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The things one finds in antique shops! Debra Ray-Thompson found these Adastra film canisters and sent these images.

As per the labels, they once contained nine inch wide Dupont Cronar black and white negative film which Adastra used in a Wild RC8 camera on a Queensland Lands Department contract in the Dulacca area flown at 25,000 feet on 16 May 1969. The aircraft is unknown but it was probably one of the Hudsons.

Doug Morrison recalls:

The film is cronar/mylar and that would be right for the era – maybe that was one of the reasons the film could have been destroyed as these early mylar based films (like some of the animal product based drafting films) eventually gave off extremely potent/obnoxious smell as it deteriorated with age. I have been unable to get access to certain old photos/films in overseas libraries because the material has been sealed and quarantined due to the ‘toxic’ odour. I can remember using mylar based 35mm film for survey tracking cameras in the late 1960s but we stopped using such film because it wouldn’t tear – in fact I saw a camera spool mechanism in a tracking camera completely destroyed by some film that came off its notches and just continued to wrap and jam until the mechanism was torn off its bearings and seized the drive motor. I don’t know if anyone had such issues with the big photo cameras with mylar based films but a jam in one of those cameras would be a very expensive occurrence. It was certainly a popular film in that era though and you can be almost certain that Kevin Pavlich had an involvement in supplying that film to Adastra as he worked for 3M selling such stuff along with 3M's Cronaflex drafting translucent mylar – the preferred topographic mapping material - very stable (no expansion or contraction). Kevin sold such to us when I was with GRD Co.

The mylar film could be coated with photographic chemicals and used as negatives/auto-positives for large format lithographic cameras (like Adastra had). Before the mylar based drafting film there was very little stable based material around and this had been a real issue since maps were first made. Stable based material was essential for producing printed maps where multi-layered content existed (e.g., separate layers of drainage, contours, planimetry, culture - i.e., roads fences buildings etc). Before the mylar based stable material there were stable animal based drafting films – one being a product called ‘Astrafoil’ and I know Adastra used it as I can remember Brian Lenon telling me about the time in the drafting office at Adastra one of the draftsmen picked up his drafted map after many hours work on it (40-80 hours of work) and as he moved from his desk he bumped the edge of the map on a filing cabinet and the whole map shattered into a thousand pieces. The mylar based materials were a godsend for mapping. Stable, nice drawing surface, accepted most inks (not all – inks needed to dry quickly), could be worked on both sides of material and they didn’t shatter.

Dulacca is quiet rural town on the Warrego Highway, 43 kilometres west of Miles, Queensland. First came the railway (in 1879) and then came the town; originally spelt 'Doolackah', the name was derived from an Aboriginal name meaning 'emu tracks'. An interesting point to note about Dulacca is that it was the site of the first efforts to eradicate the invasive prickly pear cactus. The fight to eradicate the prickly pear was spurred on by the Government's reward of 40000 hectares of land to whoever could restore their land to its original state. It is estimated that the menacing plant covered more than 50 million acres of Queensland at its peak. The town's hotel, known as the Waterhole on the Hill, dates back to 1908.

(Source: https://www.queensland.com/au/en/places-to-see/destination-information/p-56b25e3b7b935fbe730dd118-dulacca)


This last image bears the date 7 July 1969 which is probably a processing date. The three initials end in RW and the first could be K but the identity of the operator is uncertain as we rarely have a record of middle initials.


Thanks to Debra Ray-Thompson


Original issue.