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Students capture historic lands of the Midwest

Media release

Curtin University students have ventured into the centre of Western Australia to digitally capture historic sites of the region. 

Jeremy McEntee
Curtin University fourth year surveying student Jeremy McEntee stands by the remains of a John Forrest rock cairn, north of Mullewa (Credit: Elissa Glorie and Leigh Coward).

The team, including seven spatial sciences students, used the latest surveying technology to digitally recreate sites near Mount Magnet, including Big Bell town site, Lake Austin town site, Joker’s Tunnel Mine and Payne’s Find Gold Battery.  

Senior Lecturer Tony Snow of Curtin’s Department of Spatial Sciences said the expedition tested new techniques and equipment to better capture information on significant historic sites, which could be extremely valuable to organisations such as the State Heritage Office.

“One of the projects digitally captured the Big Bell town site using all the surveying technologies at our disposal in hope of building a comprehensive model of its physical and virtual aspects,” Mr Snow said.

“We also tested CSIRO’s Zebedee, a handheld laser scanner which generates a 3D digital model, allowing for detailed records which could assist with the heritage assessment and management of historic places.

“The students gained useful experiences out of the expedition, providing them with an opportunity to learn from other professional surveyors and put their knowledge into practice in a part of the State they would never normally venture.”

Mr Snow said the students led their own projects as part of their coursework and had the opportunity to use and combine a variety of surveying technologies to achieve their objectives.

This included the use of terrestrial laser scanners, handheld laser scanner equipment, geodetic GPS equipment, traditional total stations and a Trimble Gatewing UAV.

“The real interesting aspect of all this work is the integration of all these types of data; merging 3D terrestrial data with UAV aerial mapping data, traditional data and GPS observations to produce a final model or map of an area or feature,” Mr Snow said.

The trip was sponsored by Curtin, CR Kennedy, Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute, Whelans, Mc Mullen Nolan Group, State Heritage Office, Haefeli Lysnar, Harley Dykstra, LSLB, WAIS, Landgate, RM Surveys, Silver Lake Resources, Cottage and Engineering Surveys and Land Surveys.