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Land grants dating from Governor Macquarie's day were still unsurveyed: boundaries of these 'old farms' were the cause of many a dispute.
Taking the initiative, Hoddle wrote to Oxley, 'I shall endeavour to settle them without troubling you if possible.' Hoddle made the first of his many forays south, past Camden, crossing the Shoalhaven River into the County of St Vincent, the region now known as the Southern Highlands.
His first instructions were 'to finish the survey of the Town of Sydney', where the First Fleet under Governor Phillip had landed a mere thirty-five years earlier.
Then, after surveying two branches of the Hawkesbury River, he made an exploratory survey of Archibald Bell's 'New Line of Road' through the northern Blue Mountains.
Robert Hoddle was only one of the many placed on half pay who, unable to find civilian employment in England, emigrated to the colonies in search of a better life.
(For Hoddle, who was not an Army officer, half pay amounted to two shillings and fivepence per day.) [ILLUSTRATIONS OMITTED] In 1822, leaving his wife and small daughter to await his securing a permanent appointment (it was seven years before they rejoined him, out in New South Wales), Hoddle sailed for the Cape of Good Hope, where he was appointed Assistant Surveyor in the Royal Engineers.
The ship's two weeks' stay enabled him to explore enough of this southernmost part of the colony to be very favourably impressed, and to write a detailed account in his diary of all he saw.
(1) From 1809 to 1812 he was a cadet Royal Military Surveyor and Draftsman in that Corps of the Royal Engineers, trained by Ordnance Survey, whose headquarters were the Drawing Room of the Tower of London where maps were drawn and stored.