Australia is a big place. With 823,000 kilometres of roads crisscrossing our nation, you’ll inevitably take a wrong turn or two.
From corrugated outback abominations to high-tech 10-lane highways, our comprehensive road collection constitutes the ninth-largest network on earth—enough to baffle even the most seasoned explorer.
And if you’ve mastered the art of navigating our roadways, how will you pinpoint the nearest campsite or 4WD trail? What nifty tricks will you pull out of your sleeve to identify the top hiking spots or kid-friendly attractions in the area?
We’re here to solve all your wayfinding woes with this ultimate guide to Australian travel maps.
Whether you’re rocking a clapped-out forbie with a swag or towing a 22ft caravan with all the trimmings, you’ll need to work out where you’ll rest your weary head come nightfall.
Thousands of campsites lie peppered throughout Australia, each catering to distinct clientele and RV types. To find the nearest suitable option, try one of the following camping maps or apps.
The Holy Bible of the Aussie camping cult, this comprehensive mobile app puts all the essential road trippin’ info into the palm of your hand.
The app, which runs on Android, Apple, and Windows, boasts Australia’s most extensive database of caravan parks, campsites, dump points, day-use areas, water taps, toilets, info centres, and other camping-related goodies. All its data points come tied to coordinates, and the app integrates with most GPS systems to guide the way.
A series of handy filters let you exclude sites that don’t align with your budget, interests, or rig. If you’re towing a big bulky caravan, for example, you can filter out non-caravan-friendly campsites. The same applies to pets, amenities, 4WD/2WD, and more—the filter function is a powerful tool.
What’s more, WikiCamps works offline; a godsend when you’re traversing remote outback roads. Just download the relevant maps when you’ve got a solid connection, and you’re good to go.
It’ll cost you a grand sum of $7.95 to own it forever—probably the best value-for-money investment of your life.
CamperMate is the main competitor to WikiCamps, and the two apps are similar in many ways. Much like its rival, CamperMate has a massive geospatial database of camp-related sites and attractions, all with in-built GPS functionality. You also get a similar filter system and offline maps for when you venture to remote regions.
Unlike WikiCamps, CamperMate is entirely free—no need to fork over eight whole dollars to start exploring with this beast. There’s also a handy reservation system that lets you book select campsites through the app, although it primarily works on high-end caravan parks.
On the downside, the CamperMate database isn’t as comprehensive as WikiCamps—you won’t find as many listed sites or attractions. Nonetheless, there’s no harm downloading both.
For old school Aussie adventurers who can’t wrap their heads around those newfangled apps, Camps Australia Wide offers the ultimate alternative. This A4/B4-sized guidebook covers over 5,000 verified campsites, including stacks of low-cost digs and a slew of friendly free camps. If you’re more inclined to splurge on extra ammenities, the company offers a Caravan Parks Australia Wide edition as well.
Big beautiful pictures, professionally written reviews (no angry WikiCamps rants here), and extra-large text make the book a hit among older travellers who like to keep things simple. Camps Australia Wide has released its own geospatial camping app, too, although it doesn’t quite compete with WikiCamps or CamperMate.
If you’re looking to circumnavigate Australia (or just go camping down the coast) without a dedicated GPS, there are a couple of handy smartphone apps to consider.
The world’s most comprehensive navigational app, Google Maps is free and thoroughly worthwhile. Real-time traffic data gives you a reasonable estimate of when you’ll arrive (factor in your driving style), while its reliable road map network usually gets you there hassle-free. As a neat bonus, you can switch to Street View for ground-level images or Satellite View for a bird’s eye perspective.
While Google Maps is outstanding, it won’t always point you in the right direction. Expect the occasional bum steer, especially when traversing through roads less travelled.
Also owned by Google, Waze is the second most frequently downloaded navigational app in Australia.
If you enjoy voice-guided navigation, give this one a go. Its smooth, seductive vocals are far less irritating than the monotonous Google Maps drone.
Waze has also become a hit for its speed camera detection feature. The crowd-sourced app has users ping the location of any upcoming mobile speed traps to warn fellow motorists—not that you’d be breaking the law anyway, right?
For the most part, though, Google Maps tends to be a bit more reliable than Waze.
Dedicated GPS systems are, on the whole, more powerful and user-friendly than your run-of-the-mill smartphone apps. The downside, of course, is one will set you back a few hundred bucks (or more for a state-of-the-art device), especially once you factor in the installation costs. Many double as reversing cameras and/or dash cams, which adds to the appeal.
Dutch-owned multinational developer TomTom is a big name in the GPS game—the gang first started releasing satellite navigational systems way back in the mid-2000s. The well-regarded manufacturer has several superb GPS units to consider.
This multinational American-owned company is a world leader in GPS tech for outdoor, aviation, maritime, and automotive use. Like TomTom, it’s got a wide range of fantastic GPS units that work wonderfully on Australian roads.
Dedicated GPS systems and feature-rich smartphone apps are great, but what happens when your device decides to break down on the back roads to Gulargambone? Or what if a devastating solar flare should decimate our entire electrical grid?
Whether you’re an anxious navigator, a doomsday prepper, or just prefer to use good old-fashioned paper maps, the good news is there are still a few physical street directories floating about.
UBD Gregory’s continues to publish old-style maps for various cities and regions. The company primarily covers the east coast, although you’ll find a few options for Adelaide and Perth. Another option is Melway, which still publishes archaic street directories for several major Australian cities, including Melbourne.
Whether you’re clambering uphill in the Grampians or hauling through dense rainforest in the Daintree, you’ll have ample chance to stomp around in pristine natural splendour.
However, hiking entails an element of risk: mostly wandering off course and dying of starvation/heat exhaustion. So if you don’t want to end up as “that guy” on the six o’clock news, you need to equip yourself with reliable hiking maps and apps.
Every seasoned bushwalker adores All Trails; it’s the go-to smartphone app for the sport. True to its name, this handy little hiking helper has a list of all the trails in Australia (or at least the worthwhile ones, anyway), which you can peruse through an easy-to-use search feature.
All Trails lets users review and rate each hike, plus provides a realistic crowd-sourced timeframe for every trail. You also get to see helpful elevation data—you can confidently alert your co-walkers when you’ve trekked over the highest hill of the day. Another big plus is you can save the most promising-looking hikes to your “favourites” folder for later reference.
The basic features are free, but you’ll need to pay $2.50 per month for All Trails Pro. The nominal subscription fee gives you access to offline maps, real-time off-route notifications (these stop you wandering off the trail), and a plethora of other handy features—it’s well worth it for serious hiking enthusiasts.
Hikers with a competitive (boastful) streak can upload their trail times onto the app, which they can then share over social media. The concept is somewhat similar to Strava, a popular GPS tracking app for joggers and cyclists.
Maps Me is an open-source navigational system that (almost) rivals Google Maps and Waze in the street directory space. The offline crowd-sourced app is also great for hiking, covering a broad range of trails from all corners of the country.
One of the great things about Maps Me is the teeny weeny file size that offline navigation entails—the entire Australian content only occupies 553MB on your phone. That means you can pre-download the GPS coordinates for almost every popular hiking route in the country and then use the map offline at any time. It’s GPS-enabled, too, so all you have to do is keep the blue dot on the brown line to stay on course.
Bushwalkers who don’t want to pay the All Trails subscription can use Maps Me for offline maps, then use All Trails to find and favourite routes.
If you’d rather work out on two wheels, Trail Forks is the go-to app for mountain bikers in Australia. The popular smartphone app works similarly to All Trails but specifically targets downhill riders.
For a small annual fee, you get unlimited access to its long list of adrenaline-pumping trails, each complete with elevation data, difficulty ratings, and user reviews. Like All Trails, a user-friendly search feature makes it easy to identify nearby tracks, and you can maintain a “favourites” list for future reference.
The extensive database also contains hiking, ATV, snowmobile, and ski routes, although downhill mountain biking is the core focus.
If you’re looking to do multi-day treks or 4WDing in remote terrain, it’s worth investing in topographical maps—better known as topo by those in the know—to complement your collection. Available in GPS-enabled apps or good old-fashioned paper, topo maps have an added layer of detail, including contours that indicate elevation.
Geoscience Australia provides an impressive collection of topo maps to the public for free, which you can download and print out at home. To store them on your phone for offline use, either download the PDF files or use the Avenza Maps app.
Fuel is the single biggest expense for most road trippers, with fat stacks of cash spent at the bowser on any given journey. Although investing in a fuel-efficient car or putting along at a snail’s pace can save you a tidy sum, there’s an easier way to economise: stop at cheaper servos.
In remote areas, the price of petrol (or diesel) can vary by as much as 50 cents per litre between towns. Fill up at the wrong spot, and you could be wasting up to 50 bucks per tank.
So how do you know which servos offer the best rates and when?
Fuel Map and Fuel Spy are two free smartphone map apps that give you a good indication of what you can expect to pay. That info lets you pick and choose the cheapest place and save.
In some states, such as Queensland, government regulations oblige service stations to upload their prices every day, which these apps access to provide you with up-to-date rates. Other states don’t have these rules, so the apps use crowd-sourcing instead to show rough prices—remember to let other uses know when you snag a bargain.
If you want to find the nearest place to top up your propane tank, download Gas Finder as well. This handy app tells you where to get both refills and swap ‘n’ go.
Seasoned off-road warriors know run-of-the-mill street directory apps—Google, Waze, etc.—won’t suffice once you’ve left the marked track. If you’re 4WDing through remote, rugged terrain, you need specialist navigation aids to ensure you don’t wander off course.
Hema Maps is the top dog in the Aussie 4WD scene; the company sells highly detailed offline digital and paperback maps. For old-school navigators (and as a handy backup), the ever-popular Australia Road & 4WD Atlas has in-depth detail on our country’s most popular 4WD tracks.
For offline GPS-enabled navigation, their smartphone app is well-worth the hefty $100 fee. The app comes with 70 pre-loaded topographic maps covering the best off-road routes.
If you’re just here because you want a cool Australia map to hang on the wall of your rig, we’ve got some bright ideas. Push-pin wall maps are a fun way to keep tabs on your trip and a hit with the kids who love watching the route grow over time.
MapWorld has an impressive collection of poster-sized Australia maps, many of which come with Mark-it-Dots to help you plan your route. If you don’t like the look of those, check out the range from Custom Push Pin Maps instead.
Alternatively, Bunnings does a rustic corkboard Australia map that includes 100 metallic pins for just 30 bucks (bless their cotton socks).
From old-timey fold-up maps to high-tech smartphone apps and map-filled paperbacks, we’ve covered all the requisite mappy goodness for a hassle-free Aussie adventure.
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