Telstra Payphone, Australia

Taken in Newcastle, a Telstra Payphone box awaits it’s next call.

On August 3rd 2021, Telstra CEO Andrew Penn announced via the Telstra ‘Exchange’ site that all calls from it’s payphone network of 15, 000+ public payphones to standard fixed line numbers and calls to standard Australian mobiles are now free from it’s phones.

From Doctor Who, to Phone Booth, a 2002 thriller film where a man is set upon by a sniper in a phone booth, they a easily recognisable symbol across the world.

It’s said the first phone birth appeared in Berlin in 1881.

Captured prior to the Covid 19 pandemic on a warm Summers morning in 2019, the telephone box resides on Watt Street Newcastle, opposite from Customs House Hotel, and nearby to Old Newcastle Trains Station, now known as ‘The Station.’

Millennials to Gen Z will likely recall the days of 1800 Reverse, which operated between 2000-2019.

4 Watt Street, Newcastle NSW 2300

A Decline In Telstra Payphones

it’s estimated that at one point in history, Australia had 86,000+ payphones, media reports from 2002 suggest this number had shrunk by 17% by 2002 and today, an estimated 15,000 public payphones remain.

A Rise In Calls

Since the payphone network became ‘free,’ Telstra say’s in the past year it’s seen a 70% increase in call volumes, more than 250,000 calls made to critical services such as Triple-Zero and Lifeline, the most popular service dialed was Centrelink.

Free Wi-Fi

In the last decade Telstra began the rollout of ‘Telstra Air,’ to it’s telephone booths across the country. At the time this enable existing Telstra customers to enjoy Wi-Fi at no additional cost.

On August 25th 2022, Telstra announced that 3000 of it’s payphones with have free Wi-Fi access to anyone, with plans to expand this to all of it’s 15,000 payphones in the future.

Earlier Models

You might remember that in an era gone by, some payphones where equipped with a glass door which allowed the customer to speak in private and somewhat out of the extremities of poor weather.


You might also recognise the melody from Flight Facilities as part of Telstra’s branding! 😉


It’s also worth mentioning that now calls are free, you can also dial into payphones around the country.