April 02, 2014

Horse 1646 - Ten Suburbs. No.17 Wahroonga 2076

When I go on Skype and talk to people in the United States in real time, I'm reminded of just how far in the future we actually are living. The ability to speak to and see someone in real time, is the sort of thing which would have seem distant in the era when The Jetsons or Star Trek was first broadcast on television. Even the mobile phone I have in my pocket, which looks a little like the tricorders from Star Trek, contains more computing power than the entire Apollo Space Program.

Yet even the Apollo moon landings which were seen on television, or even the Australian Cricket tour to England which was broadcast on ABC Radio 31 years before that, must have looked so far in the future to the event which took place in 1918 which a small monument commemorates.

I have just returned from a visit to the battlefields where the glorious valour and dash of the Australian troops saved Amiens and forced back the legions of the enemy, filled with greater admiration than ever for these glorious men and more convinced than ever that it is the duty of their fellow-citizens to keep these magnificent battalions up to their full strength. W.M. Hughes, Prime Minister.
- 22nd Sep 1918, 13:15

Royal Australian Navy is magnificently bearing its part in the great struggle. Spirit of sailors and soldiers alike is beyond praise. Recent hard fighting brilliantly successful but makes reinforcements imperative. Australia hardly realises the wonderful reputation which our men have won. Every effort being constantly made here to dispose of Australia's surplus products. Joseph Cook, Minister for Navy
- 22nd Sep 1918, 13:25

"Officially" these were the first two wireless messages received from the UK in Australia. In practice, German wireless transmissions were received by stations in Papua New Guinea as early as 1917.
These two messages were sent by the Marconi station MUU at Carnarvon in Wales and the person at the Australian end who received them was a Sir Ernest Fisk, who was the Managing Director of Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Ltd. (AWA) at his house in Wahroonga.
I have done some research into land sales in the area and it seems that a lot of what is now an obviously established and respectable suburb, was just an idea and a few arbitrary lines drawn on a land survey back then. The streets which exist now, in some cases didn't even exist back then, or if they did, were dirt tracks through the bush.

During the First World War, correspondents from the battlefield could send news back to places like Paris or London by courier or carrier pigeon and have reports appear in the newspaper the next day. Australia though would have to either rely on telephone or the mails which often took far longer.
This little forgotten and unassuming monument in Wahroonga isn't a so much a monument to a specific event which happened but to the world becoming a little bit smaller and Australia itself, not being quite so isolated.

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