Program 1963


In preparing the 1963 field program a major consideration was the necessity for National Mapping to provide a geodetic survey party to undertake the geodetic survey of the New Guinea Highlands. As a comprehensive report The Highland Geodetic Survey of New Guinea by H.A. Johnson, Supervising Surveyor, is available and as it is not part of the geodetic survey of Australia, no attempt will be made to describe operations in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea. However a list of survey statistics and the names of personnel involved is provided at the close of this chapter.


The following had also to be taken into account in organising the field program:


During the previous field season O.J. Bobroff and J.W. Witzand had been promoted to Surveyor Class 2 (local designation Senior Surveyor).


During the first half of 1963 Field Assistants (Survey) E. Burke and R. Goldsworthy were to attend the Basic Survey Course at the School of Military Survey, Royal Australian Army Survey Corps.


As astronomical observations were required on as many stations as possible in New Guinea, A.G. Bomford was organising training for this, combined with a further field program in the general area of Woomera. This was held in February 1963, the observation used was again the Almucantar for longitude and the circum-meridian for latitude using the Wild T3 theodolite and split-hand stopwatch. G.J. Cruickshanks, I. Johnson, J. Allen and B. Campbell (booker) were involved in this survey which gave those going to New Guinea the valuable practise they needed.


The 1963 field program in Australia and New Guinea was:


  (i)    Beaconing, clearing and proving lines, Dalby - Charleville ‑ Mt Howitt, Queensland in preparation for Theodolite/Tellurometer traverse.


O.J. Bobroff would complete this task.


 (ii)    Reconnaissance for tower traverses, Cook to coastal traverse, SA, Cook to Forrest, WA, and Loongana to coastal traverse, WA


Theodolite/Tellurometer tower traverse Ooldea SA to Rawlinna, WA, with connections to coastal traverse from Cook and Loongana; also five stations (three towers) north of Cook. Simultaneous reciprocal azimuths along every fourth line.


R.A. Ford would complete this task.


(iii)    Triangulation and Tellurometer measuring through New Guinea Highlands, with astronomical comparisons.


H.A. Johnson would direct this task.


(iv)    Otway Ranges, Victoria - King Island - N.W. Tasmania traverse.


To be organised from Melbourne office using whatever personnel available in February.


(v)    Mildura - Broken Hill (tower section of traverse).


This was not on the original program but was fitted in on an opportunity basis in September.


Proving lines, beaconing and clearing Dalby - Charleville - Mt Howitt, Queensland


This traverse had been reconnoitred by A.G. Bomford with the aid of a helicopter, in 1962. The reconnaissance had revealed that owing to the timbered nature of the terrain and the lack of hills in the Charleville - Quilpie area a lot of preparatory work would be required before traversing could be undertaken.


O.J. Bobroff was party leader; he had with him a small but experienced party. They left Melbourne in May. However as most of them had worked previously in SA, WA or the NT, the more attractive better timbered country was a welcome change.


One labour saving item that was introduced for this clearing task was the chainsaw. The first requirement was to familiarise a few people with the equipment. O.J. Bobroff who had previously had some experience with the chainsaw, and who being a Queenslander was familiar with the type of timber, was able to give sound instruction in the use of the saw. However axes were still used extensively in clearing the smaller timber.


During the field season 29 stations were prepared including two which would require towers and scaffolding for the observations. This traverse was completely ready for observing in 1964 by the time the field party returned to Melbourne in November.


In September Field Assistant (Survey) F. Combe joined the field party. This enabled O.J. Bobroff to hand over the beaconing and clearing operations, leaving him free to go ahead with a feasibility reconnaissance for a traverse between Breadalbane and Mt Isa.


Nullarbor Plain, Reconnaissance and Traversing


Owing to the almost constant windy conditions experienced in that area in 1962, and the difficulties it caused when attempting to observe from, towers, a great deal of thought was given to the problem during the break between seasons. Decisions from these deliberations were:


  (i)    The twenty foot towers would be used and would be spaced so that the horizontal angle and simultaneous reciprocal azimuths could be done from the ground level, the horizontal angles to a set of vanes on top of the tower and the azimuths to lights. Measurements and simultaneous reciprocal vertical angles would be done from tower to tower.


 (ii)    The vanes would be small to suit the short length of the lines, would be portable and a bracket would be made so that they could be interchanged with the Tellurometer, theodolite or Lucas light within a few seconds.


(iii)    Long guys complete with stainless steel turn-buckles and fittings as used on yacht rigging gear and tested to approved standards, would be purchased for the scaffolding.


Apart from a couple of orthodox stations at terminal points this would be a tower traverse all the way; during this season it was hoped to clear up all the long tower traverses leaving only a few odd tower requirements in known difficult areas on other traverses.


A fairly large party left Melbourne for Cook at the end of March, however as an observing party was to go to New Guinea some would only be with the field party for barely one month. R. Ford was party leader and observer, the other observers and Tellurometer operators were J. Pearson, R. Maruff, J. Allen, D. Hutton and R. Scott. A. Colvin would be survey computer.


Under direction, F. Combe would reconnoitre Cook to the coastal traverse and then Cook to Forrest emplacing station and reference marks; also erecting towers as the reconnaissance progressed.


The four week period was used to give as much experience as possible to J. Allen, D. Hutton and R. Scott in any aspect of survey they thought necessary to fit them for the New Guinea operation.


The observing party commenced at the eastern end of the traverse at Mt Bates near Ooldea, on 3 April and completed the section west to Cook from where the New Guinea personnel returned to Melbourne by road. Nine stations were observed and measured, also three simultaneous reciprocal azimuths were completed. The distance was 85 miles.


The next section completed was Cook to the coastal traverse at NM/E/91 on the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight where R. James joined the party as an extra observer. Ten stations were observed and measured, also three simultaneous reciprocal azimuths; the distance was 65 miles. This was followed by the small group of five stations (three towers) in the sandy country 100 miles north of Cook on the Mt Kintore traverse. These were thirty foot towers in a mallee covered flat and all observations had to be done from the top of the towers. Luckily in this sandy country clear of the Nullarbor Plain weather conditions are not so harsh and the observing, measuring and simultaneous reciprocal azimuths were completed with only one day lost because of strong winds.


By 24 May all work east, north and south of Cook had been completed; as these three sections linked with completed traverses, another two loops of the geodetic traverse had been completed. In front of the party now was the long 310 mile slog west to Rawlinna in WA. With the weather, which had been hot on our arrival, now turning cold, windy and sometimes wet there was little prospect of pleasant conditions during the remainder of the work on the Nullarbor.


To get the job finished as quickly as possible the whole party worked as a team, observing a section, moving scaffolding, observing a further section, etc, and very good progress was made. There were plenty of old railway sleepers for good fires; life would have been most difficult without them as no other worthwhile firewood was available.


The SA-WA Border obelisk was reached on 9 June and it was connected to the traverse. J.W. Witzand arrived with two Philippine assistant surveyors who were to be trained in Tellurometer measuring; they were with the field party for fourteen days training under his direction. No doubt the experience they gained was very useful but they must have had a very uncomfort­able time. The weather was cold and windy most of the time and particularly difficult on the exposed twenty foot towers; quite unsuitable for people who had lived all their lives in the tropics.


The vanes on the top of the towers were proving a good sight from the ground level observing stations; it was interesting to watch them rise into view in the late afternoon; sometimes as much as the top twelve feet of the tower would be visible also. On one well remembered occasion the vanes rose into view as normal, then a change in weather conditions arrived and they dropped out of sight again but reappeared later to sit exactly on the horizon until they disappeared in the gloom following sundown.


Simultaneous reciprocal vertical angles however were a great problem. During the mid-period of the day when they should be done it was often impossible to show a heliograph because of the wind vibration and lights could not be seen even over the short distance required.


After dark even though perfectly simultaneous observations were taken results in this area were always untrustworthy. The problem was circumvented by making numerous level checks to the railway line at mile pegs where known values were available.


Thee whole east-west tower traverse from Ooldea to Rawlinna was completed by 15 July. This meant that with the connecting tower traverse, Cook to the coast and the five stations north of Cook, a total of 66 stations covering 500 miles were completed for measuring, observations and simultaneous reciprocal azimuths in only sixteen weeks.


Conditions were now wet and muddy and it was with some difficulty that the field party got out to the Eyre Highway near Cocklebiddy. Most of the observing party went to Kalgoorlie for vehicle maintenance and supplies while the party leader, F. Combe and the balance of the party commenced the reconnaissance of the connection from the coastal traverse near Madura north to the just completed tower traverse at Loongana.


It was difficult getting the first line out from the coastal traverse near Madura owing to the flat terrain and the mallee scrub. This had just been accomplished in cold and wet weather when the party leader broke his finger and had to go to Norseman to have it set. The doctor’s report was that he could not return to field duty involving camping for a minimum of three weeks.


The Melbourne office decided to withdraw the observing party for the time being, with F. Combe completing the last section of the reconnaissance and erecting the towers - this turned out to be eight in all. When R. Ford was cleared to resume field duty all would go to Mildura and fully complete the Mildura - Broken Hill traverse which also involved some towers; then back to WA and complete the Madura - Loongana traverse.


Mildura - Broken Hill Traverse


The field party left Melbourne on 23 August. The commencing observations around Mildura - Wentworth were again done in wet conditions, the rain often being quite heavy; however after the first week better conditions prevailed; by this time the field party was in the sandy country north of Wentworth. It had been a good season, the grass was green and long, there were plenty of wild flowers mainly Everlastings and Sturts Desert Pea; with decent towns within reach for mail and supplies, and all felt the marvellous change from the Nullarbor Plain.


Five towers were found to be necessary, three of twenty feet and two of thirty feet. The most southerly tower station NM/C/6 had to be moved some sixty yards from the site measured to by M.A. Nicholas in 1959. That site was almost on the road and pegs indicated that the new road construction will almost certainly destroy any station mark left on that site. During the observing one day was lost because of strong winds, while occupying the thirty foot towers.


There was considerable work to do in the Broken Hill area to make a clean connection with the various traverses which junction there, through our 1954 triangulation. One job of interest was the dismantling of our cairn on Felspar and rebuilding it with a steel pole and vanes. The oregon pole was still in fair condition after nine years but had a slight warp.


All work on the traverse was completed by 19 September just four weeks from the date the field party left Melbourne. This traverse completed another closed loop, and as well a continuous north-south traverse now ran from Winton in Queensland to Mildura in Victoria. A. Colvin arrived at this time and took the field party back to the Nullarbor Plain to finalise the last work in that area the Madura - Loongana traverse. R. Ford returned to Melbourne to prepare for duty in New Guinea.


Madura - Loongana Traverse


Conditions were much improved for the final tower work on the Nullarbor Plain.

Using the ground station set up, the windy spring weather caused little delay and with three observers the traverse was completed in about three weeks. Observing and measuring was completed at eleven stations - eight new and three junction stations - with simultaneous reciprocal azimuths along every fourth line; overall distance seventy miles. The observing party returned to Melbourne at the end of October.


Papua New Guinea, May - September 1963 and November 1963 - January 1964


The following was completed:


·             25 stations observed

·             2205 miles Tellurometer measurements, new Model MRA-2 instruments used.

·             Two lines of 114 miles; Victoria - Suckling and Bangeta - Strong

·             Six joins to Army traverses


Otway Ranges - King Island - NW Tasmania Traverse


In February 1957 R.A. Ford and A. Colvin completed a reconnaissance in the Otway Ranges to select stations for a connection to King Island and the eventual completion of a second connection across Bass Strait to Tasmania. Second order points, Mt Chapple and Mt Sabine, were selected as they were intervisible and the Cape Wickham light could be seen from both. The reconnaissance included a traverse to upgrade Mt Chapple and Mt Sabine to first order. National Mapping was not in a position to proceed with this connection until 1963 by which time the Victorian Department of Crown Lands had upgraded the stations.


National Mapping field parties occupied the stations in the Otway Ranges and Wickham on King Island in February 1963. Considerable difficulty was experienced in measuring the 68 mile line from Sabine to Wickham with the MRA-1 Tellurometer. O.J. Bobroff made a special trip to King Island to provide the expertise to overcome this problem. Once he had completed the measurement he returned to Melbourne.


K. Richardson, Surveyor Class 1 and R. James, Field Assistant (Survey) undertook the technical work in the Otway Ranges and on King Island, H. Couchman, Survey Computer, was in charge of operations with A. Colvin to give technical assistance. The traverse terminated at the Tasmanian Lands Department station, Three Hummock Island.


Seven stations were occupied, nine lines measured, total distance 160 miles.


The field party returned to Melbourne early in March.


Field Parties 1963


Dalby - Charleville - Mt Howitt, Qld. Clearing and Beaconing


O.J. Bobroff          Surveyor Class 2

R.W. Goldsworthy Field Assistant (Survey)      (short time only)

F. Combe              Field Assistant (Survey)      (short time only)

J. Combe              Field Assistant

K. Snell               Field Assistant

D. Shell               Field Assistant

N. Brownsea         Field Assistant

W. Bannerman      Field Assistant                     (short time only)

E. Griffen              Field Assistant


Nullarbor Plain and Mildura - Broken Hill Traverses


R.A. Ford              Senior Technical Officer Grade 1 Less Madura - Loongana

A.S. Colvin           Technical Officer Grade 1           Less Mildura - Broken Hill

J.D. Pearson         Field Assistant (Survey)

R.N. Maruff           Field Assistant (Survey)

J. Allen                 Field Assistant (Survey)      (short time only)

R. Scott               Field Assistant (Survey)      (short time only)

D. Hutton             Field Assistant (Survey)      (short time only)

F. Combe              Field Assistant (Survey)     

R. James              Field Assistant (Survey)     

J. Carlisle             Field Assistant                     (short time only)

B. Campbell          Field Assistant                     (short time only)

M. Stevens           Field Assistant                     (short time only)

J. Keogh               Field Assistant                    

A. Hordern            Field Assistant                    

C. Golya               Field Assistant                    

H. Maher              Field Assistant                    

W. Bannerman      Field Assistant                    

J. Coles                Field Assistant (WRE)          Nullarbor Plain only

G. Humphries       Field Assistant (WRE)          (short time only)

A. Crowe              Field Assistant (WRE)          Nullarbor Plain only


Otway Ranges - King Island - NW Tasmania Traverse


H. Couchman        Surveyor Computer

A. Colvin               Technical Officer Grade 1

R. James              Field Assistant (Survey)

J. Carlisle             Field Assistant (Survey)

J. Combe              Field Assistant (Survey)

K. Richardson       Surveyor Class 1                 (short time only)

M. Stevens           Field Assistant

C. Golya               Field Assistant


Territory of Papua New Guinea, Triangulation and Measuring


H.A. Johnson        Supervising Surveyor                        Both periods

D.P. Cook             Surveyor Class 2 - Resident Surveyor Both periods

I. Johnson             Surveyor Class 1                               Both periods

J. Allen                 Field Assistant (Survey)                    Both periods

R. Scott                Field Assistant (Survey)                    Both periods

J. Carlisle             Field Assistant                                   Part first period-all second

M. Stevens           Field Assistant                                   Part first period-all second

D. Price                Field Assistant                                   Part first period-all second

G. Rosenberg        Field Assistant                                   Resigned in second period

B. Campbell          Field Assistant                                   Short time only

R.A. Ford              Senior Technical Officer Grade 2        Second period

E.H. Burke            Field Assistant (Survey)                    Second period

J. Cavill                Surveyor                                          TPNG Lands Dept Staff

M. Kellock             Surveyor                                          TPNG Lands Dept Staff

K. Erben               Field Assistant (Survey)                    TPNG Lands Dept Staff







Additional Photos

Queensland ‘downs’ country, 1963

Bedourie, Qld, 1963

Black Mountain, Boulia, Qld, 1963

Gibber plain, Qld

‘Live’ sand Windorah, Qld

Windorah – Quilpie road, Qld, 1963

‘Drive-on’, Mt Whiskey

‘Drive-on’, Mt Whiskey

Cairn building Mitchell, Qld

Cairn building Mitchell, Qld

Cairn building Mitchell, Qld

Cairn building Mitchell, Qld

Charleville main street, Qld, 1963 from Corone’s Hotel balcony

Cluny homestaed, Qld, 1963

King Island, 1963, Currie

King Island, 1963

King Island, 1963

King Island, 1963

King Island, 1963

King Island, 1963

King Island, 1963

King Island, 1963

King Island, 1963

King Island, 1963

King Island, 1963

King Island, 1963

Nullarbor, 1963

Telle obs from tower, Nullarbor, 1963

Telle obs from beacon, Nullarbor, 1963

Telle obs from beacon, Nullarbor, 1963


Telle obs from beacon, Nullarbor, 1963