Peter Bardulis

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.