Talk:Australian Tagging Guidelines

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Using highway=motorway for ALL national highways is wrong. Some of these roads are narrow winding roads. Some go through the suburbs with traffic lights and turns. Using motorway for these is misleading. They should be correctly tagged as trunk. inas 01:23, 27 April 2007 (BST)

Section on Dirt Roads

Following a discussion on the talk_au, I added a section on dirt roads to encourage consistency and to provide a base to lobby to see maps rendered in a more meaningful way. For the record I also suggested we try and have some approved tag changes but did not see enough support to proceed. --Davo 04:28, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

Use of tracktype - this tag is widely used overseas and has been used on 1616 distinct named roads in Australia. Unfortunately, the definition of tracks does not go far enough and we need to add grade6, grade7 and even a grade8. Its also not completely clear as to if tracktype can be used on eg highway=[primary, secondary]. In Australia, tracktype has been used on named roads other than highway=track 300 times so here at least, the answer is yes. Lets do it!

Use of smoothness - this tag is used less in Oz and mostly not with unsealed roads (surprised? I was).

Use of 4wd_only - this tag is approved in the 4wd_only=yes form. In practice, we really could do with a 'recommended' and that has already been used on named roads 52 times in Australia.

Getting all this data rendered. Now, at the risk of being called a "tagger for rendering" we must acknowledge that we want to see the data we enter used! But no one should consider using an inappripriate tag just because it looks right when rendered somewhere ! Lets look at the official OSM map. This map is generated in two stages, firstly, the data we enter is pocked into a GIS Postgres database and then extracted by Mapnik. tracktype is preserved through this process and triggers different rendering if (and only if) highway=track. This conflicts with the declared intention of the tag. Its shown as a dotted brown line. Smoothness does not make it into the database. 4wd_only does not get to the database either but has an additional problem, tags are converted into table columns and column names should not start with a digit. This can be got around but will be yet another reason why they don't want to do it for us! Sigh

Other notes

  1. 4wd_only=no This tag might be appropriate in a location where roads are expected to to be 4wd_only but the mapper has personally surveyed (no aerial please!) the road and determined that it is OK for conventional vehicles at that time. Note that evidence that one conventional vehicle has driven the road without damage is not sufficient to award this tag.
  2. tracktype grade6, grade7 and grade8 - it would seem highly desirable that we have a means of warning people that roads require special preparation and care. Lives could be at risk in some of the roads defined above are used inappropriately.
  3. 4wd_only seems to be widely used only in Australia and we may be unrealistic if we think we are going to get the mainstream renderers to observe it.
  4. Lobby to list, officially, 4wd_only=recommended, tracktype=grade6, tracktype=grade7, tracktype=grade8
  5. Lobby renders to clarify that tracktype applies to other than just highway=track.
  6. We definitely need unsealed roads rendered differently from sealed roads, see
  7. Safety - we need to make clear that this is a safety issue.

--Davo 04:28, 24 November 2012 (UTC)


Proposal that in Australia, highway=mini_roundabouts can be applied to larger roundabouts than the 'circle of white paint on the road' variety which are not common Australia. Proposal is that mini_roundabout designation be used for any small roundabout that is contained within the normal width of the road. This would include most small Australian suburban roundabouts consisting of a 3-5m wide concrete construction in the middle of the intersection. Individual mappers would be free to draw a full roundabout in any circumstance they felt required it. --Swampwallaby 14:53, 20 September 2007 (BST)

Don't forget to add direction=clockwise so they are rendered correctly. TRS-80 14:45, 25 September 2007 (BST)
I disagree, the highway=mini_roundabout page seems pretty clear, only tiny roundabouts that don't have a physical island can be marked highway=mini_roundabout. It is tedious to add roundabouts though, usually needing 8 points to make it look nice when rendered. Merkaartor had a nifty roundabout tool, just have ways intersect in the middle of the roundabout, specify the size of the roundabout with the tool and it will create a multi-point circle with the correct tags and cut the incoming ways correctly. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a Yahoo aerial photo integration yet. Apparently Potlatch/Future_plans#Further_off will have a similar tool in the future. Even JOSM has an 'Align nodes in circle'. Maybe as a first pass, tag with highway=mini_roundabout, but add a note to convert to a full roundabout later? --BlueMM 00:49, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

New Reference Tagging

I have added the new ref:au tagging as discussed in the talk-au mailing list. The F3/F6 nomenclature for the freeways around Sydney seems to have been superceded and only appears on the odd old sign. Interesting note: The on-ramp at Helensburgh to the Southern Freeway was the last built only a couple of years ago. It signposts the motorway as the 'M1' (yellow on green rectangle)! --Swampwallaby 02:40, 13 August 2007 (BST)

The M1 sign that was on the Eastern Distributor was just covered the other day - waiting for a time of the RTA's choosing.--inas 01:48, 14 August 2007 (BST)

Have updated the tagging scheme again. Discussion on the OSM-talk list indicated that ref:au was not the way to go. Back to using 'ref=', but with the same tags. Also changed the description of 'ref=NR1', there are still other national routes other than highway 1. e.g. the Illawarra Highway is 'ref=NR48', using the identical shield as NR1 with the number 48. --Swampwallaby 22:57, 18 August 2007 (BST)

Current Practice

  • highway=motorway is being used for Freeways, Motorways, and similar roads. Some states require controlled access for roads to be classified as freeways, for example the Hume Hwy/Fwy between Victoria and NSW.
  • highway=trunk is being used for major radial and cross city road routes. All Metroads in Sydney are trunk. Main highways connecting cities are trunk.
  • highway=primary is being used for major routes that link cities, or areas within major cities.
  • highway=secondary is being used for interconnecting routes within areas
  • highway=tertiary highway=unclassified and highway=residential seem to be being used somewhat interchangably currently. Although tertiary seems to apply to country gravel roads, and residential only seems to apply for non-interconnecting residential streets.
I have now updated the main page with some of the emerging standards above. Please feel free to discuss or correct. --inas 21:58, 13 May 2007 (BST)

The article suggests highway=nonexistent for planned-but-unbuilt roads, but I think it should be changed to highway=proposed + proposed=residential (for the example of a planned resiential road). Later, when the road is under construction, the tags would change to highway=construction + construction=residential. --Dle0 (talk) 13:10, 20 May 2015 (UTC)

Is there any consistent way to indicate that a particular road requires a toll? Latch 04:55, 11 May 2007 (BST)

restrictions=toll on a way, see Map Features --inas 21:48, 13 May 2007 (BST)

Given that Hobart and Adelaide both have large cities with some A/B routes internally and Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are not too many years away from enbracing the same MABC internally beyond just M routes. Is there any policy being defined as to what classifications these roads and other non-signposted roads will get within each City? Or are we following the standard practice of nearly all Street Directories in Australia that seem to classify half their roads on a whim? I know here in Adelaide the current heirachy of Road tagging bear little relation (a) to how they are used (b) to what they link up (c) their Highway numbers and it seems people have ust tagged roads depending on their mood at the time. Neither this page not the Australian Roads Tagging are specific enough to settled this issue. -- Beldin March 2008

Location Categories?

The tagging guidelines are currently divided into a section about regional roads and a section about Sydney. Shouldn't we re-label the Sydney section to something like "City Roads". Also, would it be good to provide a rough outline of tagging guidelines for regional towns? --Latch 01:48, 15 May 2007 (BST)

I agree - but.. Sydney has a Metroad system, which makes it clear which roads are trunk roads, and which are primary. Do other cities have that? --inas 04:44, 17 May 2007 (BST)
I'm not sure. I live in Canberra but have not been here long. How can Metroads be identified in Sydney? Is there an indication on the road signs or something? --Latch 01:33, 18 May 2007 (BST)
The RTA has removed all route numbers from all signs in Sydney with the exception of the Metroad numbers. They are the only numbers left signposted on any roads in the Sydney Metro area. I notice that quite a few roads in Sydney have been ref'ed with their state road numbers, but that info didn't come of the street signs. --inas 10:30, 22 May 2007 (BST)
Just reading through this, this isn't entirely true... there are still a few roads that have kept their state shields - S40, S44, S31, S54, etc... On the other hand many are being coverplated over (presumably in anticipation of renumbering when alphanumeric system is introduced) such as S70, S17, S63, S36, etc. --Brainwad 06:20, 1 October 2007 (BST)


I personally have no idea whether a particular road is part of a "regional road network" or "district road network" or is just unclassified. For now, I mark roads as "unclassified" unless they have a painted centre line in which case I mark them "primary". Ghouston 04:05, 15 May 2007 (BST)

It is possible to get an idea of the classification of a particular road by looking at other published maps, but I wonder if this is allowed? Latch 07:36, 16 May 2007 (BST)

I don't think looking at other maps is the way to go. The classifications aren't always right anyway. A regional road network is usually the state owned and run roads. The district is council run. Of course, in some states like Victoria, they label all the roads as primary/secondary/tertiary - so this gives a better indication. This isn't the case in NSW/QLD/WA etc so, and different classification should be used. I think overusing unclassified is A Bad Thing because most of the rendering softare considers this to be the most minor of all roads, as unclassified roads in the UK really are very small roads. --inas 04:48, 17 May 2007 (BST)
I've taken a look at the CBD of Sydney, and can see how the road classification has been used. It is a pity that there's no classification "city" or something, for roads that are not arterial but are certainly not minor. For example, roads like Pitt Street are hardly "very small roads" but they are marked as unclassified simply because they are not primary or secondary. In the suburbs we have "residential", but there seems to be no equivalent for city roads. --Latch 02:18, 18 May 2007 (BST)
Common sense should prevail, against all else. To use the unclassified tag for in the UK for all roads that are not classified makes sense. This is because only very minor roads are not classified. In Sydney, where 99.9% of roads are unclassified, it makes no sense at all. We lose all value in the distinction, and everything ends up unclassified. Having said that, Pitt St is an interesting example. Although it is a famous road, and it has Sydney's premier shopping strip etc, it is really a minor road in terms of traffic. It carries very little traffic volume at the north end of the CBD, and isn't really a through route to anywhere. I agree it would be nice to have an equivalent or "residential" for minor roads that only really service the business along them. We really should make the effort to agree a common standard for this sort of thing across Australia. How to squeeze Australian roads into an essentially foreign classification system. --inas 04:21, 18 May 2007 (BST)
Despite my suggestion for a "city" class of roads, the fact that "residential" renders pretty much the same as "unclassified" anyway means that there is no essential problem with using the "unclassified" tag. You're right about common sense; I've been tagging roads in the CBD of Canberra as unclassified if they don't count as trunk, primary or secondary (thus unknowingly copying what has been done in Sydney). Should we be using the "tertiary" class anywhere in Australian cities? --Latch 06:24, 18 May 2007 (BST)
I have to say that I haven't really found a need for tertiary. However in Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria, they have the A, B and C grading of roads. That maps pretty directly onto the primary, secondary, tertiary grading. It does sound like in cities, we are looking at motorway - something resembling a freeway - trunk - metroads in sydney, or similar cross city roads in other cities. primary for linking roads between areas. secondary for anything that is linking in an area that would generally carry through traffic. residential for residential streets, and unclassified for everything else. That sounds both reasonable, and in alignment with current practice. --inas 11:42, 18 May 2007 (BST)

I agree that this is reasonable and consistent with what already exists. Lets implement this sort of outline on the main page. --Latch 01:18, 21 May 2007 (BST)

It may be OK outside cities, where the roads may be signposted with A, B or C route numbers. However, at least were I am in Tasmania, this route numbering doesn't seem to continue within the urban area. I don't have much enthusiasm for the "residential" tag, since there is mixed usage in many streets. Ghouston 00:39, 23 May 2007 (BST)

What is your suggestion as the alternative to residential? Tertiary, or unclassified? I think I know what a residential street looks like, even with some mixed use One that only exists because people live in it, essentially. --inas 02:21, 25 May 2007 (BST)
I have been using unclassified, but I suppose tertiary would be something similar. The question is whether streets or parts of streets that are mostly lined with shops, offices or other commercial areas, or farms for that matter, should be tagged differently to streets with houses. I don't think typical street maps make such distinctions, so is there a good reason to try and capture this information? Ghouston 14:37, 26 May 2007 (BST)
I see your point. I don't feel strongly one way or the other. I'll do an extract from the planet file on Wednesday for the Australian data entered so far, so we have a feel for what has been done so far. Perhaps that will guide us towards the best standard . --inas 23:16, 27 May 2007 (BST)
Urban and rural roads are constructed to different standards, I think. E.g., urban roads have footpaths and street lighting. I'm not sure whether or not it's worth tagging this difference in OSM. Perhaps "tertiary" should be reserved for the class C highways, if this will be rendered OK by the software. A couple of possibilities for other roads, without introducing new tag values that the software doesn't know about: 1) use unclassified for all roads that are not classed as A, B or C, or equivalents in other states b) use unclassified for such roads only if rural, otherwise use "residential" for all urban areas including commercial areas. Ghouston 06:10, 6 June 2007 (BST)
After reading Key:highway/tertiary, I think major city streets that aren't part of the numbered highway network should be marked "tertiary", not "primary". Marking the roads that have painted centre lines seems to give reasonable results. There is also a discussion at Proposed features/Urban street that's worth checking out. Ghouston 07:05, 12 June 2007 (BST)
This is what I use tertiary for in Scotland. Any road which is quite big but not a M, A or B road is a tertiary road. I have found that most tertiary roads have dashed lines down the middle, whereas unclassified roads don't. Bruce89 11:47, 12 June 2007 (BST)
As far as I understand, the abutters keyword should be used to indicate whether a street is lined by shops or farms or etc. I feel that it would be more systematic if there was no "residential" classification for highways, as there is no corresponding "commercial" or "industrial" classifications. It really makes a whole lot more sense to classify the roads (things using the "highway" tag) according to how prominent the road should appear on the map, and leave the information about what is beside the road to be included in "abutters" tags. Thus, I would actually recommend changing all roads currently tagged as "highway residential" to "highway unclassified" with "abutters residential". I've just checked, and the rendered output remains the same. What do you think of this as a standard for Australian maps? Latch 03:38, 14 June 2007 (BST)
I think it's a good idea. Ghouston 04:02, 14 June 2007 (BST)
As was pointed out by Latch there is no corresponding abutters tag for commercial or industrial so these areas have to be defined by a separate series of segments, made into a way and marked landuse=commercial. Residential areas can similarly be defined, and therefore there is a strong possibility that at some stage in the future the rendering of abutters might be dropped. What I have been doing elsewhere is tagging the road as highway=residential on the basis this gives as much detail as possible, (and it will always be possible to later run some program to convert all highway = residential to highway=unclassified), and also creating an area and defining this as landuse=residential. Dmgroom 11:35, 14 June 2007 (BST)
But there are abutters tags for commercial and industrial. I was trying to point out that there are no highway classifications for roads through these areas even though there is a highway classification for roads through residential areas. Latch 02:01, 18 June 2007 (BST)

Trunk or Primary/Secondary

Living in the ACT, I do not normally have the luxury of the A/B/C road classification system used (for example) in Victoria. However, I've just been browsing a map and discovered that the Monaro Highway (23 in NSW) turns into B23 when it reaches Victoria. This highlights a difficulty with the standard classification system as we have outlined: the "B" suggests secondary and yet in NSW I would certainly have marked it as trunk (it is, afterall, a "highway"). What are people doing about this? --Latch 02:12, 18 June 2007 (BST)

I think it would have to depend on the physical status of the road in question. In the Monaro Highway's case, it varies considerably along its length - from "motorway" between Piallago and Hume, then "trunk" as far as Tuggeranong, "primary" until about Cooma (possibly until it diverges from the Snowy Mountains Highway - would need to check), then "secondary" to the Victorian border. I don't think the name "highway" can be used as a reliable indicator. --Kme 06:52, 5 December 2007 (UTC)


I thought we could come up with some good guidelines for tagging road types in the ACT. My first suggestion is that in general, a 60 km/h speed limit on suburban roads indicates a through road, so these should probably be either secondary or tertiary. Motorways are pretty easy to identify as well - where there's no roundabouts or traffic lights, only freeway-style entrances and exits. The difference between "trunk" and "primary" is probably harder to identify, though. I guess I would call Ginninderra Drive "trunk", but Kingsford-Smith Drive "primary", but it's really just a "feel" thing. --Kme 08:05, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Hume Highway

I'm working on parts of the Hume Highway near Canberra and Yass. At the moment it is partly tagged as motorway and partly as trunk. Further south there are parts of the Hume that have not yet bypassed towns and been made dual carriageway, and they obviously can't be motorway. But near Yass the Hume is dual carriageway and bypasses all the towns. What criteria are we using to determine when to tag this road motorway and when to tag it trunk? --Latch 01:22, 21 May 2007 (BST)

Just past Mittagong the freeway from Sydney is no longer classified as a freeway by the RTA. This is because it has normal road junctions, and not controlled exit and entry points. As soon as you get to the Victoria border it is back to freeway again, but in this case nothing changes, it is just the Victorian classification system. Personally I think this distinction is lost on 99.9% of drivers. I'm all for making tagging the freeway-like dual carriageway sections as motorway, and the strips through towns and leading up to Albury as trunk. --inas 03:40, 21 May 2007 (BST)
Now that you mention it, I have seen the "End Freeway" signs as I've driven from Sydney to Canberra. I agree that for most driving purposes, nothing changes. I will update the sections I'm working on so that all of the Hume that is dual carriage way and freeway-like is classified as motorway.
Much of the Hume Highway that isn't officially "Freeway" still has controlled entrances and exits, eg at the Goulburn, Yass, Gundagai and Albury bypasses (also at the interchanges with the Snowy Mountains and Sturt Highways) - my suggestion would be to use the presence of these as a good indicator of "motorway" status. --Kme 07:56, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Bus stop tagging

Is this supposed to represent the services that stop there? In Perth every bus stop has a unique number, and stands on St George's Terrace have a letter which indicates a group of services stop there. Also the bus stations have stands numbered like A1 to E7.

Bush Walking Tracks

Shouldn't these be highway=path; foot=yes, rather than highway=footway? The former says "It is also used for hiking trails", whereas the latter says "for designated footpaths, i.e. mainly/exclusively for pedestrians." --Waldo000000 00:14, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

What you must never do!

Would someone please clarify the following:

"Never copy the road into the OSM database from a source we don't have permission to copy from, even though you made an observation that it doesn't exist; you can only map what you saw or what you surveyed otherwise this may still open OSM up to possible legal action."

As I read it, it sounds like people are entering roads they know don't exist. Why?

   Yesterday upon the stair
   I saw a man who wasn’t there
   He wasn’t there again today
   Oh, how I wish he’d go away. 

Swanilli 05:06, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

Simple, to save 10 other people from surveying a road they see on another map that only exists on paper, it was never built in the real world. Unless we can distinguish from doesn't exist people will assume hasn't been surveyed... Delta foxtrot2 05:21, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
Why are people entering roads they know don't exist? Perhaps nostalgia (for historic roads), wishful thinking, agumentum ad verecundiam or plain envy "keeping up with the Joneses" (eg commercial maps). I think it is OK to enter some highway=proposed for non-existent roads if you can source tag them to a proposal of standing, and what you add is basically a sketch with fixme=resurvey. Also, I edited your quote for minor punctuation and spelling. (Also, "There was a red-haired man who had no eyes or ears. Neither did he have any hair, so he was called red-haired theoretically" -D.Kharms) --Dle0 (talk) 13:35, 20 May 2015 (UTC)

Map Features

I would really recommend to our australians friends to create an Au:Map Features. It is easy and fast to reuse the existing definitions or translate them to your local practices. It's all using wiki templates. -- Pieren 10:20, 6 January 2010 (UTC)


I think it would be good to establish general tagging guidelines for wineries/cellars/cellar door sales before listing it in the Australian tagging guidelines. --Ebenezer 23:04, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

I agree, however no one offered a suggestion for tag name on the tagging list --JohnSmith 23:13, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

Rail Trails

At the moment the suggested tagging only has railway=abandoned,

Does this tell us it is a 'rail trail' ... would it not be an idea to add highway=track, or highway=cycleway? In this way it could be distinguished from a simple abandoned railway. And be rendered as what people see .. a track/cycleway. It may use the old railway infrastructure but most of it would resemble a track.

Warin61 (talk) 11:24, 13 August 2015 (UTC)

Map what's there. We need to get rid of these Australian tagging items, where they are no different to the rest of the world..
Here is the Oberon Railtrail.. --inas (talk) 01:35, 17 August 2015 (UTC)

Water Tanks

These features of the Australian landscape in rural area lack a good clear tagging method. It would be good to have that here? Warin61 (talk) 11:30, 13 August 2015 (UTC)

It would. What part of the existing tagging do you think is unclear? --inas (talk) 01:35, 17 August 2015 (UTC)
The first worlders elsewhere have depreciated man_made = reservoir because people were using it to map hundreds of square kilometres of dam, or natural reservoirs. The open air tanks out near Camerons Corner NSW ( way 407504513 ) aren't closed, like the storage_tank schema suggests. building = yes is insipid. water = yes doesn't cover the cultural uses of water collection and storage adequately. I'd appreciate some advice on how to tag correctly for Australia. Also bores just feel wrong: windmill + water_well whose iconography are coy and childlike. Samuelrussell (talk) 20:55, 6 April 2016 (UTC) I would probably tag natural=water, water=reservoir. I also think man_made=bore for a man made bore. --inas (talk) 00:25, 7 April 2016 (UTC)

Double white lines, etc

I've been tagging these as Key:overtaking=no, and single white solids plus white dashed as (if you can overtake) overtaking:forward=caution, overtaking:backward=no. Does this adequately tag the situation, given that u-turns are also covered? Thanks, Samuelrussell (talk) 11:26, 9 April 2016 (UTC)