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This is where you will be able to find selected historical information relevant to the surveying and mapping of Australia under the following headings :
Australian Exploration (pre 1787)
- From flat-earth to Phillip, a series of papers about the discovery and first settlement of Australia (source unknown).
- We easily remember Arthur Phillip and James Cook as part of Australia's history. However, we should not overlook the impact on that history of the Longitude Act, John and William Harrison, Nevil Maskelyne and the other navigational improvements the Act funded. With the idea of a Longitude Reward being revived in 2014, this article The Longitude Reward - its association with the founding and settlement of Australia covers these other aspects especially Harrison's work on obtaining accurate longitude at sea.
- Following the success of Larcum Kendall's copy K1, of John Harrison's marine timekeeper H4, as reported by Lieutenant James Cook, K1 operated for another twenty years with only minor repairs. Several mariner-navigators, whose names are closely associated with early Australian discovery and settlement, all used Kendall's timepieces during their voyages as described in this article Marine Timekeepers used by Cook, Phillip and Flinders.
- Shadwell's Manual for the Accurate Determination of Meridian Distances by Chronometer
It is easy for us today to think that once an accurate timekeeper/chronometer had been invented, and was readily available, that the age old problem of position fixing at sea had been solved at last. Charles Frederick Alexander Shadwell (1814-1886, later Admiral Sir) showed that the use of the new timekeepers or chronometers for finding longitude was, for the most part, unreliable. Notes on the Management of Chronometers and the Measurement of Meridian Distances, produced by Shadwell, was first published in 1855 and revised in 1861. This article provides some history and details on Shadwell's Manual and his methodology to standardise position fixing.
Colonial Australia (1788-1900)
- The Empire, a former Sydney newspaper, published on its page 3 of Wednesday 2 September 1857, a lecture on Land Surveying given by then Australia's first Governor General, Sir William Denison. Denison described Geodesy, Geometry, Geography and Trigonometry as used by the surveyor to map out or divide the surface of the earth into portions of different sizes to suit the wants of its inhabitants. He also talked about the evil of the system whereby the expedient allocation of land lasts way beyond the need for such a temporary measure and thus results in the likelihood that the same piece of land be allocated to two people and the ultimate recourse to litigation to resolve the problem.
- Robert Lewis John Ellery and the Geodetic Survey of Victoria from the Print Media
Ellery is mainly recognised for his astronomical work; his crucial survey work is either glossed over or seen as part of his role as a public servant. It is the aim of this paper by Paul Wise, to highlight Ellery's significant role in the Geodetic Survey of Victoria as evidenced by reports in the print media of the time.
- Had it been considered important a Victorian newspaper headline on Friday 4 July 1873 may have read :
Geodetic Survey of Victoria :
"It will be done when completed and cost what it costs" Ellery tells Victorian Government
Robert Lewis John Ellery (after whom Natmap's Dandenong premises was named) as Superintendent of the Geodetic Survey was responding to a request by the then Honourable James Joseph Casey MP, Minister of Lands and Agriculture. Ellery's report was tabled in the Victorian Legislative Assembly on the night of Thursday 3 July 1873. On Monday 7 July 1873 the Argus newspaper published Ellery's response on page 6! This example of the Victorian government's intransigence to the surveying and mapping of its colony, followed a similar occurrence in the earlier colony of New South Wales. Both governments wanted organised settlement but neither wanted to pay for it to occur. Seems this became a recurring theme when Australian governments considered the surveying and mapping of their administrations!
- Colonel William Light's (1786-1839), initial trig formally monumeneted by a plaque in the Adelaide CBD as shown in this article from the Adelaide Advertiser of 28 April 2018 courtesy Bill Stuchbery.
- This article Australia : Colonies, States/Territories & Federation is an update of the one that was printed in the NatMap News No. 50 of December 1984. In checking its currency the attached two papers were found which provide a similar overview albeit from 1894 and 2013, plus a 1971 paper focusing on the instruments of establishment or alteration of the various boundaries.
Post Federation Australia (1901-1946)
- Astronomy and Geodesy in Australia to 1914 is extracted from a longer paper by Pietro Baracchi, F.R.A.S., the then Government Astronomer of Victoria. His original paper was included in a Handbook specially prepared for the use of members of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, at the Australian Meeting of 1914. He reports on how astronomy in Australia from the earliest times laid the foundation for Australian geodesy including the resolutions of the 1912 meeting of Surveyors-General in Melbourne.
- Kidson the geophysicist, 1914 camel trek from Prieview : Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists, Issues 115 & 116 of April & June 2005 respectively.
State or Territory related (post 1946)
- When the Melbourne Observatory in the Royal Botanic Gardens closed in 1944, one of its telescopes was sold and relocated to the Mount Stromlo Observatory in Canberra. The telescope was built in Dublin in 1869 and was a major Melbourne attraction as being then the second largest telescope in the world and the largest in the southern hemisphere (manufactured by Grubb Parsons, more formally called Sir Howard Grubb Parsons & Company Ltd, who also made the Photographic Zenith Tube (PZT) operated for many years by Natmap). It became known as The Great Melbourne Telescope or GMT. The 2003 Canberra bushfires raged across the top of Mount Stromlo destroying the telescope but left the original cast iron frame relatively unscathed (Natmap lost its Satellite Laser Ranging facility in the same fire). Museums Victoria recovered the telescope's remains and brought them back to Melbourne in 2008, partnering with the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Astronomical Society of Victoria to refurbish it and return it to its original home for community use. The 10 metre high structure has been reassembled in time for its 150th anniversary and can be viewed at Scienceworks this 2019/20 summer. Ultimately it will reside again in the Melbourne Observatory in the Botanic Gardens. More information is available in this 2014 article The Great Melbourne Telescope by Ragbir Bhathal from Astronomy & Geophysics, Volume 55, Issue 3, June 2014, Pages 3.16-3.19, (https://doi.org/10.1093/astrogeo/atu123).
- Just over a century ago Surveyor's Harry Mouat and Frederick Marshall Johnston met on the now Australian Capital Territory - New South Wales border, thus completing the demarcation survey. While this was an important event in the history of the ACT these two papers Some Historical Aspects of Australian Capital Territory Mapping and its Map Grid and Some of the early Survey Work of Thomas Alexander Vance (1882 - 1959), cover lesser known elements associated with the surveying and mapping of the ACT.
- The 1800 kilometre long, north-south border between the state of Western Australia and the states of South Australia and the Northern Territory runs east-west for over one hundred metres at latitude 26 degrees south. The opportunity to make the border a single straight line was rejected by the States involved in 1967. More detail can be found in this article.
- Jackey Jackey airfield was named after Galmahra, an aboriginal youth selected to accompany the explorer and assistant surveyor Edmund Besley Court Kennedy (1818-1848) and eleven other men on an expedition to Cape York Peninsula. However, over the years this airfield has had other names and is today the Northern Peninsula airport. This article covers the origin and some history of this airfield.