1     Introduction


This article follows the account "Groundmarking for Aerodist 1968" by August Jenny, dated March 2013 and like that earlier article was also written in Switzerland, 44 years after the event. This follow–on article is based on the personal diary of A. Jenny from 31.03.1969 - 29.06.1969, on documents of Laurie McLean, Rom Vassil and Oystein Berg, and recollections from John Manning, Andrew Turk and Blythe Osborne.


A detailed description of Aerodist station establishment and ex-Meridian observation for Azimuth is part of the 1968 account so is not repeated herein.


Aerodist microwave-based airborne distance measuring operations commenced in 1963 to establish survey control points for small and medium scale topographic mapping by photogrammetric means. Initially the survey control ground marks were established in conjunction with measuring operations. By 1965, however, as Aerodist measuring activities progressed from the development to the operational production phase, dedicated groundmarking parties were used to ensure that measuring progress was not constrained by a lack of pre-marked stations.


Initial 1965 groundmarking party activities were vehicle and water craft based in the Mackay region of Queensland. Later that year activities continued in the Broken Hill–Wilcannia area of New South Wales. In 1966 Aerodist ground marking activity commenced in the Clermont- Emerald region of Queensland and later progressed from Charters Towers through to Mt Isa.


The major Groundmarking operations by National Mapping with helicopter support were carried out between 1966 and 1970  :


1966      Barkly Tableland - Daly Waters area including Tellurometer connections in the Sir Edward Pellew Group in the Gulf of Carpentaria (by Geodetic Survey Branch party and by Aerodist Groundmarking party).


1967      Victoria River district - Northern Tanami Desert area (by Aerodist Groundmarking party).


1968      Western QLD - Tanami Desert - Simpson Desert (Aerodist Groundmarking party)


1969      Simpson Desert - South and East Kimberley - Great Sandy Desert - Gibson Desert - SW areas of the NT (by Aerodist Groundmarking party).


1970      Western Australia - Nullarbor Plain - Great Victoria Desert - Gibson Desert - Little Sandy Desert - East Pilbara (by Aerodist Groundmarking party).


After 1970, the Aerodist measuring party and others built Aerodist stations to a limited extent as required between 1971 and 1974 when Aerodist field operations concluded.



2     Groundmarking Operation 1969, General Information


2.1  Staff of Groundmarking Party 1969


Party Core (members who completed full season 31 March to 22 October 1969)

August Jenny Technical Assistant Grade 2.

Eric Marques Field Assistant.

Laurie McLean Field Assistant.


Part Time Field Assistants

Oystein Berg Field Assistant (exited ex Giles through to Broome then to Melbourne and returned at Ayers Rock on 23 September).


Blythe Osborne Field Assistant (exited Alice Springs before Andado and returned Ringwood; exited from Broome and returned at Giles via Perth and Broome).


Paul Fraser Field Assistant (in at Clermont on 21 April in ZSM 659 with Reg Helmore exited Broome with eye problem).


Part Time Surveyors

Rom Vassil Surveyor Class 1 (Melbourne to Charters Towers-out on 2 May; in on 30 May at Alice Springs to Andado, Ringwood, Balgo and Christmas Creek exited from Christmas Creek via Derby on 16 July with Paul McCormack in ZSU 262; in again at Giles on 6 September via Alice Springs in ZSM 644 with A Jenny, then with party to Alice Springs at end of field work).


John Manning Surveyor Class 1 (in at Alice Springs after Andado/Ringwood, Balgo, Christmas Creek to Broome, Kidson and Giles; exit Giles in ZSM 644 to Alice Springs via Ayers Rock with August Jenny and Sam Ong for exit from Alice Springs on 1 September).


Norm Edwards Surveyor Class 1 (in at start for early part of season only).


Sam Ong Surveyor or Cadet (in at Kidson on charter aircraft with John Madden on 7 August; out with John Manning ex Alice Springs on 1 September).


Andrew Turk Cadet Surveyor (in at Ayers Rock on 23 September via Alice Springs with Oystein Berg in ZSM 881 to end season).


John Madden Surveyor Class 2 (At Alice Springs/Andado/Ringwood and a brief visit at Kidson - in on charter aircraft on 7 August then exit in ZSM 644 via Karratha).


Part Time Technical Officers

Paul McCormack Technical Officer 1 (Melbourne to Charters Towers, then on to Alice Springs, Andado/Ringwood, Balgo, Christmas Creek, Broome and Kidson, NM/F/145 then exit via Alice Springs).


Terry Douglas Technical Officer 1 (in at Alice Springs in Bedford C 93794, Andado and Ringwood, Balgo, Christmas Creek, Broome, Kidson (overnight only) then exit via Port Hedland).


Jeffery Fox Technical Officer 1 (in at Broome, Kidson, Giles, Ayers Rock, Alice Springs then with party to Melbourne).


Part-Time Technical Assistants

Reg Helmore Technical Assistant 2 (in at Clermont on 21 April with Paul Fraser in ZSM 659 until Christmas Creek then driven by Paul McCormack in ZSM 644 on 9 July for exit from Derby.)


Milton Biddle Technical Assistant 2 (in at Christmas Creek via Halls Creek on 10 July to end of season).


2.2  Helicopter Support


Based from Andado, Ringwood, Balgo, Nr. 51 Well Canning Stock Route (ex Balgo), Christmas Creek, Swindell Field, Kidson Field, NM/F/145, Giles, bench mark NTS 76/78 (ex Giles), Ayers Rock and Areyonga. Hughes 500 369HS helicopter (VH-SFS) on charter from Jayrow Helicopters Pty Ltd based at Melbourne’s Moorabbin airport. This helicopter was powered by an Allison 250 series turbine engine. 


Pilots were: Peter Clemence, Cliff Dohle and Phil Cooke. 


Engineers were: Peter Smart, Jim Hammond, Dave King and Eckhart Schneider.


First changeover was at Balgo on 4 July Cooke and Hammond in via Jayrow Cessna that Clemence flew out; Smart stayed until Christmas Creek at least. 


Another changeover: details not yet known.


Second last changeover: at Giles Dohle in on 6 September in VH-SFS after arriving Alice Springs circa 3 September, out unknown at present.


Final changeover: at Ayers Rock Dohle and King out and Cooke and Schneider in.)


2.3  Helicopter Contractor organised Fuel Dumps


Under terms of the helicopter contract, Jayrow Helicopters arranged for aviation turbine kerosene (AVTUR) to be positioned as follows:



No. of 44 gallon (200 litre) drums

Kidson Field (airstrip)


Sandy Blight Junction


Giles Meteorological Station


Ayers Rock



2.4  Natmap Groundmarking Party 1969 - Vehicles


       At Melbourne


On departure: ZSM 644 Land Rover 109” wheelbase single cabin utility with rear canvas canopy (Scout Car) with NF Edwards and BN Osborne.

ZSM 656 Land Rover Forward Control with RA Vassil and A Jenny.

ZSM 658 Land Rover Forward Control with BP McCormack and EH Marques.

ZSU 201 Bedford RCLH nominal 3 ton payload 4X4 truck with LW McLean and O Berg.


At Clermont


In: ZSM 659 Land Rover Forward Control with RC Helmore and P Fraser.


At Alice Springs


In: C 93794 Bedford RCLH nominal 3 ton payload 4X4 truck ex Melbourne with Terry Douglas as fuel support vehicle for helicopter contract.


Uncertain: fate of FCLR ZSM 654 recovered to Alice Springs ex Ringwood area. 


Out: Bedford ZSU 201 unserviceable due to rust in cabin making cabin mountings insecure. One FCLR reassigned to Aerodist party in lieu of ZSU 262 that replaced ZSU 201. (Field Instruction to Aerodist party members regarding their travel and exchange of vehicles in Alice Springs at Annexure A).


At Balgo


In: on 5 July ZSU 262 Bedford RCLH ex Aerodist Measuring Party Winton to replace Bedford ZSU 201, driven from Alice Springs to Balgo by BP McCormack.


At Broome

ZSM 644 Land Rover 109” wheelbase

ZSM 656 Land Rover Forward Control

ZSM 658 Land Rover Forward Control

ZSM 659 Land Rover Forward Control

ZSM 674 Land Rover Forward Control


At Great Sandy Desert


Out: C 93794 abandoned unserviceable at bus on Kidson Track (at Callawa Creek Telegraph Line junction)


At Giles


In: ZSU 282 Bedford RCLH ex Perth with BN Osborne and in from Broome with J Fox in supporting FCLR.


Uncertain: fate of two FCLRs recovered to Giles ex Sandy Blight track.


At Ayers Rock


In: ZSM 881 Land Rover Forward Control aluminium tray and tropical roof ex Melbourne via Alice Springs with O Berg and AG Turk.


2.5  Route covered by the Groundmarking parties in 1969 (without supply and recovery runs)










Location/Camp in the evening

Task carried out

Other comments

Leader & period












Rom Vassil


01.04 - 06.04.


Trig visits & Telle connections

Based at Hotel/South Hay Caravan Park

(31 March –  2 May)




Sigma Octantis Observations





Condobolin NSW












Cunnamulla QLD





11.04 - 13.04.






14.04 - 18.04.

Alpha QLD (camp 15-17@131)

Established NMB 131




19.04 - 23.04.


Sigma Octantis Observations





Camp NMB 132

Established NMB 132




25.04 - 27.04.







Camp NMD 133

Established NMB 133





Charters Towers


Based  Platz's Crown Hotel



30.04 - 08.05.

Charters Towers


August Jenny’s movements detailed

P. McCormack





Main party left Charters Towers 16 May &

(2 - 30 May)


10.05 - 11.05.

Mount Isa


arrived Alice Springs 22 May










Tennant Creek





14.05 - 19.05.

Alice Springs


Based at Underdown’s Hotel Alice Springs



20.05 - 21.05.

Mt Tops & Mt. Pfitzner

Reconnaissance work




22.05 - 26.05

Alice Springs


Main party arrives Alice Springs



27.05 - 28.05.

Mt. Pfitzner

Preparation for Telle connection




29.05 - 30.05

Alice Springs


Visit from John Madden

Rom Vassil


31.05 - 01.06.

Alice Springs



(30 May – 18 July)










Base camp Andado HS


Start of Helicopter contract



04.06 - 10.06.

Base camp Andado HS

Established NMG 273/263, Madden & Vassil inspect Trigs





Base camp Ringwood HS






NTS 333

Telle connection to NMG 274





NTS 333 - Ringwood - Alice Springs

Madden & Berg inspect NMB 208




15.06 - 19.06.

Alice Springs

Madden & Berg inspect 69 Mile Border Post (26S / 136E) and Trigs 1/6746 & T1/472

Based at Underdown’s Hotel Alice Springs



20.06 - 24.06.

Alice Springs - Balgo  Mission





25.06 - 07.07.

Base camp Balgo

Trig.clearing MNF214/211. Established NMF594/595/601/605

NMF 590 Telle connections (7–12 July by John Manning)



02.07 - 05.07.

RC Well 51

NMF 365/366

Established  by John Manning



09.07 - 17.07.

Base camp Christmas Creek



John Manning


19.07 - 20.07.

RC Fitzroy River


US Moon Landing Apollo 11

(18 July – 1 September)


22.07 - 24.07.


Preparation for Great Sandy Desert & staff changes




25.07 - 31.07.

Base camp Swindell Field

Intermediate traverse station NMF 382 established from Roadside camp at NMF 172 then NMF 368/374/378 established




01.08 - 18.08.

BC Kidson Well Nr.1 Drill Site

NMF 360/361/362/363/364/372/373/604

Visit from John Madden



20.08 - 27.08.

Base camp NMF 145

NMF 165/ 593/596/597/598/252




28.08 - 29.08.

NMF 145 - Giles Met. Station





29.08 - 17.09

Base camp Giles Met. Station

Established NMF 602 & 603 plus
Telle connection NMF 34 to NMF 164


Rom Vassil


04.09 - 11.09.

RC Gunbarrel Hwy

NMF 278/280/679

Near BM NTS 76/78

(1 September – 9 October)


18.09 - 25.09.

Base camp Ayers Rock

NMG 293/294/300/301/305





Base camp Ayers Rock

Telle connection to NMG 293

From NMG 74 on Ayers Rock



26.09 - 28.09.

Base camp Ayers Rock





01.10 - 03.10.

Areyonga area

NMG 295 / NMG 286




04.10 - 12.10.

Alice Springs


End of Helicopter contract.

Based at Underdown’s Hotel Alice Springs

 Jeff Fox


ca.13 - 22.10.

Transit to Melbourne via



(9 - 22 October)



Coober Pedy-Adelaide-Dimboola





Table 2.5 :   Route travelled by the Groundmarking parties in 1969.

The above dates are based on diary entries of A. Jenny from 31.03.1969 - 29.06. 1969 and as recalled by Laurie McLean in March 2013, with additional information later provided by Rom Vassil, Blythe Osborne and Oystein Berg.

The above dates are estimates based on personal travel movements to, from and around the camps.


2.6  Distances travelled during Groundmarking operations 1969



Distance (km)

Melbourne to Hay


Hay to Condobolin


Condobolin to Bourke


Bourke to Charleville


Charleville to Alpha


Alpha to Clermont


Clermont to Charters Towers


Charters Towers to Richmond


Richmond to Mount Isa


Mount Isa to Camooweal


Camooweal to Tennant Creek


Tennant Creek to Aileron


Aileron to Alice Springs


(Melbourne to Alice Springs in C 93794 (and later in ZSM 881) each trip)


(Winton to Alice Springs to deliver ZSU 262 to Ground Marking party)


Alice Springs to Andado


Andado to Ringwood


Ringwood to Alice Springs


Alice Springs to Balgo


Balgo to Halls Creek


Halls Creek to Christmas Creek


Christmas Creek to Fitzroy Crossing


Fitzroy Crossing to Broome


Broome to Kidson Track turn off on Great Northern Highway


Turn off to old Bell Bros trailer bus, post phone and abandoned Bedford


Bus to Swindell  Field (no camps at bus simply distance point)


(Supply run Bedford ZSU 262 Swindell to Marble Bar via Bus and return)


Swindell Field to Kidson drill site


(Repair run ZSU 262 Kidson to abandoned Bedford and return)


(Kidson drill site to Well 33 for water-two return trips in ZSU 262)


(Kidson drill site to NM/F/145 and return in ZSU 262-forward positioning)


Kidson drill site to Well 35


Well 35 to Jupiter Well


Jupiter Well to NM/F/145 (Mt Tietkens)


(Supply run ZSU 262 NM/F/145 to Alice Springs and return)


NM/F/145 to Sandy Blight Junction (no camp here simply distance point)


Sandy Blight Junction to Giles


(Recovery of broken FCLRs to Giles in ZSU 262-two return trips)


Giles to roadside helicopter camp at bench mark NTS76/78 on Gunbarrel Hwy in ZSU 262 and return


(Perth to Giles via Broome and Kidson in ZSU 282)


Giles to Ayers Rock


(Ayers Rock to Alice Springs and return in ZSU 262)


Ayers Rock to Alice Springs (via Wallara Ranch, Tempe Downs)


Alice Springs to Areyonga


Alice Springs to Kulgera


Kulgera to Coober Pedy


Coober Pedy to Kingoonya


Kingoonya to Port Augusta


Port Augusta to Adelaide


Adelaide to Dimboola


Dimboola to Melbourne



Table 2.6 : Distance guide of route travelled by the Groundmarking party in 1969.


                        -       The table lists the main towns and camp sites where the 1969 Groundmarking party stayed.

                        -       Distances were obtained from current road and touring maps and may vary slightly from 1969 values due to various road and track realignments.

                        -       Distances and Totals have been rounded to the nearest 5km.


Key to Table 2.6

Colour code


Total distance (kms)

Route travelled by Groundmarking party



Supply runs by Laurie McLean 



Repair and recovery runs by Laurie McLean 



Delivery and replacement of vehicles





2.7  Overview Map of the 1969 Operations in the NT and WA


Figure 2.7 : Map scale 1:5 Million - Route through the Northern Territory and Western Australia travelled by the Groundmarking Party in 1969. Supply runs are not shown on this map. Note that although NMG 266 was established in 1969 the work was not undertaken by Groundmarking but likely by Contractor.


2.8  Aerodist stations of 1969 in the Network of the First and Second Order Geodetic Survey


Figure 2.8 : Geodetic network in Western Australia and the SW of the Northern Territory showing how the Aerodist program intensified the horizontal control. Measured and planned Aerodist lines are also shown.



Key to Figure 2.8





NMF 246   

1st/2nd order geodetic survey stations




NMF 373   

Aerodist station established 1969




NMF 375   

Aerodist station established pre or post 1969




NMF 388   

Intermediate Tellurometer traverse station





Number of Aerodist Block and Adjustment


The first and second order geodetic network formed large closed polygons so defining an ‘Aerodist Block’. Figure 2.8 shows the concept of the Aerodist stations within the perimeter of the Blocks, providing a major densification of ground control for the planned 1:100,000 scale mapping program.


Each ‘Aerodist block’ of stations was adjusted by least squares to the surrounding geodetic control, using program "Varycord" (Bomford 1967) to obtain coordinates on the Australian Geodetic Datum. (Carl McMaster, Technical Report 27, "National Mapping Aerodist Program", 1980).



3     Recollections of the 1969 Groundmarking Field Season


In contrast to the 1968 Groundmarking field season, the progress in 1969 was not troubled by wet weather conditions or helicopter failures. Vehicle breakdowns did occur, however, which in turn led to recovery runs, but these could not slow down the operation.


The helicopter contract in 1969 started about five and a half weeks later than in 1968 and ended in the first half of October, so avoiding possible delays from the south reaching monsoon rainfalls in April.


Therefore, after preliminary work of Tellurometer connections and survey control station refurbishment around Hay in southern New South Wales, Alpha, Clermont and Charters Towers in Queensland (refer Table 2.5), the helicopter contract started from Andado homestead south of Alice Springs with a small campaign into the western part of the Simpson desert. This campaign was to build the last ground marks of Aerodist block Nr. 22, which could not be established in 1968 due to the helicopter breakdown on the Hay River. Immediately prior to the start of helicopter operations, preliminary Tellurometer connection reconnaissance work was undertaken at Mount Tops south of Barrow Creek and Mount Pfitzner north of Alice Springs. However, this work was curtailed prior to its completion due to the start of helicopter operations.


3.1  Andado and Ringwood (03.06. - 14.06. 1969)


The Base camp was at the remote Andado Homestead on the western edge of the Simpson Desert. Andado was a 490km drive from Alice Springs, via Kulgera Roadhouse and Finke Township located at the then railway crossing of the Finke River. (Andado cattle station was a pastoral lease of some 10,787 square kilometres in the Northern Territory with further adjoining land south of the border in South Australia. It was then run by Mac and Molly Clark and their family.) The party was led by Rom Vassil. The flights into the Simpson were always a special experience, navigation was quite challenging, but building the Aerodist stations was easier due to the sandy soil.



Figure 3.11 : Flying over the Simpson Desert.



Figure 3.12 : NMG 273 (through helicopter Perspex) with (L-R) August Jenny and Rom Vassil. (Courtesy Laurie McLean)


After establishing NMG 263 and NMG 273 the party travelled the Andado-Ringwood track via Old Andado homestead, North Bore and stopped for the night south of the Todd River. In my diary I noted in German: "Wundervolle Abendstimmung, die Farbe des Sandes, des Himmels und der Vegetation zwischen den Sanddünen"; "Wonderful evening mood, beautiful colours of the sand, the sky and the vegetation between the sand-dunes".


Bedford ZSU 201 got sand bogged in the Todd River and had to be recovered by Terry Douglas’s Bedford C 93794. The well preserved station tracks to Ringwood led through Steele Gap in the Rodinga Range and past Olympic Bore, a most impressive landscape. (Ringwood cattle station was a pastoral lease of some 2,280 square kilometres located about 140km by road east of Alice Springs.)


From the camp at Ringwood we carried out a Tellurometer connection from NTS 333 to NMG 274. I occupied the NTS 333 with Eric Marques. Paul McCormack was at NMG 274. The RO was NTS 334 and manned by Oystein Berg and Reg Helmore. The accuracy of all the measurements was satisfactory according to my diary.


From Ringwood the party moved back to Alice Springs to get ready for the main operation in the west. There, Bedford ZSU 201 was replaced by ZSU 262 (delivered from the Aerodist party at Winton) which served well throughout the rest of the season.


3.2  Balgo Mission (25.06. - 07.07.1969)


The first Base camp after Alice Springs was at Balgo Hills Mission (a Roman Catholic mission established on that site in 1964 and run by the (German) Palatine order of priests with nursing and teaching care provided by the Sisters of the Order of St John of God). The mission was in Western Australia, 870km distant from Alice Springs via Yuendumu and Tanami.  


Prior to the main party leaving Alice, Laurie McLean and Terry Douglas did a kerosene and fuel run to Balgo and return (17 to 21 June) in Bedford C 93794.


Balgo is called Wirrimanu today. Our camp outside its perimeter, with a helicopter, trucks and all the equipment was of interest to the aboriginal people especially the children. To comply with the customs of Balgo Mission, all of our party members attended the church service on Sunday together with the aboriginal population!




Figure 3.21 : Blythe Osborne surrounded by Aboriginal children


On the way back from NMF 601 to Balgo, our helicopter pilot Phil Cooke treated us to a little detour to Wolfe Creek meteorite crater which was not far off our flight path. Wolfe Creek crater is a well preserved, almost circular meteorite impact crater of 880m diameter and its present floor is 60m from the crater rim. The impact crater of a 50,000 tonne mass of rock that happened in the Pleistocene period about 300,000 years ago. In 1969 the 15 square km Wolfe Creek National Park was created.


Our pilot flew over the rim and circled down to the floor and in doing so the crater rim suddenly appeared above our heads. Phil landed the machine safely in the centre for us to get out and admire the unusual scenery.


The party stayed just under two weeks at Balgo and built four Aerodist stations, NMF 594, NMF 595, NMF 601 and NMF 605, as well as checking and clearing a number of first order geodetic stations in the network surrounding these newly established stations.


John Manning, who joined the Groundmarking Party at Alice Springs after Andado/Ringwood, established NMF 365 and NMF 366 from a roadside camp at Nr. 51 Well Weriaddo on the Canning Stock Route between 02 July and 05 July with Reg Helmore, Oystein Beg and Blythe Osborne and two support vehicles as well as helicopter VH-SFS, pilot Peter Clemence and engineer Peter Smart.


From 30 June to 1st July another kerosene and fuel run was carried out by Laurie McLean and Terry Douglas from Balgo Mission to Christmas Creek.


On 7 July as the main party was preparing to leave Balgo for Christmas Creek, John Manning led a vehicle-based sub-party (with Eric Marques, Blythe Osborne and Paul Fraser) to carry out Tellurometer connections at NMF 590 on the WA/NT border. This group rejoined the main party at Christmas Creek on 12 July.


3.3  From Christmas Creek to Broome (09.07. - 22.07.1969)


The next Base camp was at Christmas Creek a pastoral lease of some 890 square kilometres located on the northern fringe of the Great Sandy Desert in the Kimberley region of Western Australia about 475km to the West from Balgo. It was then run by the Emanuel family. The lease area was claimed by Kurungal claimants under Native Title legislation in 1998 and is now known as Wankatjunka.


Here, John Manning took over from Rom Vassil as party leader. Three Aerodist stations, NMF 367, NMF 369 and NMF 370, most of them south and to the SW of Christmas Creek, were established, deep in the Great Sandy Desert. The Great Sandy Desert has a different structure than the Simpson. The sand ridges run in a general W to E direction while in the Simpson the ridges point in a more N-S direction. The colouring of the sand is also a lighter red.



Figure 3.31 : Salt lakes in the southern Great Sandy Desert. (Courtesy Paul Wise from Natmap Nomad aircraft, 1980)



Figure 3.32 : Great Sandy Desert after rain, south of Halls Creek. (Courtesy Paul Wise from Natmap Nomad aircraft, 1980)


West of Christmas Creek, between 125°E longitude and the coast on the Indian Ocean there were no Aerodist stations to establish, as Figure 2.8 shows. The party therefore relocated to the SW part of the Great Sandy Desert.


On Saturday 19th July, some of the party stopped for the weekend at a roadside camp on the bank of Fitzroy River, not far from the turn off to Derby. My colleagues told me that there would be crocodiles in the river, but when I saw them jumping in, I ignored the warning and enjoyed the swim as much as they did.


On Sunday 20 July, listening to a shortwave broadcast of Radio Australia we learned that the US Space Mission Apollo 11 was about to land the lunar module on the moon. This happened at 20:18 UTC of the 20th July and that Neil Armstrong was the first man to step onto the lunar surface at 0256UTC on July 21st. For us in Western Australia it was about 11am. The first moon landing always reminds me of our weekend camp on Fitzroy River. (Apollo mission times:


The journey from Christmas Creek to Broome was a 480km drive. Broome then was a charming small town on the Indian Ocean. I recall a cemetery for Japanese pearl divers and the spectacular Cable Beach nearby. This beach was named after the telegraph cable laid between Broome and Java in 1889.


3.4 From Broome to Giles Meteorological Station (23.07. - 28.08.1969)


3.41       Supply and Transport


Broome was the starting point of the almost 2,000km journey through the South Western and South Eastern parts of the Great Sandy Desert and the Northern Gibson Desert to Giles Meteorological Station. This was the most isolated part of the 1969 groundmarking operation. It therefore required planning with regards vehicle fuel, helicopter kerosene (AVTUR), and water for this desert section to Giles.


One Bedford, 3 FCLRs, 1 Scout Car would travel about 10,000km and the helicopter with an average of 4 flights out to 17 ground marks would fly about 10,000km. This would require a consumption of 2,700 litres of petrol and about 4,200 litres of aviation kerosene.


Table 2.61 shows that the supply runs with the Bedford plus two recovery runs out of Giles and a repair run by Laurie McLean covered another 6,200km.


Based on the following fuel consumption estimates :


Estimated consumption by

Miles per Gallon (mpg)

Litres per 100km







Scout Car







1.5 l/min@220kph


the total vehicle fuel requirement (in 44 gallon or 200 litre drums) for the Broome - Giles section can be estimated as :


Estimated fuel used by

Distance travelled (km)

Litres used

44 gallon (200 litre) drums

Bedford (abandoned)








FCLR x 3




Scout Car








Less fuel at outset




Fuel required





A similar estimation (below) can be made for water based on an average of 7 men (who were not on supply runs) for 35 days, plus the water to mix the concrete for the 17 ground marks :  


Water requirement


Litres used

44 gallon (200 litre) drums

Per man

4.5 (*)



Per ground mark








Less water from Well 33




Water required





(*) Approximates the old Australian Army estimate of 1 gallon per man per day

used as a guide by Nat Map.


meaning that the party would therefore require some 27(21 fuel and 6 water, 44 gallon or 200 litre) drums be transported to support the operation.    


With the number of vehicles at hand at Broome it was not possible to transport that number of drums plus an additional 26 drums of helicopter kerosene for the whole desert section from Broome to Giles.


Natmap solved the problem of transporting large quantities of aircraft fuel by requiring any aircraft contractor to place applicable fuel at positions and in amounts as designated by National Mapping. Rom Vassil recorded, that for this section there was a fuel dump of 31 drums at Kidson Field and 8 at Sandy Blight Junction (refer 2.2 above). From these dumps the Groundmarking party moved a few drums of kerosene at a time to other locations to enable the most efficient operation. (e.g. Kidson Field to BC NMF 145, see Table 2.61).


Departing from Broome there were 2 Bedfords, one of them had the old C prefix number plate (C 93794). Jeff Fox drove it down the Great Northern Hwy 365km to the Kidson turnoff and got it approximately 60km down the Kidson track to the old Bell Brothers bus body on the Callawa Creek Telegraph Line. There was a post phone there as well. Here Jeff decided that the Bedford was unfit for further travel. It was abandoned and never recovered. (In 1977 Laurie McLean noticed that all trace of the Bedford had gone and the post phone had stopped working too!)


Some of the load was distributed and also recovered by Laurie McLean on the supply run from Marble Bar and by Blythe Osborne who brought up a replacement Bedford from Perth later in the season.



Figure 3.411 : Remains of the Bell Bros Bus (left of image) and Post Phone at northern end of Callawa Creek Telegraph Line in 1975. This was where Bedford C 93794 was abandoned in 1969. (Courtesy Laurie McLean)


There was then only one Bedford (ZSU 262) left to supply vehicle fuel and water for the party. Laurie McLean confirms, that in all, he transported on the section from Broome to Giles about 28 x 44 gallon drums. This confirms the above mentioned estimates reasonably well. (This vehicle also had to carry all camp supplies and equipment, gas bottles etc as well as cement, steel guard posts and steel star pickets for station construction.)


This could only be achieved with additional supply runs, (compare Table 2.61):


a)    initially from Broome to Swindell Field.


b)    a second run from Swindell Field to Marble Bar and back via the Bus to Swindell.


c)    the two trips from Kidson Field to Nr. 33 and Nr. 35 Wells for water (no water taken from Nr. 35 Well as it was too dirty).


d)    an "internal trip", distribution of kerosene and water, Kidson Field to NMF 145.


e)  a third run from the base camp at NMF 145 to Alice Springs and back.


Laurie carried out these tasks stoically without complaint and, as I remember him, with a dry sense of humour. When returning from the Marble Bar supply run to Swindell, a rear spring of his Bedford ZSM 262 was damaged, so after shifting the party to Kidson he did another run back to the abandoned Bedford to take a spring from it and also bring some if its load back to Kidson, (see Table 2.6, Figure 3.41). His successfully accomplished supply duties enabled the Groundmarking parties to carry on with their task without any delay. In his spare time Laurie assisted around the camps and with the construction of Aerodist stations.


3.42       Aerodist Groundmarking in the Great Sandy and Gibson Deserts


The first Base camp in the Great Sandy Desert was at Swindell Field, a small airfield. The 765km drive from Broome ran parallel to the Indian Ocean to the junction near Wallal Downs and then turned SE on the then oil rig track to Swindell Field. From a Roadside camp at NMF 172, a Trig on the 1963 Callawa-Well 35 first order traverse, intermediate traverse station NMF 382 (co-ordinates unavailable) was established before reaching the Basecamp at Swindell Field.


John Manning's leadership was a no nonsense approach. He was an energetic man. Camps were slightly Spartan and he always tried to find ways to carry out a task as efficiently as possible.


Normally, as described in the account on Groundmarking of 1968, two Aerodist stations were established in two days by two separately operating groups. The groups stayed out on the ground mark overnight. This was a result of the transport capabilities of the helicopter and was quite a good system.


This was also done in 1969 in most of the cases, but if the situation required it, a ground mark could also be established by one group in one day, or two Aerodist stations in two days by only one operating group. This situation could and did arise when other members of the party were on supply or recovery runs.


Towards the end of July to the 18th of August 1969, in southerly latitudes between 22° and 23°, the sun rose at around 0630hrs and set around 1745hrs (giving approximately 11 hours of daylight). Furthermore, mainly on Kidson and BC NMF 145 (longitudes 125°04' and 128°54', or + 8hrs 25 min to + 8hrs 40min, of time), the time zones of Central Standard Time (+9hrs 30min) and Western Standard Time (+ 8hrs) did not correspond well with our ‘apparent time zone’ and the requirement of making most of the daylight hours.


John Manning simply introduced our own Camp Time zone of + 8hrs 30 min. This made us get up at the right time! To avoid grave errors in our astronomic observation calculations, it had to be carefully noted in our Fieldbooks.



Figure 3.421 : Camp at Swindell Field at sunrise (0630hrs approx.)


To build an Aerodist station within about 8 and a half hours on the site meant wasting no time and the helicopter would have to return to pick up the party at around 1630hrs.


The Groundmarking specifications required that the ex-Meridian Observation of Azimuth on the sun should be measured in the late afternoon or early morning when the sun’s elevation angle was appropriate. Starting the observation before 1630hrs would be unacceptable.


John therefore introduced the method of Azimuth determination by "Daylight Stars" at elongation. Circumpolar stars were observed at their time of easterly or westerly elongation, appearing to the observer to be momentarily moving vertically. Time of observation was not critical and obviously negated having to wait for the sun.


Daylight Stars could not be seen by the naked eye, but their magnitude was such that they appeared in the telescope of a theodolite as a sharp bright point. I still remember my excitement when I observed a Daylight Star for the first time.


Daylight Stars in the Southern Hemisphere used by Natmap were:


Star Number

Star Name



α  Canopus



α  Eridani



β  Crucis



β  Centauri



α  Centauri



α  Crucis



The position of the star had to be computed to enable its observation. Natmap provided very convenient nomograms to find the Azimuth angle, Zenith Distance and the Hour Angle at Elongation graphically. As longitude and latitude of the Aerodist station was known with sufficient accuracy, Local Mean Time, Azimuth and Zenith Distance for the star at elongation could then be easily worked out the preceding evening.


All one had to do on the station was to determine a provisional azimuth to the Reference Object (R.O.) This was done by measuring the horizontal and vertical angles between the R.O. and the rising or descending sun as well as the Zenith Distance of the sun and the exact time difference between the observations. The time difference was measured with a stopwatch.


Annexure B describes this method in detail.


At Swindell Field the party established NMF 368, NMF 374 and NMF 378 within four working days.


On the first of August the party moved 270km east to the next Base camp at Kidson Field. This was an airstrip too, on a plateau that was unsheltered from the prevailing (cold) westerly winds. John Manning decided to move back about 10km to an abandoned oil well drill site, as this was better protected on lower ground. In the map at Figure 2.7 this Base camp is shown as BC Kidson Nr. 1 Drill Site.


From here Laurie McLean drove back with John Manning to Nr. 33 Well on the Canning Stock Route in the hope to improving the water supply. The water in the well was polluted and not fit for human consumption, but could be used for washing and mixing concrete for the Aerodist stations. There was another run to Well 33 for water (by Laurie and Oystein Berg) and the party travelled past Well 35 on the way from Kidson to NMF 145. The water of Nr. 35 Well was not usable at all nor was the water from Jupiter Well.


The extra drums of dirty water from Nr. 33 Well certainly saved good water for personal use. Laurie made sure, that the Well 33 water drums were always kept separate from the good water drums.


From Kidson eight ground marks were built, NMF 360, NMF 361, NMF 362 to the SE, NMF 363, NMF 364 to the NE, NMF 372, NMF 373 to the SW and NMF 604 in the NE.


In addition to the establishment of all these station a Tellurometer connection between the first order geodetic station NMF 157, the intermediate traverse point NMF 279 and NMF 363 was measured.


Between the 20th to the 27th of August the party occupied a Base camp near NMF 145 on Mt Tietkens about 11km west the Northern Territory border, 455km east of Kidson Nr. 1 Drill Site.


Another six stations were put in; NMF 165 in the SE, NMF 596, NMF 597 and NMF 598 on the WA/NT border, NMF 593 in the NW and NMG 252 to the east in the Territory.


A special experience was a flight across Lake Mackay to one of the northerly Aerodist stations. I still remember the gleaming white expanse of this immense salt lake in an area without any signs of human settlement.



Figure 3.422  : Lake Mackay from a 1933 documentary film.

(More information at


After a month and a few days, the party arrived back in civilisation, at Giles Meteorological Station. The route was via Sandy Blight junction with its typical signpost erected by the Weapon Research Establishment’s Len Beadell, in all a 480km drive.


3.5  Giles and Roadside camp on the Gunbarrel Hwy (29.08. - 17.09. 1969)


Giles Meteorological Station provided the opportunity to check the mechanism type barometers, which where calibrated before the field season against the mercury barometers of the Station.


At Giles, John Manning's time as party leader ended and he was succeeded by Rom Vassil, who rejoined us to again lead the party for the rest of the helicopter contract. This was Rom's third party leader appointment of the 1969 Groundmarking season and his time was spent in one of the most scenic parts of Central Australia.


Rom was a very amiable quiet man, a most thorough surveyor and as with John Manning, I enjoyed very much working with him too.



Figure 3.51 : Giles Meteorological Station in September 1969 showing weather balloon tracking radar equipment.



Figure 3.52 : Giles Meteorological Station showing some of its meteorological instrumentation.



Figure 3.53 : Base camp at Giles, (L-R) Cliff Dohle, Milton Biddle, Dave King and Eric Marques.



Figure 3.54 : Rom Vassil on the Gunbarrel Hwy noting a Len Beadell signpost (left) and with the "Scout Car" Land Rover ZSM 644 (right).


From Giles NMF 602 and NMF 603 were established. A temporary base however, was located to the west of Giles to allow the helicopter to reach the required positions for NMF 278, NMF 280 and NMF 679. This base was a 190km drive on the Gunbarrel Hwy to near the Mippittjarra Rockhole and Benchmark NTS 76/78 and took 6hrs in the Bedford (this section of the Gunbarrel Hwy now requires a permit). Laurie McLean recalled that NMF 278 was in a featureless area and helicopter pilot Cliff Dohle had difficulties in finding the station site in 1969 and again when revisiting the station in 1972. Cliff had served with the Royal Australian Air Force in Malaya and Vietnam and told Laurie that in his early flying days as Canberra bomber pilot he always had a navigator!


Before leaving Giles, another Tellurometer connection was measured from the intermediate traverse point NMF 388 to the geodetic station NMF 34 (15.5km away) with station NMF 164 as R.O (15.7km away). I was at NMF 388 and beside the normal angle and distance measurements I was also entrusted to determine the true bearing to NMF 34 by a Sigma Octantis observation. At the start of the 1969 season at Hay, NSW we were trained in this technique. Sigma Octantis is very close to the celestial South pole (δ = 89°05' S, Mag. 5.5).


Annexure C documents the result of the Sigma Octantis observation at NMF 388.


 3.6 Base camp Ayers Rock (18.09. - 28.09.1969)


Today Ayers Rock is named Uluru. Australia recognizes the heritage of its Aboriginal population and is aware of the meaning of Uluru to them. This article describes events back in 1969 from a purely technical viewpoint of our activities in the National Mapping and uses Ayres Rock as that point’s name.


3.61       Aerodist ground marking


At Ayers Rock Base camp (335km from Giles) the party was truly back in civilisation. As is Uluru today, Ayers Rock then was also a very popular tourist destination.




Figure 3.611 : Base camp NE side of Ayers Rock; (L-R) Jeff Fox on ZSU 282, with Jayrow’s Dave King (engineer) and Cliff Dohle (pilot).



Figure 3.612 : Our Ayers Rock Base camp became a temporary tourist attraction too!


Between 19 September and 25 September five Aerodist stations were established from Ayers Rock Base camp; NMG 293, NMG 294, NMG 300, NMG 301 and NMG 305.


Annexure D contains copies of applicable Fieldbook pages completed during the establishment of NMG 294 on 23 September 1969.


This was a fairly good effort and on some stations Azimuth observation with Daylight Stars was undertaken. Towards the end of the season the work experience paid off too, coupled with the fact of flying in a very fascinating area.



Figure 3.613 : Approaching Ayers Rock.



Figure 3.614 : Lake Amadeus north of NMG 293. (Courtesy Paul Wise)


3.62       Tellurometer connection from Ayers Rock


To strengthen the second order Aerodist network configuration, newly established Aerodist stations were connected to a First Order geodetic station when the two stations were intervisible. Due to the curvature of the earth and the terrestrial refraction, the geodetic station has to be at least 115 m higher than the Aerodist station. Already mentioned Tellurometer connections are in 3.1 (Ringwood), 3.42 (Kidson) and 3.5 (Giles).


NMG 293, just south of Lake Amadeus (Figure 3.614), was 37.47km away to the north of the first order station NMG 74 on the summit of Ayers Rock. The top of Ayers Rock is 863 m above sea level and towers 345 m over the surrounding plain. It was therefore an ideal location for a Tellurometer connection to a point nearly 40km distant.


The connection was carried out on Friday 26 September 1969. Ayres Rock was occupied by A. Jenny (in charge and observer), Andrew Turk (recorder), Oystein Berg and Eric Marques.


The Reference geodetic station (R.O.) NMG 75 was Mount Conner, with an altitude of 859 m above sea level and 88.53km distant. NMG 74 was manned by Blythe Osborne and Laurie McLean.


Aerodist station, NMG 293, was occupied by Milton Biddle and Jeff Fox.


3.621 Transport arrangements


The Ayres Rock party could not be positioned by helicopter. Pilot Cliff Dohle who was very safety conscious determined that air turbulence coupled with up - and down-drafts posed too great a risk for landing or starting manoeuvres at the summit. This meant carrying all necessary equipment up 350m, which added to the experience of "Climbing the Rock". The load was evenly distributed between the four of us.


The other parties were flown out to their stations, including Mount Conner which has a much larger plateau than Ayers Rock and was obviously considered safe for helicopter operations.


3.622 Transported equipment


NMG 274 Ayers Rock

R.O. NMG 275 Mt. Conner

NMG 293

Theodolite WILD T2 + tripod


Theodolite WILD T2 + tripod

Circle lighting set+ battery



Tellurometer MRA2


Tellurometer MRA2

Traeger transceiver + aerial

Traeger transceiver + aerial

Traeger transceiver + aerial

12 V car battery

12 V car battery

12 V car battery

Heliograph + tripod

Heliograph + tripod

Heliograph + tripod

Lucas light + tripod

Lucas light + tripod

Lucas light + tripod

Fieldbook + pen + torch

Fieldbook + pen

Fieldbook + pen










measuring tape, folding rule

measuring tape, folding rule

measuring tape, folding rule

Station summary

Station summary

Station summary

Sun shade for instruments


Sun shade for instruments

Stopwatch + wristwatch



Transistor radio for time signal



Prediction for σ Octantis



Water + food

Water + food

Water + food

Personal articles incl. clothing

Personal articles incl. clothing

Personal articles incl. clothing


Swag + stretcher

Swag + stretcher


       Table 3.622 : Equipment required for Tellurometer connection.


From the camp the Ayres Rock party left before 0730hrs for the western side of Ayers Rock to the start of well-marked ascent path to the summit. From 520m A.S.L the path rises over 250m to 547m, for the next 380m it is fairly steep climb to 763m (average 57%), but the rest of the total distance of 1590m the average rise is only 10%. With the load being carried the ascent over the partly rugged terrain must have taken us a bit more than an hour. The view from the top was unforgettable.


In the meantime the other parties were flown to their respective stations.



Figure 3.6221 : Tellurometer connection party on Uluru; (L-R) August Jenny, Eric Marques, Oystein Berg.


The trigonometrical point at NMG 74 was not accessible. The remains of the old 1958 stone cairn covered the station mark. In 1970 the cairn was dismantled and replaced by a stone pedestal with a direction plaque. It is still there today and is a popular photo subject for tourists as a visit to "Google Images" readily illustrates. Refer Figure 3.622.


As an eccentric instrument station the westerly Reference Mark with a true bearing of 261°34' and 7.544m distant from the centre of NMG 74 was chosen as indicated in Figure 3.622 (right) and 3.623. It allowed unobstructed sightings to Mount Conner and to Aerodist station NMG 293.



Figure 3.622 : NMG 74; The remains of the old 1958 stone cairn covering the station mark (left, courtesy Laurie McLean, 1970) before it was replaced in November 1970 with the current stone pedestal and Direction Plaque (right, "Google Images").



Figure 3.623 : NMG 74; National Mapping Station Summary 1971.


3.623 Surveying operations


The "Specifications for Second Order Tellurometer Traversing" were issued by National Mapping in May 1967 and directed our work.


       Tellurometer Distance measurement:


The first observation in the second half of the morning was the distance measurement to NMG 293 by Tellurometer (model MRA-2). After making contact with the remote station Tellurometer operator, a series of readings, displayed on the cathode ray tube, were taken at different frequencies, coordinated by communicating with the remote operator prior to each reading.


Concentrating on this process, I didn't notice a young tourist beside me, who suddenly asked me "Are you Swiss?" I was quite baffled and it turned out that he was a countryman of mine from Zurich. He obviously noticed the Swiss accent in my Australian English. After a short conversation in Swiss-German I continued with my measurements.


Before and after the observation the air pressure, relative humidity and the temperature of the atmosphere were recorded at both ends of the connection using a Barometer and Psychrometer respectively.


       Vertical angle measurement:


The vertical angles to NMG 74 and NMG 293 were measured simultaneously after 1400hrs when the air was most evenly heated. The targets sighted were heliographs positioned either right beside the Theodolite or plumbed over one of the Reference Marks. The height difference between the vertical axis of the theodolite and the centre of the heliograph was measured with a folding ruler. The heliograph is a very practical device allowing the direction and intensity of the reflected sun to be accurately directed at a target by adjusting screws. Contact with the other stations was by radio.



Figure 3.6231 : A Heliograph being used as the target for horizontal and vertical angle observation.


       Horizontal Angle measurement:


The horizontal angle between the R.O. NMG 75 on Mount Conner and the Aerodist station NMG 293 had to be observed in the late afternoon. After finishing the vertical angles we had about one and a half hours off, which we used for a short walk to admire the impressive Uluru-Sandstone rock strata. 


Again the targets sighted were heliographs. It was amazing that the heliograph signal from Mount Conner, almost 90km distant could clearly be observed throughout the observation and was kept steady by its careful operator Blythe Osborne.


Like the vertical angle, the horizontal angle was measured with a WILD T2 Theodolite. These instruments were manufactured in a town very near to my hometown in eastern Switzerland.


       Sigma Octantis Azimuth observation:


The specifications state that "observations will be commenced immediately after sunset or as soon as Sigma Octantis is visible. This is the most accurate period in which to observe as the R.O. light is usually at its steadiest at this time". The R.O. NMG 293 was indicated with a 12V Lucas lamp.



Figure 3.6232 : Sunset in the west on Friday 26 September 1969, shortly before 1800hrs. Compare this photo with the photo at Figure 3.6221.


Figure 3.6232 shows us getting ready for the observation after sunset. What happened next was magic. Shortly after sunset in the west a large full moon rose in the east slightly to the north of Mount Conner. I was enthralled by this natural spectacle and seeing it from such an exposed position as we were, the phenomenon of the full moon, directly opposite the setting sun was very obvious.


The procedure for an Azimuth observation at night requires careful preparation and a quiet, concentrated way of working by the observer and by the booker.


The moonlit night was advantageous and I remember the balmy atmosphere and the grandiose stillness of the firmament above us. Under such excellent observing conditions the work was successfully completed.


At about eight thirty we packed up and left our station. The bright moonlight made it easy to follow the white dashed line down to our trucks at the base of this formidable Australian monument. The other two parties returned to base the following day.


I am still very grateful to Rom Vassil for giving me this opportunity and looking back, it was one of the most glamorous days of my life in surveying. I felt really fortunate. I am sure, for my colleagues Andrew Turk, Oystein Berg and Eric Marques this was an equally unforgettable experience.


Before leaving Ayers Rock Base camp, helicopter pilot Cliff Dohle and engineer Dave King were replaced by Phil Cooke and Eckhart Schneider. Cliff and Dave had been with us since Giles.


Annexure E contains National Mapping’s specifications for Sigma Octantis Azimuth observations.


3.7  Base camp at Areyonga (1.10. - 3.10.1969)


The next and last Base camp was at Areyonga (a Lutheran mission station established in 1920 for Pitjantatjara Aboriginal people forced from the Petermann Ranges area near Giles weather station by severe drought). It is situated at the end of a narrow valley of the James Ranges and also geologically a most interesting area.


Two Aerodist stations were established; NMG 286 and NMG 295. The 160km flight from the Base camp to NMG 295 passed Mount Liebig at the western end of the MacDonnell Ranges set in a grandiose landscape. I was also in charge of building NMG 286 assisted by Blythe Osborne, and it was the last Aerodist station of the 1969 Groundmarking season.



Figure 3.71 : Flight from Areyonga to NMG 295; Mount Liebig, MacDonnell Ranges, 120km from Areyonga.



Figure 3.72 :  Flight to Areyonga; James Ranges, about 12km out of Areyonga.


On the flight back to base, west of Hermannsburg, a transmission chip detector warning lamp started blinking on the control panel of the helicopter. This produces a rather strange feeling whilst floating hundreds of meters above the terrain in an exposed Perspex cabin. Phil Cooke reacted immediately and decided upon an emergency landing. I noticed a road below and suggested heading for it. I think it was the Areyonga - Hermannsburg road and Phil landed the machine safely not far off the road. He contacted engineer Eckhart Schneider who was already at Alice Springs and who was subsequently driven out by Andrew Turk arriving late at night. The helicopter was repaired and we completed our journey to Alice Springs.


Thus ended my Groundmarking career ….


Following the drive from Alice Springs back to Melbourne I spent another 3 months with Natmap in a Rialto office before returning to Switzerland.



Figure 3.73 :  Site of NMF 34, Rawlinson Ranges, WA, - the colour in an ancient landscape!



4     Looking back after 44 years


Each member of the Groundmarking party of 1969 may have experienced the field season differently. Men with families at home stayed with the party for only a limited time. Some others also came for a limited time to either gain experience or inspect our progress. Others were absent from the party for a while for personal reasons. The role of the supply people meant that they were often absent, travelling sections of road several times, fulfilling their tasks. I was one of the very lucky few who experienced the entire field season from its beginning to the end.


It covered a large part of a wonderful continent, from near the Queensland Coast to the Indian Ocean, the ancient land of the Northern Territory and the vast and silent deserts of Western Australia. I consider myself most fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work in Natmap during which time I met and worked with many capable, self-reliant and friendly people.



5     Acknowledgments


I would like to thank once more Paul Wise, for editing this account, for his help, expertise and for supplying maps and all sorts of information about this period long past now.


It would not have been possible to write this report without the collaboration of Laurie McLean. His research and our close email correspondence enabled us to reconstruct details and clear many uncertainties. Thank you very much for your dedicated work and for the tables incorporated in this paper.


I am also obliged to Rom Vassil, Oystein Berg, John Manning, Andrew Turk and Blythe Osborne who contributed other valuable information.


       9204 Andwil, Switzerland

       July 2013



       August Jenny

Should you now wish to refer to any of the Annexures in the above they can be assessed quickly from the following links :

Annexure A is a copy of a 1969 Field Instruction to Aerodist party members regarding their travel and exchange of vehicles in Alice Springs.

Annexure B describes the method for the Observation of Daylight Stars in Elongation.

Annexure C documents the result of the Sigma Octantis observation at NMF 388.

Annexure D contains copies of applicable Fieldbook pages completed during the establishment of NMG 294 on 23 September 1969.

Annexure E contains National Mapping’s specifications for Sigma Octantis Azimuth observations.