The Victorian Gold Rush-era mountainside town of Walhalla now has mobile coverage and has become Telstra’s 600th Australian location to benefit under the Federal Government Mobile Black Spot Program.
The switch-on comes more than 135 years after electricity was first delivered to the area in 1884 and 128 years after telephone services were delivered to connect the local gold mine in 1891.
Telstra Group Executive Networks & IT Nikos Katinakis said the coverage would provide enormous economic and safety benefits to a town with just 20 permanent residents. During peak tourism and holiday periods numbers can swell to several thousand.
“Today is another milestone in one of the largest ever expansions of mobile coverage across regional and remote communities in Australia, benefiting agriculture, transport, mining and tourism,” Katinakis said.
“Whether it’s a ride on the Walhalla Goldfields Railway or the local ghost tour – more visitors will be able to share photos and post about their experiences here, helping to grow and support its vital tourism industry.
“These sectors benefit from and rely on a fast, reliable and affordable mobile network that Telstra provides.”
Founded in 1862, the tiny town in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range was once home to 4000 people but now has about 20 permanent residents and a tourism industry attracting up to 120,000 people a year.
The new tower will provide another way for residents and visitors to stay-up-to-date with important alerts in the event of an emergency.
“The local community was so passionate about the need to have mobile coverage brought to their town under the Mobile Black Spot Program they lobbied anybody who would listen,” Katinakis said.
“I’m pleased our local team were able to help the community in their efforts to have their application under the program be a success.”
Under the Mobile Black Spot Program Telstra, in partnership with Local, State and Federal Governments has delivered:
•Six hundred mobile base stations stretching from Monkey Mia in Western Australia to Weipa in the Queensland Cape York Peninsula and delivered coverage to remote central Australian indigenous communities encompassing the APY Lands;
•A further 200 wholly Telstra funded small cells to deliver coverage into areas where It is otherwise not economically feasible to do so;
•Up to 100 million new handset and device registrations to the Telstra Mobile Network in the past two years where new coverage has been delivered under the Mobile Black Spot Program;
•Another 185,000 square kilometres of new coverage to Australian communities (more than twice the size of Tasmania), delivering coverage to 60,000 new premises;
•More than 32,000 emergency calls made through new Telstra sites delivered under the program.
Telstra has a long and proud history of investing in regional Australia. When Round Four of the Mobile Black Spot Program is complete, Telstra will have contributed more than $280 million to this program.