My grandfather Hans Boltz (1910 – 1992) was a cartographer who worked in the Bureau of Mineral Resources.  He retired from the Bureau in 1975 at the age of 65. I have the farewell card given to him by his colleagues.




Photo of staff from Bureau of Mineral Resources which was with Hans Boltz’s retirement card. Hans is at the head of the table. On the back is a stamp indicating an official photo of the Bureau with negative number 5500.

The cartoon on the card is a good likeness of Hans and I like the little details in the drawing such as the clock which stands at 4:51. The Public Service working day officially ended at 4:51. My grandfather liked fishing, as his colleagues knew well.

In his retirement, Hans spent time fishing, as well as travelling, gardening, and being with his family.

A geological map of Canberra. My grandfather drew similar maps. This map comes from the National Museum of Australia.


My grandfather at work


The office of the Bureau of Mineral Resources at the junction of Parkes Way and Anzac Parade in 1966. I can remember visiting my grandfather at work there. Photograph from the National Archives of Australia barcode 11647462.

On 4:51 and the end of a Public Servant’s day.

I have found surprisingly little on the 36 hour 45 minute working week of public servants. One of the earliest mentions of it was an article in the Canberra Times 30 July 1938 about bus timetables:

Public servants in the Department of the Interior signing off at 4.51 p.m. will not have to wait six minutes for a bus in future. From yesterday an extra bus will run daily to Ainslie leaving the department at 4.55.
Officers in charge of transport said yesterday that the bus was necessary to cope with peak traffic. Five buses now run in the 20 minutes following the end of the public service working day.

Flextime was introduced into the Australian Public Service in the 1970s. For some Public Service agencies the working day is still 7 hours 21 minutes long ending officially at 4:51. However, current industrial negotiations in some areas of the Public Service, for example the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Defence according to an article in the Canberra Times of 18 June 2014, are seeking to end this.

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