Program 1965


1965 was to be the concluding year of field work before the adjustment of all loops on the primary geodetic traverses. For details of this National Geodetic Adjustment refer to “The Geodetic Adjustment of Australia, 1963-66” by A.G. Bomford; Survey Review Vol. XIX, pp. 52, 1967, and Technical report No 6, “Varycord - A Fortran programme for the least squares adjustment of horizontal control surveys,” by A.G. Bomford, May 1967.


Field staff based in Melbourne and spending much of their time in the field had little perception or appreciation of the amount of work that was necessary in the Canberra office to prepare the program and collate the data for the National Adjustment. The above articles beside being most informative reveal the amount of effort which was necessary on the part of A.G. Bomford and his small staff over the years 1963 - 66.


The following field program was drawn up to complete the unfinished sections of the loops:


  (i)     Tellurometer measurements between Mt Fatigue, Victoria - Deal Island - Flinders Island, Tasmania


 (ii)     Theodolite/Tellurometer traverse Well 35 to Young Range, WA


(iii)     Theodolite/Tellurometer traverse Neale Junction WA to Voakes Hill Junction, SA


(iv)     Build origin station near Kulgera, NT; reconnoitre and complete connection to the main geodetic traverse nearby


(v)     Wild BC4 camera site connection, Smithfield, SA


O.J. Bobroff would complete these tasks


(vi)     Theodolite/Tellurometer traverse Mt Isa - Breadalbane, Qld


(vii)     Theodolite/Tellurometer traverse Mt Solitary NT - Breadalbane, Q1d


(viii)     Check Tellurometer measurements, Wauchope area, NT


R.A. Ford would complete these tasks


(ix)     Theodolite/Tellurometer traverse Darwin NT - Wyndham, WA, including Laplace observations. To be a helicopter borne traverse


J.W. Witzand would join R. Ford's field party for this task and would be in charge.


(x)     Reconnaissance, Helens Springs - Hooker Creek, NT.


H.A. Johnson would complete this task.


During the final stage of the season's work the Commonwealth Film Unit would join O.J. Bobroff's party to rake the field section of the film “Mapping Australia”.


A two week training course on Almucantar Longitude and circum-meridian Altitudes for Latitude was conducted by A.G. Bomford in Canberra. D. Hutton, J. Fox, R. Gray, E. Burke and several Geoidal personnel attended (the content of this course was essentially documented in Bomford, AG (1965) Astronomic Observations with the Kern DKM3a and Wild T3 Theodolites, National Mapping Technical Report 4 - Ed).


F. Combe, Field Assistant (Survey) resigned at the end of the 1964 field season. J. Allen who had done so much observing in Australia and Papua New Guinea transferred to the drafting section.


Mt Isa – Breadalbane, Qld. Theodolite/Tellurometer Traverse


The field party left Melbourne on 7 May for Mt Isa and were ready to start observing one week later. R. Ford was party 1eader and would train firstly J. Fox and R. Gray then L. Wilson. D. Hutton was the only other experienced observer.


The observing program laid down - to get high quality astronomical observations for latitude and longitude at each end of every fourth line, as well as fulfilling the normal first order theodolite traversing observations and Tellurometer measurements - may have been satisfactory for experienced observers, but it was overfull for trainee observers.


Unfortunately they had been taught the astronomical observation before they had any idea of the time, practise, and concentration required to observe horizontal and vertical angles to first order standards. Thus it was not easy to make them understand that as far as their observations were concerned the priority was good quality theodolite and Tellurometer work on the traverse - quality in the astronomical observation would come when they could handle a theodolite properly.


Gradually as the observers became more experienced their work speeded up. By 4 June J. Fox and R. Gray were left as an observing team sharing the observing and measuring, then training began for L. Wilson.


The traverse was completed to Breadalbane by 14 June. In four weeks thirteen stations (eleven new and two old) had been observed, twelve lines measured, distance 260 miles; four simultaneous reciprocal azimuths were observed and also a number of Almucantar Longitude and circum-meridian Latitude observations.


Darwin, NT – Wyndham, WA. Theodolite/Tellurometer Traverse by Helicopter


Owing to the helicopter contract date, the field party had to immediately proceed to the Darwin area, leaving the Breadalbane - Mt Solitary traverse until later in the year.


The field party arrived in the Darwin area on 23 June, passing H.A. Johnson on the way; he had just completed the reconnaissance Helen Springs ‑ Hooker Creek.


D. Hutton set up at Giants Reef to do a calibration Almucantar observation. A. Roelse joined the party there, bringing the Kern DKM3A theodolite; he also set up for his Laplace observation. He was to do Laplace observations at selected stations throughout the Darwin - Wyndham traverse.


While awaiting the arrival of J.W. Witzand and the helicopter, observations were completed at Mt Farrington and Giants Reef. These were completed, J.W. Witzand arrived and the field party moved to the vicinity of Elizabeth Downs and set up a helicopter base camp.


The helicopter was delayed for about one week because of a faulty radio; during this waiting period one hill was beaconed and R. Ford made a long trip to reconnoitre the Port Keats track owing to conflicting reports about its trafficability.


It was found to be very rough but satisfactory for our vehicles; a good camp site at Tom Turners Crossing on the Moyle River was selected as the next helicopter base.


The helicopter finally arrived on 7 July. J.W. Witzand was in charge of the survey and would control the helicopter crew and the aircraft's movements; R. Ford would instruct those new to helicopter operations in equipment requirements and loading technique, before taking over one observing party. A. Roelse and J. Fox would team together, J. Fox doing the Theodolite/Tellurometer traverse work and A. Roelse the Laplace work with the Kern DKM3A theodolite. D. Hutton would be the other observer and R. Gray would be available for observing as required. The Bell 47G-4 helicopter is shown in Figure 1.



Figure 1: Helicopter Bell 47G-4


A clearing/beaconing party was organised, one Field Assistant with chainsaw was landed as close to the station site as possible (usually near the foot of the hill with some fifteen minutes climb required). He would then clear a landing pad after which the helicopter would ferry in another Field Assistant and beaconing material; the observing party would follow and would help in finalising the beaconing or clearing when necessary.


Many bushfires were seen in the area during the survey and one observing party had to be removed from the traverse station while a fire passed over the hill. In addition smoke haze made observations difficult throughout the whole period of the survey, and on one only average length line, Barthelemy - Kurriyippi - 37 miles, the beacon or light was never seen long enough in the first eight days of occupation, to get any worthwhile results. An extra point about midway was reconnoitred, beaconed and occupied to solve this difficulty and get the survey moving again. Figure 2, a bushfire closing in on one of the traverse stations.


By 4 August all work that could be done from the Elizabeth Downs and Tom Turners Crossing helicopter base camps had been completed. The observers and vehicles were faced with a very long roundabout trip to get to the next helicopter base which would be near Legune Homestead.


Legune Homestead is only 85 miles by air from Tom Turners Crossing but the road trip via Katherine, Timber Creek, Ord River Crossing near Wyndham to Legune is 700miles. In 1965 most of it, apart from the Stuart Highway section was over very rough unsealed roads.




Figure 2: Bushfire closing in on a traverse station.


Once the move was completed the remainder of the traverse went ahead steadily; some trouble was experienced with Tellurometer ground swing from the high hills which had a sharp drop away to the mud flats in the wide estuaries of the Fitzmaurice and Victoria Rivers. The final few stations were on low hills in the Wyndham area in very hot conditions. Such conditions on helicopter traversing, where few amenities can be taken to the station and where even a little shade is a luxury, make things physically hard for both the beaconing and observing parties.


The traverse was completed on 26 August, fifteen stations were observed, the distance 365 miles and the helicopter contract time seven weeks. Simultaneous reciprocal azimuths were observed on every fourth line and A. Roelse completed Laplace observations at the stations nominated. J.W. Witzand now returned to Melbourne and A. Roelse left to continue his Laplace observing program; as a skilled person is required for booking these observations, R. Gray joined A. Roelse until his program was completed.


The main field party left Wyndham on 1 September for Alice Springs where vehicles were repaired while preparations were being made for the Mt Solitary - Breadalbane traverse.


Mt Solitary NT - Breadalbane Theodolite/Tellurometer Traverse


Before starting this traverse the observing parties remeasured with the MRA-2 Tellurometer, four lines in a triangulation figure near Wauchope. The original measurements were done by C.K. Waller in 1957 with the MRA-1 Tellurometer before the crystal oven was fitted and while atmospherics were still being taken with the hand powered “whirling” psychrometers. The results of the old and new measurements were in very good agreement.


By the time this task was completed and the observing parties were ready to start from Mt Solitary it was 13 September. Observing and measuring went ahead steadily although there was often delay because of dust haze (1965 was the last year of a seven year drought in Central Australia). This necessitated helios and lights being used more than had been expected. R. Gray rejoined the party enabling three observing parties to be mounted.


Two cairns had to be built and a recovery mark with its usual base line was required at Dingo Hill which is a sandridge on the north eastern extremity of the Simpson Desert.


After the completion of the cairn building Field Assistant C. Golya, took a small beaconing party and commenced beaconing the Helen Springs - Hooker Creek traverse.


The front end collapsed on one International, necessitating towing it with lifted front wheels, behind the Bedford truck some 140 miles to Boulia.


The observing was finally completed on 20 October in very hot dusty conditions. Twenty-five stations (23 new) were observed, distance 448 miles. The usual simultaneous reciprocal azimuths were observed along every fourth line and some Almucantar Longitude and circum-meridian latitude observations were made with the Wild T3 Theodolite and stopwatch. The traverse took 5½ weeks in all.


The 1965 program laid down for this party was now complete, and as O.J. Bobroff's field party was concluding its program, all loops planned for the 1966 National Geodetic Adjustment were now complete. Under these circumstances the field party should have been able to enjoy a carefree trip back to Melbourne.


Unfortunately this was not to be. The Supervising Surveyor required L. Wilson and one vehicle back in Melbourne urgently to join a Geoidal field party. It was only possible to get the one vehicle ready in the time available, so he left on his own on Saturday 23 October at about 11.30 am in very hot weather conditions. He only got about 15 miles out of Boulia when his vehicle went up in flames destroying much valuable equipment and the vehicle itself. As he didn't smoke and the main items likely to cause a fire - 12 volt batteries being short-circuited - were safely boxed, the cause could not be found. The local police considered a cigarette butt may have been flipped from the hotel balcony and landed in a crevice in the canvas topped vehicle parked below for a short period. The 15 miles from town would allow about the right period of time for a smouldering butt to cause a major fire in that heat.


This incident was not a happy ending to the field season; it was a very subdued party that left for Melbourne on Monday 25 arriving in Melbourne on 30 October.


Tellurometer measurements Mt Fatigue - Deal Island - Flinders Island


Prior to the start of the main field season a small survey party under O.J. Bobroff completed a first order connection, along sides of the 1953 triangulation scheme, from it Fatigue to Deal Island and thence to both Mt Killiecrankie and Walkers Lookout on Flinders Island. The four foot reflectors were used on these long lines, Mt Fatigue - Deal Island 84 miles, Deal Island - Mt Killiecrankie 36 miles, and Deal Island - Walkers Lookout 56miles, Figure 3 shows the Tellurometer, at Mt Killiecrankie, Flinders Island, equipped with the 4 foot diameter reflector.



Figure 3: At Mt Killiecrankie, Flinders Island, showing the Tellurometer

equipped with the 4 foot diameter reflector.


Well 35 - Young Range and Neale Junction, WA - Voakes Hill Junction, SA, first order traverse


The field party left Melbourne in May, three WRE personnel and vehicles were picked up in Adelaide. The route was via Kulgera NT, Giles WA, to Young Range thence north to the Well 35 area. From here the party commenced to traverse south to Young Range.


The observers were R. Goldsworthy and E. Burke with J. Harris contributing after initial training. This was a fairly straight forward job as about eight stations had already been beaconed and the access was good, the traverse follows the graded track from Garry Junction to Young Range. The only difficulty was the remoteness of the area from supplies of petrol, food and mail.


On the southern section four tower sites had to be selected then towers and scaffolding erected. It was also necessary on some of the low rises where theodolite observations were able to be made from ground level, to elevate the Tellurometer to receive a readable trace. Figure 4 shows the instrument mounted on top of the eleven foot beacon pole for this purpose. Note also the observing screen - this is the special light weight “roofed” screen designed for use in New Guinea; some of these were used in Australia for the final phase of the geodetic survey.


While on this section of the work, on 16 July O.J. Bobroff was requested to provide a search team to look for parts of a “Blue Streak” rocket which had come down in an area north west of Well 35.


 R. Goldsworthy was selected as team leader and had with him field assistants K. Snell and W. Sutherland.


They equipped an AB120 International with extra petrol and armed with the information supplied regarding the area to search, had a very interesting but strenuous trip, walking many miles in the process. The vehicle was equipped with a “locked up” differential which had been carried as an emergency replacement. It greatly improved the vehicle's performance in crossing steep sandridges.


That the trip was a success can be gauged from the letter (copy at end of this chapter) from the Secretary, Department of National Development to the Director, National Mapping.



Figure 4: Tellurometer mounted on top of an 11 foot beacon pole.

Note also the New Guinea type observing screen.


The Well 35 - Young Range traverse was completed soon after this party returned; overall there were 17 new stations and 2 established stations observed in a distance of 180 miles. The field party then moved to the Neale Junction area to commence the traverse to Voakes Hill.


Neale Junction, WA - Voakes Hill Junction, SA, first order traverse


While in the Neale Junction area and just getting the traverse under way, the party leader was confronted with one of those difficult problems which always seem to come at inopportune moments.


One of the new field assistants, a newcomer to this country, resigned and without warning set off to walk the 200 miles of waterless country to Rawlinna. Once this was discovered the party leader had to organise a search to locate the field assistant. This was commenced late at night, and luckily he was found in the early hours. Problems don’t come in singles; also in this area heavy rain prevented movement for a few days.


The traverse was “reconnaissance as you progress” and followed fairly closely to the track graded by L. Beadell a few years earlier. Once the lines were proven, stations were selected and beaconed, followed by first order measurements and observations. Almost all stations were sited on sandridges and recovery marks had to be established on firm ground clear of the ridge.


On this traverse 20 new stations were established, (2 towers were required) and three existing stations were observed. The distance was approximately 260 miles.


Johnston Geodetic Station, Kulgera, NT


After the completion of the first order traversing, the field party moved to the Kulgera area to establish the Origin Station.


Up to 1966 the datum point for most of the Australian Geodetic Survey was the Sydney Observatory. Situated as it is on the eastern coast of such a large continent that point was unsatisfactory as the datum point for the 1966 adjustment; something nearer the centre of the continent was necessary.


The coordinates for the Origin Station were derived from astronomical observations at 275 stations on the geodetic survey and distributed all over Australia. For further technical details refer to the previously mentioned “The Geodetic Adjustment of Australia, 1963-66” by A.G. Bomford.


A small hill close to the Stuart Highway, a few miles south of Kulgera was selected. During the year it had been decided to call it the Johnston Geodetic Station in honour of Fredrick Marshall Johnston who was Director of National Mapping at its inception and for a short time afterwards.


"The Council resolved that a special geodetic station be established and suitably monumented in the centre of Australia as the origin of the National Geodetic Survey and that this station be named Johnston in memory of Frederick Marshall Johnston former Commonwealth Surveyor General and the first Director of National Mapping."


In adopting this resolution, the Council felt that this was the most appropriate way of setting up a permanent monument to the fine work of Mr Johnston in establishing the Council itself and also the National Mapping Organization within the Commonwealth Public Service.]


The station mark was established and a first order connection was made to Mt Cavenagh and Mt Cecil. A steel beacon with a fourteen foot pole, the same as used in the massive cairns in New Guinea, was used and a large cairn erected. To give it a good appearance, suitable thin flat stone was brought from a distance by vehicle to “veneer” the surface. This veneer of thin stone was attached with cement in a similar manner to tiling.


Two officers of the Northern Territory Lands and Survey assisted with the monumentation. Twenty one bags of cement, together with sufficient sand to make a three to one mixture, plus the necessary water was carried up the hill in containers strapped on to Yukon Packs. In addition the rock for the veneer surface and a good deal of the filling rock for the centre of the cairn had to be carried up the hill. Figure 5 shows the completed cairn and Figure 6 a close up of the plaque.


In the high temperatures prevailing all members of the building team suffered the effects of heat exhaustion during their spell on the carrying.


The people at Mt Cavanagh Homestead showed great interest in this operation and made their shower facilities available - all were most grateful.


During this operation the Commonwealth Film Unit arrived to film the field survey part of the documentary “Mapping Australia.”


All work in this area was completed late in November and the field party commenced the return by road to Melbourne. In Adelaide they were given the task of connecting the BC4 Satellite Camera site at Smithfield to the primary geodetic survey.



Figures 5 & 6: Cairn at the Johnston Geodetic Station near Kulgera, NT,

and a close-up of its plaque




Field Parties 1965


First Order traverses Gary Junction – Young Range & Neale Junction – Voakes Hill Junction


O.J. Bobroff          Surveyor Class 2                       )

J. Harris               Surveyor Class 1                       )

E. Burke              Technical Assistant Grade 2       )     Also on F.M. Johnston

R. Goldsworthy     Technical Assistant Grade 2       )     Origin Station -

J. Ely                   Field Assistant                          )     Cairn building and

D. Yates               Field Assistant                          )     traverse connection.

W. Sutherland      Field Assistant                          )

E. Ainscow            Field Assistant                          )

K. Snell                Field Assistant

P. Palachek           Field Assistant

P. Fullerton          Field Assistant

R. Driscoll             Field Assistant WRE

J. Eaton               Field Assistant WRE

E. Skeen              Field Assistant WRE


First order geodetic traversing, Mt Isa - Breadalbane, Queensland


R.A. Ford             Senior Technical Officer Grade 1

D. Hutton             Technical Assistant Grade 2

R. Gray                Technical Assistant Grade 2

J. Fox                   Technical Assistant Grade 2

L. Wilson              Field Assistant

D. Price                Field Assistant

B. O'Dwyer           Field Assistant


Helicopter borne first order geodetic traverse Darwin NT - Wyndham WA


J.W. Witzand        Surveyor Class 2

R.A. Ford             Senior Technical Officer Grade 1

D. Hutton             Technical Assistant Grade 2

R. Gray              Technical Assistant Grade 2

J. Fox                  Technical Assistant Grade 2

L. Wilson              Field Assistant

D. Price              Field Assistant

C. Golya              Field Assistant

R. Francis             Field Assistant

W. Bannerman     Field Assistant

B. O'Dwyer           Field Assistant

A. Roelse              Surveyor Class 1.               (for Laplace work)


Tellurometer measurements Mt Fatigue Vic - Deal Is - Flinders Is, Tasmania


O.J. Bobroff          Surveyor Class 2

D. Hutton             Technical Assistant Grade 2

R. Goldsworthy     Technical Assistant Grade 2

B. O’Connor         Draftsman (Photogrammetric)

D. Price                Field Assistant

K. Snell                Field Assistant


First order geodetic traversing, Mt Solitary NT - Breadalbane Queensland


R.A. Ford             Senior Technical Officer Grade 1

D. Hutton             Technical Assistant Grade 2

R. Gray                Technical Assistant Grade 2

J. Fox                   Technical Assistant Grade 2

L. Wilson              Field Assistant

D. Price                Field Assistant

W. Bannerman     Field Assistant

C. Golya              Field Assistant                          )  Detached party to beacon

R. Francis             Field Assistant                          )  and clear in the

I. Fryer              Field Assistant                          )  Helen Springs area.










Additional Photos


Johnston Origin – (L-R) Ely, Sutherland, Ainscow, Bobroff & Burke

Johnston Origin – Ely & AM Sahariv (Lands and Survey Branch, NT)

Johnston Origin – Ely watching Sutherland & Ainscow

Vehicles at Coober Pedy, SA, 1965

Nullarbor, WA

Nullarbor, WA

Sandridge erosion around station mark

Sandridge erosion around station mark

Traversing WA

Traversing WA


Killiecrankie – Goldsworthy


Telle obs and observing lamp

Strzeleckie on horizon

Un-named bay

Killiecrankie – (L-R) Dave Price & Kevin Snell

Flinders Island light


BC4 Ballistic camera

Kingoonya (L-R) WRE x 2, Bobroff, Peter Fullerton, Ed Burke, Bob Goldsworthy, Kevin Snell, John Ely, Reg Ford, Ed Ainscow

Trucks at Kingoonya, SA