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Welcome to XNATMAP

A site for preserving NATMAP's (The Division of National Mapping) history and maintaining contact with the people who were part of that history. As the Australian Landsat Station (ALS), later the Australian Centre for Remote Sensing (ACRES) was part of the Division its history also forms part of this site.

Information on map reading and interpretation, specifically for Natmap medium scale topographic maps, can be found in Natmap’s Topographic Maps : a guide to map reading and Notes on Map Reading.

    Australia’s Contribution to the PAGEOS Project

    By the mid-1960s the geodetic datums of Europe and South America had been connected to North America. Likewise, North Africa had been connected to Europe via Greece. However, while Australia and Papua New Guinea had had the islands to the north and east connected to them, this chain of stations remained isolated from the northern hemisphere.

    Network of BC-4 camera stations


    BC-4 camera

    With the launch on 24 June 1966 of PAGEOS (Passive Geodetic Earth Orbiting Satellite), a global geodetic network was established to observe this satellite and establish a uniform geodetic datum. Commencing in 1967, Australia’s contribution to the success of this project was not insignificant and can be viewed via this link.

    What's New

      As of 20 October 2017

      • Natmap lost one of its characters and a gentlemen, with the recent passing of Ian Jeffrey Miller (26 May 1946 - 9 October 2017). A Vale has now been prepared and is available via this link.
      • Frank Johnston's outstanding career as a professional surveyor extended over more than 40 years and involved undertaking major engineering and mapping projects as well as teaching new geospatial professionals. Frank's surveying and mapping work with National Mapping commenced in 1958 and ended in 1974. However, it was only between 1971 and 1974 that Frank was employed as a Nat Map staff member, in that period he was an Aerodist field party leader. In this article Laurie McLean provides a biographical sketch of Frank Johnston and also gives brief glimpses of some of the major professional figures with whom Frank interacted.
      • The little known Relief Model of Australia is a 64 square metre representation of Australia at approximately 1: 500,000 scale. Conceived, and built under his supervision by Edwin Sherbon Hills (1906-1986) of the University of Melbourne, it was initially financed by the Army but finally completed with funding from National Mapping in 1954. The Commonwealth's copy of the 26 parts of the model is housed by Museums Victoria in its Moreland Storage Annex in Melbourne.
      • An album of photographs taken on 11 July 1985 at the retirement function for Bob Robinson, Chief Executive Officer Cartography, at Natmap.
      • In the 2004 biography titled The Major : Lt. Col. Hugh Powell Gough Clews, by Noel Rodney Gough (1929-2010), many Natmappers will recognise names of former colleagues. The biography was produced to acknowledge the remarkable contribution made by Clews towards the development of mapping in Australia from 1912 to 1958 and especially during work on the Snowy Mountains Scheme. Readers should note that there are some minor discrepancies of a year or so between some dates in this account and those recorded in Clews' Australian Army service record.
      • An album of photographs, taken during his days of field work with Natmap, courtesy Laurie Edebohls may be viewed this link.
      • William James Sear (1900-1986) was National Mapping's chief cartographer from 16 March 1950 until his retirement at age 65 years on 2 July 1965. In this article Laurie McLean provides an outline of Bill Sear's life and his career as a draftsman that spanned some 48 years.
      • The technology of Electronic Distance Measuring (EDM) was a major factor in the successful completion of Australia's national survey and mapping programs. Terrestrial and later airborne EDM systems evolved from World War Two radar developments and were at the forefront of surveying technology until the advent of satellite-based surveying and navigation technology in the 1970s. This paper Airborne Electronic Distance Measuring : A Brief History seeks to catalogue the major airborne distance measuring systems that were developed during the twentieth century, with the focus on the history and use of airborne EDM used in, or associated with, the surveying and mapping of Australia.
      • The Aerodist airborne distance measuring system was used by Nat Map between 1963 and 1974 to obtain horizontal ground control for the 1:100,000 scale national topographic map series. Laurie McLean has prepared this extensive article on Nat Map's Aerodist years in consultation with many of the Nat Mappers who were involved in the Aerodist program from up to over half a century ago. The article incorporates many of these Nat Mappers' recollections.
      • Previously in What's New

        Go to ...

      • Available National Mapping Technical Reports.

      • The National Mapping Council of Australia (NMC) and the Division of National Mapping (Natmap).
      • Bibliography of the History of Australia's National Topographic Mapping Agencies by Dorothy Prescott, 2003.
      • Oral histories given by National Mapping pesonnel, as recorded by the National Library of Australia.
      • All editions of the NATMAP News.
      • Conference of the Director of Commonwealth Lands and Surveys, the Surveyor-General and the Government Astronomer of New Zealand, and the Surveyors-General of the States of the Commonwealth of Australia; Melbourne, 20th to 25th May, 1912.
      • Conference on National Survey and Mapping of Australia, Commonwealth Survey Committee and State Surveyors-General; Canberra, 15th to 19th January, 1945.
      • Training Notes for National Mapping Field Survey Staff were compiled by Reginald Arthur Ford, Senior Technical Officer, while he was the Training Officer for the Melbourne Office. After many years of field experience, Reg documented most of the Nat Map Melbourne's accepted field survey procedures and methodologies covered by these notes. As such this document represents the consistent standard provided to and expected from all involved in field survey work during the late 1960s and 1970s. These notes were never published but just photocopied as required. This web version was derived from the personal copies provided by a number of Natmappers and their cooperation is appreciated. While every effort has been made to ensure correct conversion, users may find minor inconsistencies in the text and tables.
      • Collected articles and papers about the USAF Southwest Pacific Survey, Project AF60-13 and its use of HIRAN.
        A 25 minute (75MB download, MP4 file) 1961 USAF film on geodesy by Hiran can be viewed via this link. The film also has some interesting glimpses of various supporting technologies.

      • Related Sites

        | National Topographic Mapping | Geodesy | Satellite Imagery |
        | Antarctica |
        | The Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI) | The Mapping Sciences Institute |

        Deceased content warning

        This website may contain the images of deceased Aboriginal persons. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers should exercise care in viewing the content.

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