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Welcome to XNATMAP

A site for preserving NATMAP's (The Division of National Mapping) history and maintaining contact with the people who were part of that history. As the Australian Landsat Station (ALS), later the Australian Centre for Remote Sensing (ACRES) was part of the Division its history also forms part of this site.

Information on map reading and interpretation, specifically for Natmap medium scale topographic maps, can be found in Natmapís Topographic Maps : a guide to map reading and Notes on Map Reading.

The Seventh Year in Decades Past

2017 heralds a number of anniversaries for National Mapping. Of note are :

1947 :

The position of Chief Topographic Surveyor was advertised and in 1948 the Survey and Photogrammetric Office of National Mapping was established in Melbourne.

1957 :

In July 1957 the first Tellurometer was tested in Australia. Its arrival was timely in that the geodetic triangulation was about to enter the western deserts. Natmapís expertise with the use of the Tellurometer was built on its previous use of the Geodimeter which it had received in May 1954.

1967 :

By 1967 all the 540 map sheets of the 1:250,000 scale R502 series of maps had been compiled; within a year there were all printed. This map series was the first uniform medium scale topographic map coverage of Australia. The year before the Australian Geodetic Datum had been established.

1977 :

The now Topographic Office of National Mapping moved from the Rialto Building to Ellery House in Dandenong; occupation of the new offices was celebrated on Friday 29 April 1977. The Aerodist field and office program had been completed and the Australian Height Datum had been established.

1987 :

Natmap was merged with the Australian Survey Office to form the Australian Surveying and Land Information Group (AUSLIG).

1997 :

Changing times and governments saw the Dandenong office forced to close its doors. After 50 years, National Mapping no longer had a Melbourne presence.

What's New

    As of 15 March 2017

    • Mapping GA's History (courtesy Geoscience Australia's (GA) internal internet front page)
      In early 1945, federal and state survey authorities agreed to establish a National Mapping Council to coordinate mapping efforts across Australia to aid post-war reconstruction. The Curtin Cabinet appointed the Commonwealth Surveyor-General to chair the Council and added a new title to his role: Director of National Mapping. The title caused concern within the Army, which considered the Royal Australian Survey Corps as the national mapping authority. Surveyor-General Frederick Johnston diplomatically recruited Major Bruce Lambert, a civilian surveyor who had served in the Survey Corps during the war, as his Deputy in 1946. Lambert, in turn, developed plans for a National Mapping Section of over 50 staff within the Dept. of Interior, and would go on to lead it for 30 years, as it evolved into the National Mapping Office and then the Division of National Mapping (Natmap). As the first National Mapping positions were gazetted on March 13, 1947, Monday marks another significant 70th anniversary in the history of Geoscience Australia. For more on the history of Natmap and its precursors, visit the XNATMAP site or the Library.
      Photo of National Mapping staff at Acton, 1947, used with permission of Paul Wise.
      Date modified: 15/03/2017
      Created by: Chris Nelson
    • Many of us will still remember Ed Ainscow from around the office and others from working with Ed in the field. With the generous assistance of Ed's wife Peggy we have been able to compile this profile of one of Natmap's bushmen.
    • The Australian government will invest AUD$12 million in a two-year programme looking into the future of positioning technology in Australia. More detail can be read via this link.
    • During the 1960s, a number of Natmappers attended the Royal Australian Survey Corps, School of Military Survey, formerly at Balcombe, Victoria. This article attempts to record those who attended and provides information and photographs from the time.
    • The latest news on GDA2020 can be viewed via this link.
    • The technology of Electronic Distance Measuring (EDM) was a major factor in the successful completion of Australia's national survey and mapping programs. Terrestrial and later airborne EDM systems evolved from World War Two radar developments are were at the forefront of surveying technology until the advent of satellite-based surveying and navigation technology in the 1970s. This paper Airborne Electronic Distance Measuring : A Brief History seeks to catalogue the major airborne distance measuring systems that were developed during the twentieth century, with the focus on the history and use of airborne EDM used in, or associated with, the surveying and mapping of Australia.
    • The Aerodist airborne distance measuring system was used by Nat Map between 1963 and 1974 to obtain horizontal ground control for the 1:100,000 scale national topographic map series. Laurie McLean has prepared this extensive article on Nat Map's Aerodist years in consultation with many of the Nat Mappers who were involved in the Aerodist program from up to over half a century ago. The article incorporates many of these Nat Mappers' recollections.
    • Previously in What's New

    • Video acquired by Owen Pappy Gyles during the 1968 Mapping Control Surveys in WA and supplied on DVD (without soundtrack) by Peter Langhorne. Segment one shows the field party coping with the flooding around Muggon Homestead and segment two travelling and arriving by boat at the Houtman Abrolhos Group off Geraldton.
    • Albert Francis (Bert) Hurren (1915-2012) devoted some 36 years of his life to Australia's mapping endeavours. Bert was a senior non-commissioned officer and later a commissioned officer in the Australian Survey Corps between 1940 and 1948. Bert joined the National Mapping Section of the Department of Interior in 1948 and was the officer-in-charge of Nat Map's Technical Services Section until his retirement in 1976. This article by Laurie McLean is a tribute to Bert Hurren and a brief sketch of his life.
    • Oral histories given by National Mapping pesonnel, as recorded by the National Library of Australia, can now be accessed from the list of major links at the top of the Home (this) Page below the logo, above.
    • Available National Mapping Technical Reports may now be accessed.

    • Full proceedings, including maps, of the Conference of the Director of Commonwealth Lands and Surveys, the Surveyor-General and the Government Astronomer of New Zealand, and the Surveyors-General of the States of the Commonwealth of Australia; Melbourne, 20th to 25th May, 1912, has been added.

    • All editions of the NATMAP News are now available online.
    • All articles and papers about the USAF Southwest Pacific Survey, Project AF60-13 and its use of HIRAN can now be found via this link.
      A 25 minute (75MB download, MP4 file) 1961 USAF film on geodesy by Hiran can be viewed via this link. The film also has some interesting glimpses of various supporting technologies.

      Related Sites

      | National Topographic Mapping | Geodesy | Satellite Imagery |
      | Antarctica |
      | The Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI) | The Mapping Sciences Institute |

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