Party lines of the telephone kind. Part 1

March 17, 2009

Old telephone from the party line days at Kilcowera Station.

Old telephone from the party line days at Kilcowera Station.


About 1983 we escaped Kilcowera for a brief trip to Brisbane – first time away since marrying in 1980.  Yeehah!!! I remember being in some business house and the salesperson asked for my phone number, unthinkingly I replied “ Thargomindah 22R”  I got a very blank look and then the question “ How do you dial that”  Good question.  Seeing as I hadn’t been to a city since marrying I didn’t know.  When we were in a local town we used a telecard to make a call.  Seems you had to ring an operator and they would put the caller through to the Thargomindah phone exchange operator who would then ring the station with their own distinctive call.  Our number was 22R – the r was a short, long, short ring, based on Morse code.


It had taken me a long time to differentiate between the calls on our party line as there were 8 stations on our line.  Our other place Zenonie was 22U, two shorts and a long and our immediate neighbour was 3 shorts, so everyone on the line knew who was getting a phone call.  Some of the ladies were a bit sticky beakish and would pick up when you were on a call just to see if they could work out who you were talking to in 10 seconds or so.  They could always pretend they had been outside and not heard the phone ring and wanted to make a call themselves but the one on the phone could hear when the other person picked up and if the intruder didn’t put the phone down fairly quickly you would loudly say WORKING!


  All having to share one line was a bit frustrating at times especially if you needed to make a call urgently or before close of business, so if you were a bit desperate you would just keep picking up the phone so the other person got the hint to get off, of course if it was an emergency you would just say so and they would get off but probably not before you told them what the nature of the emergency was.  You can imagine that this system didn’t encourage long gossipy calls often.  Except in what were deemed to be the quiet times of the day.  More on this in my next post!


Lone post showing the insulator the party line was attached to.



One Response to “Party lines of the telephone kind. Part 1”

  1. zenonie said

    Reblogged this on Kilcowera Station – Life on an outback Queensland Cattle Station and commented:

    An old post from my blog. Written in 2009.

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