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Recent writings

  • 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 and 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.
  • Australian Longitudes by WIRE and WIRELESS describes how time information transmitted using the technologies of telegraph and then broadcast assisted in the accurate determination of longitude in Australia.
  • Fifty years ago an insignificant rocky outcrop in the Northern Territory became the first calculated origin and centre of Australia. This location was then marked by a specially constructed rock cairn in which was set a bronze plaque indicating that this point was the Johnston Geodetic Station, also sometimes called the Johnston Origin. This article explains the importance of this point in Australia's survey and mapping history.
  • In May 1954, the National Mapping Office of the then Department of the Interior took delivery of a Model NASM-1 Geodimeter that had been purchased from the Swedish AGA company. Hitherto an unknown technology, the NASM-1 Geodimeter was not only the first commercially available Electronic Distance Measuring (EDM) instrument but also the first such instrument to be used in Australia. This article looks at the introduction of EDM to Australia and its subsequent use by National Mapping.
  • From Reg Ford's "Geodetic Survey of Australia" paper, and documents provided in part by Des Young and Peter Langhorne this paper RECONNAISSANCE AND TRACK MAKING FOR DESERT ACCESS FOR THE GEODETIC SURVEY OF AUSTRALIA, reveals Natmap's role in opening up the Western and Tanami deserts in the 1960s.


  • With digital maps the idea of discrete map sheets has almost disappeared. Nevertheless, if one still wants a paper map of an area a map name and identifier will be required. The history behind Australian map series and their associated map sheet identification is described in this article.
  • MOORKAIE and Related Trigonometrical Points 60 Years On reveals that while Moorkaie, Nat Map's first cairn over a ground mark built in 1954, still exists some surrounding cairns have been replaced. The original end points of the 1954 Nat Map base line for this section of the geodetic survey of Australia appear to have also been upgraded and monumented by the relevant New South Wales state authority.


  • A multi-million dollar project to rehabilitate a protected island of the Great Barrier Reef prompted Paul Wise to recall his stay on that same island some 45 years ago.
  • 1972 Montebello Islands Survey, Western Australia and Big Day at Little Turtle Island by Andrew Turk, describe a couple of Natmap's lesser known survey projects.
  • Kevin Burke and Syd Kirkby recall their sides of the story when the Aerodist helicopter ran out of fuel in Queensland. Their recall of events and Laurie McLean's coordination is acknowledged.
  • The Natmap Johnson Ground Elevation Meter (JGEM), was one of only a handful ever manufactured. In Australia, the Royal Australian Survey Corps (RASvy) also used the JGEM for mapping. The Johnson Ground Elevation Meter article is a collaborative effort instigated by Mike Cecil, former Head of Military Heraldry & Technology, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, with additional material courtesy John Hook ex-RASvy.
  • H.A. (Bill) Johnson recalls his 1965 aerial reconnaissance of the Tanami Desert in a letter back in 1980.
  • Des Young recollects the Desert flight of the Dornier the 1966 spot photography mission thorugh WA and Queensland, as well as providing photos of his time in Queensland on Aerodist ground operations.
  • The 1966 & 1967 field seasons from Andrew & Murray Porteous: Andrew in Geodesy & Murray in Ground Marking/Aerodist.
    Photos courtesy of Andrew and Murray taken during these years.
  • Jupiter Well recollections by Ed Burke.

    A album of photos is also available

  • Firsts & Lasts from Paul Wise
  • Caught by the Tide from Carl McMaster
  • The Birth of the MRA-2 Tellurometer at Natmap from Carl McMaster
  • Rescue Missions from Carl McMaster with additional insights by Murray Porteous

Published documents/reports

  • Papers by Natmappers or about Natmap equipment or techniques in University of New South Wales (UNSW) :

      Report on Colloquium Control for Mapping by Geodetic and Photogrammetric Methods (Ed. P.V. Angus-Leppan) held at the University of New South Wales, 22-24 May, 1967.

      Conference on Refraction Effects in Geodesy and Conference on Electronic Distance Measurement (REF-EDM), UNSW November 1968.

      Proceedings of Symposium on Earth's Gravitational Field and Secular Variations in Position, The University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, 26-30 November 1973.

      Surveying with GPS, by RW King, EG Masters, C Rizos, A Stolz, J Collins, 1985.

  • Bruce Philip Lambert, the third and longest serving Director of National Mapping (1951-1977), wrote numerous papers during this time; the more significant are presented here.
  • BPL's formal biography is available here and a photo of Bruce being presented with his 1988 certificate by members of the Institution of Surveyors is here.

  • Con Veenstra (Director Natmap 1982-1987) also presented numerous papers and represented both Natmap and Australia at various meetings and conferences as listed here.
  • Brian Sturman and Alan Wright's 2008 paper The History of Tellurometer in words and pictures.
  • In the preface to his 1983 monograph Geodetic Surveying, former University of New South Wales Professor Arthur Harry William Bill Kearsley, stated that it had been written to give…an insight into the reasons for, and problems associated with, geodetic surveying [and used] the Australian experience to amplify the text. As such it is considered a useful addition to the site as draws on National Mapping’s survey and mapping functions in fulfilling its national mapping role. Originally accessed at : http://www.sage.unsw.edu.au/about/school_pubs/pdfmono/mono8.pdf.
  • The Map Makers : Natmap from another perspective
  • Geodetic Surveys through the Sandridges by H.A. Johnson.

From the printed media