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The 1862 Land Act Map.

This report discusses the creation, use and history of the 1862 Land Act Map of Victoria.

The 1862 Land Act Map is the largest map in the holdings of the Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV), measuring some 4.5 metres by 6 metres. It was transferred to PROV custody by the Parliament of Victoria and was the first record officially received at the Victorian Archives Centre in North Melbourne. Although it has been made available for some selected viewings, the sheer scale of the map ensures that it cannot be permanently displayed or made available for public inspection in its original form.

Another difficulty in managing an item of this size is avoiding the temptation to view it exclusively as an artefact. Although it is undoubtedly one of the iconic items in our collection, to PROV the map's significance is primarily as a record that provides evidence of Government actions in the administration and alienation of Crown Land in Victoria.

Formed under the Public Records Act 1973, PROV ensures the effective and efficient management, preservation and use of the public records of the State of Victoria. Like all records held in archival institutions, records transferred to PROV custody are researched so that the provenance and function of these records is established. This assists in establishing the true value of the records in providing authoritative evidence of the Government activities that have been documented, and is a fundamental requirement in preparing archival 'finding aids' for use by the archives and its users. This process of research and finding aid preparation is known as 'arrangement and description'.

Most of the information presented in this paper has been derived from the 'arrangement and description' process undertaken when the map was transferred to PROV custody, and as part of a continuing project to document our extensive holdings of records created by the former Department of Crown Lands and Survey.

The map in its present form was created as a requirement of the Land Act 1862 (25 Vict. No. 145). This Act, also known as the Duffy Act, was only the second Land Act passed by the Victorian Parliament, with lands administration prior to 1860 being conducted under New South Wales legislation. Section 12 of the Land Act 1862 states that:
 The lands comprising ten millions of acres
 and upwards delineated on the map signed
 and with the boundaries initialled by the
 President of the Board of Land and Works
 and deposited with the Clerk of the
 Parliaments shall be reserved for
 proclamation as Agricultural Areas ...

One of the primary purposes of the Duffy Act was to make land available for selection where it could be either purchased outright, or acquired by a combination of direct purchase and lease--where rents paid went to defray the purchase price of the land. This land was to be shown on a map with the extent and location of designated Agricultural Areas acknowledged by the initialling by the President of the Board of Land and Works (and Minister for Lands), and its mapped locations made public by the map lodged with the Clerk of the Parliaments. At the same time, the information represented on the map also summarises much of the activities of Government with respect to land from 1836 onwards.

The base map was published in 1856. It had been compiled and drawn in the Surveyor-General's Office under the supervision of the Chief Draftsman, Richard Counsel, with the assistance of Andrew Robertson, Horace Samson and Loughlin Counsel. At that date, the Public Lands Office employed sixteen draftsmen, one Plan Mounter, five Lithographers and three Lithographic Pressmen for the preparation of maps and plans, as well as Surveyors and other public servants. (Statistics, 1856).

Their base map gave a visual summary of the work of surveyors in the twenty years from 1836 to 1856. The first surveyors had accompanied the Police Magistrate, Captain Lonsdale, and were an important and integral part of his civil establishment. They were sent with comprehensive and detailed instructions for the survey of the Port Phillip District (Historical Records of Victoria, Vol 5) and were rapidly deployed from Melbourne to outlying districts. Public Record Office Victoria has in its custody considerable quantities of correspondence and notes regarding the execution and administration of the survey. Although not the most significant aspect of the map in terms of its primary function, the survey detail visible on the map shows many interesting physical features in the colony at that time, such as the extensive sequences of sandbars at Port Phillip Heads and around the port of Geelong.

The other features shown on the 1862 Land Act Map show and summarise the activities of Government with respect to lands prior to 1862. This has been done mostly though the use of coloured tinting of areas of the colony on the map, with different colours signifying different activities. It is unknown whether these details were placed on the map in 1862 as part of the preparations for fulfilling the legislative requirement of Section 12, or whether these had been done at an earlier time. Details shown are the boundaries of the counties, parishes and townships proclaimed, the Sold Lands (in dark red) and the lands alienated under pre-emptive right and Special Surveys (in green). Effectively, these define the extent and limits of settlement in the Colony of Victoria to that time.

The first portions of land, located in parishes now part of metropolitan Melbourne in the Port Phillip District, had been offered for sale (after survey) in Sydney on 12 September 1838. Sales continued from that time in Sydney, Melbourne and other locations such as Portland Bay and Benalla. From 1842, under the provisions of the Waste Lands Act 1842, land was surveyed and divided into blocks, proclamation was made of its availability, and sales by public auction took place.

Under an Order-in-Council of the Legislative Council of New South Wales in 1847, squatters were given the pre-emptive right to purchase portion of their runs which previously had been occupied solely by annual license to occupy. The occupant could apply to purchase up to 640 acres (one square mile) and providing that it could be demonstrated that improvements had been made to the land, this purchase could proceed at the cost of 1 [pounds sterling] an acre. Special Surveys were a scheme which operated in the early 1840s to encourage investment in the Port Phillip District. Persons with capital could designate lands which they desired to purchase; these would then be immediately surveyed and the purchase would proceed.

The "10 millions of acres" stated as being the minimum to be available for selection in 1862 are shown on the map in blocks of blue. Four million of these acres were to be available within three months of the proclaiming of the Land Act 1862. The land was to be arranged in Agricultural Areas, consisting usually of two or more parishes. It is apparent, from the alterations made on the map (usually to the colour of the tinting) and from other sources, that the location and definition of these areas was arrived at after a great deal of discussion and negotiation. The proclamation of the first of the Agricultural Areas as being available for settlement was made on 9th August 1862.

This, as the official map, was prepared and lodged with the Clerk of the Parliaments. It began life as a sequence of smaller, rectangular shaped lithograph copies of the 1856 base map. These smaller lithographs (which may have already had the colour tinting and other features applied) were then assembled together and pasted into the map's seamless backing. The map in turn was attached on rollers which enabled it to be hung on a wall and pulled up and down much like a venetian blind. Roughly the top third of the plan was retained by its creators, even though this portion had not been coloured, presumably to aid this movement.

Another more general map was also prepared and lithographed. Copies of variations of the map showing the salient features and of local Agricultural Areas were forwarded to District Survey offices and Land Officers for public display and / or distribution with selection to be administered by those Offices (VPRS 14981/P1 Unit 1).

It is reasonably clear that the 1862 map remained on display at Parliament House for no more than three years, as a new Lands Act was passed in 1865. Although the 1865 Act also made provision for the survey of further Agricultural Areas, it did not mandate the creation of another map on the same large scale. It is likely that the creation and distribution of local Agricultural Area maps for public display was seen to be a more effective means of providing the information.

At some point after 1865 the 1862 map was placed in a specially constructed wooden box and stored within the bowels of Parliament House. This extremely strong box appears to have been nailed shut, suggesting that although little further usage of the map was envisaged, its significance had been appreciated. The box is a major factor in explaining the good physical condition of the map, as it afforded complete protection from the elements, dirt and any mishandling. Only the top roller is still attached to the map and it is presently unclear when the remaining rods (which are still extant) were detached from it at the time it was first placed in the box.

The map is still stored at PROV within the box. To further assist in the continued preservation of the map, the extant detached rods are now stored outside the box, and the map has been interleaved within acid-free paper to minimise data migration. The biggest challenge now facing PROV is how to provide realistic access to it whilst preserving the original record. Clearly, the best solution will involve creating an effective image of the plan that can be meaningfully inspected over the PROV website.

In summary, the map's significance is that it showed at 1862:

* the delineation of administrative and settlement units and boundaries;

* the extent of the alienation of lands from the Crown and by what means;

* the data gathered by land and marine survey at the point of the greatest activity for the first geodetic survey of Victoria.


VPRS 7664/P3 Unregistered Maps and Plans (Legislative Assembly), Unit 1.

VPRS 14152/P1 Special Survey Descriptions, Unit 1.

VPRS 14981/P1 Memorandum and Circulars (Surveyor-General), Unit 1.

Historical Records of Victoria: Foundation Series Volume 5 Surveyor's Problems and Achievements 1836--1839, Public Record Office of Victoria, Melbourne, 1988.

Historical Records of Victoria: Foundation Series Volume 6 The Crown, the Land and the Squatter 1835--1840, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne 1991.

Statistics and Civil Establishment of the Colony of Victoria for the Year 1856 (Reprint), The Public Record Office, Melbourne 1975.
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Article Details
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Author:Nelson, Phillipa
Publication:The Globe
Geographic Code:8AUVI
Date:Dec 1, 2005
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