A widespread Telstra outage across southern New South Wales affecting thousands of customers is being partly attributed to the nibbling mice running rampant through the state.

Key points:

  • Telstra believes mice damaged the power supply at the Barmedman exchange
  • A livestock agent at Hay said the outage caused “mass chaos” in his industry
  • Telstra hopes to restore most services overnight, but some fixes may take longer

The telco says two separate faults occurred within hours of each other last night, impacting 44 mobile sites across the Riverina, as well some fixed line and ADSL services.

Telstra Regional general manager Chris Taylor said one of the faults involved a fibre cable being cut in rugged bushland in the Snowy Mountains.

He said the other fault related to the power source at an exchange near Temora.

“It’s believed it’s been mice that’ve caused the damage out there,” he said.

“So we’ve got our power crews going to repair that site and if we can get that up and running tonight, we’ll be able to restore all the services tonight.”


‘Chaos and carnage’

Livestock agent Ron Rutledge said the outage from Hay to Deniliquin and Echuca, on the Victorian side of the border, had led to “mass chaos”.

“There’s been no mobile reception whatsoever,” he said.

“It’s thrown our livestock industry into chaos trying to communicate via our saleyard program and transiting stock and getting information out to clients — it’s been very challenging.”

Mr Rutledge said there had been no communication from Telstra about the outage and when it might be fixed.

“No warning, no nothing,” he said.

“It has caused a lot of chaos and carnage in our livestock industry.”

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Mice overrun farm sheds in Tottenham, NSW(Supplied: Maree Pobje)

A Telstra spokesperson said the company notified customers when there were planned outages, however, these outages were “unexpected and unplanned”.

“When there is an outage that impacts a community’s telco services, naturally this limits the way in which we can contact them,” they said. 

“You can’t send a text to customers when there is no mobile network.”

‘Rare’ and ‘unfortunate’

Mr Taylor said it was unusual to have two major faults occur in the same region within the space of a few hours.

“I’ve been working with Telstra now for 21 years and it is only the second time that I’ve personally seen it myself in a region that I’ve managed,” he said.

“That’s why we design networks to have redundancy paths, so that if we lose one transmission path we can keep the network up on an alternative path.

“In this particular case it’s just unfortunate this has happened 150 kilometres apart [to] two separate fibres that feed the same mobile assets and some fixed assets.”

Dead mice in a blue ice cream bucket

Poison bait and mouse traps are in short supply as rural residents battle the resurgent mice plague.(

Supplied: Matilda Quera


‘Extremely apologetic’

Mr Taylor said it was not as unusual for mice to damage telecommunications cables.

“Even late last year between Griffith and Rankins Springs, we did have mice impacting a fibre cable,” he said.

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Farmers showered with mice when using their grain auger.

Mr Taylor said he was “extremely apologetic” to customers, and assured crews are working on fixing the power source damage overnight.

He said the fibre damage in the Snowy Mountains at Willigobung could take longer to fix.

“So I expect that the work on that particular fibre to go into tomorrow,” he said.

“We’re hopeful we might have some more immediate success with restoring the power on the other fibre, which will be able to restore everything.”

Mouse plague partly blamed for massive Telstra outage
Source 1


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