Outback Maps & Guidebooks

Plan Your Perfect Trip With The Best Outback Maps

Follow the advice here, and you’ll be able to choose the very best outback maps for your needs – even if it’s just walking down Todd Mall!

Step 1: Free Maps For Planning

–> You absolutely MUST read this post which will tell you how to get FREE, high quality maps for your iPad or tablet. <–

The link above will show you the EXACT method we use to get free outback maps which we can navigate with using the GPS built in to our iPads.

Please check out our FREE OUTBACK MAPS tutorial.

Another place to start is with free online mapping services and free online downloadable outback maps.

My first stop is a visit to Google Earth and Google Maps.

Seriously.

These free services are brilliant for getting an idea of what’s where and just how massive the outback. You can even make your own maps and record tours. Like I said above, they’re completely free and you can zoom in and out and really get an idea of the terrain.

Once you’re done with Google, it’s time to download one of the many free regional outback maps

Click here for all our free downloadable maps of outback regions and major towns.

These maps cover large areas and together with your Google research, can really help you start to put together a realistic itinerary.

There are lots of these to choose from, often produced by state and territory tourist agencies. Here’s what to look for in a free regional outback map:

  • road distances (so you know that you can’t possibly drive from Sydney to Ayers Rock/Uluru in one day!)
  • fuel stops
  • interesting things to see
  • accommodation options
  • shops and supermarkets
  • ATMs/banking facilities
  • free camping areas

Using a handy free online map, you’ll be able to get an idea of just how big the outback really is, where places are, and what’s of interest to you. This will help you to plan your trip without needing to leave your home or spend a cent!

Click here for all our free downloadable maps of outback regions and major towns.

Step 2: Narrow Your Optionstennant-creek-region

Once you’ve decided where you’re going, you’ve got an idea of what you’d like to see, it’s time to get online again.

In this step, you’ll be looking for maps of major outback towns and national parks.

These are the attractions that most visitors to the outback really want to see, and the good news is that once again, there’s LOTS of free, downloadable maps to choose from.

These maps should be larger scale and contain a lot of detail about each destination. Make sure your maps have:

  • shops
  • ATMs/banks
  • accommodation locations
  • tourist information centres
  • fuel stops
  • local attractions and points of interest

For national parks, you’ll also want to see these details on the map:

  • camping areas
  • picnic (day-use) areas
  • walking trails
  • roads and tracks

To download all the most popular outback town and national park maps, click on this link.

Step 3: Maps For Off-Road Driving, Desert Tracks and Hiking

If you’re planning on driving off road, a desert trek on the Oodnadatta, Birdsville or Tanami Tracks, or you’re a keen hiker, then you’ll need to buy one of the commercially available maps

You’ve got a few choices here: Westprint, Hema or for superfine detail, the Australian government’s topographic (survey) maps.

For remote area fieldwork, I use both the Australian government’s topographic maps and Hema Maps.

Topographic maps (Aussies call them ‘topo’ maps for short), are what you’ll absolutely need if you’re hiking off track or driving off road.

Topo maps come in a range of scales. In some places, you can get them as detailed as 1:2500, but that won’t be anywhere in the outback.

Most of the topo mapsheets I use are 1:50 000 or 1:125 000.

The other maps I use and thoroughly recommend are Hema Maps.

These maps give incredible details and are loved by true Aussie off-road adventurers. They contain:

  • road distances
  • fuel stops
  • supplies and accommodation
  • GPS coordinates
  • info about track conditions
  • tips for driving
  • points of interest
  • notes about history, wildlife and Aboriginal culture

I have to let you know here that there are several dozen Hema Maps to choose from.

hema-simpson-map

My favourites: Outback Map, the Central Australia Map, the Desert Tracks Atlas and the Simpson Desert Map .

Our copy of the Simpson Desert map is coffee and desert stained and dog-eared because we’ve used it so much.

If you’re after the absolute best, then get the Desert Tracks Atlas.

This spiral bound book has EVERY single Hema outback map and lots of information about vehicle preparation, outback travel, gear to take, campsites, history and things to see and do. It’s a bargain for the price (around $45 Australian dollars).

Desert Tracks Atlas

Hema-desert-atlas

Hema’s Great Desert Tracks Atlas & Guide is the grand-daddy of all. It has absolutely every desert track right across the entire Australian continent.

This is a book-style, ring bound map book that contains all of Hema’s Great Desert Track maps, as well as the Mid West WA & Pilbara and Coral Coast maps. It has specially coated paper to make it hard wearing.

If you are planning a big desert adventure, you MUST NOT leave home without this book.

In fact, we’d advise that you buy this book before you go (it’s only about $45) to do all of your trip planning.

Whether you’re a ‘desert lover’ (AKA seriphile) or just someone looking for a serious 4WD journey, this informative guide with its complete atlas of easy-to-follow maps, is an indispensable companion.

This guide provides detailed information on 20 Australian deserts and 28 4WD treks through them. There’s also plenty of essential pre-trip reading on how to prepare for your trek, safety in the deserts and desert travelling techniques.

Background information on geology, history, major habitats, and desert plants and animals makes this the ‘must have’ Australian desert guidebook.


I hope you’ve found this page useful for planning. I’d really welcome feedback or any advice on how I could improve this page, or any maps that you’ve found really helpful in your outback travels.

You can contact me (Amanda) here or leave some feedback below: