Frequently Asked Questions

NationalMap Operation

There isn't one! All user interface features of NationalMap are either obvious from the interface or are described in this Help.

NationalMap has been carefully designed to be as easy to use as possible. Our user experience design team run regular usability testing sessions, the results of which are then assessed for inclusion in releases.

It is best to use a browser with WebGL support such as the latest versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer 11. It will also work in some older browsers (for example IE9 and IE10) but the map rendering will be limited. It may not support 3D rendering of maps, so the 3D Terrain option may show the same result as 3D Smooth.

There are three types of spatial data which are read from the data sources and displayed by NationalMap over its base maps:

Point Click on any point to see more information about that particular point feature.

Line Click on any line to see more information about that particular line feature.

Region Click within any region to see more information about that region.

Some older computers do not have graphics cards which fully support WebGL and some older browsers do not make use of this support even if it is present. NationalMap requires this support in order to support 3D Terrain Perspective View.

Try upgrading your browser to the latest version. If that still does not work, you may need to consider working on a computer that has more recent graphics support.

NationalMap automatically changes the content of the map according to the scale at which you're viewing. If you zoom in it shows more detail. At some points in the zoom range, the map display switches from high altitude photography to lower altitude photography. These sets of the photography are not colour matched to each other, so may have quite different hues. The actual photography scales used, the date of that photography and its lighting conditions will vary across Australia.

When you are using Perspective View the part of the terrain nearest to the "camera position" is naturally shown at a larger scale than the more distant parts. Depending on your zoom level, this can result in the foreground being displayed with a different set of photography from the distant parts of your Perspective View.

The current version of NationalMap is not designed for small screen or touch screen devices. However, some devices may operate satisfactorily, especially if they support a mouse connection and WebGL graphics.

Send your question to the NationalMap support email address, which is

NationalMap system and data

The spatial data displayed by NationalMap are all directly referenced from or from a server provided by the relevant department or agency. NationalMap does not store any of the data it serves. For example, if you access data relating to broadband availability and quality, you are accessing that data directly from the Department of Communications and the Arts. When you access data relating to surface geology, it is accessed directly from Geoscience Australia. If you access data relating to water, it is typically coming directly from the Bureau of Meteorology. NationalMap itself does not store any data - it provides a map-based view of data that is stored by a growing number of government bodies.

You can see details of the department or agency that provides the spatial data by clicking About this data in the Data Workbench.

The spatial data displayed by NationalMap are referenced directly from the supplying department or agency by the NationalMap server. If that supplying department or agency updates or removes any data, that change will be reflected immediately by NationalMap.

If you have any questions about the spatial data, you will need to contact the supplying department or agency.

The base maps displayed by NationalMap come from a number of difference sources including Microsoft’s Bing, Geoscience Australia and NASA. They are downloaded from the source as they are required, so they are as up to date as that service provides.

NationalMap was developed by Data61 and funded by the Department of Communications and the Arts, and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, working closely with Geoscience Australia. See the About page from more information.

Before distributing any data from NationalMap it is important to understand the licence restriction for the data. All Data Sets displayed by NationalMap are the property of the department or agency which has provided them. Therefore the restrictions for each Data Set may be quite different.

The licence which governs the usage and distribution restrictions for each Data Set is shown in the Info metadata for the Data Set. To Display this information click on the title of your prefered data set in the Data Catalogue.

The reliability will vary between data sets. To understand the reliability of a particular data set, click on the title of the data set in question in the Data Catalogue for more information. The metadata which is shown in the Data Catalogue may offer sufficient information or you may need to contact the listed data provider.

There is a small number of data sets which have a small amount of data relating to New Zealand. This results because the supplying agency is a cooperative agency with New Zealand.

Most of the NationalMap base maps are provided by services for the whole world. There is no value in suppressing the display of the rest of the world, so you can view it if you wish. (Take a look at Mt Everest or the Grand Canyon in perspective view - they’re cool!)

Obviously, NationalMap’s spatial data does not cover the rest of the world!

That depends on the supplying departments or agencies, who must make the data available. You will need to contact individual data providers to understand their data release schedules.

If you are a data provider, see the How To page for information on adding Data Sets to NationalMap.

Reporting issues

Email us on to report the problem. Be sure to include a step by step description of how to reproduce the problem.

Absolutely! Just email your suggestion to

The data displayed by NationalMap are only referred to by NationalMap and are not part of NationalMap. You will need to refer to the department or agency which provides the Data Set which contains the issue.

click on the title of your prefered data set in the Data Catalogue to find out which department or agency provides that data.