The Great Migration - Central Mapping Authority Decentralisation

The Central Mapping Authority (CMA) was established in Sydney as a branch of the NSW Department of Lands in 1952 to survey and map NSW. By 1970 the CMA was located in 8 separate buildings around Sydney when it was identified as a candidate to relocate to Bathurst as part of the State Government’s ambitious decentralization program.

A new building specifically designed for survey and mapping was constructed in Bathurst and 222 houses/units were built to house the staff who moved with their families from Sydney.

On 19 January 1976 the CMA was relocated to Bathurst as an autonomous body under the Minister for Lands who described the event as the 2nd historic crossing of the Blue Mountains when a convoy of removal trucks trekked from Sydney to Bathurst on a wet January long weekend.

During those days the Great Western Highway was never “great”, little more than a goat track and the doomsayers had a field day predicting nothing but pan techs overturning and personal processions going up in smoke. But a wet mattress was about the only mishap that occurred.

The 300 relocated staff quickly integrated into the Bathurst community contributing to the economic, cultural, sporting and customs of the local area. An additional 100 staff were recruited to fill vacancies/new positions which assisted the local labour market.

During the next 38 years the relocated staff living in urban & rural areas survived two of the severest droughts on record in conjunction with three “100 year floods” which occurred within 12 years. The CMA aircraft captured these floods and the digital data was used by Bathurst Council to undertake computer modelling to build levy banks to flood proof the city.

Just as the early settlers were pioneers who established Bathurst as Australia’s first inland settlement the CMA relocation pioneered Bathurst as one of the world’s leading Spatial Information Technology Centres.