by Des Young


In 1966, Natmap chartered a Dornier Do 28B-1 “Skyservant” (in its German colours) VH-EXA from the then Executive Air Services (EAS) at Essendon Airport, Victoria (EAS later charted EXY, EXZ & EXP to Natmap for airborne surveys).


Crewed by Natmappers, Rom Vassil, Ron Wilson and myself with EAS pilot Ian Bell we flew the deserts of WA and SA and into Queensland, for almost a month, acquiring spot photography.


Joe Lines in his book “Australia on Paper” says “For one particular operation in 1966 which involved photography of geodetic survey stations in the desert areas of Western Australia and the western side of South Australia, roughly bounded by Forrest, Meekatharra, Halls Creek, Giles and Maralinga, National Mapping used a Dornier D028 aeroplane. This machine had a duration of 11 hours, and a short take-off and landing (STOL) capability. This would have been very useful for desert work in an emergency. This was to be used when one of the crew became violently airsick, and Des Young with the pilot decided to put down on one of the Serpentine lakes astride the Western Australia/South Australia border to permit some recovery time” (The route of the Natmap geodetic traverse from Neale Junction, WA to the north of Maralinga, SA, now the Anne Beadell Highway, runs east-west and also crosses the Western Australia/South Australia border in the Serpentine lakes area).


We camped at places like Swindell Field, Kidson Field, Giles, Warburton & Carnegie HS. A “little confused” as to absolute position in the Queensland channel country and with the onset of dusk, the homestead with Wantalanya painted on its roof, also received some unexpected guests one evening.


Reference : Lines, J. D. (1992) Australia on Paper – The Story of Australian Mapping, Fortune Publications, Box Hill.


Photos from that trip :


Dornier Do 28B-1 “Skyservant” (in its German colours) VH-EXA at Giles in 1966

Dornier at Alice Springs 1966

Dornier at Alice Springs 1966

Ian Bell (pilot) Des Young & Rom Vassil at Warburton

Rom Vassil at Carnegie HS (observing refuelling of station transport)

WRE Patrol Officer & Ron Wilson at Serpentine Lakes

Wildflowers at Serpentine Lakes

Ian Bell & Ron Wilson at Serpentine Lakes

Ron Wilson, Army Officer & Ian Bell at Maralinga

Warburton residents and kids

Warburton Mission, WA

“Footy” at Warburton

German & Australian engineering together at Warburton – but thousands of years apart in time??

Station Owners, “Wantalanya” Qld, 1966