A collection of objects related to the surveying of South Australia and to the surveyors who worked here during the 19th century. Many of these objects form a sub-collection of the Historical Relics collection. 

A number of the objects relate to South Australia’s first Surveyor General, Colonel William Light. These include surveyors’ chains and the first plan of Adelaide, drawn up to Light’s instructions. Another highlight of the collection is ‘Poeppel’s post’, the original marker used in 1880 by Augustus Poeppel to mark the intersection of the boundaries of South Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.


The history of Adelaide as a ‘planned city’ and the broader history of South Australia’s British settlement under the Wakefield system make surveying of particular importance to South Australia’s history. This collection preserves some of the tools used by early surveyors and records the development of official boundaries, as well as the understanding of and changes to territory administered by the South Australian colonial government. This collection complements other History SA collections, in particular a large collection of surveying instruments held at the South Australian Maritime Museum.

Catherine Manning's picture
Catherine Manning says:

Hi Janet, this website is a project run by the History Trust of South Australia, we hold museum collections, and I've searched our catalogue for anything related to Rawnsley in those but come up blank. We rely on donations for the bulk of our collections so there are gaps we attempt to fill with information and supplementary material. Many or our sources come from State Records - https://archives.sa.gov.au/, the National Archives of Australia - https://www.naa.gov.au/ and the State Library of South Australia - https://www.catalog.slsa.sa.gov.au/

Janet Spillman's picture
Janet Spillman says:

I am a Queensland historian, researching the work of Henry Charles Rawnsley, a surveyor who worked in South Australia between 1849 and 1851. His work on the Northern Survey in the Flinders Ranges has excited disparaging comment. Do you have any information on Rawnsley, please? I would pay for photocopies, digitised articles, etc.

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