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Australian History

Friday, May 23, 1930. :   Extensive aerial surveying and mapping of the Australian outback begins.

     Donald George Mackay, born 1870, was a descendant of wealthy pastoralists from Yass in New South Wales. An adventurer who had cycled around Australia and participated in expeditions to Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific, Mackay was interested in mapping unexplored regions of Australia. His interest intensified following the 1929 incident in which Charles Kingsford Smith's 'Southern Cross' was lost in the outback: whilst Kingsford-Smith was located after twelve days, would-be rescuers Bobby Hitchcock and Keith Anderson died in the process.

Following this incident, Mackay decided to finance aerial mapping of unknown regions of Australia's outback. Pilots Frank Neale and H B Hussey were enlisted to fly two aircraft leased from Australian Aerial Services, Melbourne, and the services of four other experts in aerial mapping were also engaged. The expedition was farewelled from Canberra by Australian Prime Minister James Scullin on 23 May 1930.

The initial survey intensively triangulated a region of thousands of square kilometres around Ilbilla Soak near the Ehrenberg Range in central Australia. New discoveries were made, including the fact that Lake Amadeus, which had previously been mapped as being several hundred kilometres in length, was in fact less than 100km long. Another large lake was discovered, 96km wide and 160km long, which the Federal Government named Lake Mackay in honour of Donald Mackay.

Over the ensuing years and up until 1937, Mackay pioneered numerous aerial surveys of the outback. He financed aerial mapping of the central western deserts and northwest Western Australia, the Great Victoria Desert and the Nullarbor Plain, providing vital information on Australia's vast outback.


Today in History

Thought For Today
The Lord is my protector; he is my strong fortress. My God is my protection, and with him I am safe. He protects me like a shield; he defends me and keeps me safe.
Psalms 18:2 (c) GNB
God defends the battler and those who work towards His purposes and plans.

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