A groundbreaking geological map of Australia
By EDGEWORTH DAVID, Sir T[anatt] W[illiam] , 1931

A New Geological Map of the Commonwealth of Australia (Including New Guinea), Together with a Volume of “Explanatory Notes”.

Australasia & the Pacific Australia
  • Author: EDGEWORTH DAVID, Sir T[anatt] W[illiam]
  • Publication place: Sydney
  • Publisher: [map] Commonwealth Council of Scientific and Industrial Research; [book] Australasian Medical Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 1931 and 1932.
  • Physical description: Chromolithograph map in four sections, dissected and mounted on linen, [together with:] booklet 8vo (iv), 177, (1) pp., 11 tables, (of which nine are folding, one is full page and one is half page), plus ten figures, maps set into the text, original paper wrappers, ownership stamp of Lt. Colonel A. Delmé-Radcliffe D.S.O to upper cover, original green buckram slipcase, publisher's label pasted to upper cover.
  • Dimensions: 1600 by 1975mm. (63 by 77.75 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 12282

To scale:


First edition of Edgeworth David’s comprehensive geological map of Australia.

The map is the final published work of Sir Edgeworth David (1858-1934), a Welsh Australian geologist and explorer. Edgeworth David was a formidable character, emigrating to Australia in 1882 after he was appointed Assistant Geological Surveyor at the New South Wales Department of Mines. After being made professor at the University of Sydney, he led an expedition which proved that coral atolls were built on a platform. By now a well respected geologist, he used his influence to raise money for Ernest Shackleton’s 1907 expedition to the South Pole. He then joined Shackleton’s team, even though he was about to turn fifty, and eventually led the successful expedition to the magnetic south pole while Shackleton’s expedition was forced to turn back from their attempt to reach the geographic pole. During the First World War, he was involved in the creation of and then commissioned into the Australian Mining Corps.

David’s great work had been in his mind since he came to Australia, and there was pressing contemporary need for greater geological data on the continent after the discovery of gold in Australia in 1851. David began work in 1922 by plotting data onto a 1921 base map. He compiled the results of other geological surveys alongside his own, as well as undertaking new expeditions.Although finished by 1928 and sent to England for corrections, Davis continued to correct it until it went to print in 1930. The map and accompanying text was intended to be the first part of David’s monumental work ‘The Geology of the Commonwealth of Australia’ but unfortunately he died before he managed to complete the accompanying book. The work would eventually be published 1950 by the work’s co-author Professor Browne in 1950.

The map features two inset maps of the Admiralty Islands and New Ireland plus another of Tasmania, there are also numerous geological cross sections to the overall edges of the maps. As well as the geological information the map also provides information railways, telegraph lines, cable routes, state boundaries, roads, tracks, lighthouses, and altitude.


  1. Norman Abjorensen and James C. Docherty, Historical Dictionary of Australia, (Rowan &
  2. Littlefield: Sydney, 2014), p.124
  3. National Library of Australia, Australia in Maps: Great Maps in Australia's History from the National Library's Collection, (NLA, 2007) 88.