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LEN BEADELL PUBLICATIONS

About us

Welcome! Len Beadell Publications is owned and operated by the Beadell family.   

We are dedicated to preserving the legacy of Len Beadell, and sharing Len's stories and history after his lifetime in the Australian Outback.

Len Beadell can lay claim to being among the last of the great explorers of Australia. In the 1950s and 1960s he undertook solo surveys which led to the building of roads through previously inaccessible parts of the outback. Len was more than just a surveyor - he was an author, cartoonist, storyteller and, above all, a great family man. Len's wife and three children, Connie Sue, Gary and Jacqueline, all have features of Len's key network of outback roads and junctions named after them. 

Order Len's books and related products on this site direct from the Beadell family. Part proceeds go towards the preservation and restoration of Len’s historic plaques that are scattered along his roads and highways as part of the

Beadell Plaque Restoration Project.

Len Beadell

A Short Biography

LEN BEADELL, OAM, BEM, FIEMS (Aust.)

1923 - 1995
 

Len Beadell has often been referred to as the 'The Last Australian Explorer' because of his lifetime of work surveying, mapping and creating access to a vast portion of the Australian Outback.

Len was a young man in the Australian Army when he was asked to "start a rocket range or something" as he would recall later. It was a job that would have been akin to a prison sentence to some, but Len later acknowledged he would have done it for free had anyone ever bothered to ask him.

Living in the bush and surveying was deeply in his blood - a favourite past time which began years earlier when he joined the 1st Burwood Scout Group as a young lad in 1930. It gave him experience in surveying, going on many weekend survey trips with his Surveyor Scout Leader, Mr John 'Skip' Richmond. It also brought out the best in his pioneering spirit.

Len regarded ‘Skip’ Richmond as his mentor. Len later stated “He showed me it was possible to enjoy all the pleasures of the bush (particularly camping) while at the same time still doing something useful and constructive (that is, surveying).” 

These survey trips were conducted within a 150 kilometre radius of Sydney, mainly around Kiama and in the Blue Mountains. Skip would pick up the willing helpers on a Saturday morning in his bull-nosed Morris and return them home late on Sunday night. The children brought only a small back pack and a frypan.

They loved camping in the bush, cooking (and burning) porridge, trudging up and down hills carrying theodolites and other equipment, and searching for old survey markers, as if on a treasure hunt. The purpose behind each excursion was to establish a trigonometric network for the Water Board and to plan the location and pipeline between major dams supplying water to Sydney.

It was an experience which sparked in Len a lifetime passion for surveying and bush living, the crowning achievement of which came in 1947 when he was tasked by the Australian government to locate and survey the site for a rocket testing range in northern South Australia, the Centre Line of which initially stretched across West Australia almost to the Indian Ocean. The town that was the base for the range was later named Woomera. 


Len’s work included the initial Woomera airstrip, town and launch sites surveys. In the years to follow, he led a gang of roadmakers to create over 6,500 kilometres of access roads for scientific observations relating to Woomera, Emu, Maralinga and the subsequent worldwide geodetic survey.

The best known of these roads is the Gunbarrel Highway which runs from near the Stuart Highway west to Carnegie Station, a distance of 1500 kilometres.

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