The Record Plans were produced by the Department of Crown Lands and Survey as the definitive legal documents that determine the status of land in Victoria that has been sold by the Crown (alienation) or reserved for public purposes e.g. roads or cemeteries. These plans which show the boundaries of Crown land surveyed by the Department form the basis of the current land titles system.
Each Record Plan is certified by the surveyor responsible, noting that the survey was done in accordance with regulations and the plan is correct. The District Surveyor and the Surveyor -General also certify each plan as true and correct by way of their respective signatures.
The Record Plans only record transactions relating to each allotment up to the date of alienation and issuing of a Crown grant. Once a Crown allotment had been surveyed and sold no further information was added to that portion of the plan; the original Grantee details for each land allotment sold continue to be included on all updated versions. The exception being when the Department had to re-purchase land for resettlement schemes (soldier and closer settlement) also reclaiming of land for public reserves e.g. national parks.
Over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, different coloured inks were used to record details on the survey and compilation plans. When the plans were microfilmed, some of the ink references (especially the blue ink) became illegible on the microfiche.
The Record Plans are controlled by VPRS 16719 and VPRS 16720. These Indexes date from circa 1837 to 2001 and are arranged alphabetically under location i.e. County, Parish and Township, and subjects e.g. Aboriginal Reserves. The earlier Record Plans in VPRS 16306 P0001 were compiled from data collected in Surveyor's Field Books (VPRS 16685, 16686 and 16687).
RECORD PLANS REPRESENT THE SURVEYING PROCESS
The Record Plans reflect the process of surveying in Victoria and the government's change in emphasis; from the Colony of New South Wales' efforts to control unlicensed occupation of land by the squatters on pastoral runs, the early cadastral surveys mapping Victoria, to the Department's response to public demand for Crown land released under sections of the various Land Acts, and the compulsory acquisition of private land for settlement schemes or public reserves.
A surveyor could be requested to survey a Crown land subdivision before and during the allocation of County, Parish or Township boundaries. The Record Plans reflect official requests from the regional offices of the Crown Lands and Survey Department: this could be a survey of a single allotment, a subdivision within a Township or Parish, or the entire Parish. This process of surveying produced complete County, Parish and Township Plans. These plans were copied as lithographs and distributed to other branches within the Department and regional land offices as Working Plans. A digitised copy of the Working Plans is available at PROV, see VPRS 16171.
The Record Plans represent both the original subdivision surveys and the compilation of multiple survey plans used to produce a Parish plan. Some parishes in remote areas have no parish plans and in these cases the county plan is the Record Plan. Consequently the details provided by Record Plan cover the time period spanning from the first survey in a parish or township to the most recent compilation plans.
PUT AWAY AND CURRENT RECORD PLANS
Over time, new versions of Record Plans were created to replace those that had become worn or cluttered with information. The data on the old plan was transferred to the new plan. Superseded plans were retired from use and are known as Put Away Plans. The new versions are known as Current Plans. The new version of a Record Plan could have been a compilation of the survey data from more than one Put Away Plan. The updated Record Plans did not hold all the information from the superseded plans; only the current status of each allotment at the point of time the new plan was drawn.
TYPES OF RECORD PLANS
The Record Plans comprise three types of plans:
1. An original survey plan could be an allotment or subdivision or entire parish (indicated as S on the Index to Record Plans (Put Away and Current) VPRS 16719 and VPRS 16720),
2. A compilation plan was drawn from more than one survey (indicated as C),
3. A manuscript plan was a copy of a compilation plan that was stored away from regular access to preserve the plan (indicated as M).
Please note that the manuscript plans of VPRS 16306 should not be confused with the plans serialised as VPRS 8286, 8287, 8288 and 8289. These four series (two hardcopy and two microform) comprise plans stamped as manuscript and which have been created and then photo-lithographed for reproduction purposes. The microform versions are in PROV custody, the location of the hardcopy (if extant) is unknown as at 2011.
MANAGEMENT OF RECORD PLANS: HISTORICAL NOTE
It was not uncommon for draughtsmen to put several survey or compilation plans together on the one backing sheet. In some instances the multiple plans have the same date or year, but there are many examples of plans of the same type with different dates brought together on the one backing sheet.
These configurations of multiple plans reflect later requests from the regional offices where the draughtsmen did not redraw a new plan but used existing ones. In some cases multiple survey plans were brought together to create a compilation plan. This practice is not consistent across all examples of multiple survey plans on the one sheet, the Records Description List reflects the difference in the purpose of these plans by listing them as compilation. However, there will be instances where these artificial compilation plans have not been identified on the Records Description List.
The earlier Record Plans in VPRS 16306 P0001 (particularly the original survey plans), include some information on land usage including such features as soils, vegetation and buildings, the later plans generally only provide information on land status (issuing of a Crown grant or public reserve etc.) The separation of the survey and land management functions with the establishment of the Occupation Branch in 1874 seems to correlate with fewer details recorded on the Record Plans.
WORKING PLANS OR OB PLANS
In 1874 the Occupation Branch was established for the day-to-day management of land usage including the issuing of leases and licences and thereafter maintained its own Working Plans. The Department of Crown Lands and Survey, issued lithographed copies of the Record Plans with their alpha numeric plan numbers to the Occupation Branch. These Working Plans were then annotated with the Occupation Branch plan numbers and details relating to their management of each allotment.
The Working Plans were maintained and updated by the Occupation Branch of the Department of Crown Lands and Survey in parallel with the Record Plans, so the same allotments of land were not sold twice.
The Working Plans record the day-to-day administration of Crown land up to the point of sale and are not legal documents. The Working Plans included details for temporary use of land, such as licensing, grazing, short term business sites, other tenures and permits, also inquiries and preliminary dealings which were likely to result in sale but had not reached the final stage. As merely working tools, it is understood that the superseded plans were thrown out, mislaid or damaged beyond recognition.
The Working Plans of the Occupation Branch are available to researchers in VPRS 16171 Regional Land Office Parish and Township Plans Digitised Reference Set.
METRIC RECORD PLANS
Most of the Record Plans were imperial measurement paper based plans. From 1974 onwards the Department produced 412 metric plans on drafting film.
The new format of metric plans comprised two plans for each County, Parish or Township with the same four digit metric number:
1. A line work plan only detailing the allotment and area boundaries as well as the parcel identifier e.g. Crown section and allotment number.
2. Schedule sheet which contains the details of Crown grant dealings and land occupation in numerical order according to Crown section and allotment numbers.
After 1974 updates to the imperial Record Plans are in metric measurements. The imperial plans still in use were updated with a metric number and incorporated into the new system.
LASSI ONLINE DIGITAL SYSTEM
In 2001 Land Victoria closed the Record Plan series, which was superseded by the digital online system LASSI. Land Victoria digitally captured all the Crown information and the map line work from the Record Plans. In LASSI the textual information on Crown grants etc. is transposed onto a new digital map base.
TIPS FOR RESEARCHERS
The Record Plans in VPRS 16306 P0001 are useful for tracing Crown land survey information pre-dating 1940 and the original grantees that first purchased the allotments of land. The most up-to-date details of grantees are found in VPRS 16306 P0002.
The Put Away Record Plans can be used for:
- researching the names of surveyors who conducted the first surveys in each parish or who surveyed particular allotments,
- finding out the names of the original grantees,
- locating buildings, fences and other early improvements that may have existed on particular lands prior to sale,
- finding descriptions of original vegetation,
- determining the location of early pastoral runs,
- determining the location of early roads or public reserves e.g. parks, cemeteries,
- tracing the existence of early place names.
PROV CONSIGNMENTS OF VPRS 16306
The consignments of VPRS 16306 comprise both Put Away and Current Plans.
VPRS 16306 P0001 consists of only the Put Away Record Plans and therefore includes the original survey, manuscript and compilation plans that were superseded by the Current Record Plan.
VPRS 16306 P0002 consists of the survey and compilation Record Plans with the most up-to-date information up to 2001 on Counties, Parishes and Townships. Up until the time of transfer to PROV this consignment continued to be known as the Current Record Plans but in practice had been superseded by the LASSI Online Digital system and therefore were in reality also Put Away.
As of 2011 the Department of Sustainability and the Environment still have in their custody a collection of manuscript Record Plans. VPRS 16396 P0001 which comprises the "Put Away" Record Plans only includes a few of the manuscript plans. The Department has retained the remaining sequence so they can make a digital copy of these records before transferring them to PROV.