Historical information

The telegraph system of sending and receiving messages was developed in the early 1800s and improved as time went on. It sends electronic signals that represent letters and words along a wire. Those signals are then converted back to words at the other end of the wire. Morse code is a similar system. A fee is charged to send a telegraph, per letter or per word. The telegraph greatly improved communication, particularly in a large country like Australia. It was a fast way to send news and send out calls for help for people during a shipwreck. In Warrnambool, it was even used to set the correct time every day; a signal was sent from the time ball in Melbourne, and along the railway line to the Warrnambool Post Office.

This 1896 telegraph tells a big story in very few words, only fourteen! The layout of the paper form includes a table with four columns and five rows, set out for writing just one word into each of the twenty spaces. The happy message is the approval to go ahead with the exchange/sale of the title from landowner Rutledge to Wilson. The Melbourne Legal firm Klingender Dickson and Kiddle sent this message on behalf of its client to the Bank of Australasia in Warrnambool.

The Bank of Australasia was incorporated by the Royal Charter of England in March 1834. The bank began in Australia on 14th December 1835, opening in Sydney. The Acting Superintendent of the bank at that time was David Charters McArthur. He was Superintendent from 1867-to 1876. The Melbourne branch opened on 28th August 1838 in a two-roomed brick cottage on the north side of Little Collins Street, where two huge mastiff dogs were used at night to guard the bank. The government also provided an armed military sentinel. Due to the bank's rapid growth, a new building for the Melbourne branch was opened in 1840 at 75 Collins Street West. By 1879 the bank had been upgraded to a magnificent two-storey building on the corners of Collins and Queens Streets, with the entry on Collins Street.

In 1951 the Bank of Australasia amalgamated with the Union Bank to form Australia and New Zealand Bank, now known as the ANZ. Then in 1970, the ANZ merged with both the ES&A and the London Bank of Australia to form the ANZ Banking Group Limited. The ANZ Banking Group Ltd kindly donated a variety of historic items from the Bank of Australasia.


In 1854 Warrnambool had two banks, the Union Bank and the Bank of Australasia. Later, completely different bank businesses opened; in 1867 the National Bank of Australasia, then in 1875 the Colonial Bank of Australasia. The original Warrnambool branch of the Bank of Australasia was established in July 1854, and operated from a leased cottage on Merri Street, close to Liebig Street. The bank later bought a stone building previously erected by drapers Cramond & Dickson on the corner of Timor and Gibson Streets. Samuel Hannaford was a teller and then Manager at the Warrnambool branch from 1855 to 1856 and the Warrnambool Council chose that bank for its dealings during 1856-57. In 1859 Roberts & Co. was awarded the contract to build the new Bank of Australasia branch for the sum of £3,000. The land was on a sand hill on the northeast corner of Timor and Kepler Streets and had been bought in 1855 from investor James Cust. The new building opened on May 21, 1860. The bank continued to operate there until 1951 when it merged with the Union Bank to form the ANZ Bank, which continued operating from its Liebig Street building. Warrnambool City Council purchased the former Bank of Australasia building in 1971 and renovated it, then on 3rd December 1973 it was officially opened as the Art Gallery by Cr. Harold Stephenson and Gallery Director John Welsh. The Gallery transferred to the purpose-built building in Liebig Street in 1986 and the old bank building is now the Gallery club.

Staff at the Bank of Australasia in Warrnambool included the following men but others were also involved: Samuel Hannaford, Teller then Manager from 1855-1856; W H Palmer, Manager from January 1857 until November 1869 when the Teller Basil Spence was promoted to Manager; H B Chomley, Manager from April 1873 and still there in 1886; A Butt, Manager in 1895-1904; J R McCleary Accountant and Acting Manager for 12 months, until 1900; A Kirk, Manager 1904; J Moore, staff until his transfer to Bendigo in December 1908; J S Bath was Manager until 1915; C C Cox, Manager until April 1923; Richard C Stanley, Manager 1923 to April 1928.


This telegraph has historical significance as it was sent to the Bank of Australasia in Warrnambool. The parties involved in the message, Rutledge and Wilson, were involved in a land deal in 1896 when the district was importing and exporting goods into and out of Warrnambool Harbour via sailing ships. It is also a historical record of the nature of financial agreements between similar institutions in Warrnambool and the district.

The telegraph is significant for its association with the Bank of Australasia in Warrnambool, the first bank in Warrnambool, established in 1854. The bank continued to operate until its merger in 1951 when it became the ANZ Bank, which is still in operation today. The Bank was an integral part of the establishment and growth of commerce in Colonial Warrnambool and throughout Australia.

Physical description

Telegraph RECEIVED: Warrnambool Post Office, Wednesday 3rd June 1896.
FROM: Klingender, Dickson, and Kiddle, solicitors, Bank Place, Melbourne
FOR :the Manager, Bank of Australasia, Warrnambool,
REGARDING: Rutledge to Wilson title

Inscriptions & markings

STAMP: text inside circle "WARRNAMBOOL VIC", and in centre of the circle "JE 3 96"
Telegraph No. "23",
FROM :"Melbourne", FOR: "The Mgr, Bank of Australasia"
MESSAGE (14 words): "Rutledge to Wilson title accepted by Purchaser's Solicitors settlement may be effected with auctioneers"
TIME: "9:24"
SIGNED: " Klingender Dickson Kiddle, Solrs, Bank Place"