In Australia, property boundaries are surrounded by individual survey marks. These survey marks are used for establishing property boundaries, construction and mapping. They are physical markers in the ground that show boundaries, positions and heights.

Boundary and Reference Marks

Survey marks are important for almost every type of surveying project. This includes housing developments, road and bridge construction and environmental mapping. There are many different types of marks including permanent marks, reference marks (control points) and boundary marks. Boundary marks determine property boundaries, often white pegs. They can also be found as screws, nails or bolts. They are found on block corners at ground level however they can also be seen in concrete curbs and paths, fences and block walls. Boundary marks are the easiest marks to find. Often having stakes next to them providing information on lot numbers and what they are.

Reference marks are “survey control” placed by past and surveyors that form crucial evidence to show the accuracy of other marks. They stop other marks from being lost via providing detail on measurements to the marks. Reference marks have evolved over the years and may include trees with carved inscriptions, buried steel rods, screws or nails in concrete. Often smaller or buried they are harder to find to avoid being disturbed though they can still be destroyed through fencing, construction or even the old john deer ride-on lawn mower.

Reference Tree at Hampton (Captured by Daniel SMKLS)

Permanent marks

Permanent Survey Marks (PSMs) are enduring marks, usually a buried concrete block with a brass plaque in the center. They are each identified with a unique number and are registered to form part of the state control network. This allows all surveyors to have accurate knowledge of their positions through the Department of Resources’ Survey Control Database (SCDB). PSM’s have a punch mark in the top of the brass plaque that allows the surveyors to record them at the same point enabling similar measurements. The better the permanent mark the more similar the results. The results are recorded through survey plans which when registered with the government go on to become part of the database. The surveyors have access to past plans when looking to survey at nearby properties.


In conclusion surveyors use a large quantity of marks to determine positions with these marks often having past data and reference marks connected with them. This allows the surveyor to be accurate and know what to look for along with knowing where to put new marks.