Thursday, November 23, 2017 at 12:30 PM


Royal Historical Society of Victoria
239 A'Beckett St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Google map and directions

Event contact

Lauren Indiveri-Clarke

(03) 9326 9288

Join historical archaeologist and Canberra Historical Society councillor, Dr Peter Dowling, for a lecture about the “Cable Girls”. The “Cable Girls” were a group of encoding and decoding young women housed in a small, innocuous building in Canberra’s Parliamentary Triangle during World War II.


Located in the West Block, this building currently acts as an electricity substation and bicycle parking area. But during the Second World War, this small building, which was tucked away behind the Prime Minister’s Department, was occupied by a group of young women working on the top-secret encryption and decryption of government cables. They called themselves the “Cable Girls” and the building, “The Bunker”.


Dr Peter Dowling will tell the story of this building and its young staff who played a vital but highly secretive part in Australia’s war effort. This talk is all about top secret communications, encrypting and decrypting and the work done by the group of young women who were responsible for deciphering communications cables between Prime Minister Curtin and Prime Minister Churchill.


The talk will explain the methods of encoding used and detail the quarrel between the two Prime Ministers during the first weeks of 1942. The talk will also introduce one young woman called Nancy who left a record of her time in the small building supervising its operations.



Who: Dr Peter Dowling, historical archaeologist, in partnership with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria

What: Lecture and Q&A

When: Thursday, 23 November 2017, refreshments at 12.30pm and lecture at 1.00pm with Q&A immediately following 

Where: Royal Historical Society of Victoria, 239 A’Beckett Street, Melbourne 3000

Cost: RHSV members free and $10 for non-members

Contact: 9326 9288 or [email protected]

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The History Council of Victoria Incorporated (HCV) is the peak body for history in the Australian state of Victoria. Its vision is to connect Victorians with history and to inspire engagement with the past, their identity and the world today. The HCV champions the work of historians and the value of history. It recognises that history can be written about any place, any person, any period. The HCV advocates why history matters.

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