Ring Ring Why Don’t You Give Me a Call?

The Telstra Museum (Melbourne) is a small museum situated within the Hawthorn Telephone Exchange, Burwood Road, Hawthorn. It is managed by a group of dedicated volunteers from the Victorian Telecommunications Museum who strive to preserve Australia’s telecommunications heritage.  The museum houses historical telecommunications equipment including a working mini telephone exchange with four old phones that can call each other.

Highlights of the interactive tour include: seeing telephone exchange equipment in action, the first mobile telephones in Australia – the brick; and operating manual switchboards. You can speak to members of the Morsecodian fraternity and send a telegraphic message to your family and friends.

The most significant exhibit is one of the original mechanical speaking clocks, made with rotating glass discs. This is one (number 2) of the four Mark II machines produced in England for use in Australia, which were received in Australia in the early 1950s. The discs were originally read using an exciter and a detector made with valve technology. These devices are no longer available and; because all the originals had failed, replacements had to be fashioned using digital technology adapted to plug into the original valve sockets. This development has enabled the speaking clock to be restored to full operation.

  • There is also a display of model telephone designs by David Woodland. One of these (featured above) looks like a prickly cactus. I wonder, if it rings, does one answer: Aloe, Aloe, – Aloe Vera?
  • If there is no answer, you’re probably ‘Hanging on the telephone’.
  • Did it want you to respond? Then you might want to Send a Message; or ask it to Call Me.
  • If there is total silence then it has ‘Hung Up On You’; Otherwise, if the line sounds alive, you can always respond with:

Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone at home?

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