New, Term 3 Course


Tutor: John Parker

Important information if you wish to participate.

Members can register for the course on the U3A Baw Baw website or if not sure how to do so, contact John (Email: or Text 0408 364 159) with your email address and phone number (ideally mobile). If you are unsure how to use Zoom, John will contact you and explain how it works and what you have to do to connect to the course. Prior to each week John will send out an invitation link to everyone who has registered for the course. 

Some of our newer members may not be aware of John’s background.

John held the position of Surveyor General of the State of Victoria, Australia from 1989 to 1998 which also included being an electoral commissioner and having responsibility for naming of places. He has been an adviser on education and training, and research and development to three Universities and is considered a technical expert in cadastral and land tenure matters, spatial data, survey and mapping matters and the naming of geographic features and places.

John has provided consultancy services internationally in land administration including land tenure reform and online delivery, institutional management, quality management and toponymy to the World Bank, United Nations, USAID, in Laos, China, El Salvador and Governments including Greece, Colombia, Costa Rica and Hong Kong. International activities have included roles in the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) and the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (UNGEGN) for Asia, South East and Pacific South West Division 

He has been involved in organising all or part of conferences/seminars on behalf of the International Federation of Surveyors in Australia, Argentina, United Kingdom, South Africa, Czech Republic, South Korea, USA, China, Kenya and Mexico (also on behalf of the United Nations and the Permanent Committee on Spatial Data infrastructures for the Americas). 

John grew up in Ripplebrook and went to Drouin Central Classes and Drouin High School. Prior to being Surveyor General of Victoria he was Chief Surveyor of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria. His initial 19 years of work was in a private firm of surveyors, engineers and town planners.

Some of these presentations have been given over the years at our U3A, but many of our newer members may not have heard them. Many of them will have variations from that originally presented.

Classes will commence at 10am each week:

16 July 2020 – How the Australian States came about

This presentation provides an overview of how and when the boundaries of our colonies/states were created and explores a range of options that didn’t eventuate. Did you know New Zealand use to be part of NSW and for a number of years there was part of NSW between South Australia and Western Australia?

23 July 2020 – Issues with Victoria’s Borders

The Surveyor Generals responsibilities include determining the location of boundaries and borders. There are issues with virtually all of our Victorian borders, some are out of position and there are parts we don’t know where they are on the ground. Hear about the Murray River border and a part of the river where the border is unknown. Did you know Victoria has ‘encroached’ into South Australia by about 3 kms and there is a conflict in legislation that created the border that separated Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) from NSW in 1825 of about 7 kms.

30 July 2020 – The Importance of Geographic Names

Many have never thought about the importance of having a consistent approach to naming places and features. Did you know the principles and policies of naming, (called toponymy,) emanates from the United Nations. This presentation will give an overview of the role of the United Nations and Australia’s role in the UN, together with legislation that governs naming at the state and local government level.

6 August 2020 – Australia’s role in land ownership systems in developing countries

Any country, but particularly developing countries, need a good land ownership register to support economic development. Did you know out of approximately 6 billion land parcels world wide only about 1.5 billion have rights registered in a land registration system. Many of the 1.1 billion slum dwellers and billions more living under social tenure systems wake up each morning to the threat of eviction.

This talk explains the role Australia has provided to developing countries and how its Torrens land registration system is recognised as one of the best in the world by the World Bank and the United Nations.

13 August 2020 – Titles with Natural Boundaries, i.e. Marine & Rivers – Case Study – Fox Property Portsea

This presentation provides an overview of what happens to title boundaries that are natural boundaries such as a river or sea boundary when the sea or river move. It will use the sea boundary change of the Fox family property at Portsea as a case study.

20 August 2020 – Life and times of a Surveyor General

As Surveyor General of Victoria for 9 years, gain an insight into the roles and responsibilities of the position, including being an Electoral Commissioner, chair of various statutory committees and surveying of state land. The experience of the Surveyor General role provided a range of opportunities that enabled work in many countries including El Salvador, Colombia, Greece, Costa Rica, Hong Kong and Laos. The talk will include a range of personal experiences that occurred in some of these countries.

27 August 2020 – How Electoral boundaries are determined?

Explains the process, including the legislation, that governs how electoral boundaries are determined in state and federal redistribution for Victoria. The Surveyor General is a member of the redistribution committees.

3 September 2020 – How the metre was determined

In June 1792  two astronomers set out in opposite directions from Paris, one north & the other south, their mission was to measure the world, or at least that part of the meridian which ran from Dunkirk through Paris to Barcelona. Did you know it was to establish the length of the metre as one ten-millionth of the distance from the North Pole to the equator.

10 September 2020 – The 10 reasons we are wrong about the world – get the facts

Did you know that there are at least 10 reasons we are wrong about the World. Things are better than we think. We will look at some of the facts about our world.

17 September 2020 – Spare – in case we need it

The talks are not much longer than an hour and allow about 15 minutes for questions/queries.

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