1876.”)

This dead olive tree stump would undoubtedly have been planted in the dunes around the time the communication cable was installed, which means that it was probably among the first olive trees planted in SA by the early settlers, and thus one of the first to spread its seeds around the area.

The dead olive stump at the top of the sand dunes

(Taken by David Muirhead)

It’s right next to what is left of a rusty galvanized iron-lined hole in the sand at the crest of the” hind dune” (secondary as opposed to primary dune, in this section of mostly binary dunes system i.e. where it’s generally easy to see that the dunes in cross-section comprise two main/ big dunes with a wide swale between them. The rusty galvanized iron-lined hole could possibly be either a hut or a toilet for the men installing or operating the undersea cable to KI.

All that remains of what may be a tiny hut or toilet

(Taken by David Muirhead)

Many thanks for providing us with these details, David.

By Steve Reynolds

Steve Reynolds is the current President of MLSSA and is a long-standing member of the Society. Steve is a keen diver, underwater explorer, photographer and is chief author of the Society's extensive back catalogue of newsletters and journals.

One thought on “The 1875 Communication Cable from Normanville to Kangaroo Island”
  1. The March 2018 issue of Yankalilla Regional News states , “The Normanville Post & Telegraph Office was also the terminal station of the submarine cable from Kangaroo Island, through which shipping intelligence was received from both Cape Willoughby & Cape Borda.”

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