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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.
The XNATMAP site is being preserved as part of the PANDORA archive.
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 by Reg Ford and Bob Goldsworthy.
As of 19 July 2018
- Sadly Claude William Bernard King (6 May 1920 - 13 July 2018) passed away last week. Dr King worked in both Natmap's Melbourne and Canberra offices. In Melbourne he developed the numerical photogrammetric block adjustment software MODBLOCK which was used for some 17 adjustments consisting in size of between one and sixteen 1:250,000 scale map sheets. After moving to Canberra, Dr King was involved with the development of Natmap's digital mapping. A very quiet and contemplative man, as smoking was allowed back then, Dr King was renowned for the trail of pipe smoke he left as he walked the second floor corridor of the Rialto building.
- Tom Gale was the officer-in-charge of Nat Map's Melbourne based Antarctic Mapping Branch from 1959 to 1971. In the early 1960s while in that position, Tom undertook two voyages to Antarctica on the MV Thala Dan undertaking hydrographic surveys with Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions. Earlier he had a 33 year career in the Royal Australian Navy where he was a Hydrographic Surveyor. At age 13 years Tom Gale joined the Royal Australian Navy as a Cadet in 1925 and retired with the rank of Commander in 1958. In 1945 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross as commander of HMAS Benalla that carried out successful survey work under dangerous conditions in the Far East and Philippines during World War II. In this article Laurie McLean provides details about Tom Gale's life and his careers in the Royal Australian Navy and Nat Map.
- Surveyors serving with Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) from 1948 to 1958 were engaged by the Department of External Affairs. From 1959 the Division of National Mapping engaged surveyors for ANARE service. Laurie McLean has compiled a list of surveyors and survey technicians known to have served in Antarctica and sub-Antarctic locations with ANARE between 1948 and 1987. The list has been compiled from numerous sources but may not be complete. Further information will be welcomed.
- In the late 1960s Russell Wenholz along with Dave Chudleigh (both then from the Australian Survey Office, Canberra) and Noel Kealley, travelled the complete length of the Canning Stock Route. Dave Chudleigh's account may be read via this link. Russell completed a more extensive account of their journey in 1983. In recent years Russell's manuscript was converted to a digital format with the addition of maps and photographs. In his 2016 Preface, Russell noted that this digital conversion was not perfect and the information and views of that earlier era are different today. Nevertheless, Along the Canning Stock Route : An account of the First Motor Vehicle journey along the full length of the Canning Stock Route is a valid record, and Russell's contribution is greatly appreciated.
- Trevor Glen Trevillian (1922-1995) was a career public servant mostly with Nat Map (1947-1981) in its Canberra offices. Trevor started with Nat Map as a Cadet Draftsman (Cartographic) and at retirement held the position of Chief Cartographer, Thematic Mapping Branch. Along the way, Trevor was responsible for the compilation of maps for ANARE (Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions) and later managed the Photolithographic Laboratory. In 1950 Trevor was a member of a three man field party which undertook Nat Map's first Laplace observations with a Wild T4 theodolite along the Stuart Highway to the north of Alice Springs. Trevor's companions on that field trip were party leader, Dimitrius Jim Fominas and Graham Stanton Gus Murray. Thanks to Andrew Murray, who made his father's 1950 field photographs available and Laurie McLean for his research assistance, the article National Mapping's First Laplace Field Work was compiled along with a Vale for Trevor Trevillian.
- Natmap's Syd Kirkby, David Carstens, Max Corry and John Manning all contributed to the early geodetic surveying of the Australian Antarctic Territory. Reports of their previously listed activities are now available via this link.
- Natmap's supervising surveyor Bill Johnson arrived at Billiluna Homestead in October 1962, having just completed the reconnaissance of the Canning Stock Route (CSR), from Wells 35 to 51, of the Well 35 to Halls Creek traverse section of the national geodetic survey. For the geodetic survey parties to later access the northern CSR to carry out the survey, Johnson arranged a contract for Mr Bill Moyle of Carranya Station to undertake the scraping of the new track to Well 51 and to then continue with further track work southwards to Well 45. The unofficially named Moyle's Track ran from the vicinity of Old Billiluna to Well 45, bypassing Wells 47 and 46 to the east. Topographic maps of the era also show a location named Old Billiluna (ruins). Historically Billiluna took its name from a large water hole recorded as Billiluna Pool by Alfred Wernam Canning around 1910 and which is some distance from the other locations named Billiluna. This article The Historical Locations of Billiluna Homestead in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia by Paul Wise, details the history, people and land tenure behind these sites of Billiluna Homestead, providing an approximate timeline and sequence of occupation.
- National Mapping's involvement with satellite positioning can be traced back to the late 1960s. It was 1975 however, before satellite positioning technology had developed sufficiently for it to be used in a national program. Subsequently, Australia moved to an earth centred datum with the adoption of GPS. This paper by Paul Wise, traces the development of satellite positioning leading to its use by National Mapping, and summarises relevant future world wide plans for this technology.
- 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
Go to ...
- Available National Mapping Technical Reports.
- The National Mapping Council of Australia (NMC) and the Division of National Mapping (Natmap).
- Bibliography of the History of Australia's National Topographic Mapping Agencies by Dorothy Prescott, 2003.
- Training Notes for National Mapping Field Survey Staff were compiled by Reginald Arthur Ford, Senior Technical Officer, while he was the Training Officer for the Melbourne Office. After many years of field experience, Reg documented most of the Nat Map Melbourne's accepted field survey procedures and methodologies covered by these notes. As such this document represents the consistent standard provided to and expected from all involved in field survey work during the late 1960s and 1970s. These notes were never published but just photocopied as required. This web version was derived from the personal copies provided by a number of Natmappers and their cooperation is appreciated. While every effort has been made to ensure correct conversion, users may find minor inconsistencies in the text and tables.
- All editions of the NATMAP News.
- Collected articles and papers about the USAF Southwest Pacific Survey, Project AF60-13 and its use of HIRAN.
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.
- Editions of the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette or Government Gazette can now be searched via this link. For each year from 1901 to 1973 a comprehensive annual index was produced and is also accessible from the above link. However, after December 1973 the Public Service section of the Gazette was released as a separate volume. From 1974 onwards these Public Service Gazettes have not been digitised. Thus ready online access to staffing information for 1974 onwards is not available. Also from 1975 onwards comprehensive annual indexing of Gazette entries for all years ceased and for some years only quarterly indexing was provided.
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