Eucla, Western Australia. The abandoned jetty and the old Telegraph Station.

Eucla, Western Australia.

Eucla is a small settlement 12 kilometres west of the South Australian border. It was originally built in 1877 for the telegraph station, which was built too close to the coast and was abandoned. There was a 1 kilometre long tram line between the jetty and the telegraph station, for bringing supplies to the lonely outpost.

Because Eucla is near the border of Western Australia and South Australia the telegraph station was important as a conversion point. South Australia and Victoria used the American Morse Code - known locally as the Victorian Alphabet - and Western Australia used the International Morse Code. So everything had to be translated and re-transmitted!

The township of Eucla was gazetted in 1885 and peaked in in the 1920s. Then the telegraph line was moved north to run alongside the Trans Australian Railway.

In the 1880s a rabbit plague came through the area. They completely stripped the sandhills, known as the Delisser Sandhills, of vegetation. This destabilised them and large sand drifts began moving into the town. This caused the town to be abandoned and a new town built 4 kilometres inland, on higher ground near the Eucla Pass. Eucla is now an important travellers' stop on the Eyre Highway, with good facilities including fuel and accommodation.

The ruins of the original town, with its limestone buildings, together with the remains of the jetty, can still be seen in the sandhills south of the present town.

Abandoned jetty at Eucla, Western Australia
Abandoned jetty at Eucla, Western Australia. Summer 2015.

Copyright © Michael Hey-Cunningham

This great picture of the remains of the jetty shows the vast emptiness and quiet - except when the noisy generator at Eucla starts up! The jetty was originally built to supply the Telegraph Station. There was a 1 kilometre long tram line between the two.

The picture was taken from the ocean side of the jetty. It shows the gently shelving nature of the beach. Even quite a way out it is still shallow. Very similar to the beach at the next Telegraph Station to the west, at Eyre, which is now the Eyre Bird Observatory.

Abandoned jetty at Eucla seen from the land, Western Australia
Abandoned jetty at Eucla seen from the land, Western Australia. Summer 2015.

Copyright © Michael Hey-Cunningham

Another great picture of the remains of the jetty, seen from on the beach. You don't share the beach with many people!

Birds preening on the abandoned jetty at Eucla, Western Australia
Birds preening on the abandoned jetty at Eucla, Western Australia. Summer 2015.

Copyright © Michael Hey-Cunningham

People have abandoned the jetty, but the birds reckon it's great!

A lone bird preening on a pylon at the abandoned jetty at Eucla, Western Australia
A lone bird preening on a pylon at the abandoned jetty at Eucla, Western Australia. Summer 2015.

Copyright © Michael Hey-Cunningham

A great shot of a bird preening itself on part of the ruins of the old jetty.

Looking underneath the abandoned jetty from the sea, at Eucla, Western Australia
Looking underneath the abandoned jetty from the sea, at Eucla, Western Australia. Summer 2015.

Copyright © Michael Hey-Cunningham

A detail shot of the underneath of the ruins of the old jetty. Clear water, gently shelving beach, and a vast loneliness.

Looking underneath the abandoned jetty from the land, at Eucla, Western Australia
Looking underneath the abandoned jetty from the land, at Eucla, Western Australia. Interesting patterns of light and shade. Summer 2015.

Copyright © Michael Hey-Cunningham

Although we have visited Eucla many times we have never been to the beach to see the jetty. Thanks, Michael, for the pics and for letting us use them. They really give a feel of the history and the temporariness of things that we humans create.

Looking over the ruins of the old Telegraph Station, at Eucla, Western Australia
Looking over the ruins of the old Telegraph Station, at Eucla, Western Australia. Summer 2015.

Copyright © Michael Hey-Cunningham

The sand is taking over! The ruins are more or less visible over the years depending on how the sand is drifting. This is the main Telegraph Station building, built of limestone. There are also ruins of other buildings around this building, mainly to the left of the picture. They are sometimes visible if the sand recedes a bit.

The ruins of the old Telegraph Station in 2004, at Eucla, Western Australia
The ruins of the old Telegraph Station in 2004, at Eucla, Western Australia. This pic was taken on our trip to WA in September 2004. The condition of the ruins has deteriorated in the pic above, which was taken in January 2016. Just look at the condition of the chimney. Spring 2004

Copyright © Willem Schultink

Looking out from the ruins of the old Telegraph Station, at Eucla, Western Australia
Looking out from the ruins of the old Telegraph Station, at Eucla, Western Australia. Summer 2015.

Copyright © Michael Hey-Cunningham

We have visited these ruins over a number of years - since 1997 - and they are becoming more weather-beaten and ruined as time goes on.

Compare the condition of this building with a similar limestone building at the Eyre Bird Observatory. That was also a Telegraph Station, and was built at roughly the same time and abandoned at roughly the same time. The difference is that the roof was not removed so when the time came for it to be restored the condition of the building was good enough to allow a restoration.

More ruins at the old Telegraph Station in 2004, at Eucla, Western Australia
More ruins at the old Telegraph Station in 2004, at Eucla, Western Australia. There are more ruins around the main building of the Telegraph Station. These are located to the left and rear of the main building. Depending on where the sand movement is at any time, various ruins can be covered or uncovered. Spring 2004.

Copyright © Willem Schultink

Looking into the rooms of the old Telegraph Station, at Eucla, Western Australia
Looking into the rooms of the old Telegraph Station, at Eucla, Western Australia. Summer 2015.

Copyright © Michael Hey-Cunningham

It doesn't take that much imagination to visualise the hustle and bustle of a busy telegraph station a hundred and fifty years ago. Then the telegraph was the epitome of communications technology. Now the internet has been with us for 22 years and has completely revolutionised communications. I can do far more with the phone in my pocket than the entire telegraph station!