Frank Johnston

National Mapping Staff Surveyor


Image 1: Frank Johnston at Croydon, Victoria in May 2015.

(Jan Shaddick image.)


Frank Johnston is an experienced, field proven and academic surveyor who contributed professionally to the success of some of Australia’s significant and historic engineering, surveying and mapping endeavours.  Later, Frank contributed to the education and training of new surveying and land information professionals.


Frank worked with the Commonwealth Government’s Division of National Mapping over a period of about 16 years; of which only three years were as a staff surveyor.


Frank first worked with National Mapping during 1958 to 1960 on an on-loan basis from the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority undertaking Laplace astronomical observations at geodetic survey stations in remote areas.  From 1967 to 1970 Frank undertook geoidal profile observations for National Mapping under contract arrangements with the survey practice of LW Wordsworth and Associates of Young, New South Wales.  Frank eventually joined the Division of National Mapping’s staff on 5 April 1971 as a surveyor class 1 in the Airborne Horizontal Control Section (Aerodist) of the Control Survey Branch.  Frank left Nat Map in April 1974 to take up a post as a lecturer in surveying with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.


Frank’s Aerodist Years 1971-1974

During his time as a Nat Map staff member, Frank was based from the Division’s Melbourne office in the historic Rialto Building at 497 Collins Street towards the western edge of the central business district.  However, Frank spent much of his time undertaking field survey duties.  Frank was an Aerodist measuring field survey party leader from 1971 to 1973.


Back in the Rialto office at the conclusion of his various periods of Nat Map field survey duty, Frank managed Aerodist data reductions and field planning and preparation activities; supervising various staff members.


About National Mapping’s Aerodist Program

Between 1963 and 1974, the Aerodist airborne distance measuring system was used by Nat Map to obtain horizontal control for the compiling by photogrammetric methods of 1:100,000 scale topographic mapping over much of Australia’s mainland area.  The Aerodist system comprised master measuring units in a fixed-wing aircraft that interrogated microwave radio signals returned from remote transponders on the ground.  During a measurement the line between the ground stations was crossed by the aircraft at least seven times to comprise one complete measurement.  Depictions of the extent of Nat Map’s Aerodist measuring operations and a typical line measuring configuration are provided in Figures B1 and B2 in Appendix B.


Aerodist flying operations were fairly complex.  Prior to undertaking an Aerodist measuring flight, at least four (and sometimes up to six) separate two-man ground parties with microwave remote transponder units would be positioned on the ground at survey control stations.  In a basic configuration, the survey stations would be at the four corners of a quadrilateral that was one degree of longitude wide and one degree of latitude deep with each corner being close to the intersection of a degree meridian and a degree parallel.  The Aerodist quads were bounded by and connected to geodetic survey traverse stations such that the coordinated Aerodist survey stations would intensify the horizontal survey ground control needed for photogrammetric mapping.


As the Aerodist field survey party leader, Frank was responsible for managing day-to-day operations: planning the measuring flights; positioning the remote parties on the ground (mostly by helicopter); ensuring the resultant distance measurement charts were of usable quality; planning and undertaking spot photography of survey marks sorties; undertaking most measuring flights as either the master unit operator or as the ancillary data booker; attending to administrative matters; and providing periodical reports to the Melbourne office on work progress and planned field party movements.


The airborne Aerodist measuring workplace in the cabin of the chartered twin engine Grand Commander aircraft (VH-EXZ) had its own challenges with which Frank and others had to cope.  These challenges included being confined in the hot and stale air of the aircraft cabin for sometimes six, seven or more hours per flight.


Ensuring that the master and remote units were performing satisfactorily was a constant task before and during measuring runs.  Monitoring of voice communication over the Aerodist channel and separately over the high frequency radio and the in-cabin intercom with the pilot was required.  Both the master operator and the booker had to deal with a separate communication channel in each ear.  Another not infrequent issue was dealing with air sickness.


The main areas of Aerodist measuring operations when Frank was the field survey party leader were in the deserts of Western Australia and around Rabbit Flat in the Tanami desert in the Northern Territory during 1971 to 1973 and are shown in Figure 1 below.  Frank Johnston was one of the four Aerodist field party leaders during these years.  The other Aerodist field party leaders were Con Veenstra (1971), John Manning (1971) and Peter Langhorne (1972 and 1973).  (Figure 1 does not include Aerodist measuring operations during 1971 around Camooweal and over the Coral Sea.)


Frank Johnston’s Aerodist Field Work in 1971

Frank started his Nat Map Aerodist field work at Dubbo in May 1971 under then senior surveyor Con Veenstra.  Afterwards Frank worked with Aerodist under Con and John Manning from the isolated Rabbit Flat roadhouse on the Tanami Track in the Northern Territory.  Later in 1971 Frank relieved John Manning as the Aerodist field survey party leader at Christmas Creek homestead in Western Australia.


Afterwards Frank led Aerodist measuring operations from bases at Halls Creek, Balgo Mission and then from Camooweal in western Queensland.  During Aerodist operations from Christmas Creek homestead and later from Camooweal in 1971, Frank had to organise the ground recovery of several two-man remote parties when the chartered helicopter became unserviceable.  Such ground recoveries by motor vehicle were essential due to the limited food and water supplies carried by the remote parties.



Figure 1: Aerodist lines in Western Australia 1971-1973 that partly involved Frank Johnston’s field party leadership.

(Prepared by Paul Wise in 2017.)


From late September to the end of October 1971, Frank was involved in the major Aerodist measuring operation in the Coral Sea from bases at Cairns, Cooktown and Horn Island.  This survey was led by Con Veenstra and extended from Cairns about 450 kilometres east to Willis Island and from Cairns about 900 kilometres north to Daru Island (off the coast of Papua New Guinea about 200 kilometres north east of Cape York) and to Bramble Cay (about 75 kilometres south east of Daru).  It involved a survey party of around 25 people as well as aircraft pilots, a helicopter engineer, and ships’ crews.  The northern extent of the Aerodist Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea survey at the end of 1971 is shown in Figure 2 below.


The 1971 offshore marking and measuring operations were supported by three Navaids vessels from the then Department of Transport but principally MV Cape Pillar under Captain Gordon Maxwell and the MV Cape Don.  Each of these 2,000 ton vessels was equipped with a Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo (LARC).  The five-ton capacity LARCs were powered by V-8 Cummins diesel engines and on land had a four wheel drive configuration.


The MV Cape Pillar is shown in Image 2 below.  Image 3 below shows a LARC acting as a dry standpoint for an Aerodist remote unit at a sand cay in the Coral Sea during the 1971 Aerodist survey.  Note the Department of Transport Navaids vessel MV Cape Pillar (the mother ship) standing off the cay in the background at the right of Image 3.


Figure 2: Northern Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea Aerodist network at end of 1971.

(Prepared by Paul Wise in 2015.)


Image 2: Department of Transport Navaids vessel MV Cape Pillar.

(XNatmap image.)


Each Navaids vessel was also equipped with a launch.  The LARCs and the launches greatly assisted the Nat Map station establishment and remote measuring parties with landings on the various reefs and islets.  A survey party on Lizard Island was positioned by light aircraft and a remote unit party that occupied various survey stations on the Cape York Peninsula was positioned by chartered helicopter.


Image 3: A LARC assisting during the 1971 Aerodist Coral Sea survey.

(XNatmap image.)


Frank Johnston’s Aerodist Field Work in 1972

During 1972, Frank spent several months as the Aerodist field party leader in Western Australia where he was relieved from time-to-time by Peter Langhorne.  In that year, Frank ran the Aerodist measuring operations on the western edge of the Nullarbor Plain and in the Great Victoria, Gibson, Little Sandy and Great Sandy Deserts from bases at Caiguna, Rawlinna, Kalgoorlie, Carnegie homestead, Wiluna, Balfour Downs homestead and Kidson Field airstrip.  Image 4 below shows the Aerodist measuring aircraft (VH-EXZ) flying out of Wiluna Western Australia in 1972.  This twin engine Rockwell Grand Commander FL was chartered from the Melbourne based Executive Air Services.


An unprecedented 517 Aerodist lines were measured during the 1972 Aerodist field season.  However, much of the work in the later part of the season had not been fully planned for.  Thus Frank had to manage the positioning of aircraft and helicopter fuels, motor spirit and water for the field survey party’s movement northward from Wiluna to the Balfour Downs and the Kidson Field centre party bases and associated detached helicopter camps.  To fulfil this task Frank had to divert personnel and support vehicles from day-today measuring operations.


Image 4: Aerodist measuring aircraft VH-EXZ flying out of Wiluna Western Australia in 1972.

(Laurie Edebohls image.)



Frank Johnston’s Aerodist Field Work in 1973

In the winter of 1973, Frank led Aerodist measuring operations in western Victoria and southern New South Wales from bases at Mildura, Swan Hill and Horsham.  During this part of the field season, measuring operations were impacted by cold, wet weather that sometimes curtailed flying and also led to the need to recover the occasional bogged remote party vehicle.


In late September 1973, Frank relieved Peter Langhorne as field party leader at Esperance where he then led Aerodist measuring and Tellurometer traversing operations on offshore islands in the Archipelago of the Recherché east of the 123 degrees east meridian.  These operations included two or three ray theodolite intersections to some offshore features that could not be occupied.  This variety of survey methods was due to the nature of the topography and the prevailing sea and weather conditions.


Landings on most offshore features were always problematic and hazardous.  Only two of the islands had sheltered landing sites.  The remaining islands were mainly of smooth granite rock dipping sharply into the water, or with vertical cliffs or tumbled broken rocks.  The waves from the open Southern Ocean continuously broke over or swept around these exposed features.  The prevailing weather pattern was strong winds, rain and rough seas.  Generally fairly calm seas were only experienced on a couple of days each week.  See Image 5 below for a typical example of the islands in the Archipelago of the Recherché.


Several items of less valuable equipment were lost due to difficult landing conditions during the survey.  That the survey was completed at all was due solely to the calibre of the Nat Map boat party members and to the skill and seamanship of Hugh MacKenzie who skippered the 29-foot cray boat and dingy provided by his Esperance-based father Don MacKenzie who chartered the vessels to Nat Map for the survey.  On some boat journeys, Hugh was assisted by his younger brother Fud.


Of particular note was Frank’s leadership, skill and dedication in his role as the field survey party leader.  Fully appreciating the hazardous conditions and the risks involved Frank led from the front and personally went on most if not all of the more difficult boat trips.  He was an inspiration for other field party members and ensured that no unacceptable risks were taken in the generally hazardous conditions.  However, for a while on one rocky island Frank became completely occupied with his own personal safety.  He was forced to spend some time keeping out of the way of a bull seal that for some reason took strong exception when Frank inadvertently strayed into its territory.


Image 5: Wedge Island that was occupied during the 1973 Archipelago of the Recherché survey-seen here in 1984.

(Paul Wise image.)


Frank Johnston’s early years

Frank Leslie Johnston was born in Melbourne on 27 March 1933 at the Bethesda Hospital in Erin Street Richmond.  (In the shadow of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Bethesda Hospital site is now Victoria’s largest private hospital and is run by the Epworth Healthcare Group.)  Frank was the second born child of Charles James Rupert Johnston and his wife Linda Faye née Berriman.  Faye Berriman came from Moama on the Murray River opposite Echuca.  At the time of Frank’s birth, his parents lived at 4 Bambra Road Caulfield.  Frank had an older brother, Ronald who became a lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Western Australia based in Perth. Later Rupert and Faye Johnston had two daughters, Frank’s younger siblings Dorothy and June.


By 1929, Frank’s father, Rupert Johnston was a field officer with the Victorian Department of Agriculture and went on to have a long career as an entomologist in the Department’s Biology Branch.  On 14 June 1929, Rupert Johnston was one of several departmental lecturers at a Better Farms Train visit to Werribee.  The train comprised 18 cars and trucks containing agricultural and pastoral exhibits as well as numerous other items of interest to farmers and their wives.


The event was attended by hundreds of local residents and school children as well as the Victorian and several interstate ministers for agriculture.  Other dignities included local politicians; Commonwealth ministers and officials; the chairman of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research; the Victorian Railways commissioner, and General Sir John Monash, then chairman of the State Electricity Commission.


Rupert Johnston graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree that was awarded (in absentia) by The University of Melbourne on 22 December 1934.  As an agricultural scientist Rupert Johnston’s specialist field was economic entomology particularly in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley region.


From early in his professional career, Rupert was an active member of the Entomological Society of Victoria and on 4 May 1939 he was elected president at the Society’s twelfth annual meeting.  During his career Rupert Johnston wrote numerous papers on economic entomology topics, these papers were published in his Department’s Journal of Agriculture.  Topics included: Insect Pests of the Lemon (1951); Pests and Diseases of Lawns-with CR Millikan (1957); Biology and Control of Lucerne Flea (1960); and Light Brown Apple Moth on Vines and Citrus (1963).


Frank Johnston grew up in Melbourne where he started school at the Malvern East State School (No 4139) in Lloyd Street, East Malvern.  His final year of primary school (sixth grade) was at the Doncaster East State School.  Afterwards Frank attended Box Hill High School and then moved to Melbourne High School at Forrest Hill South Yarra to complete his Matriculation (sixth form or Year 12 in today's terms).


While at Melbourne High, Frank studied under the direction of two outstanding principals: firstly Major-General (Sir) Alan Hollick Ramsay CB CBE DSO (principal 1943-1949, knighted 1961) and secondly Brigadier George Furner Langley CBE DSO (principal 1949-1956, awarded a CBE in 1958).  Former Australian test cricket captain during the infamous 1932-1933 bodyline test series, William Maldon (Bill) Woodfull, was the vice-principal of Melbourne High during Frank’s years.  Woodfull went on to be principal of Melbourne High from 1956 to 1962 and was awarded an OBE in 1963.


At The University of Melbourne 1951-1955

In 1951, Frank commenced a Bachelor of Surveying degree course at The University of Melbourne in Parkville; he graduated in 1955.  At the University, Frank, studied astronomy under Associate Professor George James (Jim) Thornton-Smith.  For some further brief information on Jim Thornton-Smith please refer to Appendix A.  An electoral roll entry indicated that, while a university student in 1954, Frank resided in Woodhouse Road Donvale.


Surveyor Registrations

On 27 October 1957, Frank signed an agreement for training as a surveyor for formal registration and licensing purposes with registered surveyor David Nathan Hillan.  David Hillan was registered as a surveyor in New South Wales on 21 October 1952; in 1957 his address was care of the Survey Section, Snowy Mountains Hydro‑Electric Authority Cooma.  Frank Johnston’s surveyor registration training was not completed before he left the Snowy Mountains Authority towards the end of 1966.


On 4 October 1966, Frank’s training agreement was transferred to registered surveyor Larry Wallace Wordsworth of Young, New South Wales.  The necessary training was completed within the following 17 months and on 29 March 1968 Frank was issued with certificate of competency No 906 by the Board of Surveyors of New South Wales.  On 8 April 1968, Frank was formally registered as a surveyor under the provisions of the Surveyors Act 1929-1964 by the Board of Surveyors New South Wales.  (Notification of this registration was promulgated on page 2320 of Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales, Issue No 72, on Friday 7 June 1968.)


On 13 March 1975, Frank was also registered as a licensed surveyor under the Land Surveyors Act 1958 by the Surveyors Board of Victoria; Register No 1314.


With the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority 1956-1966

In 1956 Frank commenced work with the Snowy Mountains Hydro‑Electric Authority based at Cooma.  At the SMA, Frank worked in the Control Survey Section within the Survey Branch.  The Section’s role included the setting out and alignment of the Scheme’s major tunnels and dams and Frank provided survey control for these major engineering projects.


During his decade or so with the SMA, Frank Johnston used a variety of survey instruments, including Wild T2, Wild T3 and Wild T4 theodolites for angle reading.  Frank also used plain and spherical mirror AGA Geodimeters and various model Tellurometers for survey distance measuring.  During his time with the SMA, Frank’s main means of access to his survey work sites was by vehicle as much as possible and then a good deal of walking or climbing to hill tops or other places that vehicles couldn’t reach.  But on a few occasions, Frank also operated on horseback.


In May 1956, Frank worked out of the SMA camp at Indi and in the Geehi area when SMA’s renowned senior surveyor Hugh Powell Gough Clews (1890-1980) ran the Indi Camp.  For some further brief information on the Major (as Clews was affectionately known) please refer to Appendix A.


Fellow surveyor George Bennett had attended The University of Melbourne a couple of years ahead of Frank Johnston.  George worked with the SMA between 1954 and 1959.  Frank spent some time working in the Snowy Mountains with George using a Wild T4 theodolite to determine the impact that plumb line deviations had on the azimuth of the Scheme’s tunnels.  For some further brief information on George Bennett please refer to Appendix A.


Fire Patrol Officer 1964

Frank’s duties with the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority were not confined solely to surveying.  For example, on 10 January 1964 Frank was appointed as an honorary fire patrol officer for the purposes of the Bush Fires Act, 1949-1963.


Assignment in Cambodia 1965

For about four months during 1965, Frank Johnston undertook a surveying assignment in Cambodia for the Snowy Mountains Authority.  This assignment involved survey work for a proposed dam on the Prek Thnot River about 100 kilometres to the west of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.


The Prek Thnot River is one of the larger western tributaries of the lower Mekong River.  Now locally called Stoeng Prek Thnaot or river of palm tree, the Prek Thnot rises at Mt Khnang Phsa (1,177 metres) about 120 kilometres west of Phnom Penh.  It travels for some 230 kilometres to join the Bassac River arm of the Mekong about 9 kilometres south of Phnom Penh.


By 1964, the then Cambodian National Mekong Committee had accepted for implementation the Prek Thnot multi-purpose project under the auspices of the United Nations.  The main components of the project were the construction of a storage dam, a hydro-electric power station with a capacity of 18 Megawatts, provision of irrigation facilities and flood control measures.  The dam was to be an earthfill and rockfill structure that was to rise some 28.5 metres above the river bed in its central section.  Under a head of some 19 metres and using a flow rate of 37 cubic metres per second that power station was to generate some 50 Gigawatt hours of energy per year.


The Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority was appointed to design the dam and power station.  This required field work by surveyors and engineers to enable the design to go ahead.  Frank’s surveying activities comprised defining the boundaries of the upper catchment area (the extent of the inundation once the dam was constructed) and survey work at the dam site.


During his time on this assignment, Frank spent his week days out in the field.  But he was usually able to spend weekends at the acclaimed Royal Hotel in Phnom Penh.  Hotel Le Royal was established with French colonial architecture in 1929 and located at 92 Daun Penh Avenue in the Daun Penh District on the eastern edge of Phnom Penh that is bordered by the Tonle Sap River as it joins the Mekong.  Abandoned under the Khmer Rouge regime, the Le Royal still operates today under the Raffles Group.


While the Snowy Mountains Authority carried out the design and detailed survey work for the project, construction of the dam and the power station started in 1969 under a Japanese organisation.  However, work was halted a few years later due to the war waged by the Communist Party of Kampuchea (Khmer Rouge).  At that time, some foundation work on the dam, and the diversion weir at Rolang Chrey had been completed.  (The Khmer Rouge controlled most of Cambodia by 1973 and took Phnom Penh in 1975; they were ousted in 1979.)


The Stung Tasal Dam and the associated Lake Tasal water storage area was eventually completed on the Prek Thnot River with financial assistance from the government of India; although to a different design than that proposed by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority.  The storage lake was first filled in 2014.


About the Snowy Mountains Scheme

The Snowy Mountains Scheme remains the largest engineering project undertaken in Australia.  Located in Snowy Mountains within the Great Dividing Range in southern New South Wales, it was a complex hydro-electricity generating and irrigation water storage undertaking.  The Scheme was constructed between 1949 and 1974.  It consisted of sixteen major dams; seven power stations; two pumping stations; and 225 kilometres of tunnels, pipelines and aqueducts.  At its peak, the Scheme's employees included migrants and refugees from at least different 30 nationalities.


Much of water of the Snowy River and some of its tributaries which used to flow south east to East Gippsland and into Bass Strait was captured at high elevations and diverted inland to the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers for irrigation purposes.  The water was diverted through two major tunnel systems driven through the Snowy Mountains.  The diverted water falls some 800 metres and travels through large hydro-electric power stations which generate peak-load power mainly for the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria and more recently to feed the national electricity network.


National Mapping Laplace Observations 1958-1960

During the winter months, snow and adverse weather conditions slowed down survey operations in the Snowy Mountains.  In some such times, Snowy Authority staff would undertake work for other organisations.  Thus Frank was sometimes loaned to the Division of National Mapping to undertake precise astronomical observations at geodetic survey stations across Australia.  In 1958, before undertaking the initial Laplace astronomical observations in the field for Nat Map, Frank studied the Laplace observation technique using a Wild T4 theodolite under the guidance of Nat Map’s Dr Peter Bardulis.  For more information on Laplace observations please refer to Appendix C.


This Laplace training was undertaken in the Canberra area while Frank was on loan to Nat Map.  Later after some early field work was underway Peter Bardulis was surprised at the speed of the field observations.  Apparently he had been used to undertaking these observations under European conditions where the weather was generally much less favourable than in Australia.  For some further brief information on Peter Bardulis please refer to Appendix A.


Frank’s first Laplace observations work for Nat Map in 1958 was on the geodetic survey traverse that generally runs along the Stuart Highway between Alice Springs and Darwin.  During this work Frank undertook Laplace observations at seven geodetic survey stations.  The first of these observations was on Anzac Hill in Alice Springs.  Image 6 below shows Frank in late afternoon setting up the Wild T4 theodolite for this observation.


Image 6: Frank Johnston at Alice Springs in 1958.

(Frank Johnston image.)


One of National Mapping’s earliest Laplace field parties had observed along the Stuart Highway in 1950; including at Anzac Hill, Alice Springs where the observation pillar used by Frank Johnston eight years later had been established.  The 1950 field party was then part of the National Mapping Section of the Department of the Interior.  It comprised Russian--born Lithuanian national Dimitrius Jim Fominas (1914-1984 then a geodetic survey computer), Trevor Glen Trevillian (1922-1995 then a cadet draughtsman), and Graham Stanton Gus Murray (1923-2005 then a driver).  This field party was also equipped with a Wild T4 astronomical theodolite (Hocking, 1985).


When undertaking the Laplace observations during 1958-1960, Frank extensively used the Boss General Catalogue that contained 33,342 stars.  This catalogue was prepared by Benjamin Boss in 1936 and updated a catalogue of 6,188 stars that his father Lewis Boss had prepared in 1910.  One downside of using the Boss General Catalogue was that the standard error of southern hemisphere stars was reputed to exceed one second of arc; (Bomford et al, 1970).


In 1959, Frank Johnston undertook further Laplace observations for Nat Map.  This field season commenced with Frank travelling west from the Kulgera roadhouse in the south of the Northern Territory along the track from Mulga Park homestead to Giles weather station in Western Australia.


The 1959 work at each geodetic survey station involved Laplace observations for latitude and longitude coordinates and observations for azimuth on the magnitude 5.42 star Sigma Octantis.  In the early years of its Laplace observations program, Nat Map required these observations to be undertaken at every sixth survey station on a geodetic survey traverse.  Later, the requirement was tightened to require Laplace observations at every fourth station on a traverse.


(Also in 1959, a Nat Map geodetic field survey party under Reg Ford was beaconing and observing geodetic survey traverses in Western Australia from Mt Hinckley (NM/F/7) near the South Australian border to Carnegie homestead and then via Wiluna to Roy Hill homestead in the Pilbara.  The 1959 survey work was being driven by the need to have precise geodetic survey control over the long range rocket test range that extended from Woomera to the Western Australian coast south of Broome.)


One of the first Laplace stations Frank observed that year was the newly established NM/F/32 on Mt Fanny about 85 kilometres south east of Giles weather station.  For this observation Frank set-up his sighting reference object using a signal light on a time-switch attached to a home-made block of 1.5-volt dry cell Eveready‑A batteries at NM/F/34 on the Rawlinson Range; a straight line distance of some 90 kilometres to the north west.


Afterwards Frank travelled west along the so called Gunbarrel Highway geodetic traverse between the Giles weather station and Carnegie homestead in Western Australia.  One of the survey stations along this traverse that Frank occupied for Laplace observations was the newly established NM/F/20 on Mt Beadell that was so named in 1958.


Nat Map had earlier arranged for the Weapons Research Establishment to construct the Gunbarrel to facilitate survey vehicle travel for the traverse.  In 1958, a reconnaissance of the 670 kilometre section of traverse route between Giles and Carnegie homestead was undertaken by Nat Map’s then senior surveyor (Geodetic) Howard Angas (Bill) Johnson (1907-1990).


Bill Johnson was accompanied by the Weapons Research Establishment’s Trevor Reginald Nossiter (officer-in-charge Engineering Reconnaissance Section), Leonard Beadell (range reconnaissance officer) and Walter Batchelor MacDougall (native patrol officer).  A WRE field party under Len Beadell was later to undertake the necessary track clearing for what was later called the Gunbarrel Highway along the route chosen by this reconnaissance party.


After completing the Laplace observations at geodetic survey stations along the Gunbarrel, Frank spent some time at Carnegie homestead while major repairs were undertaken on his Land Rover.  Frank then continued his Laplace work westward at stations on the geodetic survey traverse between Carnegie and Wiluna.  In mid-July 1959, Frank caught up with Reg Ford’s beaconing and observing party at Wiluna.


The Nat Map field party then had to push ahead quickly with the beaconing of stations between the Carnarvon Range and Roy Hill so Frank could undertake his Laplace observations at some of these survey stations.


(The Carnarvon Range was to the west of the Canning Stock Route north of Wiluna and Roy Hill homestead was on the present day Marble Bar road, previously part of the Great Northern Highway, to the north of the present day Newman mining town.)


From Roy Hill, Frank proceeded to the west coast and then travelled to Halls Creek.  From here Frank carried out further Laplace observations at survey stations along the geodetic survey traverse that ran from Halls Creek to Aileron.  To access these stations that were beaconed and observed in 1958, Frank travelled down the Tanami Track between Halls Creek and Alice Springs.


The Laplace observation along the Tanami Track were carried out over two nights with a required number of sets being observed.  With good weather and favourable survey station access conditions, a Laplace observation could be completed every four days.  Figure 3 below shows the route used during Frank Johnston’s 1959 Laplace astronomical observations field work for National Mapping.


Figure 3: Route used during Frank Johnston’s 1959 Laplace field work.

(Prepared by Paul Wise in 2017.)


During July-August 1960, Frank undertook Laplace astronomical observations for Nat Map in Victoria and western New South Wales with fellow Snowy Mountains Authority surveyor Klaus Leppert.  Klaus Leppert went on to have a successful career with Nat Map.  For some further brief information on Klaus please refer to Appendix A.


This 1960 Laplace observation work was in the Mildura, Broken Hill and Tiboobura areas.  When Frank and Klaus were travelling between the Paroo River (Wanaaring) and the Darling River (Bourke) the engine on their Land Rover failed.  The failed Land Rover was towed to Bourke behind a car and there a new short motor was fitted.  The planned Laplace observation program was reduced as a consequence.  Fortunately Wendy, Frank’s wife of only a few months was able to come to Bourke during the down-time while the Land Rover was repaired.  They were able to spend some time together during the vehicle repair period while Frank completed reductions for all the Laplace observations that had been undertaken.


Nat Map’s use of Frank Johnston’s early Laplace Observations

A difference between astronomic and geodetic coordinates is caused by random variations in the Earth's gravity.  These variations mean that the plumb line does not always point towards the centre of the Earth.  Accordingly, as well as undertaking a national geodetic survey under the auspices of the National Mapping Council, additional astronomical observations were undertaken at selected geodetic survey stations.  At these stations precise Laplace astronomical observations were undertaken to determine latitude, longitude and azimuth.  These observations were undertaken with highly accurate astronomical theodolites and sophisticated apparatus for time signal reception and time recording.  At the Laplace stations the difference between the astronomic and geodetic coordinates was obtained (Wise, 2014).


In 1965, the National Mapping Council determined a reference spheroid based on the astronomic-geodetic comparison of the coordinates of 155 Laplace stations spread over the whole of Australia.  Also in 1965 the International Astronomical Union adopted the parameters of a spheroid for astronomical use.


As the International Astronomical Union spheroidal parameters were close to those of the reference spheroid, the National Mapping Council adopted the IAU parameters for the Australian National Spheroid.  The parameters of the Australian National Spheroid were: a semi-major (equatorial) axis of 6,378,160 metres and a flattening (1/f) of 298.25.


By December 1965, there were some 533 Australian Laplace stations of which 275 stations were judiciously selected to calculate the central origin of the Australian Geodetic Datum.  The National Mapping Council resolved that the coordinates of this central origin would determine the location of the Johnston Geodetic Station that is also called the Johnston Origin (Wise, 2014).


The map in Figure 4 below shows the 275 precise astronomical observations selected to determine the central origin of the Australian Geodetic Datum in 1966.  Frank Johnston’s Laplace field work between 1958 and 1960 was part of Nat Map Laplace observation program.


Figure 4: The 275 precise astronomical observations selected to determine the central origin of the Australian Geodetic Datum in 1966.

(Prepared by Paul Wise in 2017 from Bomford, 1967.)


In late 1966, Dr Irene Kaminka Fischer of the United States Army Map Service determined a preliminary geoid for Australia.  Some 550 astro-geodetic stations on the Australian Geodetic Datum were then available for this determination (Leppert, 1973).  A Preliminary Geoid Chart of Australia was published by Dr Fischer and her Army Map Service colleague Mary Slutsky in The Australian Surveyor in December 1967 (see Fischer and Slutsky, 1967).


Dr Fischer was born in Vienna in 1907 and died in Boston in 2009 at age 102 years.  Her father was Rabbi Aaron Kaminka.  Irene, her husband and young family fled Austria in 1939 and settled in the United States where she became an internationally renowned mathematician and geodesist (Chovitz and Fischer, undated).  Dr Fischer interacted with leading geodesists in many countries, including Brigadier Dr Guy Bomford OBE, his son Nat Map’s Tony Bomford, and Bruce Lambert, Director of National Mapping (from 1951 to 1977).


Khancoban Azimuth Test 1961

On 24 October 1961, the Nat Map Geodetic survey field party which had undertaken an extensive simultaneous reciprocal azimuth observation program in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory during the 1961 field season returned to their Melbourne base.  Afterwards most of the observers went to Khancoban to engage in a series of azimuth observations for research purposes.  At that time, Frank Johnston was based at Khancoban.


Tony Bomford, who had joined National Mapping as a surveyor class 2 in November 1961, was in charge of this research.  Tony, together with Frank Johnston (again on loan from the Snowy Mountains Authority) also took part as observers using the Wild T4 theodolite.  The other Nat Map observers used the Wild T3 theodolite and a split-hand stopwatch.


Details of these research tests were given in Division of National Mapping Technical Report 2: Report on the Khancoban azimuth test of the accuracy obtainable with the Wild T4 and T3 theodolites.  This report was prepared by Klaus Leppert in March 1963.  A significant finding in the report was that azimuths observed with the Wild T3 or Tavistock theodolites were nearly as accurate as azimuths observed with the Wild T4 theodolite (Ford, 1979).


Marriage to Wendy Hobson

Wendy Hobson and Frank Johnston met in Cooma in 1956.  Wendy was then a Commonwealth Bank officer.  They married in 1960.  After their marriage Frank and Wendy resided at 4 Alkoomi Place about a kilometre north of the Cooma town centre.  Frank and Wendy have four children: Andrea (1961); Caroline (1963); and twins Richard and Jill (1966).


With LA Wordsworth and Associates 1966-1971

Frank left the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority in late 1966 and later that year joined Larry Wallace Wordsworth and Associates, consulting surveyors based at Young in New South Wales.  For some further brief information on Larry Wordsworth please refer to Appendix A.


At Young, the Johnston family lived at 23 Prospect Street, just over a kilometre north east of the Young Town Hall.  As well as general surveying, Frank continued to do precise astro observations for geoid profiles under contract with National Mapping from 1967 until the end of 1970.


Geoid Profile Observations 1967-1970

These geoid profile astronomical determinations for Nat Map were made with a Kern DKM3-A theodolite using the impersonal eyepiece micrometer.  These geoid profiles involved astro-geodetic levelling along geodetic traverses. The field work involved almucantar longitude observation techniques (using the double Horrebow bubble) and circum-meridian altitude observation techniques for latitude.  For azimuth, generally 24 sets of zeros were observed to Sigma Octantis at each station spread over two nights. These techniques were developed for geoid profile purposes by Tony Bomford. For some further brief information on Tony Bomford please refer to Appendix A.  Before undertaking these field observations, Frank studied the techniques in the Canberra area under the guidance of Tony Bomford.


Frank’s geoid profile field work during 1967-1970 saw him revisiting Nat Map geodetic survey stations along the Gunbarrel Highway in Western Australia and the Tanami Track in the Northern Territory.  He also observed in the Central Mount Stuart to Hooker Creek area.  Frank also carried out this work in the Mossman to Cooktown area of North Queensland.


During this geoid profile field work, Frank and his field assistant travelled in a short wheelbase Nissan Patrol station wagon.  For more information on the astronomical theodolites used by Frank when working with National Mapping between 1958 and 1970 please refer to Appendix D.


In late September 1970, Frank occupied Nat Map geodetic survey station NM/E/34 on Mt Whinham that rises to some 4,000 feet (1,228 metres) in the Mann Range about 115 kilometres south west of Ayers Rock (Uluru).  Frank and his field assistant Kevin Corkery initially climbed Mt Whinham one afternoon with their first load of equipment that included the theodolite tripod; the legs of which had to be securely plastered in place over the designated eccentric reference mark.


However, Frank found that the eccentric mark was already occupied by a Nat Map Aerodist remote party.  The remote party (Laurie McLean and Frank Ayers) provided Frank and Kevin with a cuppa and then shifted the Aerodist remote unit to another reference mark so Frank could occupy the eccentric.


During the 1967-1970 geoid profile observations field work Frank used only the Kern DKM3-A theodolite with an impersonal eyepiece micrometer.  Time keeping equipment included a Labtronics Type 21 time signal receiver, combined crystal clock and chronoscope, and a Favag chronograph.


During these geoid profile observations the objective was to observe 16 pairs of east and west stars over two nights with 8 pairs on each night.  The minimum observation was 12 pairs of stars (6 pairs on each of two nights).  Observing 10 pairs on the first night was seen as a good insurance against bad weather (Bomford et al, 1970).


When undertaking the geoid profile observations between 1967 and 1970, Frank obtained all the necessary astronomical parameters for the stars that were observed from the Fourth Fundamental Catalogue (FK4).  This catalogue was published in 1963 and contained astronomical parameters for 1,535 stars in various epochs from 1950 to 1970.


Outcome of Nat Map’s Geoid Profile Program 1966-1970

Frank’s geoid profile field work during 1967-1970 was part of a wider program undertaken by National Mapping.  The field work component of this program together with earlier astronomical observation activities, was largely complete by 31 December 1970.  By then approximately 1,150 survey stations on the Australian Geodetic Datum (1966) had astronomic determinations of latitude and longitude.  Re-observations at 110 stations were made during 1966-1970 (Bomford et al, 1970).


In 1971, a new geoid for Australia was determined by Dr John Fryer of the University of Newcastle.  Please refer to the geoid map in Figure 5 below. The first stage of this project was the computation of sections of primary geoidal profiles along traverses where the astronomical station spacing was generally less than 35 kilometres.  These sections formed large loops which were broken up by geoidal profiles along traverses where the astronomical stations spacing was often in excess of 50 kilometres.  A weighted least squares adjustment provided values of N for 1,133 astro-geodetic stations (Fryer, 1971).


The term geoid is often used to describe the equipotential surface of the Earth; the surface of the Earth's gravity field which best corresponds with mean sea level.  In the context of a figure of the Earth, the spheroid is a mathematical shape that best fits the geoid overall.  Owing to variations in the composition and density of the Earth’s crust, differences in mass will cause the geoid to dip below or rise above the surface of the spheroid (from Murphy et al 1986).



Figure 5: Geoid referenced to the Australian Geodetic Datum 1971.

(From Leppert, 1973.)


The deviation between the geoid and the spheroid is called the geoid-spheroid separation and is denoted by the letter N.  The value of N is positive when the geoid is above the spheroid and vice versa (from Murphy et al 1986).  Please refer to Figure 6 below.


Values of N and the deflections of the vertical were gravimetrically computed at 51 geodetic stations and at 1,679 points on a half degree grid inside the loops formed by the geoidal profiles.  The gravimetrically computed values were adjusted, loop by loop, into the system defined by the adjusted values of N at the astro-geodetic stations on the loop perimeter.  A total of about 3,000 values were available for the automatic contouring of maps of the deflections of the vertical and N (Fryer, 1971).


Figure 6: Geoid-spheroid separation.

(Adapted from GIS StackExchange image.)


At the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology 1974-1996

In April 1974, Frank left Nat Map to take up a teaching post as a surveying lecturer in the then Surveying Department of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology; at its city campus in La Trobe Street. In 1987 the department was renamed the Department of Land Information to reflect its broader focus in the computer age.  During his time at RMIT, Frank lectured in geodetic surveying and engineering surveying and also conducted related field work with his students at Studley Park and Yarra Bend Park in Kew.


Some of Frank’s students included the children of Nat Mappers who had worked in the field with Frank.  Frank remained at RMIT until retiring at the end of 1996.  For many years after formally retiring from RMIT, Frank remained in contact with the Institute as a casual academic within the School of Mathematical and Geospatial Sciences where the surveying and related disciplines are now located.


Fixing the Sun’s Light at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance

Since its opening in 1934, a feature of Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance has been the ray of light that shines on the word love in the stone of remembrance in the Shrine’s Sanctuary.  This illumination occurs for a few minutes at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month each year to commemorate the signing of the Armistice that formally ended World War I hostilities on the Western Front.  During the design and construction of the Shrine an aperture was made in the roof of the Sanctuary to allow the sun’s light to enter at the required time each Remembrance Day.


However, for the summer of 1971-72 and following years, the Victorian government commenced daylight saving by moving the clock forward by one hour during an extended summer period each year.  Continuing to hold the Remembrance Day commemoration ceremony at 11: am local time meant that the sun was in effect still only at 10: am and could not illuminate the stone of remembrance.  For the next few years an artificial light from a theatre spotlight was used to illuminate the stone of remembrance on Remembrance Day.


In the mid-1970s, soon after taking up his post as lecturer in surveying at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Frank Johnston was approached to devise a method by which natural sunlight would once again shine on the stone of remembrance at 11: am each Remembrance Day.  The approach was made on behalf of the Shrine of Remembrance Trustees by emeritus surveyor Frank Doolan BEM (1896-1988).


The firm Doolan and Goodchild surveyors had been appointed in the late 1920s to establish the site for the Shrine and carry out the construction surveying.  This appointment included the necessary calculations for the ray of light in consultation with the Victorian government astronomer Dr Joseph Mason Baldwin (1878-1945).  For more information on Frank Doolan please refer to Appendix A.


Frank Johnston’s method of redirecting the sunlight’s path was implemented in 1976.  It involved one fixed and one adjustable mirror as shown in Figure 7 below.  This method corrects for the one hour time difference at 11am on Remembrance Day.  The incoming sunlight firstly strikes the precisely inclined adjustable mirror.  Since 1978, this mirror has been installed on a pillar in a steel tube on the outer walkway of the Shrine.  (When the mirror is not in use the tube is capped.)


Figure 7: Frank Johnston’ solution at the Shrine of Remembrance implemented in 1976.

(Jamie Brown graphic from The Age website.)


The adjustable mirror reflects the sunlight up to an outer aperture at the side of the Shrine roof.  From there the horizontal mirror directs the ray through the inner aperture and down to the granite stone of remembrance in the Sanctuary some 35 metres below.  (The second mirror is about half the size of an A4 sheet of paper and is installed only on Remembrance Day mornings).  Image 8 below shows Frank Johnston and others with a theodolite set-up over the adjustable mirror at the Shrine of Remembrance.


Slight movement in the Shrine structure requires that the alignment of the mirrors be checked and slightly adjusted as necessary each year prior to the ceremony on Remembrance Day.  Frank Johnston attended the Shrine to undertake that task on Remembrance Day for over 35 years.  During that period Frank recalled there were around 5 or 6 days when the sun was clouded over.


Image 8: Frank Johnston and others at the Melbourne Shrine circa 2014.

(Frank Johnston image.)


Frank and Wendy Johnston in 2017

Today Frank and his wife Wendy continue to live in the Melbourne suburb of Doncaster East.  However, Frank has not slowed down in retirement as his interests still include regular bush walking in various terrains including outback Australia; as well as occasional overseas trips.  Frank also undertakes geocaching in Australia and overseas as an outdoor recreational activity.  (Geocaching is a treasure hunt type of outdoor recreational activity where map coordinates and a GPS navigation device are used to place or find and record a geocache site.  Worldwide there are millions of geocache sites.)




Prepared by Laurie McLean during April-September 2017, updated January 2019.



The author gratefully acknowledges the generous assistance provided by Frank Johnston, Ken Green and Paul Wise during the research and preparation of this article.


Grateful acknowledgements are also given to: Kathy Ellerman for kindly providing the image of her father Klaus Leppert; Jan Shaddick for kindly providing the May 2015 image of Frank Johnston at her home in Croydon, Victoria; and Laurie Edebohls (Nat Map 1971-1976) for the 1972 image of aircraft VH‑EXZ recently kindly provided to the XNatmap collection.



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Appendix A


Some of the people with whom Frank Johnston interacted


Jim Thornton-Smith (1899-1974)


Image A1: Professor Jim Thornton-Smith at The University of Melbourne.


Professor Jim Thornton-Smith was recognised world-wide in the fields of surveying mathematics, geodesy and astronomy.  He was a senior lecturer in surveying and Associate Professor at The University of Melbourne from 1940 to 1965.  He was the foundation head of the Department of Surveying at the University and was instrumental in the formulation and introduction of the Bachelor of Surveying degree course.

George James (Jim) Thornton-Smith was born in Sydney on 5 November 1899.  He was the first of three sons born to George Thornton-Smith (1863-1932) and his wife Harriet Mary née McLellan (1868-1917).  George (senior) was born at Bermondsey, Surrey and his wife Mary came from Kirkmichael, Ayrshire.  George and Mary’s other sons were William (1904-1992) and Joseph Casimar (1909-1963).  The Thornton-Smiths moved to Western Australia in the early 1900s; firstly to the Eastern Goldfields and then to Perth.  In his later years George (senior) was a draughtsman in the Chief Engineer’s Office of the Western Australian Government Railways.

Jim Thornton-Smith went to school at Christian Brothers College in St George’s Terrace Perth and afterwards attended the University of Western Australia.  In 1921, Jim graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering degree.  In 1923, he was registered as a licensed surveyor in Western Australia.  In 1931, Jim graduated with a Bachelor of Surveying degree also from the University of Western Australia.  On 21 December 1945, Jim was awarded a Master of Civil Engineering degree (special senior staff admission) by The University of Melbourne.

For some 15 years during the 1920s and 1930s, Jim undertook surveys for railway locations and related requirements in Western Australia and England.  From 1924 to 1930, Jim was an assistant engineer with the Railway Construction Branch of the Public Works Department in Perth.  During 1931-1933, he worked as a technical assistant with the Underground Railway in London.  Between 1933 and 1939 Jim was an assistant engineer with the Western Australian Government Railways but continued undertaking survey projects.  For example in May 1934, Jim was the surveyor-in-charge of a survey of the Mullewa to Yalgoo section of the Mullewa to Meekatharra train line.

On 19 April 1924, Jim Thornton-Smith married Charlotte Rosabelle (Rose) Henville BA at Christ Church, Claremont.  Rose was born at Albany in 1898.  She was the daughter of Walter Sampson Henville and his wife Rosabella Mary Henville née Yandell.

Jim and Rose Thornton-Smith had two children: Georgina Rosalie Mary (1925-1987) and Colin Bernard (1929-2014); both were born in Perth and died in Melbourne.  Tragically Jim’s first wife Rose died in Perth in August 1930 at age 32 years.

On 25 January 1933, Jim Thornton-Smith married Nora Maher.  Nora was born in Clonmel, Tipperary circa 1897 to John Maher and his wife Bridget née Farrell.  Nora pre-deceased her husband and passed away at Balwyn in 1971 at age 74 years. There were no children from this marriage.

In 1940, Jim Thornton-Smith was appointed as a senior lecturer in surveying at The University of Melbourne.  He was a member of the Surveyors Board of Victoria from 1944-1949 and was registered as a licensed surveyor by that Board on 5 May 1945.  Jim was president of the Victorian Institute of Surveyors in 1945.  In 1949, Jim was appointed Associate Professor of Surveying at The University of Melbourne and head of the newly formed Department of Surveying.  He held that post until he retired on 31 January 1965. (Professor Thornton-Smith's lecture workload was subsequently undertaken by Nat Mapper Frank Leahy who joined The University of Melbourne staff in March 1965.)

Jim Thornton-Smith was a Latin scholar who had a sound understanding of this language that goes back to the ancient Romans.  In his later years at the University Jim was often asked to say Grace at University dinners and was able to say it in Latin.  Sometimes at University lunch gatherings he would be called on to adjudicate the derivations of English words.

Following Jim’s retirement, The University of Melbourne introduced the Thornton-Smith Medal that is now awarded annually to a graduate of the geomatics discipline who has made an outstanding contribution to the engineering profession in the field of geomatics.  The medal commemorates Jim Thornton-Smith.

Sadly, Jim Thornton-Smith died at Balwyn on 15 September 1974 at age 74 years.  He was survived by Georgina and Colin, the children of his first marriage and by his brother William.


Hugh Powell Gough Clews (1890-1980)


Image A2: Major Clews at Scammels Lookout in the Snowy Mountains circa 1950s.

(Extracted from Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority image.)


From 1 August 1912 to 27 July 1949, Major Clews served with the Royal Australian Engineers and later with the Australian Survey Corps (from 1948 the Royal Australian Survey Corps).  He enlisted in the First Australian Imperial Force in World War I but his application to serve in the Second Australian Imperial Force in World War II was rejected.  After his discharge from the Survey Corps in 1949 with the honoury rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, the Major went to work with the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electricity Authority where he served as a senior surveyor from January 1950 to 1958.


The Major as he was affectionately known was small of stature (some 5 feet 6 inches in height) and quietly spoken with a soft Yorkshire accent.  He was a man of simple habits and great stamina.  Both in military service and with the SMA, he was greatly respected and even loved as a father figure by his men whom he had a natural ability to unobtrusively motivate and lead to carry out whatever task was required.  He was said to have always given great loyalty to and placed much trust in his subordinates.


Hugh Powell Gough Clews was born at Rotherham about 10 kilometres north east of Sheffield in Yorkshire on Christmas Day in 1890.  He was one of the three children born to William Henry Clews, (variously a farmer, publican and restaurateur) and his wife Helen Powell Clews née Gough.  The family moved about the country to various situations during the young Hugh’s early days.


Clews recalled having only a basic education; from age 12 to 16 years at Worksop College (formerly known as St Cuthbert's College).  The College was located south of Worksop and to the north of Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire about 210 kilometres north west of London.  Afterwards Clews completed a two-year apprenticeship as a survey assistant articled to surveyor John Bourne of Rawmarsh (to the north of Rotherham).


At age 18 years and after serving about 18 months with the Territorials (volunteer reserve force), Clews enlisted in the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment).  He served from 7 July 1909 to 27 October 1911; initially with the Foresters 2nd Battalion but later with other units.  After purchasing his discharge from the British Army, Clews emigrated to Western Australia in 1912.


On 1 August 1912 at Adelaide, Clews enlisted in the Australian Army for a period of five years.  On that date he enlisted in the Survey Section of the Royal Australian Engineers and was appointed with the rank of Sergeant.  Clews transferred to Victoria in April 1914 and on 1 July 1915 transferred to the newly formed Australian Survey Corps.  On 13 July 1915, Clews transferred to Western Australia and on 1 December 1916 he was promoted temporary Warrant Officer Class II and Company Sergeant Major.  In September 1917, Clews’ commanding officer was Lieutenant Tom Vance.


(Later, the then Major Vance was the officer commanding the Australian Survey Corps from March 1936 to December 1940.  This command predated the position of Director of Military Survey.  From January 1941 until June 1942, Lieutenant‑Colonel Vance was the inaugural Director of Military Survey.)


Clews enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Blackboy Hill, Western Australia on 28 December 1917 and reverted to the rank of Sergeant (Service Number 9).


On 10 January 1918, Clews married Alice May Reeves with Anglican rites at the Holy Trinity Church in Chapel Street Balaclava (Melbourne).  There were three children from the marriage: daughters Jessie (1918) and Joyce (1920) and son Harold (1924).


On 2 February 1918, Clews embarked at Sydney on board His Majesty’s Australian Transport A18 Wiltshire for service overseas.  Also embarked on A18 at that time were Lieutenant Thomas Alexander Vance and Sergeant Harry Rossiter.  All were Survey Corps reinforcements (Air Line Section, Pigeon Corps).  Clews served in France from 16 June 1918 to 8 April 1919. 


In France Clews (with Vance and Rossiter) reported to the Depot Field Survey Company of the Royal Engineers Topographical Section at Feuquières‑en‑Vimeu, where the group carried out minor triangulation work.  Clews and his group later moved some 23 kilometres south to Foucarmont and were there when the War on the Western Front ended on 11 November 1918; they learned of the Armistice from a newspaper in a shop window.  Clews recalled they were then recalled to the British Survey and allotted to a Survey School for young British engineer officers.  They were given leave from 16 to 30 March 1919 and afterwards returned to France until going back to England on 8 April 1919.


In England on 8 May 1919, Clews embarked on His Majesty’s Transport Devanha for return to Australia and disembarked in Sydney on 23 June 1919.  On 16 July 1919, Clews was discharged from the AIF and returned to the Permanent Military Forces in Western Australia.  On 5 December 1920 Clews transferred to New South Wales.  He was promoted Warrant Officer Class I on 1 July 1922 and after 11 years further service was commissioned as a Lieutenant on 9 November 1933.  On that date he was appointed Officer Commanding No 3 Survey Section, Australian Survey Corps.


Around this time, the Section consisted of six Survey Corps personnel and two civilian axemen-drivers.  All topographic mapping work was undertaken by the plane table method until 1937 when aerial photography methods were introduced.  Members of the Section were then: Lieutenant Clews; Warrant Officer Charlie Carter; Warrant Officer Alan Roberts; Warrant Officer Bert Eggeling; Warrant Officer Ted Roberts and Warrant Officer Wally Relf.


On 9 November 1937, Clews was promoted Captain.  On 12 February 1940, Clews was appointed Deputy Assistant Director Survey, Eastern Command at Victoria Barracks in Sydney.  On 2 October 1940 he was appointed Officer Commanding 3 Survey Company.  He was promoted Major on 9 November 1940.  On 1 April 1943 Clews was appointed Officer Commanding 2 Field Survey Company Royal Australian Engineers.  Between 13 August and 28 September 1943, Clews was detached for special duty with the Gulf Survey Section.


In mid-1944, Clews relinquished field survey activities and the Command of 2 Field Survey Company for a staff appointment.  He was appointed Senior Officer, Survey, Head Quarters New South Wales Lines of Communication Area on 8 June 1944.  On 8 October 1947, Clews (then in the Interim Army) was attached to Head Quarters Eastern Command.


Prior to staff appointments from mid-1944, field survey duties including triangulation and plane tabling had taken the Major to many places in Australia including: the Adelaide hills and coastal areas, Steiglitz, Winchelsea, Werribee, Waneroo, Fremantle, Northam, Albany, Toodyay, north and north west of Melbourne, the Perth - York road area, Tea Gardens, Limeburners Creek, Singleton, Cessnock, Windsor, Strathfield, Katoomba, Newnes Junction, Wollemi, Newcastle, Kyogle, Childers, Ingham, Fraser Island, Gulf of Carpentaria country, Chatswood and Tom Groggin in the Snowy Mountains.


On 29 July 1949, Major Clews was placed on the Retired List with the rank of Honoury Lieutenant-Colonel.  He was then less than five months short of his 59th birthday.


In Gough’s 2004 biography of Clews, the Major stated that in December 1949, he was living in a hut he had built near Bell east of Lithgow in the Blue Mountains.  He added that he was then approached about working on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric scheme by Bert Eggeling the then Chief Surveyor of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority.  Clews also stated he commenced working for the Authority in January 1950.


There are some instances in Gough’s 2004 work where the Major’s recall of dates, such as when he joined the Australia Army, are at variance from dates in his Army service record.  In this sketch of the Major, when applicable, his service record dates rather than recalled dates are used.


(Herbert Frederick Bert Eggeling (1909 - 1989) joined the Army as a licensed surveyor in 1935 and was appointed with the rank of Warrant Officer.  He retired with the rank of Major in February 1950.  Eggeling’s last Army posting was as Chief Instructor at the newly established School of Military Survey at Balcombe, Victoria in 1948.  Immediately prior to this posting Eggeling had been engaged in investigative surveys for the Snowy River Diversion Scheme.  Apparently Eggeling joined the Snowy Mountains Authority as Chief Surveyor in 1949 while still a serving Royal Australian Survey Corps officer.  Eggeling left SMA in 1954 to take up private practice at Parkes, New South Wales.  For discussion around Eggeling’s Snowy Mountains Authority commencement, see Cavill in Gough, 2004, page 5.)


As a senior surveyor at the SMA, the Major (Clews) undertook a demanding job in control of the Authority’s field operations in some of the most inhospitable country in Australia and in extremes of temperature and weather conditions.  He established tented camps for up to 10 survey parties comprising mostly overseas personnel with both limited bushmanship and English language skills.  As well as planning and directing the technical work, he constructed scores of miles of packhorse tracks which were the only access for surveyors, drillers, hydrographers, geologists and investigation engineers most of whom would look to the Major for his advice and guidance on how to exist in this most forbidding country while carrying out their own duties (Gough, 2004).


Image A3: Major Clews memorial cairn and his cottage at Indi in recent years.

(New South Wales National Parks image.)


The Major operated several camps during his 8 years with the SMA, including at: Tumut Ponds, Lob’s Hole, Clear Creek, Saddle Camp near Cabramurra, Eight Mile (Dry) Camp, and from 1953 the Indi Camp.  At some of these camps the Major would oversee the care and feeding of the horses but he was never seen on horseback; instead he walked between his camps and related work areas.


Clews retired from the Snowy Mountains Authority in February 1958 and took up a forty acre lease at Indi in the Snowy Mountains south of Khancoban where he built a small pisé walled (rammed earth) cottage with a concrete floor.  Some 20 years later arthritis in the knees forced the Major to move to Khancoban and live in a caravan where some friends kept an eye on him.  Eventually, his son Harold Powell Reeves Clews (1924 - 2013) took the Major to live at Frankston.


Hugh Powell Gough Clews died at Frankston on 22 August 1980 and his remains were cremated.  He was survived by his two daughters and his son.  Clews’ wife Alice May Clews had died in Melbourne on 8 February 1973; at 82 years of age.  On 15 September 1980, the Major’s ashes were scattered at Indi.  A memorial cairn constructed by the Snowy Mountains Authority was unveiled near the Major’s cottage at Indi on 5 April 1981.  The beehive shaped cairn was made of Snowy Mountains granite and was designed by Brigadier Lawrence Fitzgerald OBE (1903-1989) who was Director of Military Survey from 1942 to 1960.


George Bennett OAM (1926-2018)


Image A4: Associate Professor George Bennett.

(Image courtesy of The Pathfinders.)


George Gordon Bennett was born in Croydon (London,) on 21 December 1926. His parents were George Bennett a builder and his wife Winifred. George Bennett (junior) was educated at Selhurst Grammar School in Croydon. In 1948 following George junior's service in the British Army, the Bennett family (parents, George and sister Joan) migrated to Australia as ten-pound Poms. Between 1950 and 1954 George studied full time as a Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme student. (Vocational training for ex-service men and women under this scheme commenced in 1944 and had virtually ceased in 1954. The scheme accepted some 334,000 trainees but only about 67 per cent of university trainees completed their courses.) In 1954 George was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Surveying (with First Class Honours) from The University of Melbourne. At University George met Molly Delaney and they married on 12 January 1952. George and Molly were to have four children.


Between 1954-1959, George Bennett worked as a surveyor with the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme.  In December 1956, George was appointed as an honorary fire patrol officer under the Bush Fires Act 1949.


In 1957 as part of International Geophysical Year activities, George was seconded to the Division of National Mapping to make precise astronomical observations at the Long Range Weapons Establishment (Woomera rocket range) in South Australia.  This Establishment was a joint project by the British and Australian governments.  Some of the Laplace observations from the Woomera work were used in George’s thesis Laplace determinations: rationalization of observation and calculation procedures; for which George was awarded a Master of Surveying degree from The University of Melbourne in 1962.


In 1959, George was appointed as a lecturer the University of New South Wales.  Later he became an Associate Professor of Surveying and head of the School of Surveying and Spatial Information Systems.  During his time at the University, George lectured in surveying, geodesy, photogrammetry, astronomy, hydrographic surveying, and mining surveying.  He also prodigiously published papers and articles in professional journals and also authored a number of books.


George registered articles with the New South Wales Board of Surveyors on 8 April 1960.  He signed an agreement on 21 February 1960 with registered surveyor Guy Raoul de Low to be trained as a surveyor with service effective from 4 July 1955.  George was registered as a surveyor in New South Wales on 23 March 1961.  (Guy Raoul de Low was registered as a surveyor in New Sourh Wales on 30 March 1954.  In 1958 he resided at Cooma North and in 1961 he resided at Parramatta.)  On 24 February 1967, George was appointed as a mining surveyor under the New South Wales Mining Act 1906.


During 1969, George undertook experimental work in Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica on gyroscopes used in surveying.  This work was incorporated in a thesis that led to the awarding of a Doctor of Philosphy degree from the University of New South Wales in 1970.  Image A5 below shows George in November 1969 at Cape Hallet station a joint United States and New Zealand base that was built for the International Geophysical Year 1957-1958.  The instrument is a Wild GAK-1 north-seeking gyrotheodolite attachment on a Wild T16 theodolite.

Image A5: George Bennett in Antarctica 1969.

(University of New South Wales pictorial history gallery image 1969-08-01)


During the 1970s, George became interested in yachting and ocean navigation.  He won the inaugural Navigator's Trophy in the 1977 Sydney to Hobart yatch race.  Later, George developed calculator and computer programs for the reduction of observations and for generating almanac data.  He also taught navigation at TAFE, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.


George was a member of the Board of Surveyors of New South Wales for 15 years and served a term as the President of the Institution of Surveyors, New South Wales.  In recognition of his service and contributions, George was elected as a Fellow of the Institution of Surveyors in 1965 and also as a Fellow of the Institute of Navigation.  During December 1983-January 1984, he served as a visiting scientist at Her Majesty's Nautical Almanac Office at the Royal Observatory then located at Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex.


George retired from the School of Surveying at the University of New South Wales on 21 December 1986 at age 60 years.  After he retired George designed and managed the construction of the Millennium Sundial at the University  Later he established a prize for the top performing student in the first year of study in the School of Surveying and Spatial Information Systems.  This prize now bears George's name.


On 26 January 2006, Dr George Gordon Bennett was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to surveying and mapping, particularly as an educator and a specialist in the field of celestial navigation and positional astronomy. George Bennett died peacefully on 21 November 2018 at 91 years of age. He was survived by his wife Molly and their children Catherine, Julie, James and Peter and five grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Dr Bennett's remains were privately cremated.



Peter Bardulis (1912-1988)

Dr Peter Edwin Bardulis was born Peteris Bardulis at Dunika in Latvia on 23 August 1912.  Dunika is a locality about 20 kilometres east of the Baltic Sea coast and about 180 kilometres south west of the Latvian capital Riga.  Peter Bardulis gained his doctorate in geodetic astronomy in his native country.


After the upheavals of World War II. Dr Bardulis made his way to the Ludwigsburg resettlement centre (refugee camp) which was about 12 kilometres north of Stuttgart in the then United States zone in south western Germany.  He left Ludwigsburg on 24 April 1949 and travelled to Naples in Italy through Switzerland.  Naples is on the Tyrrhenian Sea coast about 180 kilometres south east of Rome.


From Naples Peter Bardulis travelled unaccompanied to Australia onboard the refugee ship SS Fairsea.  Built in the United States in 1941, the 12 000 tons  Fairsea could make 16 knots.  She was then owned by Alexander Vlasov, founder of Sitmar Lines but managed by the Alvion Steam Ship Company under contract to the then International Refugee Organisation.  Until a refit in 1957 the Fairsea was an austerely fitted out migrant vessel.


The Fairsea departed Naples on 11 May 1949 and arrived at Port Melbourne on 8 June 1949.  The voyage was said to have involved a spaghetti‑based diet for all meals.  As a consequence Peter and some of his fellow migrants would no longer tolerate pasta dishes.

SS Fairsea in 1957.  Museums Victoria image.


Peter Bardulis was one of 1 894 migrants on that voyage of the Fairsea.  After arrival in Melbourne the migrants were transported in 3 special trains to the Bonegilla migrant reception centre near the shore of Lake Hume about 10 kilometres east of Wodonga in north east Victoria.


Initially when settled in Australia, Peter worked for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority.  He became a naturalised Australian citizen at a ceremony in Canberra on 29 September 1954.  Peter’s wife Hilda became a naturalised Australian citizen at a ceremony in Canberra on 19 March 1958.  For much of their time in Canberra Peter and Hilda Bardulis lived at 19 Boldrewood Street in Turner.  However, from at least 1972 until his death in 1988,  Peter Bardulis resided at 5 Janari Place in Aranda together with his wife Hilda.


On 25 May 1956, Dr Bardulis was permanently appointed as a geodetic survey computer (in the salary range of £1,353 to £1,443 per annum) in the Public Service Third Division, within the Records Information and Research Sub‑section of the National Mapping Section of the Department of the Interior, Canberra.


In 1958, Dr Bardulis instructed Snowy Mountains Authority surveyor Frank Johnston on the preferred Nat Map methodology for undertaking Laplace astronomical observations.  This instruction occurred in the Canberra area.  Frank was then about to undertake such observations for Nat Map in remote areas of Australia between 1958 and 1960.


In July 1961, Dr Bardulis was promoted to the position of surveyor, grade 3 in the Geoidal Section of the Survey Branch within the Division of National Mapping, Canberra.  The duties of this position were to carry out Laplace survey observations in the field and associated computations.  The salary was then in the range of £1,628 to £1,848 per annum.  (At the same time, Arvids Krisjanis, a fellow Latvian-born Nat Mapper, was promoted from draughtsman, grade 1 to geodetic survey computer to fill the position that Peter Bardulis had vacated.  Arvids died in Canberra on 19 June 1993.)


Terry Douglas (Nat Map 1960-1971), recalled meeting Peter Bardulis in the field during 1961. Terry was in a separate field survey party that also included Ted Seton, Neil Fenton and Ivan Yodgee. Dr Bardulis was then undertaking astronomical observations with a Wild T4 theodolite on Bill Waudby's Central Mount Wedge station. This 1 600 square kilometre property was about 230 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs.


Bill Waudby was less than impressed with the Willys Jeep driven by Dr Bardulis as the track of the rear wheels was wider than the track of the front wheels.  As Bill Waudby predicted the Jeep was unable to cope with the heavy sand hill going in the area.


Image A4: Dr Peter Bardulis in the field with a Wild T4 astronomical theodolite.

XNatmap image.


Adrian Roelse (Nat Map/AUSLIG 1964-1992) recalled that after Tony Bomford joined Nat Map in late 1961, Peter Bardulis together with Arvids Krisjanis worked with Tony in the Astronomy Section of the Geodetic Branch in Canberra.  Later both Peter and Arvids worked with Tony on the astronomical, geodetic computations and survey adjustments required to implement the 1966 Australian Geodetic Datum.


Brian Murphy (Nat Map/AUSLIG 1970-1998) recalled that around 1958 Peter Bardulis had undertaken Wild T4 astronomical theodolite observations to precisely determine the meridian for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s radio telescope at Parkes in central New South Wales.  Construction of the radio telescope (that also operates as Deep Space Station 49), commenced in 1959 and it was operational by 1961.


Brian Murphy also recalled that in the early 1960s, Peter Bardulis determined the precise meridian for Deep Space Station 42 at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla, south west of Canberra city centre.  Peter Bardulis undertook the observations for this determination with a Wild T4 astronomical theodolite.  DSS 42’s then 26-metre diameter antenna became operational in 1964.  It was the first antenna at Tidbinbilla.  The antenna was extended to 34 metres in diameter in the early 1980s.  DSS 42 was retired in 2000 and has since been dismantled.


Deep Space Station 42 antenna at Tidbinbilla.

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex image.


Peter O’ Donnell (Nat Map/AUSLIG 1968-1995), recalled that Peter Bardulis was heavily involved with complex computations in the Geodetic Section of Nat Map’s Canberra office in 1968.  In the late 1960s, Dr Bardulis was no longer undertaking extended field survey duty.


At an outdoor display in Civic Square by the Artists' Society of Canberra over the weekend of 16-17 December 1961, two pictures were exhibited by Peter Bardulis.  His Bush Scene near Finke and Road to Mt Eba, were reported to show a more original sense of the colour and the form of Australian countryside.  In September 1972, Peter Bardulis was 1 of a group of 7 local artists who exhibited their oil paintings in the Canberra Theatre Centre gallery.


In June 1980, an exhibition of works by Peter Bardulis and others was advertised by Gallery 98 in Fyshwick


Owing to the then compulsory Public Service retirement at age 65 years, Peter Bardulis ended his Nat Map career in 1977.  Afterwards Peter continued to live in Canberra.  Sadly, Peter Bardulis died on 3 March 1988 at age 75 years after suffering for some time with stomach cancer.  He was survived by his wife Hilda and their 2 children, daughter Guna and son Uldis, and by 2 grandchildren.  Peter’s funeral service was held in the Chapel at Canberra’s Norwood Park Crematorium on Tuesday 8 March 1988.


In 1969, Guna Bardulis was awarded the School Certificate from Canberra High School with the subjects: English, Science, Mathematics, Geography and History.


Uldis Bardulis  was awarded a Commonwealth Senior Secondary Scholarship in January 1973.  Later that year he was a promising junior archer with the Canberra Archery Club.  Around this time Uldis also competed in 1 500-metre track walking events and in orienteering events.  In February 1975 Uldis was offered an undergraduate place (Law) at the University of New South Wales.  Dr Uldis Bardulis became a medical professional and specialist psychiatrist.


Hilda Bardulis was born on 18 May 1925.  She died on 23 February 2018 at age 92 years.  Hilda’s ashes were interred with those of her late husband in the Reflection Pool area at Canberra’s Norwood Park Crematorium.



Klaus Leppert (1925-1995)


Image A7: Klaus Leppert.

(image provided by Klaus’s daughter Kathy Ellerman)


Klaus worked with the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority as a surveyor between 1951 and January 1962.  Immediately afterwards Klaus took up a position with the Division of National Mapping in Canberra where he went on to become the supervising surveyor in charge of the Geodetic Survey Branch in early 1968.  At Nat Map, Klaus was active in a number of significant activities including geodetic traversing, astronomical observations, levelling and various survey, geodetic and astronomical computations.  He was involved with research and development applications including the introduction of GPS geodetic technologies, the Kern DKM3-A astronomical theodolite, and geodetic techniques for tectonic plate surveys.


Klaus was born on 29 August 1925 at Waldenburg in Silesia that was then in Germany.  He was greatly impacted by World War II; being conscripted for military service at age 17 years and later becoming a lieutenant in the German Army where Klaus served from 1943 to 1945.  His army postings included France, the Balkans and at Dresden.


Agreements made by the Supreme Powers at the Potsdam Conference in 1945 resulted in changes to borders that saw Waldenburg became part of Poland and renamed Walbrzych.  Afterwards most of the native German population was forcibly expelled.


After the War, Klaus was held briefly as a prisoner-of-war by United States forces.  Later Klaus completed his secondary schooling and then undertook a four-year course at the University of Technology in Munich.  He graduated in 1950 with a Diplom Ingeniuer (Dipl Ing) as an Engineer in Surveying and Geodesy.  (The Dipl Ing is the German equivalent of a Master of Science degree.)


Afterwards Klaus worked as a surveyor with the Bavarian Lands Department for a few months.  In June 1951, after securing a position with the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority a few months earlier, Klaus emigrated to Australia classified as a German Scientist (see note below).  His wife Brigitte and their daughter Barbara followed later.


According to a newspaper report, Klaus arrived in Sydney on a Qantas Lockheed Constellation aircraft on 19 June 1951.  He was a colourful figure on arrival wearing a green Tyrolean hat and corduroy plus fours.  Klaus was en route to take up his position as a geodetic surveyor with the Snowy Mountains Authority based in Cooma.


After settling in Australia, Klaus and his wife Brigitte had three more children: daughter Kathy and sons Peter and Stephan.


Klaus Leppert retired from Nat Map on 5 September 1985.  He continued to live in the Canberra suburb of Weetangera.  However, in his later years Klaus’s health suffered from the effects of diabetes.  Sadly, on 2 April 1995, Klaus died peacefully at his Weetangera home.  He was 69 years of age.  A thanksgiving service for Klaus’s life was celebrated in St Peter’s Memorial Lutheran Church at Boolee Street in Reid on Friday 7 April 1995.  At the conclusion of this service Klaus’s funeral departed for the Norwood Park Crematorium.  Klaus was survived by his wife Brigitte and their four children and seven grandchildren.


World War II German reparations and German scientists

Under a February 1946 agreement, Australia received about £3 million reparations in plant and equipment from Germany. The Secondary Industries Division was in close contact with the Australian Scientific and Technical Mission in London which selected the reparations in Germany. These reparations included machine tools, electric generators and a huge hydraulic forging press which was leased to the Newcastle steelworks. The two agencies also collaborated on the recruitment of German scientists and technicians to work in Australia. The scheme commenced in December 1946 and by 1953 about 150 surveyors, chemists, chemical engineers, physicists, metallurgists, food technologists and geologists, together with their families had been brought to Australia. Of these, 59 were allocated to private companies and the remainder to public authorities, such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Defence Research Laboratories, the Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics, the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, and the State Electricity Commission in Victoria; see Powell and Macintyre (2019).


Larry Wordsworth



Image A8: Larry Wordsworth 1988.

(Larry Wordsworth image courtesy The Pathfinders)


Larry Wallace Wordsworth was born in New Zealand on 23 July 1933.  In 1956 he was registered as a surveyor by the Board of Surveyors New Zealand after serving articles under surveyor Thomas Tripp Andrews of T Tripp Andrews and Partner of Auckland.


Soon after qualifying as a land surveyor in Auckland, Larry travelled to the Kingdom of Tonga to start work on an official cadastral survey.  Larry travelled with Bruce Alexander another young New Zealand surveyor who had recently qualified in Christchurch.  Together the two surveyors commenced work under contract to the Government of Tonga on an official Cadastral Survey of the Kingdom.  The official cadastre was to help fulfil a constitutional requirement for every Tongan man to be allocated an area of arable land sufficient to support his family.  Between 22 April 1957 and 31 October 1958 the two New Zealand surveyors embraced the Tongan way of life and were welcomed into villages and homes around the islands.


On 13 April 1959 Larry was registered as a surveyor by the Board of Surveyors of New South Wales.  On 15 September 1961 Larry was registered mining surveyor in New South Wales and on 21 February 1968 he was registered as a specially licensed surveyor by the Surveyors Board of the Australian Capital Territory.


In 1959 Larry Wordsworth moved to Australia and commenced work with the New South Wales Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission in May 1959.  Between June 1960 and May 1961 Larry worked for private practices in Sydney.  Larry then settled in the town of Young in the South West Slopes region of New South Wales.  On 6 June 1961 Larry opened the survey practice of LW Wordsworth and Associates based at the Town Hall in Young.  Later he opened branch offices in Cowra, New Guinea and Darwin.  Larry Wordsworth was also an orchardist in the Young district with interests in fruit for the cherry, prune, olive and grape markets.

In July 1989, Larry became a director of the newly formed company of Wordsworth & Chapman Pty Ltd.  Larry retired in June 1991 and continues to live in Young.


Tony Bomford (1927-2003)


Image A9: Tony Bomford circa 1960s.

(XNatmap image)


Anthony Gerald Bomford was born on 17 January 1927 at Dehra Dun in the foothills of the Himalayas about 240 kilometres north of New Delhi the present day capital of India.  Tony was the only child of Brigadier Dr Guy Bomford OBE (1899-1996) and his first wife Audrey Edith Bomford née Barclay (1902-1964).  Tony’s parents divorced in 1934 and his father remarried in 1935.


Tony went to England with his mother in 1931.  He attended Shrewsbury School, Shropshire about 60 kilometres north west of Birmingham.  In August 1944, Tony joined the Royal Engineers.


In 1945 he was sent by the Army to study at Pembroke College, Cambridge University and later graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with First Class Honours.  Tony completed a course at the Royal School of Military Survey in 1947.  Between 1950 and 1952, he again attended Pembroke College and graduated with a Master of Arts degree; again with First Class Honours.  He then received a foundation scholarship from Pembroke College and spent a further post graduate year studying mainly geodesy and mathematics.


On 24 September 1951, while attending Pembroke College, Tony married Elizabeth Ann Honey whom he had met the previous year.  Their marriage ceremony was held at Mattingley in Hampshire about 65 kilometres south west of London.  Elizabeth was born at Broken Hill in 1928; she was the third daughter of Roy Reynolds Honey (1887-1959) and his wife Gertrude Irene Honey née Underwood (1886-1972).  Tony and Elizabeth had four children.


During 1953-1955, Tony was seconded to the Directorate of Overseas Surveys and served in Tanganyika in central Africa; it had become a British mandated territory in 1922 and gained independence in 1961.  Here Tony was engaged in geodetic triangulation and also measured a baseline with an Invar band; a routine that was soon to be replaced with electronic distance measuring techniques.


During 1955-1956 Tony was the chief surveyor on one of the several expeditions that the British actor and explorer Verner Duncan Carse (1913-2004) made to the island of South Georgia.  This British overseas territory is in the south Atlantic Ocean about 1,800 kilometres east of the south eastern tip of Argentina.


During 1958-1960, Tony was seconded as an exchange officer with the Royal Australian Survey Corps and was engaged in geodetic survey traverses along the Barkly Highway and in the Kimberley.  After his return to the United Kingdom in 1960, Tony was seconded to the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain where he was in charge of air survey operations.  In July 1961, he resigned his commission (then with the rank of Major) and moved to Australia with his family.


Tony Bomford was appointed to the Division of National Mapping as a senior surveyor (surveyor class 2) on 16 November 1961.  In early 1968, Nat Map’s Howard Angus (Bill) Johnson retired from the position of supervising surveyor, Geodetic Survey Branch and that position was taken by Tony Bomford.  However, soon afterwards George Robert Lindsay (Rim) Rimington retired as assistant director in Canberra and Tony Bomford became assistant director in his stead.  As a consequence, Klaus Leppert became the supervising surveyor of the Geodetic Survey Branch.


One of Tony’s major tasks during his early days with National Mapping was the adjustment of the national geodetic survey.  In addition to Nat Map’s own geodetic survey data, Tony obtained the cooperation of National Mapping Council member organisations to collect all available geodetic survey data in Australia.

He compiled a FORTRAN program (Varycord) to make the national geodetic least squares adjustment by variation of coordinates.  The only computer able to cope with the volume of data at the time was the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s CDC 3600.  Tony had much of the program written before the computer was installed in June 1964 and the Varycord program's first run was only three months later.

From June 1965 to May 1966 a complete least squares adjustment of the Australian geodetic network was carried out.  (The adjustment of New Guinea on the Australian Geodetic Datum immediately followed.)  The aim of the Australian adjustment was to produce one set of unique adjusted co-ordinates for each of the 2,506 geodetic survey stations, together with a unique set of adjusted angles, azimuths and distances.  The National Mapping Council adopted the new Australian Geodetic Datum (AGD66) on 21 April 1966.  The datum was subsequently proclaimed in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette No 84 of 6 October 1966.  The grid coordinates derived from a Universal Transverse Mercator projection of the AGD66 coordinates were termed the Australian Map Grid coordinates (Manning, 2011).

Tony Bomford went on to become Director of National Mapping and Chairman of the National Mapping Council following Bruce Lambert’s retirement in 1977.  (Tony had earlier lodged an appeal against the provisional promotion of longer serving Assistant Director John Douglas Joe Lines (1920-2001) to the position of Director but Joe retired on ill health grounds before the appeal was heard.)  Tony held the positions of Director of National Mapping and Chairman of the National Mapping Council until commencing pre-retirement leave in August 1981; he formally retired in 1982 at age 55 years.

Sadly, Tony Bomford died in Canberra on 10 May 2003 at age 76 years; he had been diagnosed with cancer about 15 months earlier.  Tony was survived by his wife Elizabeth and their four children.


Frank Doolan BEM (1896-1988)


Image A10: Frank Doolan in later life.

(St Patrick’s College Ballarat image.)


Francis John Doolan was born at the Melbourne suburb of Armadale on 1 June 1896.  He was the second of two sons born to John Francis Doolan and his wife Sara Ann Doolan née Morey.  Frank’s older brother was Edward Denis Doolan.  Frank was educated at several schools beginning at Malvern.  In 1908 when in the fifth grade, Frank boarded at St Patrick’s College Ballarat.  He then attended schools at Albert Park, Woori Yallock, and finally at South Melbourne from 1912 to 1914.

Frank’s brother Edward enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 17 August 1914.  He served as a bugler with the 5th Battalion at Gallipoli and in Egypt.  Owing to persistent hospitalisations with a hernia condition, Edward was invalided to Australia in June 1916 and discharged on 28 August 1916.  As with his brother Frank, during Edward’s war service the address of his next of kin was care of the Coffee Palace, Bridport Street Albert Park; this heritage registered building at 152-158 Bridport Street is now used as privately owned apartments.

From 1914 to 1917, Frank served articles with John Montgomery Coane and his son Henry Edward Coane, consulting civil engineers and surveyors.  However, prior to undertaking the Surveyors Board’s practical examinations in 1917, Frank enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 20 November 1917 and served as a sapper with the 1st Division Signals in France and Belgium but did not see active service at the front.  Frank was discharged on 10 September 1919.

Before returning to Australia in August 1919, Frank attended the AIF Survey School at Southampton.  Many future leaders in the survey profession in Australia also attended this school.  The attendees included; Frederick Marshall Johnston (Commonwealth Surveyor General, inaugural Director of National Mapping and Chairman of the National Mapping Council); Alexander Hubert Hawdon Davison (Surveyor-General South Australia); Harold Leslie Fisk (Surveyor-General South Australia); Walter Vernon Fyfe (Surveyor-General Western Australia); and Daniel Stern Mulley (Surveyor-General New South Wales).

The 1919 AIF Survey School attendees also included: George James Gillespie (principal of a Melbourne survey practice to which a number of Nat Mappers were articled, World War II Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Director of Survey, and inaugural President of the Institution of Surveyors, Australia); Percy Herbert Bonnet (Surveyor-General Malaya); Arthur Rowland McComb (Regional Director Civil Aviation); John Alister Ewing (Western Australian surveyor and engineer; and inventor of the Ewing tacheometer); Arnold Hugh Garnsey (City of Sydney Chief Engineer and a Lieutenant‑Colonel in World War II); Francis Howard Burcher (Queensland surveyor to whom Nat Mapper Edmund Francis Norman (Ted) Seton was later articled) (Johnston, 1962).

After his discharge from the AIF on 10 September 1919, Frank Doolan completed the Surveyors Board of Victoria practical examinations and was registered as a licensed surveyor on 14 November 1919.  Afterwards, Frank entered into a private practice in partnership with Edward Christian Le Brocq Bartels (1890-1953).

(Edward Bartels was a licensed surveyor prior to enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force on 31 January 1915.  That year his registered address was 70 Queen Street Melbourne; the same address as JM and HE Coane.  Bartels joined the AIF in the ranks and rose to be temporary captain.  He served in the Middle East with the 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance and later with the 2nd Field Squadron, Australian Engineers.  He was discharged on 2 October 1919.)

Bartels and Doolan Licensed Surveyors operated from premises on the 2nd floor of 9 Queen Street Melbourne.  During the early years of his partnership with Edward Bartels, Frank worked mainly in rural areas; mostly on surveys for the Forests Commission.  Later the partners employed Charles Thomas Lindsay Goodchild (1897-1941).  (Charles Goodchild was born in England and enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at 18 years of age on 12 June 1916.  He served as a lieutenant with the 3rd Division Field Artillery; saw action in France and returned to Australia on 15 December 1919.)

Bartels and Doolan undertook many hundreds of check surveys for War Service Homes.  The partnership was also engaged to prepare plans for a major foreshore development stretching from Airey's Inlet east along the present Great Ocean Road to Point Roadknight (to the west of Anglesea).  It was intended to create the Riviera of Australia that would include hotels, a casino, racecourse, aerodrome and a large residential subdivision.  The development did not eventuate but part of the subdivision was completed as the Sunnymead Estate at Anglesea.

Frank’s partnership with Edward Bartels was dissolved in 1924.  In March 1924, Frank married Lillian Johnston.  Frank and Lillian were to have three sons: Desmond, Geoffrey and Maurice.

In 1925, the firm Doolan and Goodchild was established.  One of the major surveying commissions for this firm was precisely locating the site for the Shrine of Remembrance within the Government Domain on St Kilda Road in Melbourne.

This commission included control of the Shine’s construction to exact measurements and determination of the placing of the aperture in the side of the roof so that the ray of light would shine on the word love on the stone of remembrance within the Shrine’s Sanctuary at 11: am on Armistice Day each year (that is, on 11 November, now called Remembrance Day).


Image A11: Frank Doolan (centre) surveying during construction of the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance in early 1930s.

(Shrine of Remembrance image.)


(The foundation stone for the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance was laid on 11 November 1927.  The building was designed by World War I veteran architects Phillip Hudson and James Wardrop together with Kingsley Ussher who was the third architect.  Construction by contractors Vaughan and Lodge commenced in 1928 and was completed in September 1934.  However, until his death on 8 October 1931 General Sir John Monash kept a keen interest in the creation and construction of the Shrine.  In 1927, Monash had used support from Legacy and other quarters to overcome ongoing opposition to a solemn monument to the 19,000 Victorian killed in World War I.  Opponents who included Keith Murdoch and his Herald newspaper favoured a structure of some utility such as a hospital or an ANZAC square in the city.)

Julius Frederick Valentine Knight (1909-1986) met Frank Doolan in 1925 and later became his articled pupil.  Jule Knight was registered as a licensed surveyor on 16 June 1930.  Planning for the ray of light at the Shrine of Remembrance was undertaken by the Victorian government astronomer Dr Joseph Mason Baldwin (1878-1945) and the surveying firm of Doolan and Goodchild.

It took Dr Baldwin, 144 pages of astronomical and mathematical calculations to ensure the precision of the ray of light.  Baldwin calculated that the ray would continue to fall upon the centre of the stone, within two minutes of 11: am on Remembrance Day, for at least 5,000 years.  The accuracy of the calculations was first tested at 11: am on Armistice Day in 1931, when to the relief of the surveyors, the ray of sunlight fell upon the mortar-board where the stone of remembrance was to be laid (Shrine of Remembrance, undated).

Also in 1931, it was Jule Knight’s calculations that positioned the floor plate and roof slit to ensure that the sun would shine on the stone of remembrance as required.  These calculations are still held in a basement vault at the Shrine.  Jule Knight joined the Department of the Interior, Canberra in 1939 and served with that department until 1969 (Atchison, 2007; ACT Government, 2012).

The economic depression of the 1930s impacted adversely on surveying and Charles Goodchild left the partnership with Frank Doolan to work on government surveys in Malaya (where he died in 1941).  Frank Doolan was forced to diversify to other fields and eventually closed his survey practice.

In 1936, he became valuer for the Shire of Eltham and carried out a complete revaluation of the Shire within six months.  Frank then undertook several short term appointments, including as an instructor in surveying at the then Melbourne Technical College and then as a senior surveyor with Meudell, Gillespie and Company.  In 1938, Frank Doolan joined the Department of the Interior in Melbourne as a surveyor; he became chief property officer for Victoria in 1950 and held that position until he retired in 1961.  Frank Doolan became an associate member of the Commonwealth Institute of Valuers in 1942 and was elected as a fellow in 1952.  Frank was an active member of the Institution of Surveyors and elected as a fellow in 1954.

On many occasions throughout his life, Frank Doolan exhibited his character as a humanitarian and a gentleman.  In keeping with his character, he had maintained an intense interest in the care of deceased veterans’ families which grew from his own service experience in the Australian Imperial Force.

In 1923 General Sir John Gellibrand founded a Remembrance Club in Hobart to encourage returned servicemen in business.  Captain Stanley Savige (later Lieutenant General Sir George Stanley Savige) then a former 24th Battalion officer who served on Gellibrand's staff visited Hobart in August 1923.  Gellibrand urged Savige to set up a similar club in Melbourne.  After Savige's return to Melbourne, a group of ex-servicemen formed a Remembrance Club there and its inaugural meeting was held at ANZAC House.  However, Frank Doolan, as a member, suggested that the club should care for the dependants of comrades who served their country in war and who died in service or subsequently.  From these words came the formation of the Legacy Club in 1925; and the words were included as part of Legacy’s charter.

Frank Doolan retained an active interest in the affairs of Legacy well into his later years.  For example, in 1978 when in his mid-80s as a legatee Frank planted an Aleppo pine near the VC corner at Fort Queenscliff.  The planting came from the original Lone Pine at Gallipoli; see Image A12 below.


Image A12: Aleppo pine at Fort Queenscliff planted by Frank Doolan in 1978; seen here in 2015.

(Ballarat Heritage Services Image.)


St Patrick’s College at Ballarat has perpetuated the memory of Frank Doolan through one of four individual shields that are awarded annually on a House competition basis.  These shields represent the four identified areas for student participation in the College.  The Frank Doolan shield is awarded for community activities.

From at least the mid-1960s, Frank Doolan and his family lived in a modified Californian bungalow style weatherboard home at 55 Arderie Road East Malvern.  The house was still standing in 2017.

In 1971, Victoria together with some other States adopted a daylight saving time during an extended summer period.  Tasmania had adopted daylight saving in 1968.  For the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Shrine of Remembrance the time change meant that the ray of light would not be shining on the stone of remembrance at 11: am.  For the next few years an artificial light from a theatre spot light was used to illuminate the stone of remembrance on Remembrance Day.  Then Frank Doolan, on behalf of the Shrine of Remembrance Trustees, approached Frank Johnston at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology to devise a means of reflecting the sun’s ray on to the stone of remembrance at the required time.  Frank Johnston had a method using two mirrors in place from 1976; this method is still in use.

On 30 December 1979, Frank Doolan was recognised with the award of the Medal of the Order of the British Empire.

Sadly, Frank Doolan died on 1 August 1988 at age 92 years.  His funeral service was held at St Mary's Anglican Church in Glen Eira Road Caulfield and was attended by a very large gathering.


Appendix B


National Mapping Aerodist Areas and Operations

Figure B1 Final Aerodist block areas within geodetic traverse loops.

(From McMaster, 1980.)


Figure B2: An Aerodist one degree braced quadrilateral.

(Adapted from Else, 1972.)




Appendix C


Laplace Observations

A Laplace observation consists of a series of precise observations carried out at geodetic survey stations for the purpose of determining astronomical latitudes, longitudes and azimuths that are subsequently incorporated as an integral part of the survey calculations.  However, only longitude and azimuth observations are necessary for azimuth control but latitude is necessary for geoid studies (Lambert, 1964).


The Laplace correction is named after Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749–1827).  It is used to relate a geodetic azimuth to an astronomical azimuth.  The correction is made at a point called a Laplace station, where the deflections of the vertical components are known.  In a broader sense, the Laplace equations are used to connect the real physical world with a mathematical representation.



Figure C1: Deflection of the Vertical

(From Wise, 2014.)


The mathematical ellipsoid/spheroid normal is perpendicular to the tangent to the curve of spheroid.  In the physical world, the direction of the plumbline is the result of physical forces acting on an object.  Refer to Figure C1 above.  Although the difference is not significant for many applications, at any given point in the terrain the direction of the spheroid normal and the direction of the plumbline differ and must be considered in geodetic computations.


The direction of the normal at any point in the terrain is well defined and computable.  Given the non-uniform distribution of mass within the Earth, however, the precise direction of the plumb line at the same point is less predictable.  The difference between the spheroid normal and the vertical plumb line is called deflection of the vertical.


The spheroid surface is not necessarily parallel with the level surface of the terrain or geoid.  The angular amount by which the two surfaces are not parallel is given by the deflection of the vertical and is expressed in terms of a north/south or in meridian component and an east/west or in prime vertical component.


Astronomical observations of directions to stars are gravity based and yield astronomical positions.  Survey (azimuth and distance from a known point to an unknown point) derived positions are spheroidal based and provide geodetic positions.  The two systems are related by the Laplace equations:


Deflection in meridian (ξ or east/west direction):

   ξ = Astronomic latitude - Geodetic latitude                                                 (1)

Deflection in prime vertical (η or north/south direction):

   η = (Astronomic longitude - Geodetic longitude) cos (Geodetic latitude)     (2)


   η = (Astronomic azimuth - Geodetic azimuth) cot (Geodetic latitude)          (3)


Equations (2) and (3) show that deflection in prime vertical (η) can be deduced from the difference of either the astronomic and geodetic longitudes or of the astronomic and geodetic azimuths.  As the two values for η must be the same then combining equations (2) and (3) gives:


Geodetic azimuth = Astronomic azimuth

[(Astronomic longitude - Geodetic longitude) sin (Geodetic latitude)]   (4)


Equation (4) is most important as it enables the geodetic azimuth at any Laplace station to be determined from a combination of astronomical azimuth and longitude observations.  Laplace stations therefore permit an independent check to be made on a survey’s derived azimuth especially on long geodetic traverses such as occurred in Australia.  In the 1966 Australian adjustment, of the 2,506 geodetic stations used, 533 were also Laplace stations.


In Australia, however, the Laplace observations were also used to establish the central origin for the Australian spheroid following the 1965 adoption of the parameters for the Australian National Spheroid (ANS).  The central origin would ultimately have geodetic coordinates such that the resulting means of the deflections of the vertical (ξ and η from above) at a selected 275 Laplace stations were close to zero.


In 1965, the accepted coordinates for the central origin, based on the 275 Laplace stations, resulted in a mean deflection of +0.15" in meridian and -0.36" in prime vertical.  Later testing, revealed that this result could not be improved even if a much larger number of Laplace stations were used.  The central origin so determined became known as the Johnston Origin and was monumented as the Johnston Geodetic Station; see Image C1 below.  The Johnston Geodetic Station is located on Mt Cavenagh station in the Northern Territory; just to the west of the Stuart Highway a few kilometres north of the South Australian border.


Adapted from: The Johnston Geodetic Station Fifty Years On, compiled by Paul Wise, during November – December 2014.


Image C1: Johnston Geodetic Station looking south with Mt Cavenagh homestead in background on 26 July 2012.

(Laurie McLean image.)



Appendix D

Astronomical Theodolites Used by Frank Johnston for Nat Map Laplace and Geoid Profile Observations 1958-1970

Wild T4 Astronomical Theodolite

Image D1: Wild T4 astronomical theodolite.

(Wild Heerbrugg Virtual Archive image.)


The Wild Heerbrugg T4 theodolite was used for geodetic astronomy and angular measurements in first order networks.  The Wild T4 was world renowned as the ultimate in surveying theodolites, it was one of the largest and most precise micrometer theodolites ever made.  Circle readings were read directly to 0.1 arc second horizontally and 0.2 arc second vertically, these circle reading could be estimated to half that interval.  Between 1941 and 1981 Wild produced a total of only 439 T4 instruments, many them are now on display in surveying instruments museums all over the world.


The Wild T4 Universal Instrument was the largest of the Wild range of theodolites and was used for geodetic triangulation, astronomical observations and geographical position determinations.  Its broken telescope (with 65x magnification) allowed comfortable sighting to the zenith.  Telescope length: 540 mm.  Height: 467 mm.  Approximate overall weight: 48 kilograms.  Circle readings were made with an optical micrometer and by coincidence setting of diametrically opposite graduations.  The horizontal circle was read directly to 0.1 of a second and the vertical circle was 0.2 of a second. Accessories of equally high precision were also available for use with the T4, such as a chronograph, a chronometer and a time signal receiver.


Main source: Wild Heerbrugg (2017).



Kern DMK3-A Astronomical Theodolite

Image D2: Kern DMK3-A Astronomical Theodolite.

(Kern brochure image from Swisstek website.)


Kern DMK3-A Technical Data

Telescope magnification 46x with alternate eyepiece 30x.  Objective aperture 2.7 inches (68 mm). Shortest focusing distance 16.4 feet (5 m).  Field view 20 ft. (20 m) at 1,000 feet (1 km).  Eyepiece and recording micrometer: Number of revolutions 10.  1 revolution: 10 contacts=1.00 drum units (du).  1 drum unit ~ 1".  Width of contact 1 du.  Drum: interval 0.5 du.  Diameter of horizontal circle 4.1 in. (104 mm).  Diameter of vertical circle 4.1 in (104 mm).  Circle reading, direct 0.5”. Circle reading by estimation 0.1”.  Sensitivity of plate level 10"/2 mm.  Sensitivity of collimation level 10'/2 mm.  Height of horizontal axis 6.7 in (170 mm).  Weight of instrument 31.3 lbs (14.2 kg).  Weight of carrying case 8.6 lbs (3.9 kg).  Dimensions of carrying case 13.8 x 7.1 x 114 in (36 x 18 x 29 cm).


Kern DMK3-A Accessories

Centering tripod No.1748 with wooden extension legs.  Centering tripod No.174A with rigid wooden legs.  Electrical illumination, 3 Volt or 6 Volt, including battery case and hand lamp (the telescope of the DKM 3-A has a built-in variable reticule illumination).  Autocollimation eyepiece with beam splitter for 6 Volt illumination.  Autocollimation mirror with 90' magnetic base.  Striding level with chambered level vial 1.5-2.5” with or without lucite rod.  Striding level with chambered level vial 0.8-1.4" with or without lucite rod.  Double Horrebow level with chambered level vial 1.5-2.5” with or without lucite rod.  Double Horrebow level with chambered level vial 0.8-1.4" with or without lucite rod.  Front lens attachment for short sights.  Optical roof and ground plummet.  Extension rod for centering rod of centering tripod.  Trivets.  Centering plugs.  Centering plate.  Desiccant.  Fungicide compound.

Shoulder carrying strap.  Ruck sack.  Pack rack.  Padded shipping container.


Source: Kern and Company Ltd brochure on Swisstek website (undated).