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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.

Happy Birthday XNATMAP

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Homepage logos used at various times

On 6 October 2006, the XNATMAP website went live. Ten years later, the original 100Mb of information has grown to 55 times that volume with the website having around 2000 unique hits every month.

The site took nearly 6 years to develop with many obstacles to overcome, the hardest being that HTML was only an acronym and website design, operation and maintenance was an unknown skill. Back in the early 2000s most of us had only dial-up internet and the long load times of many sitesí home page a continuous frustration.

Natmapís Glenn Johnstone gave us the website expertise we needed and his clean design remains the basis of the site today. Although we all generally have faster internet today, the information pages still load quickly and it is not until you reach the actual information you require is there any impact on download speed.

The XNATMAP site is truly a reflection of the diversity of the Natmap family. Documents, reports, papers, training notes, photographs and slides were found in bottom draws, dusty boxes, dark recesses of cupboards and garages and freely made available for use on the site. Other Natmappers have contributed their memories and recollections to various papers and articles. The contribution of former colleagues in allied organisations or as Natmap contractors is also recognised and appreciated.

Perhaps the most pleasing aspect is that XNATMAP is now recognised for its historical content and accuracy by the professional institutions. These institutions maintain a link to the XNATMAP site from their own websites. A further example, was the listing of XNATMAP as a Cartography related Professional Institute in the Mapping Sciences Institute, Australia, Report to the International Cartographic Association General Assembly, Brazil 2015.

What's New

    As of 1 October 2016

    • 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.
    • Several papers were added to the site :

    • On a recent visit to Queensland by Harry Baker and Graeme Lawrence a BBQ was organised for the local Natmappers. This photograph by Trish McMaster recorded the occasion.
    • Jackey Jackey airfield was named after Galmahra, an aboriginal youth selected to accompany the explorer and assistant surveyor Edmund Besley Court Kennedy (1818-1848) and eleven other men on an expedition to Cape York Peninsula. However, over the years this airfield has had other names and is today the Northern Peninsula airport. This article covers the origin and some history of this airfield.
    • 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.
    • John Allen recently came across a story involving Nat Map's Howard Angus Bill Johnson. Remembering hearing about the events at the time, John has provided further detail for this article.
    • Frank Johnston (Natmap 1971-73) recently gave a presentation on Surveying Methods for Control of Mapping. Frank kindly provided a copy of this presentation which has been converted to a PDF file for easier reading.
    • Ted Graham has contributed photographs from his fieldwork with Natmap's Geodetic Survey, Ground Marking for Aerodist and Aerodist Operations.
    • 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

    • On 21 April 1966, the National Mapping Council adopted the Australian Geodetic Datum 1966 (AGD66). This datum was later proclaimed in the Commonwealth Gazette No. 84 on 6 October 1966. AGD66 was the first Australian datum and now fifty years later preparations are well underway for the new 2020 datum. Whether we say Happy Birthday or RIP AGD66, its determination was a necessary and significant event in Australia's mapping history and its significance is briefly reviewed in this article Australian Geodetic Datum 1966 : Fifty Years On.
    • For over half a century Nat Mappers have been recognised from time-to-time through the Australian Honours and Awards system for outstanding service to mapping and to other fields of endeavour. Two more Nat Mappers were recognised for their service in the Honours list announced by the Governor-General on 26 January 2016. Details of all those Nat Mappers known to have been honoured over the years can be found at this link.

    • 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 |

      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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