History of West Australia/Charles Crossland

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OF all the professions, that of the surveyor is perhaps the most necessary in a new country. The pioneer squatter and digger goes forth into the wilds and founds new centres of civilisation, which with mushroom growth soon assume the status of towns and cities. In this progressive age, time, which is the essence of business, will not brook the delays of tedious travelling along sandy tracks and circuitous river banks and ravines, but calls in the science of engineering to connect the mountain cities and gold-bearing plains with the metropolis.

Nature, with her inexorable wisdom, frequently hides away her choicest treasures in store-houses far away in inhospitable wilds, lifeless and dreary, on which only a few of the bravest and best men dare encroach.

The roadways of the great centres of civilisation all over the world are lined with the skeletons of those who dared and died, heroes in the great march of progress who at the bugle-sound on judgment-day will rise and proudly take their place in the grand army of the dead. Western Australia, with her dreary expanse of sandy desert and silent bush, is the camping-place of hundreds of tired wayfarers who fell, not amid the roar of cannon and the excitement of the battle-field, but in the grim fight with starvation and thirst. As death thins the ranks the gaps are filled by others, and thus the hidden treasures of the land are revealed to the world.

In the foremost ranks of this progressive army is the surveyor who precedes the engineer and opens out the paths into the interior. Accompanied by a handful of assistants, and armed with his theodolite, the surveyor maps out the roadways through the almost inaccessible bush, and paves the way for that now necessary adjunct to civilisation—the railway. His work takes him far out of the beaten track into the wilds, where for months and years he sedulously and quietly works, with no other encouragement than the knowledge that he is doing his duty.

Among those who have braved the privations and discomforts of a surveyor's life in the back-blocks is Mr. Charles Crossland, a member of the firm of Crossland and Co., surveyors and general estate agents in Perth. Mr. Charles Crossland is an Australian native, having been born in Maryborough, Victoria, in 1858. From his earliest youth he was more or less associated with mining, in which he took such a keen interest that the well-known surveyor, Mr. Couchman, who for many years occupied the important position of Inspector of Mines for the Government, accepted him as an articled pupil. During his association with Mr. Couchman, Mr. Crossland not only got a thorough knowledge of his profession in all its branches, including mining surveying, but also gained considerable skill as a metallurgist. After completing his articles, Mr. Crossland removed to Sydney, and practised there for two years. In 1882 he came to Western Australia, and received an important appointment under the Government to proceed to the north-west portion of the colony and carry out several large surveys. At this time very little was known of that remove part of the province, and trigonometrical surveys were necessary for Government purposes. Whilst engaged in these labours, Mr. Crossland did much of the work that generally falls to the lot of a pioneer. Its importance and magnitude may be gauged from the fact that the area of land he covered extended from the head of the Fortesque River to Geraldton, and thence on to the head of the Murchison. The work occupied Mr. Crossland for three years, during which time he surveyed several hundreds of miles of practically virgin country. When this work was completed, Mr. Crossland returned to Perth, and his services were eagerly sought after for the surveys in connection with the Midland Railway, which was on the eve of being constructed. He joined in partnership with Mr. J. Morrison, of Perth, and carried out the whole of the surveys in connection with the Midland Railway, a work which entailed the solution of some acute engineering problems. At the expiration of four years, Mr. Crossland severed his connection with Mr. Morrison, and joined his fortunes with those of his present partner, Mr. Alexander Forrest. The firm conduct a very large business as land estate agents and surveyors, their connections extending throughout the colony. Mr. Crossland's experiences in the far north-west enables him to give valuable information concerning that immense area, the future prosperity of which he is very sanguine. Since he has been settled in Perth, he has taken an active interest in the development of the auriferous country, and is interested in many important companies. Mr. Crossland can claim to be one of the early supporters of prospecting in the colony, as he was one of the original syndicate that sent out that most successful mining pioneer, Mr. J. Dunn, the discoverer of the Wealth of Nations and other mines. Mr. Crossland was married in 1886 to the daughter of Mr. De Courcy Lefroy, brother of Mr. O'Grady Lefroy, C.M.G., one of the earliest of Western Australian settlers. Mr. Crossland is one of those bright, vivacious gentlemen who combines with a happy disposition keen analytical discrimination in business matters, and to this may be ascribed the successful position he holds in life.