The central station of the Overland Telegraph [in 1897] was at Alice Springs, the first nucleus of that famous little town. It was a clump of shacks and a stone bungalow above the springs, themselves named for Alice Todd, wife of the chief engineer. This was on of the loneliest places in the [British] Empire. It was a thousand miles north to Darwin, a thousand miles south to Adelaide — the nearest towns. For company the little group of cablemen had only themselves, their animals, the odd incoherent bushman and the occasional grazier or overlander dropping in for a beer in a country where hospitality of the pioneers was still a rule of life. At night especially the Alice cable station must have seemed a properly epic outpost. Then the wind rustled off the desert through the eucalyptus thicket, armies of frogs croaked in the fringes of the pool, the air was heavy with dust and gum-smell, and the horses stood silent beneath the pepper trees. Oil lamps shone through the windows of the huts, and sometimes a sudden chatter of the Morse machine miraculously linked the Alice, for a moment or two, with Calcutta, Malta, and the imperial capital on the other side of the world.
--James Morris, Pax Britannica
"The Alice Springs Telegraph Station"