Identity area

Reference code

AU WA S5017




  • 1923-01-01 - 1950-01-01 (Creation)
  • 1923-01-01 - 1950-01-01 (Accumulation)

Level of description



Cards / Volumes


Various - see descriptive note



Context area

Name of creator

AU WA A42 - DEPARTMENT OF LANDS AND SURVEYS (1890-01-01 - 1986-07-01)

Administrative history

The Department of Lands and Surveys was one of the oldest government agencies in Western Australia, having been constituted under the name of the Survey Office in 1829. The Office became the Surveyor-General's Department in 1870 and was organized into two branches - Crown Lands and Surveys. The Department was administered by the Surveyor-General who also held the title of Commissioner of Crown Lands.

The Department was restyled the Crown Lands and Surveys Department in 1873 and, in 1890, the Department of Land and Surveys.

The Department of Lands and Surveys was responsible for the leasing and alienation of Crown Lands (except where mining and forestry tenures were involved*), the reservation of land for public purposes and roads, the surveying and classifying of land, and the exploration and mapping of the State. From its inception, the Department was also active in promoting immigration and settlement, and until 1973 was responsible for administering various Assisted Passage Immigration Schemes.

Immigration remained one of the functions of the Department until 1986, and the Department was responsible for the administration of the Noalimba Reception Centre.

Following a functional review, the Department was reorganized and renamed the Department of Land Administration in 1986.

  • Initially, the Department was responsible for virtually all aspects of land administration, but with the establishment of the Department of Mines (1893) and the Forests Department (1919), it relinquished control of mining and forestry matters.

Archival history

Content and structure area

Scope and content

This series consists of two types of record:

  • Sets of cards compiled by the Department of Lands and Surveys recording Aboriginal words for places, objects, animals, parts of the anatomy, etc. with English interpretations. It is believed the words were derived from different language groups within Western Australia. In some cases, the cards note where the information was sourced (e.g. surveyor's diaries). There are two boxes which include cards for Aboriginal words with English interpretations and one box which includes cards for English words with Aboriginal interpretations. It is understood these sets of cards were compiled c. 1923/24.

  • Volumes compiled by the Department of Lands and Surveys recording Aboriginal words for places, objects, animals, parts of the anatomy, etc. with English interpretations, as well as English words with Aboriginal interpretations. It is believed these volumes were prepared c. 1960 using the aforementioned cards and can contain additional source information. The volumes also include many words not included in the sets of cards.


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Open access but preservation restriction

Conditions governing access (legacy)

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

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Related units of description

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Description control area

Level of detail




Accession area

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