Travel Back in Time While Viewing the Historical Telecom Memorabilia in Clayfield’s Telstra Museum

Learn about Queensland’s early communication methods at Telstra Museum Brisbane. The museum holds the largest collection of telecommunication memorabilia in Queensland. Volunteers and ex-employees of the Postmaster General Department (PMG) run the museum. Since these are the same people who worked with the same equipment, they can easily conduct demonstrations and several hands-on exhibits.


Telstra Museum

(Photo credit: Buddy Patrick/Facebook)

In 1952, a group of Post Office Volunteers established the Postal-Telecommunication History Society of Queensland Inc. with an aim to preserve the artifacts, records, and equipments that are memorabilia of the past telecommunication method. Donations of memorabilia for safekeeping quickly increased. Telstra Museum was formed to preserve these for the future generation of Queensland, while showcasing the importance of the collection to the Clayfield community and beyond.


Visiting the museum

(Photo credit: Buddy Patrick/Facebook)

The Telstra Museum is only open every Wednesday; from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Entry to the museum only costs a gold coin donation. Although the museum is only open once a week, group or school tours are welcome.

For school visits, it is important to the museum that students have a rewarding experience. Due to the small area, only 32 students and 4 adult supervisors are allowed in single tour. A tour of the full collection may take one hour, but can be shortened or extended depending on special interests. Contact the Telstra Museum to schedule reservations.


Queensland’s History of Telecommunication

Before visiting the museum, a little knowledge about the highlights of the history of telecommunication in Queensland will provide useful perspective in viewing the exhibits.

Ancient Aboriginal Message Sticks
(Photo credit:

In Queensland, the “Ancient Aboriginal Message Sticks” were among the earliest form of communication.

In 1861, the first telegraph in Queensland opened. It was first operated between Brisbane and Ipswich. After a few years, the scope extended to Sydney.

The first experiments about telephone were conducted in Brisbane in 26th of January 1878. The first successful telephone call from Brisbane to Ipswich was recorded few months later.

In 1880, the first government-owned telephone exchange in Australia was established in Brisbane and reached over 300 subscribers in 1885. The operators manually connected calls with cord pairs at its switchboard.

The first public telephone office was opened in Brisbane Post Office in 1888 followed by South Brisbane and Fortitude Valley.

The Brisbane-Ipswich line was opened and its success led to the opening of a telephone station in the “Phonophore System” in 1898. PMG was created in 1901 to take over all of the postal and telegraphic services within Australia.

Professor Alexander Graham Bell, scientist and innovator that was credited with patenting the first practical telephone, visited Brisbane in 1910 while installing the new CB (new battery) telephone exchange that was completed in 1912. All subscribers from the magneto exchange transferred to this new service.

(Photo credit: Buddy Patrick/Facebook)

In 1925, the first automatic telephone exchange was established in South Brisbane. The wave telephone with three-channel system was later introduced in Brisbane and Sydney in 1928 that became automatic a year later, followed by the installation of the first 12-channel carrier system between Brisbane and Sydney in 1946.

The development of telecommunication continued in Queensland when the first broadband bearer system was introduced in 1963 and the microwave radio system in 1966.

The first computer-controlled trunk exchange was operated in 1975 that led to the abolition of PMG. It was replaced by the Postal and Telecommunications Department.

After the change in government system, the telefinder service was introduced in 1978. One year later, all telephone and telex calls were transmitted by Hermes satellite.

Private sector involvement in telecommunication services was introduced in the 1982 Davidson Inquiry. Later in 1991, Optus Communications, a private sector company, entered the competition in the telecommunication industry that became the rival of Telecom Australia. In 1995, Telecom Australia changed its name to Telstra, which marked the privatisation of the company.

Numbers of telecommunication carriers have been growing since 1997 until today’s modernisation.

ARK 511
(Photo credit: Buddy Patrick/Facebook)

Telecommunication equipment and memorabilia including the ancient Aboriginal Message Sticks, telex, and other telephone system can be seen in the Telstra Museum today. Vital info about the museum and the telecommunication history in Queensland can be viewed on the official Telstra Museum’s website.

Telstra Museum Brisbane, 3 Oriel Road, Clayfield