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Chapter 11 Expeditions and Surveys

National Mapping Geodetic Survey, 1959

In June, 1959, after talks with highly regarded stockman and drover George Lanagan, Howard A (Bill) Johnson Supervising Surveyor from the Commonwealth Government’s Division of National Mapping (Natmap) travelled the CSR from Wiluna to Well 14 by Landrover. In so doing he established that:

“... if needed, it was possible to take a geodetic [survey] traverse over the Route by motor vehicles, without the use of camels or pack-horses”.[1]      

 

Chapter 11 Expeditions and Surveys

National Mapping Geodetic Survey, 1961

In 1961 a geodetic survey was carried from Mt. Tietkins in Northern Territory to initially Well 35 on the CSR. Later it would be taken on towards Marble Bar via Callawa. Len Beadell’s Gunbarrel Road Construction Party commenced grading a track from Sandy Blight Junction westward to assist access by the Natmap survey parties. In 1960 Beadell’s grader suffered catastrophic gearbox failure near the site that would later become Jupiter Well. Natmap’s Bob Bobroff, along with Bob Goldsworthy and Bill Johnson completed the reconnaissance to Well 35. This allowed the completion of the survey and established a route for grading by Beadell’s team in 1963.[2]

 [1] Ref http://xnatmap.org/adnm/docs/drtrds/drtrds.htm as at 7 March 2014 and email between Paul Wise (Natmap Surveyor retired) and author dated 3 March 2014.

[2] Ref http://xnatmap.org/adnm/docs/drtrds/drtrds.htm as at 7 March 2014 and email between Paul Wise (Natmap Surveyor retired) and author dated 3 March 2014.

 

Chapter 11 Expeditions and Surveys

Bill Moyle’s scraped track from Well 51 to Well 45, 1964

Upon completion of his 1962 reconnaissance survey Bill Johnson, Supervising Surveyor from the Commonwealth Government’s Division of National Mapping, arranged a contract for Bill Moyle[3] of Carranya Station to undertake the scraping of the a track from Old Billiluna Station on the then Billiluna-Balgo road where it crossed Durbai Creek to Well 51 and to then continue with further track work southwards for 218 kilometres to Well 45.

 Well 45 was to be the southern extent of Moyle’s contract work because the higher and more difficult to cross sandhills further south were unsuitable for his track making equipment to proceed further. Moyle had a homemade scraper blade attached to a Chamberlain tractor and also had a Caterpillar bulldozer. It is not certain what machinery Moyle used for the Natmap track work. However, Johnson abhorred heavy track marking in the fragile desert country so it is more likely that he would have asked that the Chamberlain be used for this task as he wanted the survey access track to be lightly scraped.

While the section of Moyle’s track west to Well 51 has been obliterated by the flooding in Lake Gregory, the Well 51 to Well 45 section of Moyle’s track is used by today’s CSR travellers. [4]

 [3] Bill and Josie Moyle were on Carranya Station on Wolfe Creek in the Shire of Halls Creek from 1961 until Bill became ill in 1967.

[4] Ref http://www.xnatmap.org/adnm/docs/moyle/moyle.htm as at 7 March 2014 and email between Paul Wise (Natmap Surveyor retired) and author dated 3 March 2014.

  

Chapter 18 CSR Identities Post Droving Era

Johnson, Howard Angus (Bill)

Johnson served as a Captain in the 2/1st Corps Field Survey Company, Royal Australian during WWII. Prior to being recruited to National Mapping in 1954, as the Supervising Surveyor, Geodetic Branch, Colonel Johnson was Officer in Charge, Royal Australian Survey Corps Training School, Balcombe, Victoria. At National Mapping he was dedicated; “... to seeing the Geodetic Survey of Australia completed and would be single-minded in pursuing that objective.”[5]

The Director and the Chief Topographic Surveyor of National Mapping at that time were Bruce Philip Lambert and John Dunstan Lines respectively. During WWII they had all served in the 2/1st Corps Field Survey Coy, Royal Australian Engineers.[6]

Johnson regularly worked in the field and participated in numerous projects that crossed or travelled along the CSR. Mount Johnson on the Gunbarrel Highway east of Mungilli Claypan is named after him.

[5] Ford, Reginald Arthur (1979), The Division of National Mapping’s Part in the Geodetic Survey of Australia, in The Australian Surveyor, June, September and December 1979: Volume 29, No 6, pp. 375-427; Volume. 29, No 7, pp. 465-536; Volume 29, No 8, pp. 581-638, The Institution of Surveyors, Australia, ISSN 00050326. 

[6] Email between Paul Wise (Natmap Surveyor retired) and author dated 3 March 2014.





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Errata

Page 385 Johnson, Bill, National Mapping reconnaissance for continuing the geodetic survey, 1962

 In 1962, Bill Johnson, Supervising Surveyor from the Commonwealth Government’s Division of National Mapping (Natmap) completed a reconnaissance in preparation for continuing the Geodetic[1] Survey of Australia from Well 35 to near Halls Creek.

Read more at


This was part of an Australia-wide survey to create an accurate framework from which all other mapping could take place. This leg of the Australia wide survey commenced near Callawa Station in mid-July 1962 and progressed south-easterly, arriving at Minjoo Well, Well 35 on the CSR in mid-September 1962. Reg Ford stated:

‘...a possible route had been selected on the 1:1,000,000 scale maps and then checked on the 1:250,000 scale photomosaics. This route would avoid crossing large numbers of sandridges’.[2]

The route the 1962 Natmap survey party established was subsequently graded by WRE in 1963 becoming the Callawa track.

The route Johnson then chose from Well 35 to near Halls Creek was primarily for the later (1964) Natmap geodetic observing party to follow to access the highest points of the terrain that would give line of sight along the geodetic survey traverse route. Johnson selected 23 survey station sites along the route. To avoid the observing party having to cart water over great distances, Johnson also inspected and reported on the condition of wells on the CSR that were conveniently located in relation to the proposed traverse route.[3]

The sandridges caused Johnson major problems forcing him to carefully investigate the best crossing and to carefully choose his line over the top. The sandridges varied from 60 metres to 1600 metres apart, but averaged 300 to 400 metres. Some were 30 metres high and covered in the finest drift sand.

Leaving Wanda (Well 36), he went through a belt of desert oak before striking a maze of confused sand dunes with deep depressions. There were some low but awkward and very soft sandridges to cross between Murguga Well (Well 39) and Lake Tobin. Between Tiru Well (Well 41) and Guli Tank (Well 42) he crossed the highest dunes of his traverse.

From Guli Tank, the dunes became less frequent and were lower, enabling easier crossings. Nearing the Gravity Lakes claypans the distant peaks of the Southesk Tablelands came into view. In the vicinity of Well 48, he had to contend with sand-filled spinifex bushes, which had him slowly bumping along all day.[4]

Near the northern end of the CSR, Johnson’s reconnaissance passed to the south of Minnie Range and on to Well 51. However, by Well 51 the higher terrain features needed to carry the survey traverse further north were away generally to the north-west. Johnson therefore completed his reconnaissance by approaching the remaining survey sites from the direction of Halls Creek.

Johnson was aware that significant time and vehicle wear and tear could be saved if the survey points on the CSR traverse south of Minnie Range could be accessed via Well 51 from the graded road that then existed between Billiluna and the Balgo Mission. However, a suitable track across approximately 48km of country between the Billiluna-Balgo road and Well 51 did not then exist. Johnson’s own travel route northwards from Well 51 precluded his reconnaissance for such a new connecting track.

Nevertheless, Johnson arranged a contract for Bill Moyle of Carranya Station to undertake the grading of a new track from Old Billiluna Station then on Durbai Creek to Well 51 and to then continue with further track work southwards to Well 45. This work was to be completed prior to the future geodetic observing party arriving in 1964.



[1] Geodetic – derived from the Greek words “ge” earth and “daien” to divide.

[2] Ford, Reginald Arthur (1979), The Division of National Mapping’s Part in the Geodetic Survey of Australia, in The Australian Surveyor, June, September and December 1979: Volume 29, No 6, pp. 375-427; Volume. 29, No 7, pp. 465-536; Volume 29, No 8, pp. 581-638

[3] Email between Paul Wise (Natmap Surveyor retired) and author dated 3 March 2014.

[4] Email between Paul Wise (Natmap Surveyor retired) and author dated 3 March 2014.


Page 388 Ford, Reginald Arthur (Reg), National Mapping Theodolite/Tellurometer traverse, 1964

Bill Johnson, Supervising Surveyor, completed a reconnaissance for the Well 35 to Halls Creek section of the geodetic survey in 1962. R.A. Ford’s 1964 geodetic observing party was required to complete a Theodolite/Tellurometer traverse using the survey points previously selected by Johnson.

Ford’s party was also required to scrape a track from Well 45 to Well 35, a distance of 300 kilometres. To assist vehicle access by Ford’s party to the survey points on the CSR traverse south of Minnie Range, Bill Moyle of Carranya Station, was contracted by National Mapping and had already graded a track from Old Billiluna Station then on Durbai Creek to Well 45, a distance of 260 kilometres.

Mount Ford, on Moyle’s track is named after him.


Page 530 sub heading National Mapping Geodetic Survey, 1962 paragraph 1 line 1 Harry Johnson should be Bill Johnson.

Page 530 Johnson, Harry, National Mapping geodetic survey, 1962

In 1962, Bill Johnson, Supervising Surveyor from the Commonwealth Government’s Division of National Mapping completed a reconnaissance in preparation for continuing the Geodetic Survey from Well 35 to near Halls Creek.

 

 Page 530 Ford, R.A., National Mapping Theodolite/Tellurometer Traverse, 1964

Bill Johnson from National Mapping completed the reconnaissance for the Well 35 to Halls Creek section of the geodetic survey in 1962. In 1964, Reg Ford’s party was to undertake the actual geodetic survey work with Theodolite and Tellurometer using the sites selected by Johnson. From Well 45 to Well 35, a distance of 300 kilometres, they were also to scrape a track.

The vehicles used were two Bombardier (Model J5) lightweight tracked vehicles designed to pull snow ploughs, a Bedford truck (only as far as Well 45) and International 4x4 utilities. One Bombardier was to pull the track scraper and the other a trailer loaded with petrol and supplies.

To assist access to the survey sites and allow the Bombardiers to be transported to Well 45, Johnson had arranged for Bill Moyle of then Carranya Station to undertake the scraping of a new track from Old Billiluna Station on the then Billiluna-Balgo road where it crossed Durbai Creek to Well 51 and to then continue with further track-work southwards to Well 45. Bill Moyle completed his track before the 1964 survey commenced. A section of Moyle’s track still remains today and it runs from Well 51 to Well 48 after which it turns south near Crown Head, to pass close to Eastern Hill, Mt Romilly, Crescent Ridge and Mt Ford before rejoining the CSR itself at Well 45.

The Natmap party assembled in Halls Creek on 21 May and Fred Combe immediately commenced beaconing southwards, a task he completed on 22 June. When track scraping commenced, they found the Bombardiers struggled to pull the scraper over the top of dunes, so the trailer was left behind and the two Bombardiers were used in tandem. Eventually one of the Bombardiers began blowing smoke and then lost all power. The underpowered and undersized motor was unable to cope with the constant strain. Track scraping stopped near Well 41 with only 145 kilometres of the required 300 kilometres being completed. The remaining 155km to Well 35 was only indicated by well travelled wheel marks. ‘This was one traverse [survey] which gave those who worked on it a sense of having achieved something well worthwhile.’[1]. All field work on the traverse was completed on 12 August.[2]

Today’s CSR travellers are generally following in Ford’s party’s wheel-tracks between Well 35 and Well 45. From Well 45 to Well 51, if they choose the eastern track option (bypassing Well 46 and Well 47), they then traverse some 166 kilometres of Moyle’s track.



[1] Ford, Reginald Arthur (1979), The Division of National Mapping’s Part in the Geodetic Survey of Australia, in The Australian Surveyor, June, September and December 1979: Volume 29, No 6, pp. 375-427; Volume. 29, No 7, pp. 465-536; Volume 29, No 8, pp. 581-638


[2] Email between Paul Wise (Natmap Surveyor retired) and author dated 3 March 2014.

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