Map Summary Australia From Surveys Made By Order of the British Government Combined With Those of D'Entrecasteaux, Baudin, Freycinet &C., &C.,

This map is found in two formats, as a single sheet map made up of two sheets joined and as a two sheet version where each sheet is issued separately with its own title. In this latter format the right hand sheet has the title Eastern portion of Australia by John Arrowsmith while the left hand sheet remains as Australia from surveys etc. The map was produced at the scale of 1:5 000 000 and was the largest scale map of Australia available at that time.

The western sheet has an inset of the Eastern Hemisphere lower right while the eastern sheet has two insets, one of the Torres Strait top right and lower right, Van Diemen's Land. It is a cunningly contrived presentation which permits both sheets to be independently published but at the same time allows the publisher to issue a map of the continent in two sheets joined, carrying the above title.

These two map sheets appeared for the first time as plates [52] for the west sheet and [53] for the east sheet in an expanded version of Arrowsmith's Atlas issued in 1838 which had an extra four plates not identified in the contents listing nor given a plate number by Arrowsmith. By the time Arrowsmith produced an 1858 issue of his atlas these plates were actually numbers [65] for the west sheet and [66] for the east sheet, as new plates were inserted before them. However issues of the atlas have been found where the plate numbers, added mostly on the verso of the plates in manuscript, are [52], [58], [59], and [65] for the west half sheet and [53], [59], [60] and [66] for the eastern half. When consulting the London Atlas one should be aware that the CONTENTS page was never updated after the initial publication in 1834, therefore the entire atlas should be perused to ascertain its contents.

The plates for this map of Australia were prepared with each plate including the area from longitude 130° to 137°E. When the sheets were joined to make a single sheet map the joining line was 134°E. So the extreme right of the west plate, i.e. 134° to 137°E, and the extreme left of the east plate, 130° to 134°E, were not updated as these were the discarded portions of each sheet. In these areas only outline information is included and very little detail. When using the loose two sheet version one needs to be aware of this fact particularly if one has access to only one of the sheets.

These two sheets issued at a scale of 1:5 000 000 were the most important Australian sheets in the atlas, the east sheet being published in twenty one states and the west sheet in fifteen states. In the one sheet format eighteen states have been identified. They were issued from 1838 until 1862 about which time Arrowsmith was on the point of retiring. The last issues carry the Hereford Square address.

These sheets virtually record the exploration and development of Australia, fifty years after British settlement in 1788, from 1838 until 1862. During the next twenty five years the eastern part of the continent had developed to the stage of having five independent colonies of New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, while in the west the great deserts continued to present formidable barriers to both exploration and development. Only the south western corner of the continent developed to any extent as water supply remained the determining factor in the expansion of agriculture and settlement.

Related entries

Related Map States

Published resources


  • Tooley, Ronald Vere, The mapping of Australia and Antarctica, Holland Press, London, 1985, 649 pp. Details

Dorothy F. Prescott