Reginald John Hardstaff (b. 1922) entered the Royal Australian Naval College in 1940 and joined the surveying service in 1943. He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in 1951. He served on several surveying ships in Australian, New Zealand and British waters and commanded the Warreen (1956) and Warrego (1956–58). In 1958 he was appointed Assistant Hydrographer Charts and in 1967 he became Deputy Hydrographer with the rank of Acting Commander. He retired from the Navy in 1972. He returned to the Royal Australian Navy Hydrographic Service as a civilian drafting officer in 1973 and was Notice to Mariners Officer until his retirement in 1986.
In his retirement, Hardstaff compiled a list of British Admiralty and Australian charts of Australian waters since 1788. He also carried out research on the history of the Hydrographic Service. His book Leadline to Laser: The Hydrographic Service, Royal Australian Navy 1920–1995 was published in 1995.
Hardstaff donated his collection of Australian and Pacific charts to the Library in 1990.
The Hardstaff Collection consists of 91 charts, 53 produced by the British Admiralty and 38 by the Hydrographic Service. The British charts were published in 1934–85 and in most instances were corrected editions of charts originally issued in 1847–1902. The Australian charts were published in 1943–85. The charts cover all the coasts of mainland Australia and Tasmania, and in addition Torres Strait, Papua New Guinea, the Louisiade Archipelago, the Coral Sea and the Solomon Islands. There are also charts depicting the limits of the Australia Station (1952), Jervis Bay (1943), the approaches to Millingimbi Inlet (1978) and Port Essington (1984).
The Hardstaff Collection is kept together as a formed collection within the Maps Collection. An item listing of the collection is held in the Maps Branch.
R.J. Hardstaff, Leadline to Laser: The Hydrographic Service, Royal Australian Navy 1920–1995, Sydney, 1995, p. 116.