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Site Map


How do I get there using maps and GPS devices


For planning trips and 4WD excursions it is often easier to get the ‘big picture’ first by using paper maps as scrolling across a number of computer screens is often confusing.  A compass would also prove to be useful to take along for remote trips so you know the direction you are heading.


The detail in maps is determined by scale and the scale of a map is a ratio of a single unit of distance on a map to equivalent distance on the ground.  The map scale is usually located in the legend box of the map which contains explanations for the symbols and other important information.

A scale expressed as a ratio of say 1:10,000 means that one unit on the map represents 10,000 units on the ground, ie 1 millimeter represents 10,000 mm, expressed better as 10 meters. 

scale 1 : 10,000



Other good examples are:-

1:100,000 map scale - 1 cm = 1 kilometer on the ground

1:250,000 map scale – 1 cm = 2.5 kilometers on the ground

1:1,000,000 map scale – 1 cm = 10 kilometers on the ground

Maps with a scale of 1:25,000 or 1:50,000 are termed ‘large scale’ maps and are best for bushwalkers or hikers as they provide a lot of detail. 

Maps between 1:50,000 and 1:250,000 are termed ‘intermediate scale’. 

Maps designed for motorists and those popular for 4WD enthusiasts are in the scale 1:250,000.


If you look at a map the lines running horizontally depict latitude.  Degrees of latitude are number O degree to 90 degrees with O degrees at the equator, 90 degrees south being the South Pole and 90 degrees north being the North Pole.

Longitude lines, also known as meridians, run vertically on a map.  Greenwich, England is zero degrees longitude and the degrees continue 180 degree East and 180 degree West until they meet to form the International Date Line.



Topographic maps depict natural and constructed features on the Earth’s surface.  For example, landforms which are represented by contours and spot heights, dams, roads, tracks, lakes, indigenous lands, national parks and state forests.

To understand and interpret topographic maps some study or training is required.  Not to oversimplify the detail on the maps, topographic maps depict contour lines to join points of height or equal elevation.  Contour lines close together indicate a steep slope, two or more contour lines merging indicate a cliff and distant contours indicate a shallow slope.  Contour lines can form ‘V’ shapes along stream or creek beds or valleys with the V pointing upstream or uphill.

topographic map

Topographic maps are of particular use to 4WD clubs, bushwalkers and government environmental agencies particularly where there is no road or track found on a map to follow.  A compass is a ‘must have’ for such trips.

Google Earth can also be used to view the terrain ahead in photographic form.

Map Legends

Map legends or tables are located on the map.  Maps contain various lines and symbols for example, major highways, main roads, railways, unsealed roads, camping are, rest stops, caravan parks, national parks, state forests and various designated drives.

map legend

Where can I get maps and travel publications?

Paper maps are available from automobile clubs such as NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RACWA, RACT and the like.  The automobile club websites often include a ‘Trip or Journey Planner’ section where you can insert ‘from’ and ‘to’ destinations.  These journey planners also provide the option for you to locate accommodation, activities and attractions.

Hema Maps Pty Ltd is a privately owned company in Brisbane, Australia with subsidiaries in New Zealand and North America.  Hema maps are available for just about everywhere in Australia.  For example, ‘Great Desert Track’ series, Australia’s Outback Map, Cape York as well as Central Australia and many more.  Hema also sell hardcover Around Australia atlas.  CD rom maps and a collection of raster maps on DVD are also available.

For the camping enthusiast or backpacker finding their way around Australia there is a publication called the Camps Australia Wide series.  Camps Australia Wide book is a great guide for travellers with campervans, caravans, motorohomes, 5th wheelers and camper trailers as it lists campgrounds, rest areas, National Parks, State Forests, low cost caravan parks and bush camps.  One version of the A4 size book comes complete with photographs of some of the camping areas and the updated version provides GPS co-ordinates.  The Camps Australia Wide book provides symbols for helpful information such as if toilets, power or showers are available, if pets are allowed, maximum time of stay, dump (black water waste) points, if suitable for big rigs or if mobile phone coverage is available.  Updates of the book are currently available for free from their website.

Books such as Gregory’s and Street Directory for each state and territory city street maps are available from newsagents and service stations.

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