15. Richard John Anketell (1862-1928), surveyor
Richard Anketell was born in Melbourne, and as a young man joined a survey team as a chainman with the Victorian Railways. He later qualified as a surveyor/engineer and completed the survey of various railway lines in Victoria and Tasmania.
Anketell came to Western Australia and was employed by the Public Works Department where he worked as resident engineer and as supervisor of the Southern Cross – Coolgardie Railway works.
In 1901 he was a member of the preliminary team that surveyed the Western Australian section of the Transcontinental Railway. In addition to this work, he was supervisor of the enormous rabbit-proof fence project. In 1908 Richard Anketell was the chief surveyor of the Transcontinental Survey, a trek which used 90 camels for transport and haulage and employed 40 men.
During and after World War I, Anketell used his considerable engineering skills for harbour projects and many wheatbelt railways throughout the state. His last great project was the drainage of the Peel Estate. The drainage was necessary to render the land suitable for farming by the settlers in the Group Settlement Scheme following the War.
Richard John Anketell spent most of his life working in remote, uninhabited locations, and his expeditions opened up large areas of the country. He was a pioneer explorer and his management of men, animals and equipment in the outback was legendary.