Got maps? To be honest I’m not a particularly great navigator.. I’ve gotten myself misplaced on a few occasions and have a poor sense of direction. Hence why I have invested in several different options in maps for travelling Australia. I’ve chosen to carry both paper and digital maps so in the event of a computer failure, flat batteries or rain soaked maps I can still get my bearings and continue my trip. Relying on one set of maps could mean disaster if they are lost or destroyed. Having several sets is a great help during the trip planning phase to compare details as well as while on the road.
After some research, here are the maps I have chosen to carry:
Hema Australia Road & 4WD Atlas – Spiral bound
This I consider should be a minimum to carry. It covers all of Australia and includes camp sites and caravan parks, roadhouses, rest areas, Capital city CBD street maps and a 4wd section at the back. It includes Cape York, Fraser Island, High Country Victoria, the Flinders Ranges, Central Australia, the Top End, the Kimberley and the Pilbara. Detail is limited to mostly the major and minor freeways, highways and roads plus 4wd tracks. Having the spiral bound edition makes it easier to leave open on a seat to glance at. http://www.hemamaps.com.au/en/Buy/Books-and-Atlases/Australia-Road-and-4WD-Atlas
Hema Great Desert Tracks Atlas & Guide (featuring 25 Top 4WD Tracks) – Spiral bound
As I want to explore the inland desert regions this is a Must! Desert travel is dangerous due to the remoteness and the climate and terrain extremes. Knowing where you are and the closest help, whether it be a nearby station or a lifesaving water source could save your life. This is the combined atlas version of the separate GDT map series that are available. The first half of the atlas has excellent guides to 25 tracks you can explore. These summarise all the nitty gritty details you NEED to know such as a track difficulty grading, time to complete, distance and longest distance without fuel, the facilities available in the area, best times of year to complete, any warnings, camping info, permits and fees and contact details to gain more information or seek help. Some info on the history of the tracks/region is also included to add value. An appendix in the back includes a short fauna and flora guide which complements the atlas nicely. http://www.hemamaps.com.au/en/Buy/Books-and-Atlases/Australia/Great-Desert-Tracks-Atlas-and-Guide
Camps 7 Australia Wide – The ultimate guide to the budget and freedom conscious traveller- Spiral bound
The Camps Australia Wide series has probably the greatest listing of free or cheap camping spots and day use areas. The guide only includes free campsites or commercial sites that charge up to the fee limit of $24/night, with a few special exceptions. This can help reduce accommodation costs considerably. A list of Dump points are also included for your rubbish disposal. The guide is basically similar to the Hema Australia Road Atlas but with the camping spots overlaid on the map. http://www.campsaustraliawide.com/product/camps-8th-edition/
Garmin TOPO Australia & New Zealand v4 MicroSD card
These maps by Garmin cover every street in Australia and New Zealand as well as providing a topographic basemap with 20m contours. A huge list of searchable points of interest, petrol stations, campsites, food and entertainment etc are included. The GPS can also offer a turn by turn street navigator. The maps come on a microSD card which slots into the back of my Garmin GPSMAP 62s. Any compatible Garmin GPS can accept the card. The primary downside of this is my GPS’s small display screen which can limit the amount of detail shown. https://buy.garmin.com/en-AU/AU/maps/topo-australia-new-zealand/prod83071.html
Hema Australia 4WD Raster Map DVD 2014
The DVD contains over 70 of Hema’s regional and Australia-wide base maps. It is the ultimate map collection for trip planning, navigating and real time tracking and saves a lot of space compared to carrying all the paper versions. It is used in conjunction with OziExplorer software which must be run on a laptop. An Ozilite edition of OziExplorer software comes on the disc so you can start viewing the maps right away. http://www.hemamaps.com.au/en/Buy/Apps%20and%20Digital%20Maps/Australia-4WD-Raster-Map-DVD
OziExplorer GPS Mapping Software
I purchased a full licence of the excellent OziExplorer mapping software with a USB GPS. This allows me to display raster maps on my laptop as in the above mentioned Hema 4wd collection. Lats/longs are displayed allowing accurate trip planning or real-time navigation by connecting the GPS to my laptop. At any point on the screen you can scroll through your available map collection and compare maps for that location, varying in detail or scale. I also bought the Australia Topographic 250k Digital Maps with the software which includes a Landsat 7 satellite image which is helpful to get a feeling of the type of terrain and vegetation you’re passing through. The software will take some time to learn to use effectively, although in a couple hours I figured out most of the basic map viewing functions. http://www.oziexplorer.com/
Additional local mapping is always available at Tourist Information centres Australia wide. My collection however will help me plan as I go as I do not intend to plan a day by day itinerary, rather letting the journey unfold with destinations in mind.