Introduction: This cable was laid in 1893 between Mon Repos, Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia, and Téoudié,
New Caledonia, by La Sociéte Française des Télégraphes Sous-Marins using CS François Arago. It was intended to be the first section of a Pacific Cable under French ownership, but the route was abandoned in 1898 and a cable entirely under British control was laid in 1902 from Vancouver, Canada, to Australia and New Zealand.
Bundaberg is the home town of site visitor Mark James, and he reports that 30+ years ago he was exploring the Mon Repos beach and came across some old wooden stumps and coils of rusty wire in an adjacent pit. He was told this was the site of a cable hut and the wire was from a cable that was laid by the French in the 1890s. He gave a sample of the cable to the curator of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission museum in Sydney (no longer in existence after OTC became part of Telstra in the early 1990s).
The Bundaberg site is now listed as a Heritage Place by the Bundaberg Regional Council: “Mon Repos Cable Station Remains, Mon Repos Road, Mon Repos.”
This page tells the story of the 1893 cable as published in Australian newspapers at the time.
The start of the project:
The Telegraph, Brisbane, 17 June 1893
Despatched from France.
News has been received that the cable steamer François Arago is leaving France today with the cable on board which is to be laid between Burnett Heads, Queensland, and New Caledonia. The Hon. Audley Coote, M.L.C., of Tasmania, the agent and representative of the Sociéte Française des Télégraphes Sous-Marins, the company which is laying the cable, is now in Bundaberg on business connected with the undertaking.
The ship sailed from Havre for New Caledonia with 818 miles of cable which had been made during the previous three months at the Calais factory of La Société Industrielle des Téléphones. The factory, now owned by Alcatel-Lucent, is the oldest cable manufacturing facility in the world.
Morning Bulletin, Rockhampton, Queensland, 24 June 1893
On Friday afternoon, says the Bundaberg Mail, the Hon. Audley Coote, M.L.C. of Tasmania, who is in town in connection with the Pacific cable, the laying of the first portion of which will shortly be commenced, visited the site selected for the erection of a cable station near Mon Repos. He was accompanied by Miss Coote, Messrs. Duffy and O’Connell, MM.L.A., R. Morrisby (Land Commissioner), F. Kilner (Harbour Master), and others.
A description of the locality has already appeared in these columns, but we may again state that it forms part of the 1280 acre pasturage reserve, adjoining the south-east corner of Mr. A.P. Barton’s Mon Repos Plantation. The hon. gentleman expressed his approval of the site, and conferred with Mr. Morrisey as to securing an area sufficient for the erection of the necessary buildings to form a complete cable station. We understand the formal application will be made for fifty acres immediately on the rear of the spot where the shore end of the cable will enter the receiving office. At the same time there is every likelihood of a two-chain branch road being formed from the Burnett Heads main road, and passing Messrs. Goylard’s and Barton’s on to the station. The party returned to town late in the afternoon.
The hon. gentleman will leave this afternoon for Maryborough, en route for the south. After transacting pressing business in the Tasmanian Legislature he will return to Bundaberg early in August, in time to meet the cableship François Arago, which left Calais on Saturday evening with the New Caledonia cable on board. Messrs. Duffy Bros. represent Mr. Coote’s interest here in connection with the cable ship.
The cable is expected to be successfully laid before the 1st of September, on which date, probably, signals will be exchanged with Queensland. As the François Arago will be anchored off the Heads for two or three days, it is fitting that the occasion be duly recognised by the public of Bundaberg. As a cable ship this vessel has performed good service in many parts of the world, and has just recently completed the laying of an important cable in the Mediterranean.
This news report from the Bundaberg Mail and Burnett Advertiser in its issue of
Monday 4 September 1893 provides a good description of the laying of the first part of the cable. The lay was completed the following month and the cable opened for service on 16 October 1893.
THE CABLE SHIP.
ARRIVAL OFF BUNDABERG.
“ONE OF THE GREATEST ENTERPRISES OF THE WORLD.”
WONDERFUL SUBMARINE DISCOVERY.
At 12.15 p.m. on Saturday the intelligence was wired to Bundaberg that the cable ship, François Arago, had been sighted off Sandy Cape. On receipt of this important news, Captain T.M. Almond, Mr. Kilner, Mr. Bernard, and the representative of this journal, started immediately in vehicles for the Burnett Heads, and, on arrival at the Lighthouse (where they were joined by Pilot Neill), a longboat conveyed the party to the Q.G.S. Llewellyn, which was anchored close upon a mile away. They were received on board by Captain Evans, and shortly after 4 o’clock the Llewellyn put out to sea.
At this time the smoke of a steamer far to eastward was plainly manifest, and the Llewellyn was pointed to intercept that sign, no doubt existing but that it was the cable ship. The ocean was like the proverbial duckpond, only a very light south-easterly breeze rippling the face of the mighty deep. The anticipations of Captain Almond were fully justified, as, at 4 20 the square-rigged foremasts of the incoming ship were discerned through a telescope, and 20 minutes later the whole of the ship was plainly to be seen on the distant horizon. At first, nothing could be seen except the rigging, the yellow-painted funnel, and the white hull, but shortly afterwards the French national flag—the tricolor—could be clearly seen. The Llewellyn hoisted the tricolor on her foremast, and the four code signals denoting “Welcome” at her main, whilst the Australian national flag occupied its usual position over the helm.
The François Arago was steaming majestically ahead in a bee direction for the spot where the shore end of the cable will be delivered—immediately opposite Mon Repos, now known as Almond’s Landing. Half-an-hour passed by, and the Llewellyn having described a semicircle round the cable ship’s bows, the shore party descended into one of the whale boats and were pulled across to the François Arago, where they were enthusiastically received by those on board, including—The Hon. Audley Coote, (S.A.) the Cable Co.’s Australian representative; Captain Offret, commander; Dr. Leray, surgeon; M. Auguste Rouilliard, engineer-in-chief; M. Maurice Roussel, second engineer; M. Paul Fournier, chief electrician; MM. Charles T. Antzenberger, and Henri Cazewitz, assistant engineers; M. Pierre Lefevre, electrician, and M. Nestor Deletoile, assistant electricians.
Among the guests who had accompanied the expedition were:—The Hon. W.H. Wilson, Postmaster-General, and Mr. John M’Donnell, Under-Secretary; the Hon. John Kidd, Postmaster-General of New South Wales; Mr. P.B: Walker, Secretary of Telegraph Service in New South Wales and Superintendent of Telegraphs; Dr. M’Donnell, of Toowoomba; M.L. Mirabel, the Company’s Australian manager; M. Edward Stallibrass, consulting telegraph engineer, whose invention of a tube connected with the sounding apparatus to bring up samples of the formation of sea-bottom is being used on board the ship; Mr. Herbert W. Sullivan, consulting engineer; M. Brylinski, engineer representing the French Government, &c.
The François Arago—originally belonging to the English merchant service under the name of Westmeath, is a steel vessel of 3500 tons burden, she being 309 feet long with a 39 feet beam. She draws 24 feet of water, and has some 2000 tons of cable—including buoys, and other necessaries—on board. Her steaming capacity is 11 knots per hour; her engines were manufactured by Messrs. Doxford and Sons, Sunderland, England. The Sociéte Française des Télégraphes Sous-Marins purchased the vessel several years ago and converted her into a cable ship.
Not including the present work she has laid cables for the company from Bermuda to Halifax, Surinam to Martinique, Purta Prince to St. Nicholas Mole, (Mauritius), Martinique to Puerto Plata, (San Domingo,) Surinam to Cayenne, thence to Brazil, Nassau to Florida, and Marseilles to Oran. The present laying of a cable makes the François Arago’s ninth expedition in that respect. In all her previous undertakings she has accomplished what was expected of her with credit to her officers and satisfaction to all concerned. The strength of her gear and paying-out machinery will be accepted as a fact when it is stated that in most of the instances of cable-laying above referred to, she payed-out cables in all sorts of weathers, to depths from 19,000 to 29,000 fathoms, and in lengths of over 1,200 knots.
The Arago’s Present Cargo.
M. Auguste Rouilliard has kindly supplied us with the following description of the Arago’s present cable cargo, as follows:—The hold of the François Arago is divided into four immense tanks cylindrical in form, and with truncated cones in the centre of each, the largest being capable of holding 500 knots of cable. The cable is coiled round the tanks and submerged in salt water. The line is unrolled naturally by the weight of the cable being paid-out from the holds and dropping into the bed of the sea. Independently of the speed of the vessel the force of the paying-out is so great that brakes have to be applied to prevent its going out too quickly. It runs through a series of pulleys and several machines, both intricate and simple, before the line is paid-out.
How the Cable is Laid.
The lower end of the cable in the tank is taken to the testing-room, so that continuous trials of its condition, in an electrical sense, may be made. The upper end is passed over a guiding quadrant to a paying-out drum and to a set of wheels, or fixed quadrants, and thence to a dynamometer, which measures the strain on the cable. From this latter it passes over the stern pulley into the ocean. The wheels are so arranged that they can be raised or lowered, so as to give the cable more or less bend as it passes between them. When the paying-out brake-wheels are used, the strain on the cable is particularly observed. The length payed-out, and the rate of paying out, are approximately obtained from the number of turns made by the large drum, and its rate of turning.
The speed of the vessel can generally be estimated according to the speed at which the engines are driven, but it is more accurately obtained by one or the other of the various forms of log, or it may be measured by paying-out continuously a steel wire over a measuring wheel. The average speed is obtained, also, very accurately from the usual stellar and solar observations always made aboard ship. The difference between the speed of the ship and the rate of paying out gives the amount of “slack.” This last-mentioned varies in different cases between 8 and 10 per cent., but ample is allowed so that the cable may easily adapt itself to the inequalities of its ocean bed, and may be also easily lifted for repairs when necessitated.
Every particle of the cable is thoroughly tested by the electricians before it leaves the ship’s side. This is done in the testing-room, which is the most important part of the ship’s outfit in regard to its present expedition. This room contains electrical machines which, to the casual observer, may be termed simply marvellous. Chief of these is the sounding machine and gauging sinker before referred-to as being the invention of M. Edward Stallibrass. The gauge, made of wrought iron, runs through a ball weight of about 401bs., and descending with great force, the projecting end is driven into the bed of whatever formation it encounters, and remains firmly fixed in the tube. By a manipulation of the wire rope the tube by itself can be drawn to the surface, the valve on the top of it closing by the pressure of the water it is being drawn through. It records a very satisfactory depth of the soil or strata it has encountered in its drop. The gauge is simple in action, and proves of immense value in such instances for which it is now being used. Directly the machine, to which an indicator is attached, reaches the bottom, a bell rings on the deck of the ship and the depth is notified at the same time.
The length of the cable stacked on board the François Arago is 868 miles, composed of sections respectively 819, 11, 28½, and 9½ miles in length. The thickness of the cable at the New Caledonia end is 2¼ inches in diameter, weighs 14.2 tons per knot, and cost £500 per mile to manufacture at Calais, France. The Bundaberg end, for a stretch of three miles, will be 1½ inch in diameter, and weigh 10.2 tons per knot. Intermediate thicknesses to connect with shore end, weigh from 7.2 to 3.8 tons to the knot, and about 60 miles in all will be used. The deep sea cable, which will traverse 800 miles, weighs two tons to the knot. The cost of the Bundaberg shore end, intermediary and deep sea cables were in proportion to the cost of that first mentioned, so that the value of the cable alone will be found enormous.
The François Arago has laid only 7½ miles of cable from Gomen Bay, New Caledonia, and has returned for various reasons. Primarily the two Ministers representing Now South Wales and Queensland wore desirous of returning to their duties, and then the Arago requires 350 tons of coal, and ship’s supplies. In order to obtain what is required she starts for Brisbane at 4 a.m. this morning, and will leave Moreton Bay again early on Wednesday for New Caledonia. She will be absent for 15 days, completing the first section as originally intended, and on her return to Bundaberg will place the shore end in position and complete the cable in mid ocean, after which she will again return to Bundaberg making the third visit, and land 100 knots of cable to be tanked on shore. This latter and final operation we are informed by M. Augusta Rouilliard with necessitate a stay of about two days at Bundaberg occurring three weeks from date.
The rate for messages between Bundaberg and New Caledonia, when the cable is in working order will be 7/- for the first ten words, and 7d. for every additional word. The Queensland Government will get their ordinary telegraphic rates out of this charge.
The Trip of the Arago.
The trip of the vessel, since leaving Brisbane for New Caledonia, has been kindly supplied us by the Hon. W.H. Wilson, Postmaster General of Queensland, and is as follows:—
We left Moreton Bay anchorage about 6 a.m. on Saturday the 20th August. Our pilot did not leave us until mid-day, when we proceeded on our direct course for New Caledonia. The weather was fairly fine, with smooth sea and light winds, though this was accompanied with a ground swell which seemed to disturb the abdominal serenity of many of our passengers, and gradually resulted in divers more or less gruesome attacks of mal de mer.
The life on board is of course naturally French in many respects, and we were appealed to by the Captain to allow him to change this, and revert to the usual customs of the English, especially as to meals. This courtesy we unanimously declined with many thanks, as all were looking forward to the novelty of an insight into French life at sea. Accordingly we had coffee and rolls at ½ past 7 a.m. breakfast at ½ past 10 and dinner at 6. The interval between the two latter meals is certainly a long one, but we soon got used to it. The real business of the voyage was entered upon on Tuesday 22nd, when we stopped to take the deep sea soundings. Those who have only seen soundings taken on entering a harbour would be intensely interested in watching the operation of sounding the deep blue sea.
At the bows of the vessel is a beam balanced on the rail, one part over the bow and the other held by an iron rod attached to the deck. To the latter is an indicator which shows the instant the ball touches the bottom. The sounding tube has about 6 fathoms of strong cord to prevent twisting of the wire through over running, and this is cleaved on to the thin fine steel wire about the thickness of an ordinary hair pin which forms the deep sea line. This is coiled on a drum, and the distances are indicated by a meter, and as the line descends or ascends every hundred fathoms is called out by the officer in charge un cent, deux cents, &c.
At the bottom of the line is attached a sound tube consisting of a section of about 18 inches of ½ inch water pipe which passes through a 40 or 50 lb shot, leaving a foot projecting before the ball; the weight of the ball presses the pipe into the bottom of the sea, if the ground consists of sand or mud, and by an ingenious arrangement which has been perfected by Mr. Stallibrass the consulting engineer to the expedition, the sling which retains the ball in position is set free by the wire when it is being drawn to the surface; and the ball remains on the bottom, as the weight of such a length of line at a depth of say a thousand fathoms would endanger the wire if it were sought to save the ball by drawing it to the surface. The pipe is intended to bring a sample of the bottom to the surface, for subsequent investigation. Should, however, it be ascertained that the ground is rocky, an instrument in the shape of a small clam is sent down, which breaks off and brings up a piece of the rock.
The first sounding was taken at 10 a.m., the bottom was reached at 136 fathoms, and the soil brought up was fine sand; a second sounding was made some few miles distant, and 168 fathoms was shown with rock and coral bottom. Another sounding was taken in a S.E. direction at a distance of some 10 or 12 miles where the ball grounded at 1185 fathoms, showing a difference in depth of 1022 fathoms; to test this we steamed back some 12 or 14 miles due west where we found our sounding a depth of 1392 fathoms or a difference of 1229 fathoms as compared with the first sounding of 136 fathoms. It was evident from this that we had discovered a mountain under the sea 7374 feet high, and this shows the necessity for accurate soundings for cable purposes, as it must be manifest that it would be undesirable and dangerous to have a cable suspended on a mountain of this height. Having ascertained the position of this mountain, the cable will be laid in the deeper surroundings on the South side.
The vessel’s head was then turned and we went on our course some 25 miles when another sounding was taken showing a depth of 1100 fathoms, bottom consisting of fine sand. This showed we were on the right track, and from this soundings were taken night and day at frequent intervals until we reached Gomen Bay, New Caledonia, on the 26th August at 2.45 p.m., and anchored about 8 miles from the shore. We at once went ashore and there being a steam launch at hand, the captain and others went to Ouaco about 7 miles distant to arrange with the Meat Co for the loan of two lighters which were necessary to take the heavy shore end of the cable to the landing place.
Meanwhile we explored the village; which consisted of a few dilapidated houses, most of which had been unroofed by a late cyclone. There were only about a dozen inhabitants including a kanaka and his wife, three gendarmes to protect the settlement of the natives. The telegraph officers who are to be stationed here had arrived and met us at the landing. The following days were occupied in landing the stores and materials for a hut which was erected before the steamer left. On the arrival of the lighters from Ouaco they were loaded with cable, and the launch towed them ashore, laying the cable from the ship. A connection was then made, and the following congratulatory telegrams were exchanged on the 30th August.
Congratulatory Messages by Cable.
Rouilliard to Messrs. Kidd and Wilson:
“We have laid the first link in the Pacific cable and hope it will prove a peaceful union between the two great nations of France and England.”
Messrs Kidd and Wilson to M. Rouilliard:
“We accept the first message sent from Gomen through the New Caledonia cable which has reached us on board the François Arago through the whole length of 900 miles of cable and we congratulate M. Rouilliard and his officers on the auspicious event.”
“Messrs Kidd and Wilson heartily reciprocate M. Rouilliard and hope that the cable will prove a peaceful union between the great nations of France and England.”
The Postmasters General of New South Wales and Queensland to the Governor of New Caledonia: “We offer our sincere congratulations on the laying of the first portion of the cable between Queensland and New Caledonia and express an earnest hope that the accomplishment of this institution will prove another link in securing the continuance of the bond of union existing between the two great nations of France and England.”
At 3.15 p.m. the Arago started laying the cable; as it ran out the length was indicated by a meter, the cable was cut at 7½ miles distant from the starting point, and buoyed in 45 fathoms, a marked buoy was placed about one mile away as a precaution in the event of loss or drifting of the cable buoy. The steamer then loft for Burnett Heads about 6.20 p.m. and after a very pleasant journey arrived at the anchorage off Mon Repos, or Almonds landing, on Saturday at 6.15 p.m.
Another description of the landing-place of the cable on the mainland of New Caledonia is kindly furnished us by Mr. P.B. Walker, Secretary of the Telegraph Service in New South Wales:—
”The François Arago arrived at Gomen August 26th, where she was detained four days awaiting lighters to land the cable. It had been arranged that these should be in waiting for the vessel, but owing to the scarcity of lighters they could not be obtained earlier. Gomen, where the cable is laid, is a village, 180 miles distant from the capital Noumea, and is situated in the north-west portion of the island, and although only a small village it is very suitable for the purpose, affording an excellently protected position for the shore end with a good bed for the cable to lay in. The depth varies from 35 to 40 fathoms to the extent of about 10 miles from the landing-place, and, prior to its submersion in the deep sea, passes through a gradual decline of from 8 to 1985 fathoms, traversing the bottom of the sea for a distance of 80 knots over a smooth, oozy pipe-clay bed showing the temperature of water at 38 degrees Fahrenheit in some places, whilst at other places 32½, so that the safety of the cable is assured when once on the bed of the ocean.
The village of Gomen is approached by a magnificent bay 10 miles in length and a breadth of from 7 to 8 miles, being surrounded by high mountains and protected on the south side seaward by a sort of barrier reef. At many places along the foreshore there are flats growing cocoanut and palm-trees, and numerous indigenous plants. The natives have small farms here, and exist on the products of them, disposing of surplus stocks of pigs, poultry and cocoanuts at an adjacent village called Ouaco, down coast towards Noumea. They are apparently very keen in regard to prices, and for all articles to be disposed of demand exorbitant rates, so that some bartering is required to obtain at reasonable prices what one wants. The captain of the Arago discovered this when purchasing pigs and other supplies, the kanakas demanding 62 francs (over £2 10s.) for five small “squeakers,” before they could part with their stock.
Gomen is on the south portion of the bay, and the cable hut is built on the south-south-west side upon slightly undulating ground about 40 yards from the shore. The hut was brought out by the ship and erected by the expedition. There are only a few houses there, one of which has been repaired and is to be the future home of the cable operators. All the property around for a distance of 12,000 metres belongs to a French frozen meat company, who have charged the cable company the modest sum of £10 per month for the humpy, they having a complete monopoly of the position, although it is probable some modification may be arranged.
The population of Gomen consists of three mounted gendarmes and a doctor, who is the Government officer. There are also a few kanakas, and one female convict. Several tribes of kanakas exist at different places along the coast. The landing of the cable appeared to create a little excitement amongst the kanakas, but only a few from the neighboring tribes put in an appearance. They could not make out what the cable meant, and called it a “huge black snake,” but if they thought it was one it did not frighten or concern them in the least; and as the cable gradually wended its way out of the punts into the ocean, fathom by fathom, till the final drop into the ocean, they exhibited the utmost unconcern in regard to the whole proceedings.
The punt with the shore end was able to approach only within 16 to 20 feet of the shore, owing to the shallowness of the water. Men jumped overboard, dragging a heavy load weighing 14 tons the remainder of the distance. At 9.30 a.m. on the 30th August, 1893, the work was accomplished. Three cheers were given by the shore party, accompanied with a shout of “Vive la France!” By 10 o’clock the telegraph instruments were placed in working order by M. Fournier, chief electrician, and the messages, previously given above, wore sent from the shore to the François Arago, the messages going through the whole of the coil of cable before they were repeated by the instrument aboard.
A Banquet Aboard.
No sooner had the visitors from Bundaberg boarded the French ship on Saturday afternoon, at a distance of about 15 miles from shore, than the dinner-bell rang, and the strangers were kindly invited to join. After their goodly sniff of the pure ozone they had no hesitancy in accepting, and proceeded to the cabin, where covers were laid for about twenty-five. Captain Offret presided. An eight-course sumptuous repast according to the French cuisine was served and the vin ordinaire of La Belle Française was the universal beverage; with dessert champagne went round, and the voice of the Hon. Audley Coote was heard, asking the company to charge their glasses, the waiters having been persevering in this respect.
The Hon. Audley Coote rose and said he had been requested by the chief of the expedition to express the pleasure that the Hon. J. Kidd and the Hon. W.H. Wilson, Ministers of the Crown, representing the colonies of New South Wales and Queensland, had accompanied them on board ship during the initial portion of the expedition. He was very sorry they had to leave so soon; he knew that their Parliamentary duties must be attended to, but hoped when the expedition returned with the cable in a short space of time those two gentlemen would find it convenient to meet them once more. (Hear, hear.) They were now laying the foundation of one of the great enterprises of the world. He would not be satisfied until they had completed a girdle round the world; he trusted, therefore, that the whole enterprise would be carried out successfully. The French, who were ever ready to act and do the right, had inaugurated the present state of things, and intended well and truly to lay the belt of communication, of which they had already laid a portion of the first section. Such a peaceful link between two great nations showed the desire to perpetuate in intensity friendly relations—relations which had already existed for a long time past. No one could tell what the result of those relations would be, but they started in perfect faith, and such, he hoped, would the future prove between them. He could not tell the many years it had taken to bring that matter about, but now, with the New South Wales and Queensland Governments, the long waited-for desire was being achieved. He had worked hard and earnestly for a second cable to Australia—what was really necessary—and now he was proud that his past efforts were about to be crowned with success. He asked the company to drink the health of Messrs. Kidd and Wilson, the representatives of the colonial Parliaments, which had assisted France in this present important work, and at the same time thanked them for lending their presence on board the François Arago, and for taking part in the preliminary work of the expedition. (Applause.)
The Hon. John Kidd, on behalf of himself, thanked them for the kind expressions used, and for their hearty response to the toast. With regard to the portion of the undertaking they had witnessed he was highly gratified. He must give credit to whom credit was due, and must say that had it not been for Mr. Coote he expected this cable would never have come to anything. In referring to the Eastern Extension Company the hon. gentleman said the thanks of the colony were due to them up to the present time, and believed competition would encourage a healthy rivalry. The Queensland and New South Wales Governments had assisted in regard to the first portion of this cable, and he hoped they would assist in the second, from New Caledonia to Honolulu; and no doubt Canada would assist in the portion between Honolulu and Vancouver. Although only possessing a population of something less than 5,000,000 people, the great business done justified and required a second cable, and he had no doubt they would soon want the duplication of the Pacific cable. He hoped Victoria and New Zealand would give their aid to the French Company, which was doing to all Australia a friendly action in undertaking this stupendous work. The Fijian and Hawaiian Governments had guaranteed large amounts to the company, so that there was every hope that the second and third sections would be shortly commenced. The shipping company running between Queensland and Vancouver were being liberally dealt with by Canada, and he hoped it would be the same with the cable company with that of the Northern part of the British Empire. He hoped in two or three weeks’ time the completion of the cable would be an accomplished fact. The ship they were now on was well equipped, and everything he had seen had been well and thoroughly done. He was very glad to have been present at the initiation of this important undertaking. In conclusion, Mr. Kidd proposed the health of M. Rouilliard. (Cheers.)
The Hon. W.H. Wilson, Postmaster-General of Queensland, could re-echo nearly every sentiment uttered by Mr. Kidd. The trip had given him great pleasure; he had learnt a great deal, especially in regard to cable laying. He had noticed the excellent manner in which all the arrangements in regard to that portion of the cable already laid had been carried out. He hoped the company which had that great project in hand would carry it out in its entirety, as proposed. The present route had engaged his attention for a long time. In 1888, when he had the honour to be Postmaster-General for Queensland, he attended the Postal Conference held in Sydney, when all the colonies, except New Zealand, were represented. He stated on that occasion that a cable to Vancouver would have to be laid, and, as the telegraphic arrangements were in the hands of the Government, it deserved their serious consideration. He proposed then that Australia should join with Canada and Great Britain in making the cable, so as to have the cable connected entirely with British territory. He had since hoped so, but was nevertheless glad this cable was being carried out by the French company, as it was the next best thing. This company spared no pains or expense in doing everything in the best manner. Queensland long had wanted another cable—it was her first love—and he believed the longing was to be accomplished. To Mr. Coote every credit was due; he had been persistent for many years in his endeavors to secure the second cable, and the commencement of the undertaking must be to him, as well as all of them present, a source of much gratification. The portion laid, and the arrangements made for the completion of the laying of the cable, met with his (the speaker’s) entire satisfaction. He thanked the officers of the ship for their uniform kindness, and was sorry he could not wait to see the whole of the cable laid. He would like to have had another week or fortnight with them, but he was obliged to return to his duties. He had much pleasure in supporting the toast proposed by Mr. Kidd. (Applause.)
The toast was drunk with musical honours and much honest enthusiasm.
M. Rouilliard heartily thanked them. Not being an Englishman and, therefore, not thoroughly expert in the language, he could not express himself worthily to convey his gratitude for their kindness. (Applause.)
A verse of “God Save the Queen” and one of “La Marseillaise” were sung, and the company, after partaking of a glass of curaçao and a cup of coffee, arose.
The Bundaberg party, together with the Hon. Audley Coote, Messrs. P.B. Walker, John M’Donnell and L. Mirabel went on board the Llewellyn, which was awaiting them, and from thence went ashore in one of her whaleboats, landing safely at the Lighthouse. Here Mrs. and Miss Coote were met, and the increased party started in buggies for Bundaberg, which was reached at 10 p.m.
A Drive Round.
On Sunday afternoon several of the visitors staying at the Grand Hotel were driven through the Woongarra Scrub, visits being paid to Mon Repos, Almond’s landing (where the cable will be shored), the Hummock, &c. The drive proved both interesting and educational to the several gentlemen.
The Visitors’ Movements
By this morning’s train Captain Almond will go to Maryborough on a tour of inspection of the landmarks, lights, &c., on the banks of the Mary River. The Hon. J. Kidd, M. E. Rouilliard, and Mr. P.B. Walker voyage to Gympie. The first-mentioned will travel thence en route to Sydney. M. Rouilliard and Mr. Walker will rejoin the François Arago in Brisbane. The Hon. W.H. Wilson goes by the same train to Brisbane direct with Mr. J. M’Donnell, his Under-Secretary, whilst Dr. M’Donnell will book through to Toowoomba. Bon voyage. The Hon. Audley Coote remaining in town to-day. He will take to-morrow’s train for Brisbane in order to rejoin the Arago before she sails away from Moreton Bay.