Surveying and mapping in WA commenced well prior to settlement in 1829 and was initially hydrographic in nature by the numerous Dutch, English and French navigators that sailed up and down the coast. Formal land and engineering surveying commenced with the appointment of the first Surveyor General, John Septimus Roe. Roe came out from England with Governor Stirling on the Parmelia which arrived at Fremantle in June 1829.
Roe held the post of Surveyor General for 43 years, energetically and skilfully carrying out the extensive instructions of Governor James Stirling and sending plans on the progression of the colony back to England regularly. Roe’s achievements were remarkable and too extensive to list here. The principles established by Stirling and implemented by Roe were the fundamental basis of the excellent Land Administration System we have in this State today.
One of Roe’s achievements was to be founding President of the Swan River Mechanics Institute, a position he held until his death. The Institute lead to the establishment of both the State Library and Museum – with significant elements of Roe’s scientific materials as the foundation for each collection.
In 1910 The Institution of Surveyors Western Australia (ISWA) was established. It went through a number of name changes over the years, and in 2001 amalgamated with the Western Australian Division of the Institution of Engineering and Mining Surveyors (IEMS) to form the Western Australian Institution of Surveyors (WAIS).