Establishing the ACT: From the Ground up

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Establishing the ACT:
From the ground up

A foyer display that looks at the role Geoscience Australia and its predecessor organisations played in the establishment and development of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The display tells some of that story.

The Foyer display acknowledges the role of Charles Scrivener, a New South Wales surveyor who was given the task of mapping a new federal territory and identifying the location for a new city, Canberra. He was appointed the first Surveyor General of the Commonwealth Lands and Survey Office in 1911. A bust of Charles Scrivener may be seen in the foyer. The bust is on loan from the Institute of Surveyors Australia (Canberra Division) and the National Capital Authority, Regatta Point, ACT.

‘Establishing the ACT: From the ground up’ opening hours Monday to Friday 9.00am - 5.00pm.

There are five themes to the display: ‘Establishing the ACT: From the ground up’.

National Mineral Collection

The National Mineral Collection is an impressive selection of some 15 000 mineral and 90 meteorite specimens, of which approximately 600 are on permanent display at Geoscience Australia. The Collection includes a number of distinctive and famous Australian specimens, including some unique specimens featured in the Museum of Victoria and Broken Hill Council’s 1999 publication ‘Minerals of Broken Hill’.

A number of collections belonging to the National Museum of Australia are held at Geoscience Australia as part of the National Mineral Collection. Among these are the collections of Colin Chidley, Clem Latz and Doug Boerner.

Geoscience Australia wishes to acknowledge the donation of specimens to the National Mineral Collection by the following individuals and organisations:

Australian Museum (20) *
Rosebery Mine (15)
Geological Survey Japan (15)
Kyancutta Museum (10)
Ministry of Geology, People’s Republic of China (10)
CV Latz (1490)
CM Chidley (350)
D McColl (115) BMR employee
G Smith (75)
G Hume (50)

Large collections purchased by Geoscience Australia include those of:

R Doo (1950)
AE Gardner (1290)
CB Askew (975)
AR & LE Campbell (950)
RJ Noble (400)

* (Approximate numbers of specimens are shown in brackets)

ACT Geology

A geological view of the nation’s capital, identifying the various rock types, fossils and minerals found in the region and the geological maps and charts of the region.

While the rocks don’t change, what can be shown on a map depends on the scale of the map. Geological understanding of the local area has also evolved over time, so variations can be seen in the legend on the different maps on display.

The geological history of the region dates back to about 460 million years when deep ocean sediments were deposited intermittently. Approximately 425 million years ago, shallower marine sediments were deposited with terrestrial explosive volcanics (approximately 420 million years ago), and granite intrusions. About 20 million years ago basalt lavas flowed down some river valleys, and preserved the underlying sediments. Erosion since then has left the remnant basalts perched on hilltops.

Then and Now

A pictorial history shows the construction of Canberra’s infrastructure with a distinct geological flavour. The Bureau of Mineral Resources (BMR), now Geoscience Australia, had as one of its responsibilities the role of providing geological expertise to the Commonwealth Government.

In this role, BMR was required to provide advice for the underlying conditions to many of the major engineering projects around Canberra. These projects included: foundation studies for Kings Ave and Commonwealth Ave bridges; the buildings in the Parliamentary triangle; the water supply dams around Canberra, except Cotter Dam; the sewer tunnels and pipelines; siting the water supply tanks in the suburbs; the Molonglo Parkway (west end of Parkes Way to Glenloch); the Tuggeranong Parkway.

It is under that role that, as part of those projects, these images were captured and preserved.

A Bird’s Eye View

Aerial photography and satellite images of the development of the ACT. The types of equipment used to gather these images.

Geoscience Australia is the custodian of Commonwealth aerial photography dating from 1928. Many of these images have been used to develop Australia’s topographic map series. Aerial photography is any photograph taken of the ground from an elevated position.

It provides an accurate history and record of the land and how it has changed and developed over time. The pictures shown in this display were taken from aeroplanes flown over Canberra from 1940 until 1970. The later images were taken by satellites.

Shutter to Satellite: A collection of old cameras, including an aerial camera that was used for aerial photography and models of satellites.

Mapping and Surveying

Surveying and mapping techniques have evolved substantially over the past 100 years. This display showcases a variety of reference and topographic maps of the ACT and Canberra City region. These maps were produced by previous and current Commonwealth surveying and mapping agencies, including Geoscience Australia and the Division of National Mapping.

Also on display are a number of historical surveying pieces previously used in establishing a reliable network throughout the Territory and a range of historical cartographic instruments used to produce these maps.

The early techniques used for surveying and mapping, some of which are instrumental to the surveying of the ACT, are also on display.

A touch screen display depicting a century of development and changes in surveying and mapping across Australia provides an interesting insight into these historical activities.

Scorched Pages - The Library

In 1953 a fire destroyed the Civic offices of Geoscience Australia’s predecessor organisation, the Bureau of Mineral Resources (BMR). This exhibition showcases a selection of the books that were damaged and salvaged from that fire.

Primarily from the collection of Dr Frederick Chapman, the first Commonwealth Palaeontologist, the books were painstakingly repaired by the BMR’s Librarian, Mrs Margaret Bartlett.

The collection is of great significance as it contains rare, early Australian publications and international works covering Papua New Guinea, Japan and Korea.

The Library invites you to come and view the exhibition and explore our current library collection.

Our location - including map.

Geoscience Australia's foyer floor plan for the Establishing the ACT: From the Ground up exhibition.

Geoscience Australia foyer floor plan

Topic contact: education@ga.gov.au Last updated: April 2, 2013