A collection of objects related to the surveying of South Australia and to the surveyors who worked here during the 19th century. Many of these objects form a sub-collection of the Historical Relics collection. 

A number of the objects relate to South Australia’s first Surveyor General, Colonel William Light. These include surveyors’ chains and the first plan of Adelaide, drawn up to Light’s instructions. Another highlight of the collection is ‘Poeppel’s post’, the original marker used in 1880 by Augustus Poeppel to mark the intersection of the boundaries of South Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.


The history of Adelaide as a ‘planned city’ and the broader history of South Australia’s British settlement under the Wakefield system make surveying of particular importance to South Australia’s history. This collection preserves some of the tools used by early surveyors and records the development of official boundaries, as well as the understanding of and changes to territory administered by the South Australian colonial government. This collection complements other History SA collections, in particular a large collection of surveying instruments held at the South Australian Maritime Museum.

Add media

Colonel William Light

Image: compass in wooden case
Hand compass and sundial believed to have been used by Colonel William Light in surveying the City of Adelaide.
Courtesy of/Photographer:Rachel Harris, Bit Scribbly Design

Hand compass and sundial, History SA collection, HT 97.531

Surveying equipment

Image: survey chain
Survey chain used by Isaac Guley in surveying the City of Adelaide with Colonel Light.
Courtesy of/Photographer:Rachel Harris, Bit Scribbly Design

Survey chain, Migration Museum collection, HT 2003.95

Image: wooden post inscribed 'South Australia'

Poeppel's Corner Post

Wooden post used to mark the point where the boundaries of South Australia the Northern Territory and Queensland meet.

Image: survey chain

Survey Chain

Survey chain used by Isaac Guley in surveying the City of Adelaide with Colonel Light.

Add story