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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 6 December 2019

      • Passing of John Walter Sleep (1927-2019)
        John was born on 6 January 1927 at Muswellbrook about 110 kilometres north west of Newcastle in New South Wales. Between April 1945 and December 1946 he served with the Royal Australian Navy. On 8 April 1952, the 25-year old John Sleep was appointed (on probation) as a Surveyor, Grade 1 in the Survey Section of the Property and Survey Branch of the Department of the Interior in Canberra. (He was appointed to a position vacated by the promotion of surveyor JH Hunter.) John Sleep's appointment was confirmed on 11 December 1952. By early 1955 John was working in the Survey and Drafting Section of the Australian Capital Territory Planning and Development Branch, Canberra. His position was reclassified to Surveyor Grade 2 on 11 April 1957. On 6 July 1961 John was promoted from Surveyor Grade 3 to Senior Surveyor in the Survey Section of the Lands and Survey Branch, Canberra. John was promoted from Deputy Surveyor-General to Commonwealth Surveyor-General (Second Division), on 22 December 1983 and was responsible for directing and control of the Australian Survey Office and represent the Department on the National Mapping Council, interdepartmental committees and at international conferences on surveying and related matters and acting as chairman of the ACT Surveyors Board. He retired circa 1988 moving to Port Macquarie and later to the Gold Coast. John Walter Sleep passed away on 2 November, 2019, at St Vincent's Aged Care, Southport, aged 92 years. Our condolences to his wife Judy and family.
        The Federal Budget handed down in August 1977, contained an amount of $4 million for the establishment of facilities in Australia to receive, archive, process and distribute data from the NASA Landsat Satellite Program. Forty years ago, in 1979 the Australian Landsat Station (ALS) became operational and became National Mapping's responsibility in 1984 in an effort to make the data more widely accessible. The ALS was renamed the Australian Centre for Remote Sensing (ACRES) in 1986 to reflect its expansion to receive data from other remote sensing satellites. Under National Mapping ACRES grew and expanded acquiring an impressive archive of data which it carefully managed to ensure its continued availability despite technology changes. ACRES as part of National Mapping went to Geoscience Australia in 2001. Information and photographs from those early ALS/ACRES years may be found via this link and the latest from Geoscience Australia here.
        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.
      • Edward Percival Bayliss FRGS (1887-1957)
        Oxford-born Percival Bayliss was the inaugural Chief Cartographer of the fledgling National Mapping Section that was then housed within the Property and Survey Branch of the Department of the Interior in Canberra. Percival held that position from April 1947 until his retirement in January 1950. Percival Bayliss had become a profession draftsman in England in the early 1900s. He served in France as a Sapper in the British Army's Royal Engineers during World War I. In the early 1920s Percival Bayliss immigrated to Australia with his extended family. After initially living in Melbourne, Percival Bayliss took up a position as a draftsman with the then Lands and Surveys Branch of the Department of Works and Railways in December 1927. In 1932 the Department of Works and Railways was abolished and the Lands and Survey Branch became the Property and Survey Branch in the Department of the Interior; Percival Bayliss worked with Interior until his retirement. During his time with the Commonwealth Public Service Percival became internationally renowned for his work on the 1:1 Million scale International Map of the World series and other major map projects including a 1939 map of Antarctica which he prepared in collaboration with John Stanley Cumpston (1909-1986), an officer with the then Department of External Affairs. In this article Laurie McLean provides a biographical profile of Edward Percival Bayliss as well as glimpses of the lives of a few other people.
      • John Abbottsmith (1918-1989)
        John Abbottsmith was an engineer and ski expert who was one of the 14 men who wintered at Heard Island in 1948 as part of the inaugural Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition to that sub-Antarctic island during 1947 1949. In this article Laurie McLean gives a brief biographical picture of John Abbottsmith.
      • The Great Melbourne Telescope
        When the Melbourne Observatory in the Royal Botanic Gardens closed in 1944, one of its telescopes was sold and relocated to the Mount Stromlo Observatory in Canberra. The telescope was built in Dublin in 1869 and was a major Melbourne attraction as being then the second largest telescope in the world and the largest in the southern hemisphere (manufactured by Grubb Parsons, more formally called Sir Howard Grubb Parsons & Company Ltd, who also made the Photographic Zenith Tube (PZT) operated for many years by Natmap). It became known as The Great Melbourne Telescope or GMT. The 2003 Canberra bushfires raged across the top of Mount Stromlo destroying the telescope but left the original cast iron frame relatively unscathed (Natmap lost its Satellite Laser Ranging facility in the same fire). Museums Victoria recovered the telescope's remains and brought them back to Melbourne in 2008, partnering with the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Astronomical Society of Victoria to refurbish it and return it to its original home for community use. The 10 metre high structure has been reassembled in time for its 150th anniversary and can be viewed at Scienceworks this 2019/20 summer. Ultimately it will reside again in the Melbourne Observatory in the Botanic Gardens. More information is available in this 2014 article The Great Melbourne Telescope by Ragbir Bhathal from Astronomy & Geophysics, Volume 55, Issue 3, June 2014, Pages 3.16-3.19, (https://doi.org/10.1093/astrogeo/atu123).
      • 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.
      • 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.
      • 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.
      • 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

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    • 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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