George Robert Lindsay Rimington (1908-1992)


Head of Nat Map’s Melbourne Office 1947-1961

Nat Map’s Initial Assistant Director Canberra 1962-1968


Prepared by Laurie McLean April 2019


Lindsay Rimington circa 1965.

Extracted from an XNatmap image.


In the National Mapping organisation at least George Robert Lindsay Rimington was known as Lindsay or just Rim.


Lindsay Rimington was one of the early leaders of the Commonwealth government’s post-World War II national mapping effort.  Rim joined Frederick Marshall Johnston (1885-1963) (then Commonwealth Surveyor General and Director of National Mapping) and Bruce Philip Lambert OBE (1912-1990) (then Deputy Director of National Mapping) in Canberra in early September 1947 to help establish the National Mapping organisation and get on with the massive national geodetic surveying and mapping task.  At that time there was a pressing need for Australia to have a uniform national spatial reference system and a complete, comprehensive national mapping coverage for planning, national development, defence and other purposes.


Rim retired some 21 years later with the National Geodetic Survey and the Australian Map Grid in place and the initial R502 series 1:250 000 scale planimetric map coverage complete.  Work was also well advanced on the national levelling survey to establish a national height datum.  Lindsay Rimington was greatly involved in achieving these significant national mapping milestones and in helping to implement the National Topographic Map Series that was fully compiled by 1988; some 20 years after Rim had retired.


In their respective articles listed in the References below, long-serving and accomplished Melbourne-based National Mapping field officers Reg Ford and Dave Hocking give specific acknowledgement of Lindsay Rimington’s helpful instruction, encouragement and prompt support of his field men.


The following article draws overwhelmingly from research on Lindsay Rimington drawn from the sources cited in the References below.  As hopefully portrayed in this article, these sources gave some interesting and informative insights into the life and surveying and mapping achievements of Lindsay Rimington.  However, after collating all available resource material it was apparent that considerable knowledge gaps remained in regard to Rim’s careers with the Army, the Northern Territory Administration and indeed with National Mapping.  Nevertheless, it is hoped that the reader will gain some appreciation of the significant contribution that Lindsay Rimington made to the national mapping of Australia and to his other surveying and mapping endeavours.


Early Life

George Robert Lindsay Rimington was born in the eastern Melbourne suburb of Kew on 19 May 1908.  He was the eldest son of George Allan Rimington (1877-1968) and his wife Isabella née Swan (circa 1879-1961).  Allan Rimington and Isabella Swan were married in Victoria in 1903.  Isabella was the daughter of Stephen Swan (circa 1849-1928) and his wife Caroline née Collier.  Lindsay Rimington’s father Allan Rimington worked as a florist and nurseryman in an extensive family operation that was founded by his father (Lindsay’s grandfather) at Kew in the late 1870s.


Lindsay Rimington’s father George Allan Rimington was the eldest of the nine children born to George Rimington and his wife Hannah née Bennett.  Lindsay Rimington’s grandfather George Rimington was born in Lincolnshire (a county in England’s East Midlands bordering the North Sea) circa 1847 and died at his residence (Parkhill Nurseries, Mont Victor Road Kew) on 5 March 1925 at age 78 years.


George Rimington and Hannah Bennett were married in Victoria in 1876.  Hannah Bennett was born at Boroondara (Kew) on 25 May 1856 and died at Parkhill Kew on 9 July 1941 at age 85 years.  Hannah was the daughter of Sidney Bennett and his wife Elizabeth née Hines.


Rimington Nurseries

In 1877, Lindsay Rimington’s grandfather George Rimington established the Parkhill Nursery on land between Burke Road and Mont Victor Road in the eastern Melbourne suburb of Kew.  By 1910 Parkhill Nursery was well known for the sale of violets as well as numerous other plants.  For some 70 years or so from the late 1870s George Rimington’s nursery operation expanded to include several other nursery sites and retail outlets.  From advertisements in Melbourne daily newspapers accessed from the National Library of Australia’s Trove search service the following brief insights were gleaned:

·       In 1907 G Rimington and Sons were operating as wholesale and retail nurserymen and florists at Cotham Road Kew

·       In 1921 G Rimington was operating as a nurseryman at Hawthorn

·       Commonwealth of Australia Gazette entries in 1936 and 1937 listed G Rimington Pty Ltd as the successful tenderer for Department of Defence tenders to supply and plant trees for the Royal Australian Air Force including at Laverton and Point Cook

·       In 1938 G Rimington Pty Ltd had its head nursery at Mont Victor Road Kew as well as other extensive nurseries at Clarinda, Mount Dandenong, and Toolangi

·       During the 1930s Rimington Nurseries had its own cricket team in the district competition in the Healesville area

·       In 1954 G Rimington Pty Ltd operated nurseries at Kew, Oakleigh and West Healesville.


An advertisemernt for Rimingtons’ Parkhill Nursery circa 1910.

Image from Francis George Allman Barnard’s The Jubilee History of Kew Victoria.


Between 1938 and 1957 G Rimington Pty Ltd published a free periodical Cultural hints and catalogue of plants.


By the late 1940s the Rimingtons’ operations at Kew were in decline and the Parkhill Nursery site was gradually subdivided and sold.  Allotments were released in sections for housing sites as depicted in the subdivision plans below.


1949 subdivision plan for part of the Rimington Nursery at Kew.

Kew Historical Society Incorporated image from Victorian Collections website.


Plan for further subdivision of parts of the Rimington Nursery at Kew.

Kew Historical Society Incorporated image from Victorian Collections website.



Lindsay Rimington attended Scotch College a Presbyterian day and boarding school for boys where he matriculated circa 1924 (Anonymous, 1992).  Scotch College was opened in October 1851 as the Melbourne Academy at 155 Spring Street and later moved to a former hotel site in Collins Street.  In 1854 the College moved to a new building on a two-acre site at the corner of Grey Street (West) and Lansdowne Street opposite the Fitzroy Gardens at Eastern Hill.  (Grey Street West is now called Cathedral Place.)


Scotch College was founded by the Presbyterian Church of Victoria and reflected values of the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th Century.  Between 1914 and 1923 the College moved to its present-day 27‑hectare site at the confluence of Gardiner’s Creek and the Yarra River at Hawthorn; off Glenferrie Road.  By 1923 some 1 200 students were enrolled at the College.  Its move to Hawthorn began in 1916 with the Junior School boys starting classes in the rooms of the classic 1870s mansion Glen House.  Thus, it is likely that Rim spent most if not all of his time with Scotch College at its Hawthorn site.


During Rim’s time at Scotch College the principal was William Still Littlejohn (1859-1933).  Born in Aberdeenshire Scotland, Littlejohn was a graduate of Kings College, Aberdeen University.  He was the third principal of Scotch College and served in that role from 1904 to October 1933 when sadly he died in office.  Littlejohn had overseen the College’s move from Eastern Hill to Hawthorn.


Scotch College at Easten Hill circa 1906 prior to moving to Hawthorn.

State Library of Victoria image.


Glen House at the Scotch College Hawthorn site in 1917.

Image from Scotch College website.


Recent image of Scotch College at lower right on right side of City Link toll road that runs above Gardiner’s Creek until reaching the Yarra River in centre of image.

Image from Scotch College website.


Surveyor training and registration 1925-1929

In 1925 Lindsay Rimington was indentured as an articled pupil surveyor with Herbert Casely Crouch who had graduated from The University of Melbourne with the degree of Bachelor of Civil Engineering in November 1893 and was later registered as a licensed surveyor in Victoria.  Herbert Crouch had been town clerk and engineer at Horsham during 1896-1901 and was later the municipal surveyor at Kew before going into private practice from premises at 443 Little Collins Street Melbourne.  In July 1900 while living at Horsham Herbert Crough lodged a successful patent application for an improved window fastener.  Herbert Crouch died at Auburn Victoria in 1944 at age 77 years.


Prior to receiving his Certificate of Competency in 1929, Lindsay Rimington had transferred his articles to licensed surveyor Edwin Parnell Muntz who then practised with Ernest Leslie Braid and Alexander Jamison Muntz, as Muntz, Braid and Muntz from premises at 412 Collins Street Melbourne.


Lindsay Rimington’s award of the Certificate of Competency (Credit) by the Surveyors Board of Victoria was dated 8 October 1929 but on 30 September 1929 he had been registered under the Land Surveyors Act 1928 as a licensed surveyor (No 588) by the Surveyors Board of Victoria.  At the time of his registration as a licensed surveyor Lindsay Rimington was 21 years of age.


Army Service between 1926 and 1946

Lindsay Rimington had periods of Army service over the 20 years between 1926 and 1946 and appears to have continued on the Reserve List of officers until 1963 when he turned 55 years of age.  Rim enlisted in the 39th Battalion of the Army’s Citizen Forces at Hawthorn around 1 July 1926, Army number 172881.  Initially raised in 1916 as an infantry battalion in the Australian Imperial Force, the 39th saw active service on the Western Front during World War I.  It became a Militia unit in 1921 and was known as the Hawthorn–Kew Regiment.  In 1937, the 39th was amalgamated with the 37th Battalion to become the 37th/39th (Militia) Battalion.


When Lindsay Rimington enlisted in the 39th Battalion he was 18 years of age and resided at 64 Bourke Road Kew.  Rim commenced this period of Army service with the rank of private.  Over the next few years he progressed through the ranks to lance corporal (3 December 1926), corporal (2 February 1927), lance sergeant (1 March 1928) and signalling sergeant (1 July 1928).  Rim re‑enlisted in the 39th Battalion on 19 November 1929 for a further three years and was promoted company quarter master sergeant on 1 July 1933.  During his time with the 39th Battalion Rim passed all efficiency reviews.


Rim was discharged from the 39th Battalion on 13 March 1934 with the rank of company quarter master sergeant.  Rim’s discharge from the 39th (Militia) Battalion was to allow him to enlist in the Permanent Army (Royal Australian Engineers) which he did in 1934.  Rim had heard that in 1935 limited vacancies would become available in the Australian Survey Corps and that the positions would most likely be given to those already in the Engineers.  Thus, Rim enlisted in the Royal Australian Engineers as a sapper and immediately after recruitment was promoted warrant officer in the Works Section.


From 1 July 1932 the Survey Section of the Royal Australian Engineers had reverted to the title of Australian Survey Corps.  Rim’s recruitment intelligence proved to be correct and the Survey Corps was given authority from early 1935 for an additional 10 positions that took its all ranks establishment to 25 personnel.  The 10 new recruits came on strength between January 1935 and March 1936.  These recruits included warrant officer draftsman Clifford Stanhope (Tim) Tyler who later gave outstanding service to Nat Map during 1963-1972.


Lindsay Rimington joined the Survey Corps sometime after May 1935 and was one of seven warrant officer topographers recruited in the Corps’ establishment increase.  All of these warrant officers were licensed surveyors and included officers who would give outstanding service to the Corps.  One of these warrant officer recruits was Howard Angas (Bill) Johnson who later gave outstanding service to Nat Map during 1954-1971.


Initially in the Survey Corps, Warrant Officer Rimington worked on geodetic surveys in South Australia under Lieutenant Lawrence FitzGerald who later became Brigadier Lawrence FitzGerald OBE (1903-1988), Director of Military Survey from 1940 to 1962.  Afterwards Rim was transferred in the Survey Corps to New South Wales where he undertook topographic mapping by the plane table method and later with the use of aerial photography.  Rim also spent some time in Queensland with the Survey Corps.


The National Library of Australia holds manuscripts of two inches to a mile (1:31 680) scale topographic maps from Australian Survey Corps plane table surveys.  Warrant Officer Rimington worked on Oberon Sheets 6 and 7 in March - May 1936 and on Orange Sheets 1, 2 and 3 circa June 1936.  Some detail extracted from the Orange Sheet 1 topographic map that Warrant Officer Rimington worked on is provided in the image below.


Detail from the Army Survey Corps two inches to a mile scale manuscript Orange Sheet 1 topographic map with survey and edge join check undertaken by GRL Rimington in 1936.

Source: National Library of Australia (Bib ID 4701326).


In the later part of 1938 Warrant Officer Rimington sought a discharge from the Survey Corps due to his pending marriage and to take-up a position with the Northern Territory Administration Branch (Department of the Interior) in Darwin.  Rim was a staff surveyor with the Northern Territory Administration Branch from 1 December 1938 until 15 May 1947.  However, during World War II he was recalled to Army duty.


During his time in Darwin after the outbreak of World War II Rim rejoined the Army, initially on a part-time basis.  On 3 September 1940 Rim was appointed as a lieutenant in the Reserve of Officers with the Army Engineers in the 7th Military District (ie the Northern Territory and the Kimberley region of Western Australia).  On 28 March 1941, Lieutenant GRL Rimington was seconded as a Reserve Officer to the Royal Australian Engineers Militia Survey Unit in the 7th Military District.


On 29 December 1941 Lieutenant GRL Rimington was transferred (as temporary captain) from the 7th Military District to Southern Command – Australian Survey Corps (in Victoria).  As a consequence of this posting it appears that Rim and his wife Zeta fortuitously avoided the devastating early Japanese bombing raids on Darwin that commenced on 19 February 1942.


On 26 August 1943 Lindsay Rimington enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force at Camberwell, Victoria; service number DX244 - the D prefix indicating commencement in the 7th Military District.


Between September 1945 and March 1946 Lindsay Rimington served as a Staff Captain in the Enemy Internees Section of the Directorate of Prisoners of War and Internees at Army Headquarters in Melbourne.  Responsible for policy matters, the Directorate was part of the Prisoners of War Information Bureau that Australia was required to establish under Article 77 of the 1929 Geneva Convention.  Rather than physical custody of personnel, the Bureau was responsible for collecting, recording and disseminating information about prisoners of war and internees.  As well as the Bureau’s own purposes such information was required for the Australian and International Red Cross organisations and for the relatives of the prisoners and internees.  Inwards and outwards mail and parcels for prisoners and internees was also controlled.  (For further information on the Bureau please see Australian Army, undated in References below.)


On 14 March 1946, Captain GRL Rimington was discharged from Headquarters Australian Military Forces; presumably in Melbourne.  It appears, however, that Rim remained in the Reserve of Officers.


In the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette of 26 September 1963 the then 55‑years old Captain GRL Rimington was listed among officers placed upon the Retired List (Southern Command), Royal Australian Survey Corps.


Marriage to Zeta Fraser 1938


Zeta Fraser in 1938.

Maxwell Porteous image from The Age 24 September 1938.


Lindsay Rimington’s and Zeta Fraser’s engagement was announced on 8 January 1938.  On Saturday 1 October 1938 Lindsay Rimington and Zeta were married at St John's Church of England 552 Burke Road Camberwell; the Reverend Reginald Fenwick Brown officiated at the wedding ceremony.  (St John’s Camberwell was constructed in stages between 1863 and 1924.  Sadly, the church building in which Rim and Zeta were married was destroyed by arson in 1955.  A more modern building St John's Anglican Church now occupies the site.)


Zeta Lorraine Fraser was born in Victoria in 1914.  She was the only daughter of Ernest Percy Fraser and his wife Violet Daisy Fraser née Abbott.  Percy Fraser was the second son of John Wilson Fraser and his wife of Yarraville and Violet was the eldest daughter of James Thomas Abbott and his wife also of Yarraville and later of Seddon.  Percy and Violet were married at St John’s Church of England Footscray on 30 September 1911; the Reverend JT Raglin officiated.


According to electoral roll entries, Percy Fraser was a stevedore master.  In the 1930s the Fraser family lived at Fairmont 17 Fairmont Avenue Camberwell.


St John’s Church of England Camberwell circa 1950.

Image from St John’s Anglican Church Camberwell website.


Northern Territory Staff Surveyor 1938-1947

On 1 December 1938 Lindsay Rimington was appointed as a surveyor (Position Number 35) in the Lands and Survey Section of the Northern Territory Administration Branch of the Department of the Interior.  Rim’s position was headquartered at Darwin.


Brief insights into some of the survey work that Lindsay Rimington carried out in the Northern Territory between 1939 and 1947 can be gleaned from the listing of his survey field books at Appendix A.  However, it should be kept in mind that as detailed above in the section on Rim’s Army service, he was away from the Northern Territory on Army duty from late 1941 until the later part of 1946.


Life in the Darwin community

From reports in the Darwin newspaper Northern Standard between June 1939 and September 1940, Zeta and Lindsay Rimington were active in the Darwin sporting community.  Zeta’s activities with the Northern Territory Tennis Association were mentioned in the newspaper a number of times.  Mrs Rimington played singles, doubles and mixed doubles and competed in pennant competitions and championship tournament matches.


Lindsay Rimington was mentioned several times for playing golf at the Darwin Golf Club.  In December 1939 he was reported as taking up competitive rifle shooting.  In November 1939 Lindsay Rimington offered to mark-out a hockey field for the Northern Territory Hockey Association.  The site of the hockey field was on the former Kahlin Aboriginal Compound that had operated from 1913 to 1938.  The Compound was located near the military wing of the Darwin Hospital at the corner of Kahlin Avenue and Lambell Terrace Myilly Point.  In September 1940 the Rimington’s home at Myilly Point was the venue for a wedding reception.


Kahlin Aboriginal Compound Myilly Point Darwin in 1930.

Northern Territory Library photograph number: PH0171/0060


From a 1943 electoral roll entry Zeta Rimington was residing in Victoria with her parents at 17 Fairmont Avenue Camberwell and was occupied with home duties.  However, Lindsay Rimington was listed on another 1943 electoral roll as being a licensed surveyor residing at Darwin.  (As Captain GRL Rimington had been transferred to Victoria in December 1941, this electoral roll entry may have been an oversight.)


Support for the Emergency Mapping Program 1939

In May 1939 the Department of Defence moved to develop organisational arrangements for an Emergency Mapping Program to help meet Australia’s pressing strategic and defence needs for topographic information.  The Program was implemented in collaboration with the State mapping authorities and included the establishment of Command Field Survey Companies in several States.  In the Northern Territory this command was vested in a Field Survey Section.  In the Darwin area early work on the ground control surveys needed for plotting from aerial photography was undertaken by Lindsay Rimington (Lines, 1992).


Rimington’s method of latitude and longitude determination 1940

In 1940 as a staff surveyor with the Northern Territory Administration Branch, Lindsay Rimington was assigned the task of mapping some hundreds of square miles in the Newcastle Waters district about 400 miles south east of Darwin.  The country to be mapped comprised plains, dense thickets of lancewood and large patches of desert.  Topographic information was required with a view to future subdivision for rural purposes and included delineation of topographic features and identification of the different types of country.


Precise accuracy was not necessary for the survey as the margin of allowable error was 500 yards.  Thus, compass traversing combined with motor truck speedometer mileages would give the required accuracy provided good control points were available at approximately 20-mile intervals.  Astronomical observations would be used to provide the control points.  Prior to leaving Darwin Rim developed some novel adaptations of existing field methods for meridian transit observations to achieve speedy observations and computations.


A detailed account of the method Lindsay Rimington adopted for the Newcastle Waters work is provided at Rimington (1944) in the References.  The observation method had to achieve the following conditions:

·       determine latitude, longitude and true bearings to within 3" of arc

·       observation and calculation time not to exceed three hours with calculations being simple and self-checking

·       observations to be within the power of a 3½ inch optical micrometer theodolite.


After various experiments in Darwin, Rim developed a technique that achieved the following results on 11 July 1940:

·       1840 hours  ..observing commenced

·       2100 hours  ..calculations completed with the following probable errors:

·       Latitude       ..01.06" of arc

·       Longitude    ..00.20" of arc

·       Bearing        ..00.36" of arc.


As mentioned above, Lindsay Rimington developed his method of astronomical observations for latitude and longitude determination to provide control for minor traverses in the Northern Territory in 1940.  However, this method continued to be used by Nat Map to control the early 4 miles to 1 inch scale planimetric map series from 1948 to 1955 as little triangulation control was then available.  For more detail on the field routines involved see Ford (1974) in the References.  The 4 miles to 1 inch scale map series moved to decimal scale (1:250 000) in 1959 (Wise, 2011) and Nat Map and other mapping agencies continued using astronomical determinations for the survey control of this series until 1965 (Wise, 2011). Nat Map also used the Rimington method of latitude and longitude determination into the mid-1970s as a navigation aid. When levelling to Aerodist control stations in featureless country Nat Map's Geodetic Levelling personnel would check their position relative to the known coordinates of the Aerodist station being levelled to using the Rimington method (Murphy, 2019 and Allen, 2019).


Northern Territory Surveyor General 1939-1940

At age 31 years, Lindsay Rimington was appointed Surveyor General of the Northern Territory from 11 August 1939 until 1 May 1940.  Rim’s appointment was something of a stop-gap measure between the terms of office of two longer‑serving Surveyors General.  At the time of his appointment Rim was the only remaining staff surveyor in the Northern Territory Administration Branch.


Frank Pettinger Shepherd (1901-1939) had been appointed Surveyor General of the Northern Territory on 12 June 1931 following a distinguished surveying career in Western Australia.  Shepherd took leave in March 1939 owing to a trying illness; sadly, he died on 14 April 1939 at age 38 years.  With Frank Shepherd being too ill to continue duty, Ernest John Dowling (1891-1971) was appointed Surveyor General for the Northern Territory from 17 March 1939 until 10 August 1939.


During the week he was replaced as Surveyor General by Rim, Ernest Dowling departed Darwin on the Burns Philp vessel SS Marella.  (Dowling was an officer of the Department of Home Affairs/the Interior who had worked as an assistant to surveyor Thomas Alexander Vance on the transcontinental railway survey before World War I.  Dowling was registered as licensed surveyor in Victoria on 1 April 1916.  Later he served in France with the Australian Imperial Force during World War I and also served in the Army during World War II.)


Arthur Redvers Miller (1900-1990) replaced Rimington as the Surveyor General of the Northern Territory from 2 May 1940 and served in that position until retirement due to ill-health in February 1965.  Miller had been registered as a licensed surveyor in New South Wales on 17 June 1930.  Mt Redvers in the Lake Mackay region of the Northern Territory was named for him.


On 12 June 1941, Lindsay Rimington and John Driver were appointed as surveyors in the Lands and Survey Section of the Northern Territory Administrative Branch of the Department of the Interior under chief surveyor Arthur Miller; who was also appointed to that position on same day.  (It should be noted that the chief surveyor staff position was a separate appointment to Miller’s statutory appointment as Surveyor General of the Northern Territory.)


Stuart Highway Traverse 1947

Named for Scottish surveyor and explorer John McDouall Stuart (1815-1866), the Stuart Highway runs from Port Augusta through the centre of Australia to Darwin.  The Highway generally approximates the route of Stuart’s 1861-1862 crossing of Australia from Adelaide to near the mouth of the Adelaide River about 30 miles north east of the present-day Darwin.


In 1872 the overland telegraph line was completed; it generally followed Stuart’s route from Darwin to Port Augusta.  Afterwards a series of supply and station tracks developed along the telegraph line.  Following the outbreak of World War II, the Commonwealth government started to upgrade the track to an all-weather gravel road and by mid-1939 a coordinated military road freight service had been introduced between the railheads at Alice Springs and Birdum, just south of Larrimah.  Military convoys commenced in September 1940.


Military convoy on the Stuart Highway in the wet season circa 1942.

Image from Toursim NT on the Northern Territory Government website.


By mid-1942 the volume of military traffic on the Stuart Highway was such that the all-weather road was breaking up and a decision was taken to rebuild and seal the road.  As with the initial construction work, the rebuilding and sealing was carried out by the Department of Main Roads (New South Wales), the Country Roads Board (Victoria), the Highways Department (South Australia) and the Main Roads Commission (Queensland).  Sealing was completed in sections between June 1942 and December 1943.


In April 1945, Surveyor General Arthur Miller initiated work on a precise Stuart Highway geodetic survey that was to run along the Highway from Alice Springs to Darwin; a distance of nearly 1 000 miles.  The survey was endorsed by the Canberra-based Commonwealth Survey Committee.  At the time it was expected that the ambitious survey would be completed in 1947.  However, that proved not to be the case and in September 1947 with the survey having progressed nearly 400 miles it was hoped it would be completed in 1949.  Again, that did not eventuate and no record could be found of work on the survey continuing after September 1947.


The local and national press reported on activities with the Stuart Highway geodetic survey in 1945 and 1947.  However, no reports of work on this survey during 1946 were found through the National Library of Australia’s Trove newspaper search service.


Contrary to some reports, Lindsay Rimington did not commence the work on the Stuart Highway geodetic survey traverse.  When the survey started Rim was engaged in full-time Army service in Victoria.  Four surveyors were known to have been in charge of the field survey at various times.  These surveyors were: Julius Frederick Valentine (Jule) Knight and Richard David Tidy who commenced the work in April 1945.  Lionel Cedric Arthur Hope and Lindsay Rimington were reported as working on the survey during 1947.  Brief biographical information of the other three Stuart Highway traverse surveyors is provided in Appendix B.


These field surveyors worked under the general supervision of Surveyor General Arthur Miller.  Miller ceremoniously read the first angle at the survey start point at the John McDouall Stuart Memorial in Alice Springs.  Images of this memorial are provided below.


John McDouall Stuart Memorial Alice Springs in 1947.

Edward William Searle (1887-1955) image from National Library of Australia website.

NLA call number: PIC P838/158a.


John McDouall Stuart Memorial Alice Springs in 2015.

Chris McLauchlin image from Monuments Australia website.


The John McDouall Stuart Memorial was erected in Stuart Terrace near the old Alice Springs Hospital grounds in 1939 in what is now Stuart Park.  In 1940 Lindsay Rimington had accurately fixed the position of the Stuart Memorial monument by making observations on 32 pairs of stars.


The first planned section of the survey, from Alice Springs to Wycliffe was under the charge of Department of the Interior surveyor Jule Knight from Canberra.  The second planned section from Wycliffe to Elliott was simultaneously to be under the charge of another Department of the Interior surveyor Richard Tidy who was reported as also coming from Canberra.


At the time, the planned Stuart Highway geodetic survey was believed to become the longest continuous such survey ever undertaken.  In 1945 the Highway distance from Alice Springs to Darwin was 954 miles.  Generally, the survey work was undertaken between April and early November to avoid the extreme summer weather conditions and the wet season that were unsuitable for the fine precision necessary for the survey.  The survey was carried northward some 393 miles from Alice Springs to just north of Banka Banka.


The survey was marked with reinforced concrete posts placed at intervals along the survey with reference numbers painted on the road surface.  These posts were normally placed on the western side of the Highway at each angle and at the top of each rise.  The last marker post, number R602, was placed on the north side of the South Tomkinson Creek crossing about three miles east of Muckaty (Government) Bore and some 13 miles north of Banka Homestead.  Press reports on the intervals between the placing of the marker posts were inconsistent.  One report stated they were placed at every mile and at every angle but another report stated they were placed every 20 chains.


Assuming the press reports stating that 602 markers were placed over the 393 miles of the traverse were correct, the apparent average spacing was about every 1 100 yards (52 chains).  However, each of the four surveyors known to have worked on the Stuart Highway geodetic survey may simply have been allocated a block of numbers to use for the control station marker posts they personally positioned.  If that was the case it is uncertain that all 602 numbers related to posts on the ground as some allocated numbers may not have been used.  Conversely, if all 602 numbers were in fact used sequentially by the four survey parties on the survey, a fairly sophisticated numbering coordination process must have been deployed.  Unfortunately, the complete story was not uncovered during the research for this article.


Extract from R502 series1:250 000 scale topographic map sheet SE53-10 Helen Springs showing position of Stuart Highway survey marker R602 near Muckaty Bore.


Each of the marker posts placed during the completed work on the Stuart Highway survey was prefixed with the initial letter of the relevant surveyor’s surname as shown in Table 1 below.


Prefix letter



Lionel Cedric Arthur Hope


Julius Frederick Valentine Knight


George Robert Lindsay Rimington


Richard David Tidy

Table 1: Control Station marker post prefix letters used on Stuart Highway survey during 1945‑1947.

Sources: relevant R502 series map sheets and Hocking, 1985.


A few of the Stuart Highway survey control stations were plotted on some (but not all) of the relevant R502 series 1:250 000 scale topographic maps.  Other stations (again not all) were listed in the National Geodetic Database.  All known Stuart Highway survey control stations from these two sources are listed in Table 2 below.


Control Station



R502 series 1:250 000 scale map sheet

H 156*



SF53-09 Napperby

H 157



SF53-09 Napperby

H 163*



SF53-09 Napperby

H 175



SF53-09 Napperby

H 176*



SF53-09 Napperby

H 180*



SE53-14 Tennant Creek

H 197*



SF53-09 Napperby

H 198



SF53-05 Mount Peake

H 498



SF53-05 Mount Peake

H 522



SE53-14 Tennant Creek

K 100*



SF53-10 Alcoota

K 133*



SF53-09 Napperby

K 139*



SF53-09 Napperby

R 368



SF53-02 Bonney Well

R 383



SF53-02 Bonney Well

R 384*



SF53-02 Bonney Well

R 416



SF53-02 Bonney Well

R 420*



SF53-02 Bonney Well

R 430*



SE53-14 Tennant Creek

R 439



SE53-14 Tennant Creek

R 459



SE53-14 Tennant Creek

R 572



SE53-10 Helen Springs

R 574*



SE53-10 Helen Springs

R 592



SE53-10 Helen Springs

R 602*



SE53-10 Helen Springs

T 233



SF53-06 Barrow Creek

T 251



SF53-06 Barrow Creek

T 276



SF53-06 Barrow Creek

T 293



SF53-06 Barrow Creek

T 312



SF53-06 Barrow Creek

T 327



SF53-02 Bonney Well

T 336*



SF53-02 Bonney Well

T 344*



SF53-02 Bonney Well

T 353*



SF53-02 Bonney Well

Table 2: Known Stuart Highway geodetic survey stations 1945-1947.

Sources: Stations marked * were listed on R502 series map sheets.  Other stations were extracted by Paul Wise from the National Geodetic Database.


Locations of known Stuart Highway geodetic survey stations 1945-1947.

Annotated by Paul Wise 2019.


The Stuart Highway geodetic survey was said to be unique in Australia for the accuracy with which the positions of the permanent marks were determined.  During the survey the length of any line was not accepted unless it was proved to be better than half an inch per mile.  Each line was measured northward in links and checked southward in feet thus decreasing the possibility of error.


Measuring bands used for the chaining were made of a special alloy of nickel (about 36 per cent) and steel known as invar; the name being short for invariable.  An invar alloy band remained almost the same length despite considerable changes in temperature.  The coefficient of thermal expansion of an invar band was seldom more than 10 per cent of that for a steel band; typically, about 0.0000005 per 1° F.  The temperature range on the Stuart Highway survey was between 57°F (14°C) and 135°F (57°C).


Horizontal and vertical angles on the Stuart Highway survey were read with what were then very modern optical theodolites that read to one second of arc.  That meant a displacement of one foot at the end of a line of 30 miles would be detected by these instruments.  Despite the accuracy achieved by these theodolites, small errors could gradually accumulate.  To bring the survey back to its true azimuth, observations to circumpolar stars were taken at approximate intervals of 10 miles.  These astronomical observations corrected the azimuth to within half a second of arc.


When completed, the geodetic survey traverse along the Stuart Highway was to provide a basis for subsequent surveys to either the west or the east of north‑south Highway.  Also, height data provided by the survey was hoped to help explain the considerable variance in tidal ranges between northern and southern Australia.  The average tidal range in Darwin was 28 feet but at Port Pirie it was only three feet.  It was hoped in 1945 that the Stuart Highway survey would prove the route for a rail connection north from Alice Springs to Darwin.  However, that railway line was not completed until 2003.


From press reports, work on the Stuart Highway survey re-commenced in late April 1947.  However, it is not clear just how long the work had been in abeyance as no reports were found of work being undertaken in 1946.  From the 1947 press reports, it was then anticipated that the survey would not be completed until 1949.


As mentioned earlier, the two surveyors undertaking the work in 1947 were Lindsay Rimington then a staff surveyor with the Northern Territory Administration Branch and Lionel Cedric Arthur Hope from the Department of the Interior in Canberra.  Work on the Stuart Highway survey ceased in early September 1947 when Lindsay Rimington left to embark upon a career with National Mapping.


Later National Mapping work on the Stuart Highway 1950 - 1961

In 1950, a National Mapping field survey party led by Dimitrius (Jim) Fominas (employed as a geodetic survey computer) undertook Laplace astronomical observations at three Stuart Highway geodetic survey traverse stations, namely: H168 (at Tea Tree roadhouse), R602 (at the South Tomkinson Creek crossing about 13 miles north of Banka Banka), and T356 (a few miles north of Wauchope).  For further information see Hocking (1985) and Wise (2017‑2018).


During 1957 field survey operations a National Mapping Geodetic survey party under Reg Ford acting surveyor grade 1 completed a triangulation chain that included a section from Mount Ewart (north east of Alice Springs) to the Devil’s Marbles (Karlu Karlu).  The field party then undertook (ie marked, measured and observed) Nat Map’s first theodolite and Tellurometer traverse of some 13 survey control stations that extended for 175 miles north from the Devils Marbles to Powell Creek.  The observing party was led by Reg Ford and the Tellurometer party was led by Keith Waller surveyor grade 2.  North of Alice Springs both of these surveys were generally along the route of the Stuart Highway.  During both of these surveys (triangulation and traverse) several connections were made to the Northern Territory Administration’s Stuart Highway geodetic survey traverse of a decade earlier (see Ford, 1979).


Nat Map also observed stations from Darwin to Katherine in 1958 and undertook theodolite and Tellurometer traversing (with 30-foot towers) between Mataranka and Powell Creek in 1959 and 1961 (Ford, 1979).


In 1958, Cooma-based Snowy Mountains Hydro‑Electric Authority surveyor Frank Johnston who was on loan to Nat Map undertook Laplace observations along the Stuart Highway between Alice Springs and Darwin.  During this work Frank undertook Laplace observations at seven geodetic survey stations (McLean, 2017).


Rim’s Nat Map Years 1947-1968

On 15 May 1947 Lindsay Rimington’s promotion to the position of chief topographic surveyor in the Photogrammetric Survey Sub-section of the National Mapping Section within the Property and Survey Branch of the Department of the Interior was promulgated in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette.  However, Rim did not leave the Northern Territory to take up his Nat Map appointment, initially located in Canberra, until the second week of September 1947.


As chief topographic surveyor Lindsay Rimington was responsible for supervising and directing the activities of the Photogrammetric Survey Sub‑section.  Specifically he was required to plan and supervise geodetic and topographic surveys as well as map compilation from air photographs; research methods of field surveys and map compilation; and assist in the preparation of standard methods for the National Mapping Council.  As chief topographic surveyor in charge of the Melbourne office, Rim was directly responsible for the field activities conducted from Melbourne as well as the activities of the photogrammetric drafting section.


Lindsay Rimington established Nat Map’s Photogrammetric Survey Sub-section in Melbourne supposedly as a temporary measure pending the availability of suitable housing and office accommodation in Canberra.  However, owing initially to the wholesale movement of government departments and functions after World War II to Canberra from Melbourne (that had been the seat of the Commonwealth government from 1901 to 1927), accommodation in Canberra was not available.  By the 1970s attempts to relocate Nat Map’s Melbourne‑based activities to Canberra were frustrated to some extent by entrenched interests, union resistance and political lobbying.  As a consequence some national mapping activities continued to be based in Melbourne until December 1997, some ten years after the Division of National Mapping had ceased to operate as a unique organisational entity.


The initial structure for the National Mapping Section within the Department of the Interior had been promulgated in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette on 20 March 1947 and the availability of positions in that structure were advertised in the daily newspapers in March 1947.  Apart from Lindsay Rimington who commenced in September 1947, early staff in the Photogrammetric Survey Sub‑section commenced from March 1948.  (Known early Melbourne staff included Alan Thomson 11 March 1948, Dave Hocking and Don McKay March-April 1948, and Bob Robinson 24 June 1948; this list is not complete.)


One of Rim’s early administrative tasks was to obtain suitable office accommodation for the Photogrammetric Survey Sub-section.  In early 1948 Rim commenced his sub-section in a few rooms with the Department of the Interior in the old Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Company building (redeveloped in the early 1970s) at 303‑309 Collins Street (on the south west corner of Elizabeth Street).  By the end of 1948 the National Mapping office had moved into accommodation across the road at Burke House, 340 Collins Street Melbourne.  In late 1949, the Nat Map Melbourne office re-located to the All Saints Anglican Church Hall (Gregory Hall) in Chapel Street St Kilda East.  In 1959 the office moved to the Rialto Building at 497 Collins Street Melbourne where it remained until 1977, some 15 years after Rim had moved to Canberra as Assistant Director.


As further detailed in the following sections Lindsay Rimington undertook more than a senior management role in the early years of Nat Map’s Melbourne office.  Rim was also actively involved as a field surveyor in the early years of Nat Map’s topographic and geodetic surveys.  In the mid-1950s Lindsay Rimington was involved in the introduction of electronic distance measuring to Australia with early testing of both the Geodimeter and the Tellurometer.


At the personal level, Lindsay and Zeta Rimington made their Melbourne home at 25 Fairmont Avenue Camberwell; a few doors from Zeta’s parents’ home at 17 Fairmont Avenue.


Lindsay Rimington with Nat Map Melbourne staff at Gregory Hall St Kilda East in 1953.

Back Row (L R): Alan Thomson, Len Bently, Bert Reaby, Bill Trevena, John Evans, Ted Caspers, Jim Saunders, Phil Lennie, Bob Foster, Dave Hocking.

Centre Row (L-R): Bob Robinson, Keith Waller, Ken Johnson, Ben Kongings, Bill Stroud, Bill Dingeldie, Reg Ford, Joe Lines.

Front Row (L-R): Jeanette Phillips, Terry Kennedy, Jennifer Cowle, Norah Phillips, Lindsay Rimington, Claire Mather, Vi Palmer, Linda Mottus.

XNatmap image.


Astrofix field party 1948

In early May 1948, Lindsay Rimington led Nat Map’s first topographic survey party into the field to commence a program of astromomical observations to establish field control for the 1 inch to 4 miles scale planimetric map series.  (As mentioned earlier, this map series was later changed to metric scale and became the 1:250 000 scale R502 series.)  Initially the 1948 field survey party comprised Rim, Dave Hocking (field assistant-survey) and Don McKay (driver-survey).


The survey party left Melbourne on 3 May 1948 in a Chevrolet 1-ton truck.  At Quorn in South Australia the party boarded the Ghan for a two-day rail journey to Alice Springs.  The party then travelled along the Stuart and Barkly Highways to the Frewena roadhouse about 90 miles east of Tennant Creek.  Nat Map’s first survey control point, astrofix NM H1, was established by Dave Hocking on 13 May 1948 at Frewena.


During the 1948 field season the astrofixes were observed with a Wild T2 theodolite with a Mercer half‑second beat chronometer and a Doxa stopwatch used for timing the star transits.  The chronometer was compared before and after the observations against the one‑second beats of the time signals broadcast by the United States National Bureau of Standards (Department of Commerce.)  These time signals were broadcast from WWV near Beltsville, Maryland or from WWVH on the island of Maui in the then United States Territory of Hawaii.  The Nat Map field party received these signals on an Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd (AWA) model 3BZ wireless receiver (Hocking, 1985).


The first three astrofixes in 1948 were observed using the then well known method of position lines to obtain latitude and longitude.  A switch was then made to Rimington’s method of observing meridian transits for longitude and zenith distances for latitude which suited the clear skies in the latitudes of central Australia during the May to October dry season.  The advantage of Rimington’s method was that observations to 10 stars (5 pairs of north and south stars) could be done in 1‑1½ hours, starting soon after identifying Sigma Octantis which allowed the meridian to be set and the computations for three out of the five pairs were often completed during supper (Hocking, 1985).


Rim remained with the field survey party for two weeks presumably to instruct the other members and supervise the early work.  Dave Hocking and Don McKay then continued the 1948 field program on the Barkly Tableland, in the Gulf of Carpentaria and Victoria River districts and in the Tennant Creek area.  During this 1948 program some 66 astrofixes were observed, numerous barometric heights were obtained and aerial photographs were annotated with map detail to assist with the photo interpretation during map compilation back in the office (Hocking, 1985).


Lindsay Rimington (left) with Don McKay and their Chevrolet truck at the Devil’s Marbles (Karlu Karlu) on the Stuart Highway, Northern Territory in May 1948.

Dave Hocking image from XNatmap website.


Baromertric heighting 1948-1960s

From the start of Nat Map field survey work in 1948, Lindsay Rimington adopted a field program of barometric heighting of topographic features based on work published in July 1947 as Survey Heights by Barometer by the research physicist (Dr) Patrick Squires (1914-1990) then with the Division of Radiophysics in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (later CSIRO).


Nat Map continued to use these barometric field heighting techinques until the late 1960s.  The last known use of this technique for topographic features was in 1968 when a helicopter-supported barometric heighting field party under Nat Map senior surveyor Edmund Francis Norman Ted Seton (1920-1997) operated in the Onslow, Wittenoom, Nullagine, Marble Bar and the McLarty Hills areas of Western Australia.  (Nat Map, however, continued using barometric methods for the preliminary heights of Aerodist survey control stations until the end of that program in 1974.)


During Nat Map field work from 1948 to 1952 about 4 500 barometer spot heights were obtained.  These heights were observed at creek crossings, homesteads, bores, airstrips and generally along vehicle tracks at four mile intervals (every one inch on the maps then being prepared) (Hocking, 1985).


As well as for topographic mapping and International Civil Aviation Organisation 1:1 million scale aeronautical charting, these barometric heights were used for the University of Melbourne’s Geology Professor Edwin Sherborn Hills' relief model of Australia (constructed during 1942-1954 at a horizontal scale of 1 inch to 8 miles and a vertical scale of 1 inch to 1 000 feet) and for sub artesian water table studies and for determining river gradients (Hocking, 1985; Wise, 2016-2017).


In 1948, atmospheric pressures were read from a battery of four Short and Mason 5-inch aneroid barometers and in later seasons altitudes were observed from Kollsman aircraft type altimeters (Hocking, 1985).  By the 1960s Mechanism Limited electrically switched precision aneroid barometers were being used in the field by Nat Map.


The 1948-1952 field observation method relied on the usually smooth pressure gradient during the dry season over the low relief of central Australia.  Heights were obtained using a long-range barometer heighting method of interpolating from three selected meteorological stations roughly 400 or so miles apart; for example Tennant Creek, Mount Isa and Alice Springs for heighting in, say, the Sandover River area.  The original Kew mercury barometer atmospheric pressure readings were obtained from the Bureau of Meteorology, corrected for index error, gravity and temperature then plotted as time-pressure curves for the three selected stations to allow pressures to be read for any particular time.  Simple analysis of the pressure in a specified plane above the field observation which when compared with the pressure recorded at the field station gave a pressure difference and hence the field station height (Hocking, 1985).


The accuracy of barometric heighting for topographic features in the late 1940s and early 1950s was difficult to assess.  However, comparison of heights obtained for the same point on different days, even different years agreed usually within 15 metres.  However, there was considerable demand at that time for such height information and as Hocking (1985) remarked: maybe it was the case that anything was better than nothing.


National Mapping Council meeting attendance 1947-1961

The National Mapping Council was formed in March 1945 to coordinate the post-war topographic mapping activities of commonwealth and state government mapping agencies.  The Council comprised the heads of these agencies and from 1958 and 1961 respectively included the Director of Survey‑Army and the Hydrographer, Royal Australian Navy.  From 1979 the Surveyor General of the Northern Territory was a member of the Council.  The Council was chaired by the Director of National Mapping.  (From 1988 the Council was replaced by an Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping.)


As listed in Table 3 below, between 1947 and 1962 Rim attended nine meetings of the National Mapping Council in the capacity of an observer.  However, in this capacity it is most likely that Rim would have contributed to the Council’s discussions in areas were his expertise was of assistance.


NMC Meeting Number

Meeting Year

Meeting Place




























Table 3: Lindsay Rimington’s National Mapping Council meeting attendance.


National Mapping Council Technical Sub-committee

The Technical Sub-committee’s role was to provide a forum for National Mapping Council member organisations to consider current and emerging issues of a technical (rather than policy) nature that were of interest to members and to share information and experience on cartographic and survey topics and related equipment matters.  The Technical Sub-committee’s membership was drawn from National Mapping Coucil member organisations.  Observers from these or other relevant organisations also attended the annual meetings of the Sub‑committee.  As with the National Mapping Council, Sub-committee meeting venues were rotated between member organisations.


Lindsay Rimington attended the inaugural meeting of the National Mapping Council’s Technical Sub-committee that was held at Wentworth House in Collins Street Melbourne in November 1948.  That meeting of the Sub‑committee was chaired by Bruce Lambert, then Deputy Director of National Mapping.  Lindsay Rimington became chairman of the National Mapping Council’s Technical Sub-committee in the early 1950s (possibly after Bruce Lambert became Director of National Mapping in 1951).  Rim held the Technical Sub-committee chairman position for many years.


Geodetic Survey 1948-1961

From 1948 until early 1954, in addition to his other responsibilities Lindsay Rimington had a hands-on field role in Nat Map’s early geodetic survey activities.  Highlights of Rim’s early geodetic survey work are discussed in the following sections.


Bass Strait triangulation reconnaissance 1949

During February 1949 Lindsay Rimington carried out a reconnaissance for a triangulation scheme to connect the existing mainland geodetic survey in Victoria to the geodetic survey network in Tasmania.  Rim travelled to the Bass Strait to commence the reconnaissance onboard the Royal Australian Navy’s Grimsby-class survey sloop HMAS Warrego (II) under the command of Commander George Dalton Tancred DSC RAN.  To undertake the actual reconnaissance work Rim operated from Warrego’s survey tender (General Purpose Vessel 967) HMAS Jabiru.  Rim’s reconnaissance was carried out between existing geodetic stations on Wilson’s Promontory in South Gippsland via Deal Island in the Kent Group and Flinders, Hummock, Babel, Chappell and Cape Barren Islands in the Furneaux Group to existing geodetic stations in north eastern Tasmania (generally between Cape Portland and Launceston).


Royal Australian Navy personnel from HMAS Warrego and HMAS Jabiru placed brass survey plaques and 20-foot high quadrupod oregon beacons on a number of land features in Bass Strait.  Sites included the summits of Deal, Hummock, Babel, and Chappell Islands and on Mt Killiecrankie and Brougham Sugarloaf on Flinders Island.  This marking was undertaken in April-May 1949 but Nat Map had no intention to immediately observe this triangulation scheme; this was due to a lack of both finance and available suitable personnel.  The scheme was observed between November 1952 and April 1953 (Ford, 1979).


More information on Lindsay Rimington’s 1949 Bass Strait triangulation reconnaissance is provided at Appendix C.


Eyre Peninsula triangulation 1951

In early October 1951 National Mapping’s first observing work for the Geodetic Survey of Australia commenced with a second-order triangulation chain from southern stations on a Royal Australian Survey Corps triangulation chain midway down South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.  In mid-September 1951 Lindsay Rimington carried out a reconnaissance for some 18 new stations in a area bounded by Port Lincoln, Kimba, Arno Bay and Cowell.


Marking of the new stations with 20-foot wooden quadrupod beacons took about a fortnight.  During this marking activity Rim remarked: You are armchair surveyors no longer.  He was referring to the fact that there were no hill climbs or long walks during Nat Map’s astronomical observations work.  After the beaconing was complete, Rim gave a short demonstration of the observing routines required with the Wild T2 theodolites.  Rim then returned to Melbourne leaving senior draftsman Joe Lines in charge of the field survey (Ford, 1979).


Bass Strait triangulation 1952-53

During late 1952 and early 1953, Nat Map observed the geodetic triangulation connection across Bass Strait for which Lindsay Rimington had carried out the reconnaissance in 1949.  The first phase of the observing was from South Gippsland to Deal Island.  In November 1952, the ground mark was found to be missing at the primary control station on Mt Fatigue about seven miles north of the small South Gippsland town of Toora.  Under the supervision of Lindsay Rimington, this control station was relocated by resection from a number of lower and similar order points on the surrounding hills (Ford, 1979).  No record was found of Lindsay Rimington having any further part in the field work for observing this Bass Strait geodetic connection.


Unimet beacons on the Adelaide River-Pine Creek area triangulation 1953

In 1953 a Nat Map field survey party under senior surveyor John Hunter established a small triangulation scheme in the Adelaide River-Pine Creek area of the Northern Territory.  This triangulation work was to provide horizontal and vertical control for geological and geophysical work by the Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics over the Ban Ban 1:63 360 scale map sheet.  Coordinates and heights were required for points on which BMR’s Shoran navigation equipment ground stations were to be sited.


The starting points of the 1953 Nat Map triangulation survey were stations on a 1870 triangulation scheme that had its datum point at the Darwin Pillar.  Wild T3 theodolites were used with the observations made to first-order standards so that they could be used when the primary geodetic survey eventually reached the area (some six years later).  The field party had some prefabricated Unimet beacons with bondwood vanes that had been designed byLindsay Rimington.  Unimet was a brand name for light, slotted angle iron used for shelving and other purposes.  It came in standard 10-foot lengths.


As discussed under Shoran mapping control 1954 below Nat Mappers Lindsay Rimington and draftsman Bob Robinson were involved in the mapping aspects of this BMR project along with the Bureau’s supervising geologist Ted McCarthy.


A Unimet beacon on the Adelaide River triangulation survey in 1953. XNatmap image.


Arrival of senior surveyor to lead geodetic survey activities 1954

In February 1954, Howard Angas (Bill) Johnson MBE (1907-1990) joined National Mapping’s Melbourne office as senior surveyor to take charge of geodetic surveys.  Licensed as a surveyor in South Australia in 1930, Lieutenant Colonel Johnson had joined the Royal Australian Survey Corps in 1936.  From 1950 he had been Commanding Officer and Chief Instructor at the Corps’ School of Military Survey at Balcombe, Victoria.


Colonel Johnson was well known to both Nat Map’s Director Bruce Lambert and to Lindsay Rimington (Ford, 1979).  Owing to HA Johnson’s skill, experience, drive, dedication and single-minded approach to seeing the Geodetic Survey of Australia completed, Lindsay Rimington was able to step back from his earlier higher-level of involvement with this activity.


Intoducing tepee type observing screen frames 1954

In 1954 Nat Map observed the Carrieton to Marree triangulation scheme in South Australia.  Preparations in Melbourne for this survey around May 1954 included the manufacture of observing screen frames and the designing and purchasing of duck observing screens to fit the frames.  The tepee type screen frames were designed and made from dural tubing (duraluminium is an aluminium alloy hardened with copper, manganese and magnesium).  The design and fabrication of the frames was done by Lindsay Rimington who had a very good workshop at his Camberwell home.  The prototype frame was not stable enough on windy hills but modification in the field soon turned it into a very useful piece of equipment that was little changed during the time Nat Map’s Geodetic Survey Branch remained in Melbourne until the end of 1969 (Ford, 1979).


A Rimington type typee-framed observing screen at a survey station on Nat Map’s Great Australian Bight survey in 1961.  XNatmap image.


Introduction of Geodimeter electronic distance measuring 1954

Lindsay Rimington was at the forefront of the introduction of electronic distance measuring to Australia.  In 1947 Swedish physicist Erik Östen Bergstrand (1904-1987) of the Geographical Survey of Sweden carried out field tests with his experimental high frequency light beam laboratory instrument that measured the speed of light.  In 1948 Bergstrand approached the Swedish company AGA (Aktiebolaget Gasaccumulator) to help improve and commercialise his apparatus.  In the early 1950s AGA used Bergstrand’s concept to develop an instrument called a Geodimeter that was to bring electronic distance measuring to the surveying world.


Prior to Nat Map receiving a Geodimeter, Lindsay Rimington studied available documentation about the instrument (Lines, 1992).  In May 1954, soon after the receipt of Nat Map’s first Geodimeter, a type NASM-1 instrument, at its office at Gregory Hall St Kilda East, Rim and Nat Map surveyor Charles Keith (Keith) Waller (1922-2014) conducted familiarisation tests near Melbourne to determine suitable operating procedures and to obtain a working knowledge of this electonic distance measuring instrument that was entirely new to the surveying profession (Ford, 1979).


It was found that a strong steel table on which to mount the Geodimeter would have to be designed.  The instrument weighed some 200 pounds.  The table would need to be triangular in shape and the top would need to have the capability of being roughly levelled when the table was set on uneven ground.  A 12-feet by 12-feet Auto tent was required to shelter the instrument.  Also a vehicle with a long wheel base capable of providing a reasonably gentle ride over corrugated roads was required for transport.  A two-wheel drive International panel van was selected as the most suitable vehicle for this purpose (Ford, 1979).


In August 1954, Keith Waller (Nat Map 1954-1959) commenced Australia’s operational survey use of the Geodimeter.  Initially this was to re-measure the Carrieton Base in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia.  This base was one of several geodetic baselines initially measured by the Australian Survey Corps just before the start of World War II.  During the 1954 Geodimeter field work Keith Waller was assisted by surveyor Trevor Maxwell Austin (Nat Map 1954-1955) and by field assistant Norm Hawker.  Over the next few years Keith Waller used the Geodimeter to carry out the measurement of various baselines and triangle sides in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland.  The locations included Cockburn, Benambra, Melbourne, Mildura, Ouyen, Thorpdale, Somerton (NSW), Jondaryan, Mt Ainslie (ACT) and Glen Waverley (McLean, 2014).


Nat Map surveyor Keith Waller operating the NASM-1 Geodimeter in the early 1950s. XNat Map image.


Shoran mapping control 1954

The use of Shoran radar technology for controlling aerial mapping photography and for the geodetic survey of Australia had been considered during the mid to late 1940s.  However, as detailed at Appendix D, after extensive testing the use of this technology was abandoned due to concerns with obtainable accuracy, costs and other matters.  Nevertheless, during the early 1950s the Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics used Shoran positioning for various aerial survey searches for minerals.  These surveys included searches for uranium in the Rum Jungle area of the Northern Territory and in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, for oil in the Gippsland region of Victoria and in the Canning Basin of Western Australia, for iron ore on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, and for copper on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia (Bennetts, 1954; Wise, 2016).


In 1954, Lindsay Rimington was involved with the first Australian application of Shoran for mapping control in a project over the Pine Creek 1:253 440 (1 inch to 4 miles) scale map sheet area of the Northern Territory.  Accurate planimetric maps were required as a base for prospectors’ charts at a scale of one mile to an inch.  These charts depicted radioactive anomalies obtained from airborne scintillometer surveys conducted by the Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics.


For this mineral survey, the airborne equipment, including the Shoran was carried by the Bureau of Mineral Resources’ Dakota aircraft VH-BUR.  Two Shoran vehicle-borne responders provided fixed ground control.  The Shoran units were loaned by the Radiophysics Laboratory of CSIRO, Sydney and were the units previously used on the 1948-49 evaluation trial described in Appendix D.


The Bureau of Mineral Resources undertook to provide Shoran controlled aerial photographs for the purpose of laying down maps.  By basing the control runs on the same Shoran beacons as controlled the scintillometer runs, close relationship between the anomalies and the planimetric detail was assured.  The area to be mapped was already covered by photography for mapping purposes, so it was not necessary to use the British system of fixing each exposure by radar.  Instead, a Williamson F24 vertical camera was installed in the BMR aircraft and control runs of over­lapping F24 photos were flown.  These runs were flown round the perimeter of each one mile area and north and south across the centre.  It was then a simple matter to transfer the principal points of these photos on to the plotting photographs to obtain control points (Rimington et al, 1954).


The Bureau Mineral Resources was happy with the outcome of the 1954 survey as the Shoran equipment helped pin-point radioactive areas sufficiently accurately to enable ground parties to locate them.  Thus Shoran reduced ground surveying to a minimum and greatly sped up the rate at which an area could be investigated.


However, at the conclusion of this 1954 survey project it was not possible to state definitely the value of Shoran for map control as applied in that project as too many of the deciding factors are of doubtful quality.  The direction of error in the great majority of discarded points was such that the error source could be in the values computed for the beacons or the poor intersections of the rays fixing the point.  Better results were obtained than could be expected with a comparable density of astronomical fixes, and of course the cost in time, manpower and money of regular ground survey methods of higher accuracy would be prohibitive in the type of country and for such a project (Rimington, et al, 1954).


Tellurometer deployment and review 1957

Lindsay Rimington was also greatly involved in Nat Map’s early use of the Tellurometer.  In late April 1957 Nat Map’s Canberra office took delivery of the Division’s first set (master and remote) of the Tellurometer secondary radar‑based electronic distance measuring equipment.  The Tellurometer had been developed by Dr Trevor Lloyd Wadley of the South African Council of Scientific and Industrial Research's Telecommunications Research Laboratory.  The Nat Map Tellurometer set was initially tested in the Canberra area and then despatched to Brisbane for display and demonstration to National Mapping Council members who were holding their 15th meeting there during 8-9 May 1957 (Rimington, 1957).


Afterwards the Tellurometer was sent to Nat Map’s Melbourne office from where it underwent field testing from 24 May to 7 July 1957.  During that period Rim was responsible for developing Tellurometer operating procedures, conducting accuracy and range tests, and arranging back-up servicing. Rim's Tellurometer testing in Victoria included lines between survey control stations that were between 15 and 44 miles in length. For short line testing Rim used a very good miniature baseline of 6 900 feet at the Army School of Survey at Mt Martha (Rimington, 1957). Here Rim worked with the Royal Australian Survey Corp's Jim Stedman (1922-2000) who as Colonel Stedman went on to become Director of Military Survey from 1975-1978 (Skitch, 2019).


In September 1957 Nat Map deployed the Tellurometer model MRA1 instrument set to establish a precise point-to-point geodetic traverse from the Devil’s Marbles (Karlu Karlu) along the Stuart Highway to Powell Creek in the Northern Territory Australia.  Nat Map’s initial Tellurometer field surveyor was Keith Waller (Ford, 1979).


During National Mapping’s first field season of Tellurometer measuring in 1957, Lindsay Rimington believed reservations that existed about the use of Tellurometer trilateration for the national geodetic survey needed to be tested in the field (Lines, 1992).  Accordingly, Tellurometer test measuring was undertaken over a five-sided polygon figure in the Wauchope-Devil’s Marbles area of the Northern Territory.  All sides in the figure were measured and all horizontal angles observed to first-order standards (Lines, 1992).


Later Rim and Keith Waller devoted considerable time to researching the results obtained during the 1957 field traversing and testing and from further tests carried out at the Carrieton (South Australia) and Benambra (Victoria) baselines.  The results of this research by Rimington and Waller were recorded in their paper: Trilateration with the Tellurometer, that was presented to the Conference of the Institution of Surveyors, Australia that was held in Brisbane on 26 May 1958.


Nat Map’s model MRA1 Tellurometer at Wycliffe Sandridge in September 1957. XNatmap image.


From 1957, at Lindsay Rimington’s direction Nat Map’s Geodetic Survey Branch took every opportunity to complete Tellurometer measurements along various baselines and along a test line that had been set up close to Melbourne.  During Nat Map’s geodetic survey field activities in 1958, 1959 and 1960 the triangulation method continued to be used.  But from 1961 to 1965 Nat Map used Tellurometer trilateration and theodolite observations to complete Australia’s precise point-to-point geodetic network (Ford, 1979).


Supervising Surveyor circa 1958

In the late 1950s (possibly 1958) the Commonwealth Public Service redesignated chief surveyor positions as supervising surveyor positions.  Accordingly from about 1958 Lindsay Rimington was supervising surveyor of Nat Map’s Melbourne office.


Lindsay Rimington’s international activities 1959-1967

As outlined below, Lindsay Rimington was an active participant at several high-level international conferences on surveying and mapping related matters:

·       In 1959 Rim was invited by the American Geophysical Union to attend a Symposium on Electronic Methods of Distance Measurement.  The symposium was held under the auspices of the International Association of Geodesy at Washington DC in May 1959.  At the symposium Rim reported on the use of Tellurometers in the geodetic survey of Australia.  He was elected chairman of a subgroup at the symposium that examined Applications to Geodetic Measurements.

·       In 1961 as the Australian delegate Rim attended the 3rd United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for Asia and the Far East that was held in Bangkok, Thailand during 27 October - 10 November 1961.  At this conference Rim reported on cartographic activities in Australia and was also elected chairman of Committee 1-Geodesy which was one of several conference committees.  At the conference Australia proposed the formation of a committee to examine the feasibility of a geodetic connection between Europe, Asia and Australia.  Rim’s report on this conference is held in the National Library of Australia.

·       In 1962, as the Australian delegate, Rim attended a United Nations Technical Conference on the International Map of the World on the Millionth Scale that was held at Bonn in the Federal Republic of (West) Germany during 3-22 August 1962.  This conference was attended by some 188 cartographers and diplomats from forty-two countries and four international organisations and included an exhibition of several hundred 1:1 million scale maps published since the late 19th Century.  Rim was elected Rapporteur for the conference and was respected for his contributions.  The conference dealt with tensions over the purpose of the IMW series and production specifications.  [The series was first proposed by German geographer Albrecht Penck at an International Geographical Congress held at Berne in Switzerland in August 1891 and had been the subject of international conferences in London (1909), Paris (1913) and London (1928).]  The outcome of the 1962 Bonn conference was a loosening of IMW specifications to enhance flexibility and economy.  Symbol use was made less rigid, certain colours and variations were made optional and the precise limits of sheet boundaries became national decisions.  [At the 11th United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for Asia and the Pacific held at Bangkok in January 1987 it was decided the IMW series was no longer relevant.  Nat Map ceased production of Australian IMWs in 1987.]

·       Rim was the Conference Manager for the 5th United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for Asia and the Far East that was held in Canberra during 8-22 March 1967.  The eight conference plenary sessions were held at the Australian Academy of Science in Gordon Street Acton.  The conference was opened by the Rt Hon David Fairbairn DFC MHR, Minister for National Development.  Robert William McGregor (Bill) Boswell OBE, Secretary of the Department of National Development was elected conference president.


Rimington Family move to Canberra 1962

The final six years of Rim’s Nat Map career were in Canberra where Rim and his wife Zeta made their family home for the remainder of their lives.  On 13 July 1961 Lindsay Rimington’s promotion to the newly created position (No 17) of Assistant Director in the Executive Branch in Canberra was promulgated in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette.  However, Rim did not move to Canberra until mid-1962.


Electoral roll entries between 1963 and 1980 show the Lindsay and Zeta Rimington made their family home at 14 Clarke Street Yarralumla, a high-set residence near Stirling Park on the southern shore of Lake Burley Griffin about a mile west of old Parliament House.  (Lake Burley Griffin was filled in 1964 following construction of the Scrivener Dam on the Molonglo River that had commenced in 1959.)


National control levelling contracts 1962-1968

While still based in Melbourne (prior to moving to Canberra as Nat Map’s initial Assistant Director in 1962), Lindsay Rimington planned and organised an accelerated national program of control levelling surveys.  For this major national program Rim worked in cooperation with the officers of the various State Lands Departments.  The resulting levelling surveys and associated tide gauge observations were used to determine the Australian Height Datum in May 1971 under the auspices of the National Mapping Council.


Thousands of miles of levelling to differing standards had been undertaken by the several surveying authorities in Australia up to the mid-1950s.  But control levelling (ie precise levelling to first, second or third-order standards) with permanent bench marks placed at adequate intervals had a slow start.  Prior to 1956, about 3 000 miles of control levelling had been completed in three of the six states of the Commonwealth.  Between 1956 and 1960 an additional 10 000 miles were levelled and by the end of 1966 the total amount of control levelling had reached some 76 000 miles and covered the whole continent (Leppert, 1967).


Under the Petroleum Research Subsidy Act 1959 the Commonwealth government made funds available to Nat Map to advance the national levelling program using private sector contractors.  Lindsay Rimington led Nat Map’s resultant levelling program and, in conjunction with the State Surveyors General, selected the routes for the levelling traverses.  The placing of permanent bench marks and the actual levelling was carried out by contract surveyors supervised by the Surveyor General of the relevant State.  All of this third-order levelling work was observed with automatic levels that have a light stabiliser system (of prisms and a damper) that provided a horizontal line of sight provided the instrument was appropriately levelled on its tripod (Anonymous, undated B).


Bruce Lambert, then Director of National Mapping opted for a national control levelling network to third-order standard after giving due consideration to economy, efficiency and the degree of precision needed for national mapping purposes.  Lambert recognised that national control levelling to higher standards would take many more years to complete, would involve the placing of many more permanent bench marks and be several times more expensive.  Lambert also recognised that disturbances and movements in the Earth’s crust over time would impact more on a high precision levelling network such that it could involve a perpetual need for re-observations (Lambert, 1989).


The third-order national control levelling by contractors comprised four phases:

·       selection of levelling traverse routes

·       installation of permanent bench marks along these routes

·       actual levelling between the permanent bench marks

·       supervision, checking and recording of the actual levelling work carried out as above.


Before this work could begin Lindsay Rimington had to devise suitable contract arrangements with the Commonwealth Contracts Board, the States’ Surveyors General offices and the Institution of Surveyors, Australia.  Rates for the contracts were decided on a sliding scale from flat to hilly terrain and on the number of instrument set-ups per mile.  In 1962, the first six of these contracts totalling about 500 miles were let in Victoria (Lines, 1992).


Some of the this levelling work was undertaken by the Department of the Interior and some of the bench mark installation (including across the Simpson Desert) was undertaken by the Weapons Research Establishment (Lines, 1992).


By 1970 the national contract levelling program over mainland Australia was complete except for the challenging third-order connection across the Simpson Desert between the Pedirka siding on the old Port Augusta to Alice Springs Ghan railway line in South Australia and the far western Queensland township of Birdsville.  This connection involved a distance of about 300 miles and some 1 100 sandhill crossings.  The connection was made between May and July 1970 by South Australian contract surveyor John Gibson (1929-2014) with assistants Roger Wreford, Ron Burge and Larry Yeates (Gibson, 1997).



A glimpse of the Simpson Desert level traverse route taken by surveyor John Gibson’s party in 1970.  XNatmap image by Laurie McLean 2009.


By the end of 1970, about two years after Lindsay Rimington had retired, some 100 000 miles of third-order control levelling had been completed.  Some 232 contracts for bench marking and levelling had been arranged at an overall cost of almost $2 million.  Nearly 60 500 miles of primary levelling contributed to the determination of the Australian Height Datum 1971 that was defined as the datum surface derived from a simultaneous adjustment of the two-way levelling network holding 30 tide gauges fixed at their mean sea level values (Wise, 2014).


Professional affiliations

Lindsay Rimington was an active member of the Institution of Surveyors, Victoria for many years.  He joined the Victorian Division of the Institution of Surveyors, Australia when that national body was formed in 1952 through the federation of the Institutions of Surveyors in the six States.  In 1959 Rim was elected as a fellow of the Institution of Surveyors, Australia.  With his move to Canberra in 1962, Rim transferred to the Canberra Division of the Institution of Surveyors, Australia that was formed in the late 1950s.  Rim became the president of the Canberra Division in 1964.


Lindsay Rimington was also an active member of the Australian Institute of Cartographers and contributed technical papers to the Institute’s journal Cartography.


Published Papers 1944-1960

During research for this article the following published technical papers by Lindsay Rimington were discovered:

·       Latitude and Longitude Determinations published in The Australian Surveyor in June 1944

·       Application of Shoran to Australian Mapping (with Florence Edward McCarthy and Robert Arnold Robinson) published in Cartography December 1954

·       Report on Tellurometer Tests published in The Australian Surveyor, December 1957

·       Introduction to the Geodimeter published in Cartography March 1956

·       Trilateration with the Tellurometer (with Charles Keith Waller) a paper presented to a Conference of the Institution of Surveyors, Australia, held at Brisbane on 26 May 1958

·       Report on Electronic Distance Measurements in Australia published in the Journal of Geophysical Research February 1960.


Retirement from National Mapping 1968

Lindsay Rimington retired from Nat Map in 1968 after his 60th birthday.  Rim and his wife Zeta continued to live at Yarralumla.  In retirement Rim’s interests included golfing; he was a member of the Royal Canberra Golf Club for some years.  Rim was also a member of the Canberra Yacht Club and a life member of the YMCA Yacht Club.  In retirement Rim designed and made headsails and jibs for several classes of racing dingies (Anonymous, 1992).


Rimington Bluff Antarctica 1973

Some five years after Rim’s Nat Map retirement, the Antarctic land feature Rimington Bluff was named for Lindsay Rimington as Assistant Director of the Division of National Mapping in the Department of National Development from 1961 to 1968.  The then Antarctic Names Committee of Australia named the Bluff for Rim in November 1973 following a place name proposal from Nat Map surveyor John Manning who had earlier identified the feature during field survey work in Antarctica.


Rimington Bluff is a rock feature in the Australian Antarctic Territory at the southern end of the Mawson Escarpment just south of Tingey Glacier (to the east of the Southern Prince Charles Mountains.)  Mawson Escarpment is a flat‑topped, west-facing escarpment that extends in a north–south direction for some 110 kilometres along the east side of Lambert Glacier in the Australian Antarctic Territory.  Rimington Bluff is located at 73° 35' 23" South Latitude 68° 22' 18" East Longitude and is some 700 kilometres south-east of Mawson Base as depicted in the second image below.


Looking north along Rimington Bluff in 2002.

Richard Stanaway image from Australian National University website.


Location of Rimington Bluff Antarctica.

Google image with additional annotations by Paul Wise 2019.



Lindsay Rimington’s wife Zeta predeceased him by some five years.  Zeta Rimington died suddenly at her family home in Clarke Street Yarralumla on 11 April 1987; she was around 73 years of age.  Zeta was survived by her husband and their four children George Peter, Michelle, Ann (Mrs Paul Ryan) and Allan and by six grandchildren.  Zeta’s funeral service was held on 14 April 1987 at St Luke’s Anglican Church 44 Newdegate Street Deakin; it commenced at 11 am.  Afterwards Zeta’s remains were conveyed to the Norwood Park Crematorium at Mitchell where a private service was conducted.  The ashes of Zeta’s remains were placed in the Peace Rose area (Garden 20).  Her funeral was arranged by Tobin Brothers Funerals of Kingston.


Lindsay Rimington died in Canberra on 30 September 1992; at age 84 years.  His funeral service was held on 6 October 1992 at St Luke’s Church Deakin; it commenced at 11 am.  Afterwards Rim’s remains were conveyed to the Norwood Park Crematorium at Mitchell where a private family cremation was conducted.  The ashes of Rim’s remains were placed in the Peace Rose area (Garden 20) where those of his late wife had been placed some five years earlier.  Rim’s funeral was also arranged by Tobin Brothers Kingston.


Lindsay Rimington (centre) with Bruce Lambert (left) and Bert Hurren (right) at a Nat Map function in Canberra, date uncertain. XNatmap image.





Appendix A


GRL Rimington Survey Field Books-Northern Territory 1939-1947


Field Book No

Survey Details

Survey Area



Pegging Road north of Allotments C2, C3, C4; Survey of Explosives Area


03 Jan 1939 – 28 Feb 1939


New Jail Section 2, Hundred of Bagot


04 Mar 1939 - 04 Mar 1939


Survey of Darwin Harbour; new aerial site at Civil Drome

Darwin Harbour

07 May 1939 - 08 May 1939


Portion of 840 and relocation of Section 837

Hundred of Bagot

29 May 1939 - 02 Jun 1939


Surveys in Hundred of Howard

Hundred of Howard

25 Jul 1939 – 09 Aug 1939


Surveys in Hundred of Howard

Control for Army manoeuvres area at Adelaide River

16 Aug 1939 - 16 Aug 1939


Town of Darwin and subdivision of Darwin

Pegging Sections 607 and 272

18 Aug 1939 - 04 Oct 1939


Hundred of Bagot

Howard Springs Pipe Line

14 Jun 1939 – 23 Jun 1939


Hundred of Bagot and suburban to Darwin

Section 60 and Section 343

04 Jun 1939 – 12 Jul 1939


Town of Darwin


27 Jun 1939 – 27 Jun 1939


No 7 and 9 Bore Newcastle Waters, Crawford's Grave, Beetaloo West Boundary, Johnston's Lagoon, Boundary Between Lots 3 and 4

Newcastle Waters

21 May 1940 - 17 Jun 1940


Newcastle Waters, Crawfords, Camp

Newcastle Waters

24 Jun 1940 – 25 Jul 1940


Topo sketches

Newcastle Waters

23 May 1940 - 05 Sep 1940


Traverse of Boundaries at Newcastle Waters

Newcastle Waters

18 Jun 1940 – 21 Aug 1940


Newcastle Waters

Newcastle Waters

07 Aug 1940 - 15 Aug 1960


Town of Katherine

New Katherine Aerodrome

18 Sep 1940 - 20 Sep 1940


Town of Alice Springs

New Alice Springs Aerodrome

10 Jan 1940 – 16 Dec 1940


Town of Alice Springs

Various lots and sections

15 Nov 1940 - 22 Jan 1941


Chronometer Record Norris and Campbell No 615


17 Nov 1940 - 11 Dec 1940


Umbeara Well

Umbeara Well (on Finke road about 30 miles south east of Kulgera)

15 Feb 1941 - 22 Feb 1941


Lot 4 Topo sketches

Newcastle Waters

08 Jul 1940 – 10 Jul 1940


Pt Station Boundary of PL 524

Helen Springs

15 Oct 1946 – 15 Oct 1946


Wycliffe Well

Wycliffe Well (on Stuart Highway about 58 miles north of Barrow Creek)

29 May 1947 - 29 May 1947



Rock Hill (about 7 miles north of Yuendumu)

28 Apr 1947 - 28 Apr 1947

Source: Extracted from search of Northern Territory Archives Service Series Id: NTRS 3786, Series Title: Surveyors's field books, surveyor's name series.




Appendix B


Surveyors known to have worked on the Stuart Highway Survey 1945-1947


As mentioned in the main text above, Lindsay Rimington worked on the Stuart Highway geodetic survey in 1947 prior to joining the National Mapping Section of the Department of the Interior in Melbourne.  Three other surveyors are also known to have worked on this survey at various times in 1945 and in 1947; namely: Julius Frederick Valentine (Jule) Knight, Richard David Tidy, and Lionel Cedric Arthur Hope.  Brief biological details for each of these surveyors are provided below.


Julius Frederick Valentine Knight (1909-1986)

Jule Knight was born at Drouin, Victoria to Frederick John Gregory Knight and his wife May née Dobson.  Knight met Melbourne surveyor Frank Doolan in 1925 and later became his articled pupil.  Jule Knight was awarded the Certificate of Competency (Credit) by the Surveyors Board of Victoria on 8 October 1929 (the same day as Lindsay Rimington).  Jule Knight was registered in Victoria as a licensed surveyor on 16 June 1930.  He worked with Frank Doolan on the construction of Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance in the early 1930s.  Later Jule Knight worked as a mining surveyor at Talbot, Victoria; Norseman, Western Australia; and at Captain’s Flat, New South Wales.


Jule Knight joined the Department of the Interior at Canberra in 1939 and undertook various survey tasks over the next decade or so.  These surveys included defence facilities in the various States and the Northern Territory, the first 100 miles of the Stuart Highway survey in 1945, Woomera Rocket Range surveys as well as residential subdivisions, and engineering and topographic projects in Canberra.  From 1952 Jule Knight became the Department of the Interior’s chief development officer in Canberra and from 1957 he undertook a similar role for the National Capital Development Commission before retiring on 18 June 1969; for more details please refer to Atchison (2007) in the References below.


Richard David Tidy (1900-1953)

Richard David Tidy was born at Maitland, New South Wales on 6 November 1900 to Richard David Tidy and his wife Janet Isobel Tidy née Moran.  The younger Richard’s parents later used different given names with his father known as David Richard and his mother as Jeanette Isobel.


Richard Tidy (junior) completed his secondary education at Christian Brothers College in Birrell Street Waverley where he obtained the Leaving Certificate at examinations held in December 1920.


On 11 February 1921, Richard Tidy signed a three-year indenture agreement with licensed surveyor William Aloysius O’Donnell to receive instruction in surveying.  On 25 May 1921, Richard Tidy registered articles with the New South Wales Board of Surveyors.  (WA O’Donnell had qualified as a surveyor in 1914 and in 1920 conducted business from premises in Katoomba Street Katoomba and at 49 Elizabeth Street Sydney.)  In March 1931 Richard Tidy passed a deferred Land Surveyors Examination for Australia and New Zealand that was held in the Surveyor General’s office in Sydney.  However, as noted below it appears that Richard did not become licensed to undertake property boundary surveys until 1946.


From an electoral roll entry, in 1931 Richard Tidy was then a surveyor residing with his parents at 2 Ruthven Street Waverley (Bondi Junction); a two-storey terrace house that is still standing.  On that roll Richard’s father David Tidy was employed as a tram driver and his mother Jeanette Tidy was engaged with home duties.


From an electoral roll entry for 1937, Richard Tidy, surveyor, and his wife Doris Alice Tidy, nurse, resided at the Don Hotel in Darwin.  The Don Hotel was located at the corner of Cavanagh and Litchfield Streets about a kilometre north-west of Stokes Hill Wharf; it took two direct bomb hits during the Japanese attack on 19 February 1942.


From field book listings in the Northern Territory Archives, Richard Tidy carried out numerous surveys in the Territory between August 1939 and June 1941 for the Northern Territory Administration Branch of the Department of the Interior.  These surveys were undertaken at Burnside Station (near Brock’s Creek in the Daly River district), around Darwin, Katherine, Newcastle Waters, Manton Dam catchment (Darwin’s World War II water supply), and at Alice Springs.  As noted in the main text above, Richard was engaged on the Stuart Highway geodetic survey traverse in 1945.


Don Hotel Darwin in 1939.

Lawrence Gearing image from Indicator Loops website.


On a 1943 electoral roll entry Richard and Doris Tidy resided at 31 Waterview Street, Kogarah and were occupied as a surveyor and in home duties, respectively.  On another 1943 electoral roll entry Richard Tidy was listed as a surveyor residing in Darwin.


On 19 July 1946, the New South Wales Board of Surveyors promulgated in the Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales the registration of Richard David Tidy under the provisions of the Surveyors Act 1929.  At that time Richard Tidy was residing at 31 Waterview Street, Kogarah.  Richard Tidy’s appointment as a mining surveyor under the Mining Act, 1906‑1946 was promulgated by the Minister for Mines in the Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales on 5 September 1947.


From an electoral roll entry, in 1949 Richard Tidy resided at 37 Mill Hill Road Bondi Junction, one block east of Ruthven Street.  No 37 was a two-storey free‑standing red brick house Cintra of late 1880s vintage, it is still standing.


Richard Tidy died suddenly at Darwin Hospital on 24 January 1953 at age 52 years and his remains were later buried at the Darwin General Cemetery (RC8).  Richard Tidy was survived by his wife Doris and their two sons Colin and Garth.  Doris Tidy worked as a Mental Health Nurse with the New South Wales Health Department between 1953 and 1968.  Doris Tidy died at the Cardinal Freeman Village Ashfield on 25 May 1985 at age 78 years.


Lionel Cedric Arthur Hope (1893-1967)

Born in Perth, Lionel Hope was the fifth child of Joseph Hope and his wife Annie Ledsam née Throssell.  Lionel was licensed in Western Australia in 1914 and worked on the Federal Capital Territory border survey during 1917‑1919.  He then returned to Perth and worked with his brother’s survey firm Hope and Klem and with the State Government until rejoining the Department of the Interior in Canberra in 1939.  Here he undertook numerous surveys in the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Woomera Rocket Range.


Between 1958 and 1962, Lionel Hope worked for the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board in Sydney.  Lionel Hope had enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in 1915 but did not serve overseas.  During 1942‑1944 he served part-time as a private with the 21st Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps in Canberra.  For further information please refer to Anonymous (1968) in the References below.





Appendix C


Lindsay Rimington’s Bass Strait Triangulation Reconnaissance 1949

Lindsay Rimington’s 1949 reconnaissance for a geodetic triangulation survey across Bass Strait was briefly mentioned in the main text above.  On the afternoon of Sunday 6 February 1949, Lindsay Rimington joined the Royal Australian Navy’s survey vessel HMAS Warrego (II) at Port Melbourne.  Rim then carried out a reconnaissance for a triangulation scheme to connect the existing mainland geodetic survey from Victoria to the geodetic survey network in Tasmania.  Warrego was under the command of Commander George Dalton Tancred DSC RAN (1907-1972).  (Commander Tancred was awarded an Order of the British Empire in December 1960.  In January 1945, as a member of the Commonwealth Survey Committee the then Lieutenant Commander Tancred attended a Conference of the Commonwealth Survey Committee and the Surveyors General of the Commonwealth and the States at Parliament House in Canberra.  That conference recommended a national scheme for the mapping of Australia to meet service and civilian purposes and co-ordinated by a National Mapping Council.)


HMAS Warrego (II) was a Grimsby-class sloop with a full-load displacement of 1 575 tons and a length of about 266 feet.  Built at Cockatoo Island Dockyard, Sydney was she was launched on 10 February 1940 by the then Mrs (later Dame) Pattie Maie Menzies (1899-1995) whose husband (Sir) Robert Gordon Menzies (1894-1978) was the then Prime Minister.  The Warrego had twin‑screws and her propulsion system comprised Parsons geared steam turbines with two Admiralty 3-drum water-tube boilers; she could make 17 knots.  During World War II Warrego served as a minesweeper, an escort vessel, a screening vessel and as a survey vessel.  She gained Battle Honours in the Pacific, Darwin, New Guinea, Lingyen Gulf (Philippines) and Borneo.  She continued to serve as a survey vessel after the war.  Warrego (II) was decommissioned on 15 August 1963 and was broken up for scrap at Rozelle Bay, Sydney in 1966.


Royal Australian Navy’s survey sloop HMAS Warrego (II).

Royal Australian Navy image.


Royal Australian Navy’s General Purpose Vessel 967 HMAS Jabiru at Gladstone Queensland in 1946.

Australian War Memorial image Accession Number P02305.096.


At 0900 on 7 February 1949 Warrego proceeded to its survey grounds in Bass Strait.  After surveying near Pyramid Rock Warrego rendezvoused with the survey tender HMAS Jabiru at Deal Island on 8 February 1949.  On 9 February 1949 Jabiru with Lindsay Rimington on board proceeded to carry out a reconaissance for the first-order triangulation from Wilson’s Promontory to north‑east Tasmania.  On Monday 28 February 1949 Jabiru and Warrego rendezvoused at Hummock Island.  Jabiru then carried out a reconaissance of the Flinders Island area for the first-order triangulation.


Lindsay Rimington’s disembarkation from Jabiru and Warrego was not recorded in the Warrego’s Reports of Proceedings, see Department of the Navy (1954) in the References.


On 28 March 1949, Warrego proceeded to Port Melbourne to embark Nat Map supplied beaconing materials for the Bass Strait triangulation.  The material was loaded on 30 March 1949.  During much of April and into early May 1949 officers and men from Warrego and Jabiru erected beacons for Nat Map on a number of land features in Bass Strait.  Brief details of this arduous work are provided below from the Warrego’s Reports of Proceedings.


Nat Map’s Dave Hocking at a quadrupod oregon beacon of the type placed by the Royal Australian Navy in 1949 for the 1952-1953 Bass Strait survey.

XNatmap image.


·       3 April 1949: HMAS Jabiru detached to transport two quadrupod beacons to Deal Island and South West Island.  A quadrupod beacon was erected on the summit of Hummock Island.

·       4 April 1949: a quadrupod beacon was erected on the summit of Hogan Island.

·       5 April 1949: Lieutenant NL Sanderson RAN and Lieutenant DM Norton RAN with a party of 27 hands erected a quadrupod beacon on the 1 100 foot southern summit of Curtis Island.

·       6 April 1949: Lieutenant GH McIntosh RAN led a party that erected a quadrupod beacon on the summit of Deal Island.

·       (12 April 1949: HMAS Warrego and HMAS Jabiru proceeded to Williamstown for fuelling and for Easter leave.)

·       20 April 1949: Lieutenant DM Norton RAN led a party that erected a quadrupod beacon on the summit of South West Island.

·       25 April 1949: Lieutenant NL Sanderson RAN and a party of eight men erected a specially designed metal beacon that had to be cemented to the solid granite summit of Pyramid Rock (240 feet) and the four-foot diameter metal vanes were secured with guy wires.

·       26 April 1949: Lieutenant DM Norton RAN and Lieutenant HWC Dillon RAN led a large party that erected a quadrupod beacon on the 1 040 foot summit of Mt Killiecrankie on the north west end of Flinders Island.

·       28 April 1949: Lieutenant NL Sanderson RAN led a party that erected a quadrupod beacon on Mount Chappell Island.

·       29 April 1949: Lieutenant DM Norton RAN and Lieutenant HWC Dillon RAN led a party that landed on Flinders Island and managed to position most of the quadrupod beaconing equipment on to Brougham Sugarloaf (1 400 feet).

·       30 April 1949: Lieutenant NL Sanderson RAN led a party of men that completed the erecting of a quadrupod beacon at Brougham Sugarloaf near the central western side of Flinders Island.

·       2 May 1949: Lieutenant DM Norton RAN led a party that erected a quadrupod beacon on the summit of Babel Island.



Appendix D


Shoran evaluation 1948-1949

From around the time of the formation of the National Mapping Council in 1945, the leaders of Australia’s military and civilian mapping organisations were looking to deploy the radar technology developed during World War II to assist in the mapping and surveying of Australia.  In 1945, radar was considered as a means of obtaining postion-controlled aerial photography (see Anonymous, 1945B).  But by late 1946, radar was being considered as means for undertaking the geodetic survey of Australia (see Anonymous, 1946).


In October 1946, the National Mapping Council appointed an advisory committee on the Radar Triangulation of Australia.  The advisory committee was chaired Dr Richard van der Riet Woolley (1906-1986), Commonwealth Astronomer and also included Dr Joseph Lade Pawsey (1908-1962) and Dr Jack Hobart Piddington (1910-1997) both of the Radiophysics Division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (later named CSIRO); Colonel Lawrence Fitzgerald (1903-1988), Director of Military Survey; and Bruce Philip Lambert (1912-1990), Deputy Director of National Mapping.  The committee was to advise on the practicability of using radar to create a framework of accurately surveyed points over the whole of mainland Australia.  Such a framework would enable all survey and mapping activities to be coordinated on a national basis.


The advisory committee arranged with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to carry out the necessary tests.  The Council had obtained a number of Shoran units.  Conceived in 1938 by Stuart William Seeley (1901-1978) an electrical engineer with the Radio Corporation of America, Shoran (Short-Range Aid to Navigation) measured distances by time differences in radio reception.  In mid-1940, Seeley proposed building Shoran for the United States Army Air Force and by late 1944 Shoran was deployed during Air Force operations in Italy.  In 1945 the Shoran line crossing technique was developed where the aircraft-mounted equipment would cross an imaginary line between two Shoran ground station responders.


The Australian tests were devoted to the establishment of basic control.  A test area existed in New South Wales where it was possible to measure all six lines of a quadrilateral where the position and lengths of the lines were fixed by existing triangulation.  This quadrilateral was located with vertices at Condobolin, Tamworth, Sydney and Canberra; the lines varied in length from 158 to 311 miles as depicted in Figure 1 below.


Figure 1: Map showing the 1948-1949 Shoran test quadrilateral vertices near Condobolin, Tamworth, Sydney and Canberra.

Source: Wise (2016).


John James Warner of the Division of Radiophysics in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research carried out the line measuring tests that took 18 months to complete.  The tests were supported by a Royal Australian Air Force Dakota aircraft.  However, the results were not satisfactory.  More than 150 line crossing measurements were taken over the six lines.  Overall an accuracy of about 7 parts in 100 000 or some 20 metres over a 300 kilometre line was achieved.  That accuracy equated to about 1:15 000 with the best result only 1:77 000.  The accuracy of an individual measurement on any one line was considered to be within about 7 metres.


Whilst these tests were being carried out, a representative of National Mapping acted as an observer, to try and gather some idea of the economics of the whole problem.  The facts that he gathered in regard to the operation of the equipment were such that the Advisory Committee on Radar Triangulation could not recommend the method as an economic proposition.


It was felt that the demands for money and manpower required to use Shoran for mapping purposes would be beyond the very tiny resources of the existing National Mapping Office.  Regretfully, the seven league boots of Shoran were placed in cold storage, and the classic methods of mapping control were continued (Rimington, et al, 1954).  (Seven league boots was a reference to European folklore and the words of several writers.)


In 1949 it was decided to abandon the use of Shoran for National Mapping’s geodetic survey work because:

·       the required accuracy was not attainable

·       extending radar trilateration over long distances into unsurveyed inland Australia without some intermediate or end geodetic based check or azimuth control was an unsound survey technique

·       the ground equipment was relatively bulky and heavy, and required heavy vehicle transport limiting the sites on which it could be located

·       costs were uncertain and beyond the financial and personnel resources then available to the National Mapping organisation (Lines 1992).







During the research for and the preparing of this article the following people generously provided assistance:

·       Ken Green, co-ordinator of Surveying New South Wales - The Pathfinders, Seniors Group of Surveyors, the Institution of Surveyors, New South Wales, Incorporated

·       Kaye Nardella, curator of the Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying, Brisbane

·       Paul Wise OAM, founder, operator, and editor-in-chief of the XNatmap website.

·       Karen McLean, daughter of the author, proof-read early drafts.

The author gratefully acknowledges the kind assistance provided by these people.



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