Wyndham History

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    Robert Lewis John Ellery (1827-1908), astronomer and public servant, was born on 14 July 1827 at Cranleigh, Surrey, England, son of John Ellery, surgeon, and his wife Caroline, née Potter.
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    By the middle of the century demand for land, ready for settlement, began to exceed the capacity of the government to prepare property using traditional surveying techniques based on astronomy.  In response a modern method of mathematical triangulation was implemented, expecting that this technique would allow for a comparatively expedient survey of the entire State.  

    What was required to begin the process was some flat land, and the Wyndham Shire had plenty of that to spare.  Government Astronomer Mr R. L. J. Ellery was chosen to conduct the survey and he began in January 1860 by selecting a site on the Werribee Plain near what is the present-day Hopper­­­s Crossing railway station.

    What is known as the South Base Stone, a basalt block set 1.5 metres deep into the ground, its surface flush with the ground showing a fine metal plug at its centre, was the starting point for the measurement of the first base line.  Painstakingly accurate measurements were taken from this point, using three ten-foot long steel bars, accurate to within five decimal points of an inch, and set up under canvas to prevent heat expansion of the metal, measured and moved forward leap-frogging the other two bars one by one until a perfectly straight line was measured out to mark the setting point for another stone.

    The North Base Stone was set at five miles from the south stone. Further calculations were taken to set another on Green Hill on the west side of the Werribee River giving a direct line now totalling ten miles.  From these starting points, an accurate line of a known length was established, and with a system of mathematical triangulation distances could be measured across the entire state.

    The first accurate Survey of the Colony of Victoria began at the South Base Stone, set into the ground at Hoppers Crossing in the Wyndham Shire.
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    Three elements of the Geodetic Survey Baseline are the South Base, the North Base and the Green Hill Extension.
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