State Library of South Australia logo Foundation Documents 1800-1851
SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future

Frome's instructions to surveyors
Title : Frome's instructions to surveyors Frome's instructions to surveyors View More Images
Add To My SA Memory
Creator : Frome, Edward Charles, 1802-1890
Source : Colonial surveying, p. 2
Place Of Creation : London
Publisher : John Weale
Date of creation : 1850
Format : Book
Contributor : State Library catalogue
Catalogue record
The State Library of South Australia is keen to find out more about SA Memory items. We encourage you to contact the Library if you have additional information about any of these items.
Copyright : Reproduction rights are owned by State Library of South Australia. This image may be printed or saved for research or study. Use for any other purpose requires permission from the State Library of South Australia. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.
Description :

Edward Frome was the Surveyor General in South Australia from 1839-1849 and sets out in his book Colonial surveying some of the requirements for surveying in unknown country. This is very distinct from the survey work undertaken in an established country, for example England, where the surveyor is examining already established towns, roads and boundaries. South Australia, when founded in 1836, had only natural features to aid the surveyor. All else was to be imposed on the landscape by the earliest surveyors, William Light, and after him EC Frome and subsequent surveyors-general and their staff.

In Colonial surveying, Frome states decisively that the first step in the surveying of a new settlement is the careful exploration of the country - the quick marking out of sections without resource to a proper survey, as recommended by some surveyors or administrators, only makes problems for the future. Frome believed that a careful and detailed exploration was necessary, with the collection of vital practical information for the furtherance of survey work.

Explorers gather information about the new country they travel through: inhabitants, geology, rivers, mountains. This information together with the map they produce assists the surveyor in selecting the site for the main town. The explorer should check important points by astronomical observation where possible, together with the altitudes of any significant heights. Frome outlines the principal requirements for the main town which include plentiful water, easy access to both the interior of the country and to a good harbour, access to timber and other building materials and access to adequate land for pastoral and agricultural purposes.

Frome concludes his work on Colonial surveying with details of the objects for exploration beyond the settled districts; broadly these are the expansion of geographical knowledge and the discovery of resources of benefit to the colony. He also lists the various modes of transport that should be utilised, including camels in desert regions. The explorer must be able to trust his own judgment and have practical skills in determining his position. The explorer must also create at least a rough sketch of the country he traverses, noting particularly hills, ranges and rivers. He also details the types of meteorological records that need to be recorded. These are essential as a guide to the nature of the new country discovered.

Captain Edward Charles Frome, Royal Engineer, arrived in South Australia in September 1839 to take up the task of surveying South Australia. The country blocks were his immediate priority. This was a task that the first Surveyor-General, William Light had been unable to complete because of interference from London. Frome had an onerous task as the colonists clamoured for their land. He had not only to revise the work that had been inadequately marked by George Kingston, Light's second-in-command, but also to undertake the commencement of the Special Surveys of very large country blocks. By 1841 Frome had laid out roads and secondary towns and taken accurate trigonometrical survey to the limits of settlement. Frome returned to England in 1849 and retired in 1877 with the rank of General.

Related names :

Frome, Edward Charles, 1802-1890

Coverage year : 1850
Period : 1836-1851
Place : South Australia
Further reading :

Frome, Edward Charles, Colonial surveying Adelaide: Public Library of South Australia, 1962

South Australia. Survey Dept Field service: handbook for government surveyors compiled by C. H. Harris Adelaide: Govt. Printer, 1914

Porter, J. R. The priceless gift - an ordered land: a brief history of the early surveying of South Australia [Adelaide?: Institution of Surveyors?, 1986?]

Anderson, J. M. Introduction to surveying New York: McGraw-Hill, c1985

McLaren, Glen Beyond Leichhardt: bushcraft and the exploration of Australia South Fremantle, W.A.: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1996

Internet links :
Exhibitions and events :

State Library of South Australia: Mortlock Wing. Taking it to the edge August 2004-



About SA Memory

Explore SA Memory

SA Memory Themes


My SA Memory


What's on