Bob and Billy's phones headline historic display at Telstra Tower

Media Release, 12 October 2012

A scrambler phone used by former Prime Minister Robert Menzies and the home phone from former Prime Minister Billy Hughes’ Lindfield residence form part of a collection of historic communications equipment on display as part of Canberra’s centenary celebrations.

Two historic microphones, one used to announce Australia’s declaration of war at the beginning of World War Two, and the other to officially open Parliament House in 1927 will also be displayed.

Speaking today at the opening of the exhibition, Telstra CEO David Thodey said the exhibition would remind the community of the sometimes discreet but always central role telecommunications has played in the many significant moments that have shaped the history of our country.

“Telstra has so many wonderful artifacts that were part of the many momentous and historic occasions, achievements, moments and personalities and we’re excited to be able to share them with Canberra,” Mr Thodey said.

“Each one of these communication devices tells its own unique story and I think people will appreciate them as a record of progress and a celebration of the times they were used to convey words of war and peace, talk of progress and development and to carry ideas that have shaped all of our lives.”

The exhibition contains five cabinets drawn from Telstra’s Heritage Collection. All items have been used by the Postmaster-General’s (PMG) Department, Australian Overseas Telecommunications Corporations (AOTC), Telecom and Telstra.

This year marks 100 years since the first automatic telephone exchange opened in Australia and the cabinets include collections of automatic telephony, mobile telephony, telegraphy and government communications.

“Telstra, in its many guises, has been in Canberra from the very start, from the overland telegraph services that linked the new capital to the outside world at the very beginning to the state-of-the-art mobile equipment that now sits on top of Telstra Tower on Black Mountain,” Mr Thodey said.

The exhibition will be on public display at Black Mountain through Canberra’s centenary year.

Telstra’s Heritage Collection is cared for by a dedicated team of volunteers and is housed at museums in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.