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Sydney Harbour


The Port Authority of New South Wales Survey Services team ensures the waters of Sydney Harbour, Port Botany, Port Kembla, Yamba and Eden are safe for shipping at all times.

Depths of channels and berths can change over time and hazards, like a 12m long pole found stuck upright in the Harbour bottom to cars dumped from shore, can appear anywhere without warning.

Survey Services regularly completes hydrographic and bathymetric surveys of Sydney Harbour, Botany Bay, Port Kembla, Yamba and Eden to search for hazards and monitor changes to berth and channel depths.

The team also carries out engineering, monitoring and environmental surveys, calibrates and deploys wave measuring buoys, manages wave, wind, current and tide information and is available, on request, to conduct surveys for external clients. Historical data can also be purchased.

Port Authority survey team members are highly qualified and experienced, concerned with national and international hydrographic matters and actively involved with industry associations including the NSW Survey Mapping Industry Council, Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute, International Federation of Surveyors and Australasian Hydrographic Society.

To contact the Hydrographic Survey Team or enquire about availability for external survey work, please contact:

email: Survey Manager, Venessa O'Connell.

Port Authority Survey Services presently consists of:

Survey Manager:

A Surveying & Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI) certified Level 1 hydrographic surveyor and Board of Surveying and Spatial Information (BOSSI) NSW Registered Land Surveyor with 19+ years surveying experience.

Responsible for strategic management of the section, technical guidance and quality assurance of work.

Three Hydrographic Surveyors:

One SSSI certified Level 1 hydrographic surveyor and all hold degrees and have 20+ years' surveying experience.
All surveyors are encouraged to complete coxswain qualifications and are responsible for project management, collection and processing of all sounding and topographic data and boat driving.

Coastal/Hydro Surveyor:

A surveyor with a TAFE Diploma in Surveying, marine coxswain and 10 years' surveying experience with the Port Authority.
Responsible for maintaining the section's met-ocean equipment as well as collection and processing of sounding and topographic data.

CAD Specialist:

A CAD specialist with 15+ years of experience.
Responsible for production of hydrographic products for the department, including quality assurance for plans.

Vessel and Equipment

Survey Services operates:

  • A purpose built, 9.2m Air rider vessel Port Explorer. The vessel is equipped with RTK GPS, RESON 7125 multi-beam and DGPS aided Applanix POSMV inertial reference unit
  • A single beam echo sounder, side scan sonar and land survey capabilities with GPS, total station and digital levelling equipment
  • A second RESON 7125 multi-beam system which can be utilised on vessels of opportunity.
Hydrographic Surveys

The survey team undertakes high precision bathymetric multi-beam surveys to ensure safe navigation in the ports of Sydney, Botany, Eden and Yamba. These are carried out under a Port Safety Operating License (PSOL) requiring:

  • IHO S-44 Standards for Hydrographic Surveys
  • Ports Australia Principles for Gathering and Processing Hydrographic Information in Australian Ports

Surveys performed by the hydrographic team include:

  • Port Safety Operating Licence Berth and channel surveys
  • Positioning surveys for marine structures, aids to navigation
  • Object/obstruction location and removal surveys
  • Environmental surveys, ie. Beach/sea grass monitoring
  • Dredge support surveys
  • Monitoring of marine structures
  • Engineering surveys for wharf structures or adjoining land
  • Pipeline/cable surveys

Port Authority of NSW survey data are sent to the Royal Australian navy for use in the production of AUS Charts.


Port Authority of NSW survey team calibrates and maintains tide gauges in both Sydney Harbour (Fort Denison) and Botany Bay (Bulk Liquids Berth).

The data from these gauges are used daily for shipping movements and are also relayed to the Bureau of Meteorology for the production of tide prediction charts.

Tides have been measured at Fort Denison since its completion in 1857, initially using a bench mark cut into the stonework of the Martello Tower and, since 1867, by successive instruments upgraded with improvements to measuring technology.

Our survey team have maintained and calibrated the gauge for more than 150 years.

The gauge has historical significance within NSW, and with the recent installation, in close proximity, of a CORS NSW GPS beacon, the site will feature in ongoing climate change studies.

The survey team also manages and maintains wave rider buoys, current meters and wind anemometers positioned throughout the port to aid shipping movements.

For tide predictions and tide tables visit the National Tidal Centre

For further information, to make specific tide requests or to purchase historic data, please contact the survey team on:

Examples of our Work

High resolution survey projects

The survey team has a fully equipped, purpose built survey vessel called the Port Explorer.

The Port Explorer is equipped with a high resolution, state-of the-art RESON 7125 multi-beam echo sounder fitted in a moonpool and can be transported by water or by road and mobilised at relatively short notice.

We currently carry out full port surveys for Port Jackson, Port Botany, Port of Yamba and Port of Eden.

Our surveyors are highly skilled and provide high resolution data for a range of port bed, environmental and engineering surveys.

Port Authority currently undertakes processing and plan production using CARIS bathymetric products.

Data can be supplied to clients in digital or paper plan form or via 3D visualisation using the CARIS EasyView.

Click here to see Sydney Harbour 'flythrough' animation