The Australian Hydrographic Office is the Commonwealth Government agency responsible for the publication and distribution of nautical charts and other information required for the safety of ships navigating in Australian waters. It is also the Australian Defence Force (ADF) agency responsible for the provision of operational surveying support and maritime Military Geographic Information (MGI) for ADF operations and exercises.
The Australian Hydrographic Office has its origins in the British Admiralty Hydrographic Office, which was established in 1795. The Admiralty carried out surveys and published charts of the Australian coast throughout the 19th century in support of the defence and commercial development of the colonies.
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) assumed responsibility for hydrographic surveys in 1920, and for the publication of charts in 1942. In 1946 the Federal Cabinet made the Commonwealth Naval Board responsible for the surveying and charting of Australian waters. This responsibility was confirmed in 1988 after a review of Commonwealth mapping activities.