Surveyor General of Victoria

The Surveyor General of Victoria is the person nominally responsible for government surveying in Victoria, Australia. The original duties for the Surveyor General was to measure and determine land grants for settlers in Victoria. The position was created at the time Victoria became a separate colony in 1851 (see History of Victoria).

The Surveyor-General of Victoria is the primary government authority on surveying and the cadastre (land property boundaries and tenure).[1]

The Surveying Act 2004, Act 47/2004, Part 6, specifies the appointment, suspension and functions of the Surveyor-General. Note that the Act spells "Surveyor-General" with hyphen, which is the conventional spelling.[2]

List of Surveyors General of Victoria

Surveyor GeneralPeriod in officeNotes
Robert Hoddle1851 – 1853Hoddle is the creator of the Hoddle Grid of central Melbourne; Between 1830 and 1836, Hoddle undertook surveys of the rural district now occupied by the Australian Capital Territory (A.C.T.).
Capt. Andrew Clarke1853 – March 1857Clarke was responsible for much of the planning of Victoria's first railways; Clarke was the youngest appointee to hold the office of the Surveyor-General of Victoria at 28 years of age in March 1853. Just 5 months later he was elected to Victoria's legislative Council retaining the role of Surveyor General and commencing a period where the office was held to be held by an elected politician rather than public servant.

Clarke was later promoted to Lieutenant General with a distinguished military career. Sir Andrew Clarke served as the second Governor of Singapore and the Governor of the Straits Settlements from 4 November 1873 until 7 May 1875. Clarke played a key role in positioning Singapore as the main port for the Malay states of Perak, Selangor and Sungei Ujong.

George Samuel Wegg HorneMarch – April 1857Horne was a lawyer and politician rather than surveyor. He was elected to the Victorian Legislative Council for the Belfast and Warrnambool in September 1854, a position he held until March 1856. In November 1856 Horne was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly for the Electoral district of Warrnambool, he resigned in February 1861. Horne also contested the seats of Kilmore in 1853 and Rodney in 1856.[1] From 11 March 1857 to 29 April 1857 Horne was Commissioner Crown Lands and Survey and Surveyor General of Victoria. As such he was the last Surveyor Genberal of Victoria to be a politician rather than public servant; he was also commissioner Public Works 21 December 1858 to 27 October 1859. After politics, Horne resumed work as an attorney and practised in Melbourne before moving to New Zealand in 1867.
George Christian Darbyshire1857Darbyshire was also Chief Engineer of the Victorian Railways in 1856-57 and again 1891-1898
Clement Hodgkinson1857 – 1858Hodgkinson also designed Fitzroy Gardens and Flagstaff Gardens in Melbourne. He was appointed acting surveyor-general in October 1857, and deputy to the surveyor-general, Charles Ligar, in March 1858. After reorganization in 1860 he became assistant commissioner and secretary of the new Board of Crown Lands and Survey [3]
Charles Whybrow Ligar1858 – 1869Ligar earlier served as the Surveyor General of New Zealand 1841-1856 [4]
Alexander John Skene1869 – 1886Skene gave evidence in June 1879 before the 1878-79 Royal Commission on crown lands, and under his guidance impressive county maps of Victoria were prepared for the detailed operation of the revised Land Regulations of the 1880s. In the broader cartographic field he was a prime mover in the compilation of the first comprehensive and reliable map of Victoria, produced in 1876 on a scale of eight miles to the inch, and also one of the most accurate of the early maps of Australia, first published in 1880.[5]
Alexander Black1886 – 1892Black's work included the survey of the Black-Allan Line
Michael Callanan1894 – 1895
Samuel Kingston Vickery1895 – 1899
Joseph Martin Reed ISO1899 – 1914Reed was awarded the Imperial Service Order in 1903 for service as Victorian Surveyor General;[6] Reed was probably the first Australian-born and indeed Victorian-born Surveyor General of Victoria, born in Creswick 1857. Reed became Secretary of Lands and retired from that position and 43 years service with the Victorian Public service in July 1918.[7]
Alexander Bruce Lang1914 – 1925
George Stewart Pinniger1925 – 1926
Fenelon De la Motte Mott1926 – 1928Mott served previously as District surveyor, Bairnsdale, Victoria, 1913–26. He surveyed a large part of the back country of East Gippsland and also presented valuable reports in regard to suitable harbours along its coasts. Mott Street, HOLDER, ACT, which was gazetted 21 Oct 1971, is named in his honour.[8]
Albert Edward W. Tobin1928 – 1932
Peter Campbell1932 – 1935
Henry William Moore1935 – 1938
Oscar George Pearson1938 – 1952
Frank William Arter1952 – 1967
Colin Edward Middleton ISO1967 – 1972Middleton was later appointed Secretary of Lands. He was awarded the Imperial Service Order in 1981 for service as Secretary of the Victoria Crown Lands Department [9]
John Eric Mitchell1972 – 1979
Raymond Eden Holmes AM1979 – 1988In 1994, The University of Melbourne awarded Homes a Doctorate of Surveying Honoris Causa for his services to the surveying profession in Victoria and The University of Melbourne[10] Following his retirement as Surveyor General, Holmes worked as a consultant to both the World Bank and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as an expert adviser on land administration.[11] Holmes was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2019 Australia Day honours for "significant service to surveying and mapping, and to professional organisations".[12] Holmes is also acknowledged for his recovery in Jul 2007 of artefacts from the Burke and Wills expedition, which he donated to the State Library of Victoria.[13]
John Richard Parker1989 – 1997Following his service, Parker was appointed the Registrar of Geographic Names Victoria 1998-2000. He was also the Chair of the Committee for Geographical Names in Australasia (CGNA) and also Chairman of the Asia South-East, Pacific South-West Division of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN)[14] For his work on Toponymy, the study of place names, and support for the Australian Place Names Project of Macquarie University's Linguistics Dept, he was appointed as an Honorary Professor in Linguistics. Parker also chaired Commission 1, Professional Standards and Practice, of the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) for the 1998-2002 term. He has also consulted as an expert adviser on land administration to the World Bank.[15]
Keith Clifford Bell RFD1999 – 2003In 2003, RMIT University awarded Bell a Doctorate of Applied Science Honoris Causa for leadership of change in land administration governance, geospatial sciences and surveying in Australia.[16] Following his service as Surveyor General, Bell joined the staff of the World Bank[17] and his international development service has been recognized with eminent awards including: the Medal of the Order of Merit (Vietnam, 2017);[18] and the High State Medal of Ghazi Mir Bacha Khan (Afghanistan, 2018).[19][20]
John Ernest Tulloch2003 – 2017
Craig Leslie Sandy2017 -


  1. "About the Surveyor-General of Victoria". The State of Victoria. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  2. "Surveying Act 2004" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-09-30.
  3. Nunn, H. W. Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University via Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  4. Powell, J. M. Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University via Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  5. Powell, J. M. Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University via Australian Dictionary of Biography.
  6. "It's an Honour - Honours - Search Australian Honours".
  7. "It's an Honour - Honours - Search Australian Honours".
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-12-05. Retrieved 2011-01-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. "Keynote" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-09-29.
  10. The World Today Alison Caldwell. "Burke and Wills spirit level donated to State Library". Retrieved 2019-09-30.
  11. "Eighth United Nations Conference on theStandardization of Geographical Names" (PDF). 14 June 2002. Retrieved 2019-09-29.
  12. Parker, John (2002). "FIG Commission 1 (Professional Standards and Practice)Report on Activities 1998 – 2002" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-09-29.
  13. "Conference on land and poverty" (PDF). 2013. Retrieved 2019-09-30.
  14. "Surveyors magazine" (PDF). 2017. Retrieved 2019-09-30.
  15. "Data" (PDF). 2018. Retrieved 2019-09-30.


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