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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 archived in perpetuity as part of the National Library of Australia and related State Libraries PANDORA initiative.
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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.

    What's New

      As of 1 November 2019

      • Photomaps - National Mapping's First "Maps"
        In the late 1940s, with national development high on the government's post war agenda the lack of mapping of inland Australia demanded a quick solution. Royal Australian Air Force 1: 50 000 scale aerial photography coverage of large regions of Australia was available but converting this information into traditional coloured line maps would have taken too long. In this article by Paul Wise, photomaps became the interim solution and proved to be a valuable and useful resource.
      • Geoscience Australia to stop printing and selling topographic maps from Friday, 13 December 2019
        The ABC's story is available via this link and the text of the article may be read here.
      • Robert Arnold Robinson (1924-1994)
        Bob Robinson spent most of his working life as a cartographer; commencing as a cadet draftsman at age 15 years with the Survey Office of the Queensland Lands Department in Brisbane in June 1940. Bob was away from the Survey Office between January 1943 and January 1946 undertaking World War II service with the Royal Australian Air Force. Bob joined the RAAF at age 18 years and was discharged with the rank of Warrant Officer at age 21 years. During his RAAF service Bob became a Wireless Operator (Air) and saw active service over the Mediterranean as a radar operator in Vickers Wellington bombers with No 458 Squadron RAAF. Bob returned to the Survey Office in Brisbane after his RAAF discharge but in August 1948 took up a draftsman position in Melbourne with the newly created National Mapping Section of the Department of the Interior. In 1968 Bob moved to Nat Map's Canberra office where he went on to become Chief Executive Officer, Cartography prior to retiring in July 1985. In this article Laurie McLean provides an overview of Bob Robinson's life and his drafting career. The article has been prepared in consultation with a number of Nat Mappers who knew and worked with Robbie.
      • Some Familiar Faces
        Photographs courtesy Patricia Hatfield taken at a Melbourne lunch September and March 2019.
      • The Unmarked Graves of Billiluna Station in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia
        This paper is a desktop review of events that now happened nearly 100 years ago after two whitemen were killed on a remote pastoral lease in Western Australia, in 1922. The men were then buried by their aboriginal workers, and reinterred after a police onsite examination, but since that time their graves have rarely been located as far as it is known. This extensive review by Paul Wise takes original material along with spatial information of the era and today to try to relate it all in a modern framework in an attempt to acurately locate these unmarked graves. Along the way apparently disparate facts are reconciled and other information corrected.
      • The National Mapping Track Making Scraper for Sandy Going
        In an effort to remove some of the strain on the majority of its survey vehicles when accessing pristine desert country, National Mapping devised a track scraper. The National Mapping Track Making Scraper for Sandy Going was first used in 1962, for about half of the distance of the some 400 kilometres from Callawa east to Well 35 of the Canning Stock Route; and again in 1964 from Well 45 south to Well 41 of the Canning Stock Route.
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        South of Well 41 in 1964 the scraper was abandoned and its whereabouts remained uncertain let alone photographed. This article by Paul Wise gives the history of the scraper and includes the recently discovered and last known 1980 photograph of the scraper in the region it was left in 1964.
      • National Mapping's Airborne Terrain Profiling Program, 1962-1982
        To produce the contoured 1: 100,000 scale topographic maps from aerial photography, height or vertical control was required. National Mapping found that known ground based methods proved to be too slow or unsuitable for Australian conditions. An airborne solution was thus sought. The Laser Years : Recollecting Airborne Terrain Profiling for Photogrammetric Vertical Control in the Division of National Mapping, 1962-1982, by Paul Wise, provides the most detailed account of the Division of National Mapping's, airborne terrain profiling program. It was this program that generated profiles of the terrain from which the location and height of selected points were extracted, enabling Nat Map's vertical control requirements to be met.
      • Previously in What's New

      Go to ...

    • Available National Mapping Technical Reports and Special Publications.

    • 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.

    • Related Sites

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

      Deceased content warning

      This website may contain the images of deceased Aboriginal persons. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers should exercise care in viewing the content.

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