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About this Document

This document was commissioned and first published in 2012 by the Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping (ICSM) to provide students and interested members of the public with an overview of key matters relating to the ownership of land and the boundaries that define the limitations of that ownership, including a review of the role of surveyors in the determination of land boundaries.

As such, it does not purport to be a source of legal advice, nor is it intended to be a complete or absolute treatise of the subject.

About the Author

Gus Donnelly qualified and registered as a land surveyor in Tasmania in 1966, subsequently gaining considerable professional experience in a wide variety of public and private sector roles. In 1985, he completed a Graduate Diploma in Professional Management. He was appointed Chief Surveyor (Department of Main Roads, Tasmania) in 1986 and Manager Survey and Property (Department of Transport and Works, Tasmania) in 1991. From 1993, Gus moved into management roles in quality and continuous improvement, road maintenance and project management. He retired from full-time employment with the Tasmanian Government in 2000 and established himself as a respected facilitation and project management consultant.

Throughout his impressive career, Gus played a major role in the surveying profession, including:

  • President, Institution of Surveyors Australia (Tasmanian Division) 1987-88
  • Member, Land Surveyors Board 1983–1991
  • Member, Board of Studies (University of Tasmania) 1985-1991
  • Member, Survey Industry Consultative Committee (University of Tasmania) 1985–1991
  • Federal Councillor, Institution of Surveyors, 1991–1994
  • Fellow, Institution of Surveyors, 1989
  • Facilitator, transfer of Surveyors Board responsibilities from the Tasmanian Government to the Institution of Surveyors Australia (Tasmanian Division), 2004
  • Facilitator, ICSM Cadastral Reform Workshop, 2008.

Other articles by the author include ‘Highways in Tasmania’, a paper dealing with legal aspects of the creation and ownership of highways in Tasmania, the rights and restrictions of land ownership and specific applications to highways and adjoining lands, published in The Australian Surveyor, December 1986 (vol. 33 No. 4).


The author acknowledges and thanks the following people for their invaluable assistance and contributions to the development of this paper:

  • Dr Jon Osborn, School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, for encouragement, support, guidance and review
  • Former Surveyor-General Bill Hirst, ACT Planning & Land Authority, for review and suggestions for improvement
  • Former Surveyor-General Don Grant, Land Information New Zealand, for information and data related to New Zealand
  • Former Surveyor-General Peter Murphy and John VanderNiet of the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water & Environment, for information, historical records and relevant data.

© G J Donnelly and ICSM