Hydrographic charting of Australia History

Naval policy dictated that Admiralty charts be destroyed when superseded to avoid navigational error.

It was during Rear Admiral John Washington’s period as the Admiralty’s hydrographer, 1855-1863, that a series of agreements were drawn up with the Australian colonies. These agreements provided boats and crews for use by officers lent from the Royal Navy to chart the coasts and shoal waters in the approaches to the rapidly developing towns, communication with which was seriously hampered by the the frequency of shipwrecks. It had been the discovery of gold and the consequent rush of miners and emigrants from not only England but California that added greatly the numbers of ships sailing to Australia’s east coast. This led to numerous petitions being made to Her Majesty’s Government to chart the eastern approaches to Australia to make for safer passage for shipping.

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