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From the Archives, 1982: Dunolly’s manual telephone exchange

From the Archives, 1982: Dunolly’s manual telephone exchange
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From the Archives, 1982: Dunolly’s manual telephone exchange

From the Archives, 1982: Dunolly’s manual telephone exchange

First published in The Age, May 7, 1982.

Operators give way to a more impersonal tone

Faye Paulson at her switchboard, one of the last manual exchanges left in Victoria.

Faye Paulson at her switchboard, one of the last manual exchanges left in Victoria.Credit:The Age Archives

The Dunolly telephone exchange is the size of a suburban bathroom, with space for little besides a 955 central battery switchboard, the operator and her chair.

For the past 15 years Faye Paulson has operated this switch, one of the last manual exchanges in Victoria. But by the end of the year she and it will be gone.

Telecom is replacing the manual exchange with a fully automatic system. Miss Paulson has been promised a job at the Bendigo exchange, and the people of Dunolly will have to learn how to dial their numbers direct.

“I don’t know how they’ll go. I suppose they’ll just have to learn.” Miss Paulson said as she switched one woman through to “the man who tells the honey”.

Another calls, inquiring about a knitting pattern. “They ask us just about anything. The weather, church times, where’s the best place to stay in Dunolly. One person wanted to know where you’d find gold !

“In a town this size everybody knows everything that’s’ going on and if they don’t it doesn’t take them long to find out.”

But it is the emergencies that prove the worth of the local operator. A few months ago Miss Paulson answered a call to hear someone groaning in the background. “I knew it was an elderly man who lived by himself. So I rang a neighbor and called the doctor.”

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