One of the biggest things when travelling anywhere is planning where you are going to go and what route you are going to take to get there. Australia is such a huge country and so many areas that we travel into are considered remote. So it is essential that you have reliable and up-to-date maps and guide books.
There are so many maps, books, smart phone apps and GPS systems available now that it can be really hard to choose the right ones for you. It is also very dependant on what type of travel you are going to be doing. If you are going to be getting off the ‘black top’ and doing any sort of four-wheel driving in out of the way locations then you might want to consider a GPS system that has a topographical map component. If you are doing a ‘Tourist Trail’ local maps and guides are essential.
So which maps and guide books are the best? We take a look at the most popular ones
CAMPS AUSTRALIA WIDE
Camps Australia Wide has been around for a number of years now and is up to edition 11. It has a very comprehensive list of free and low cost campsites as well as detailed HEMA maps, GPS Co-ordinates, dump points and so much more. Each book is broken down into sections by state, with maps at the front of the section. Camp grounds are identified by numbers which appear on the map. Each camp ground has a description and if you purchase the ‘snaps’ edition you will find pictures on most listings.
You can now also get it as an App for your iPad or Tablet. Everything that is included in the book and app has been vetted by the book authors. So you know that the information is accurate unlike some other apps that contain unverified information submitted by the general public.
BIG LAP BIBLE
Big Lap Bible is the ‘new kid’ on the block. Released at the end of 2020, this comprehensive book has everything in it that you need to plan your lap of Australia. Written by travellers, for travellers, each state is broken down into regions. All the best things to see and do are listed, as well as camp grounds, festivals and walking trails, to name just a few.
The big difference with Big Lap Bible is that it also has a whole planning section in the back where you can record your budget, your packing list, car/van maintenance records and also write a travel journal.
The Wiki Camps app is arguably the most popular of any of the many apps available. It is available for download to your phone or tablet and for a mere $7.99 it’s certainly great value. Amongst it’s many features, it has a comprehensive list of so many campsites and tourist attractions, as well as dump points, rest areas and places where you can fill your water tanks. You are able to create your own travel routes, save favourite spots and upload your own reviews and pictures.
Perhaps the only draw back with Wiki is that some of the reviews may be unreliable as some peoples experience of a camp ground may be completely different to others. I know we have read a few negative reviews of places and then absolutely loved staying there.
HEMA NAVIGATOR (GPS)
Perhaps the ultimate GPS system, especially for off road navigation is the Hema HX-1 Navigator. It comes with two modes – Drive Mode and Explore Mode. With a 7-inch touch screen which allows you to zoom in for a closer look, it features Australia’s best tracks, trails and places off the beaten track. Plus with 45,000+ points of interests including lookouts, campsites & caravan parks, you’ll never get lost again.
As good as Wiki and the Hema Navigator are, I do still like a paper map. HEMA Maps are excellent as they produce highly detailed maps of regional areas. We have all heard a few horror stories about GPS systems sending people down the wrong road. So in the event of this happening, a paper map can come in handy. I also like to call into Tourist Information Centres in places we visit and pick up local tourist maps and guides. These can often provide you with more local knowledge than what the bigger maps may provide.
STORING YOUR MAPS
Storing maps when travelling, so they aren’t spread everywhere through your car can be a problem. I love this vinyl case that I picked up for a few dollars to keep our maps in. It’s slim and light so fits in anywhere. As it has divided pockets I can keep my maps organised by state or region.
What other maps or guide books do you use?