How to Get Free Outback Maps

free outback maps, outback Australia

What if I told you there was a way to get completely FREE* outback maps for your iPad or tablet?

What if these maps were so good that I (Amanda) use them for anthropological and archaeological field work?

free outback maps, outback Australia

Imagine being able to search and instantly load government-quality maps for your next outback road trip (in fact, for EVERY single Australian road trip)…

I’ve found a very nifty, little-known way to get nearly EVERY outback map for free and I’m going to share it with you.

The Avenza PDF Maps App

Avenza PDF Maps is a FREE app in the iTunes app store (there’s an Android/Samsung version, too) which allows you to download Geoscience Australia’s complete 1:250,000 topographic map collection.

*Some of the very popular mapsheets, such as the Uluru mapsheet, have a small cost of around $2.49There are also many other paid-for maps in the Avenza Map store, such as the entire HEMA series.

Once you’ve downloaded your map, you can then find your location, record GPS tracks, add placemarks, and find places.

I’ve used them to navigate completely off road -and I mean OFF TRACK- cross country within remote parts of the outback whilst undertaking cultural and heritage clearances for mining exploration companies.

I’ve also used them to help me mark out waypoints and locate Geocaches.

The maps are spatially referenced, which means they can interact with the GPS inside your iPad, iPhone or Android device and you can ALWAYS see where you are even when you’ve got no Wi-Fi or 3/4G connection.


Download Avenza PDF Maps for free here.

Let me show you how to use the app.

How to Use the Avenza PDF Maps app

1. Click through to the iTunes store using this link and download the app.

2. Once you’ve downloaded the app, open it and go to the store. This is the store screen:

free outback maps, outback Australia

3. Click on the green ‘FIND MAPS’ button.

4. Type in the name of a location for which you want maps. In the example, I wanted maps of the north Tanami Desert, so I typed in ‘Balgo’ – the name of a community in Western Australia

free outback maps, outback Australia


5. Preview the search results. The FREE maps you’re looking for are all labelled SXXX-XX:

free outback maps, outback Australia


6. Click ‘FREE’ and then the green ‘INSTALL’ that will appear. Your map will start to download, and you’ll see this screen:


free outback maps, outback Australia

7. Here is what the map looks like that I downloaded:

free outback maps, outback Australia

Isn’t that fabulous? And it’s for free.

You can not only download outback maps with the app, but maps for all over Australia and the world.

Finding Your Location

Finding where you are is really easy with this app.

1. Go to the main screen where your maps are located (press the little blue ‘MAPS’ icon right down the bottom).

2. Look for the black tick and the words ‘On map’. This shows you what mapsheet you are currently located outback maps, outback Australia

3. Touch the map to select it.

4. Then, in the bottom LEFT CORNER of the map touch the little blue arrow.

5. A blue spot will appear on the map and show your exact location:

free outback maps, outback Australia

Other Functions

Avenza PDF Maps can do many of the things that a normal GPS can do, including recording your tracks as you move, measuring distances and even importing sets of waypoints – such as Geocache coordinates.

To see a list of options, click on the little grey spanner in the BOTTOM RIGHT of the map screen.

free outback maps, outback Australia

I think that the Avenza PDF Maps is one of the best apps that I’ve ever used for travelling, exploring, and for work.


There is a LOT of misinformation about the app requiring an annual ‘subscription’ as of December 2016, and people thinking that you cannot download any more than 3 maps within the app.

This is absolutely UNTRUE.

Within Avenza’s in-app store any map that’s free, IS FREE.

If, however, you are downloading external maps (maps from outside of the Avenza in-app store), then you are limited to THREE per year – after that you must pay a subscription.

The subscription also applies if you are making your own maps in a program like ArcGis or MapInfo and importing them into the app.

If the app WASN’T free, then both the Victorian and South Australian National Parks agencies would not be releasing free maps to use with this app.

And finally, here’s what Avenza have to say about downloading maps (copied from the Google Play Store):

Avenza Systems Inc. May 30, 2017

The 3 map limit only applies to maps loaded from sources other than the in-app map store. We’d like to know more about how you are using the app so we can understand your need. Please tell us at Thank you

If you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and this money-saving information, help us out by sharing it using the social buttons on the left and side of this page.


  • Ern says:

    Thanks. Very cool.

    Note that the Natmap Topo maps were compiled some years ago & critical navigation decisions should be confirmed with up to date sources.

  • Ern Reeders says:

    Here’s another wrinkle with Avenza. They do impose a modest charge for some of the sheets (and they vary which ones) in the otherwise free GA 250K topo series.

    Folk who want to DIY or just have a map copy can get them online free from
    in various formats.

  • Alan says:

    Hi Amanda,

    Many thanks for this article it helped us tremendously.

    I came across it about a week before leaving for a two week trip through the Kimberleys and found the program (using a cheap Lenovo 7 inch tablet) to be brilliant. With a little planning and the location guidance this app provided we were able to see many places we wouldn’t have been game to without it.

    Many thanks


    P.S. We paid for 2 maps only – Broome and Darwin at $2.99 each – all the others were free, so a bargain really.

  • Alex H says:

    Avensa is now a subscription service for $30 a year, minimum fee.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Alex,

      Sorry, but that is incorrect.

      The subscription you are referring to is for the ability to create and upload map data, not to download and view maps. Some people reviewing the app on iTunes are being quite disingenuous by failing to say exactly how they are using the app – as a full GIS program, rather than just as the free map viewer.

      I assure you that it is TOTALLY free to download and view 95% of the Auslig 1:250000 maps to which I am referring in the article.

      In fact, I am using the app for my current fieldwork in western NSW and just two weeks ago, downloaded the Hay and Balranald topo maps – free, no charge, not a single cent. I use this app all the time in archaeological fieldwork. I pay NO subscription.

      I would change the article or take it down altogether if there was a fee!

      There are maps that are available for purchase once you’re inside the app, but as I have stated above, there are many that are free.



  • Add that the National Parks in Victoria recommend Avenza. That’s how I found it.
    Thanks for details on how to use.

    Unfortunate that my tablet only has win 8 not win8.1, so I can only have the app on my phone, and the screen is too small to see much.

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