Australian Tagging Guidelines

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The following guidelines are an attempt to document the result of discussions that have taken place on the Australian mailing list, and that become common practice in OSM mapping in Australia. If you would like to comment, please join the mailing list and discuss there.



City, Town or Village?

There is no consistent approach yet for this. It was discussed on the mailing list in December 2008.

Australia has many places that are important centres for large areas, but have very few residents. These should be labelled towns because it is how they are considered, even though closer to major population centres they would be considered villages. Until (or unless) we reach agreement on firmer guidelines, you should choose place tags (place=*) based on popular perception rather than administrative designation or population.

Some OSM renderers make large areas of Australia look empty at higher zoom levels. Making towns visible at higher zoom levels you involves marking them as place=city. The strategy here is not conclusive. Mapping a town as a city to make it visible could be seen as tagging for the renderer. Other alternatives are to develop rendering strategies to render smaller towns in largely deserted areas, or simply to accept that areas with low and sparse populations will appear empty and higher zoom.

Road Tagging

Regional Roads

  • highway=motorway Motorways, freeways, and freeway-like roads. Divided roads with 2 or 3 lanes in each direction, limited access via interchanges, no traffic lights. Generally 100 or 110 km/h speed limit. For example: Hume Freeway. In states with the Alphanumeric system, these are 'M' roads if they are of freeway standard.
  • highway=trunk National highways connecting major population centres. For example the Bruce Highway north of Cooroy. State strategic road network for example: Pacific Highway. In states with the Alphanumeric system, these are 'A' roads. 'M' roads which aren't of freeway standard are also classified as a trunk road. In other states, these are signposted with a white National Road shield, or a Green National Highway shield.
  • highway=primary State maintained roads linking major population centers to each other and to the trunk network. In states with the Alphanumeric system, these are 'B' roads. In other states, these are generally State routes signposted with blue shields.
  • highway=secondary District roads that are generally council maintained roads linking smaller population centres to each other and to the primary network. In states with the Alphanumeric system, these are 'C' roads.
  • highway=tertiary Other roads linking towns, villages and Points of Interest to each other and the secondary network. In South Australia, roads that are classified as a 'D' route under the Alphanumeric system use this classification.
  • highway=residential Local streets found in and around cities, suburbs and towns as well as in rural areas.
  • highway=track Gravel fire trails, forest drives, 4WD trails and similar roads. Gravel roads connecting towns etc. should be tagged as appropriate (secondary, tertiary or unclassified), along with the 'surface=unpaved' tag.
  • highway=service Unnamed access roads. e.g. Entranceways and roads in parks, government properties, beach access etc. Use a short service road where you may want to mark the entrance to a private/government area, but not map the interior private roads in detail.

Use the surface=unpaved tag to indicate where roads are not sealed.

Use the ref=* tag to indicate a route number that is signposted according to the standard below, or use a route relation. Omit non-signposted, anachronistic or historical route numbers.

  • highway=safe_t_cam Use this tag to mark the position of the NSW and SA [Safe - T - Cam] system

Urban Areas

  • highway=motorway The metropolitan motorway network. 'M' classified roads in cities where they exist.
  • highway=trunk "Metroads" or 'A' classified roads in the cities where they exist, or other similar cross-city trunk routes in cities where they do not.
  • highway=primary Other main cross city and arterial routes. 'B' classified roads in cities where they exist. Major connecting roads in larger rural cities.
  • highway=secondary Major through routes within a local area, often connecting neighbouring suburbs.
  • highway=tertiary Minor through routes within a local area, often feeders to residential streets.
  • highway=service Un-named service and access roads. Also used for small named rear-access lanes.

Use the ref tag to indicate a route number that is signposted according to the standard below. Omit non-signposted, anachronistic or historical routes.

Unsealed and 4wd Roads (Dirt, Gravel, Formed, etc)

The following guide lines are based on a discussion on the OSM talk_au mailing list. Road conditions can vary over time and are subject to weather changes. Further, driver's skills and willingness to risk damage to his or her vehicle varies substantially. Here are some suggested tags for road conditions with examples, values in square brackets are alternatives.

The current mapnik rendering on the main page OSM does not render these tags, and is unsuitable for navigation in remote areas where the condition of the road is important. Mappers should still ensure that they enter accurate and appropriate tags so, to allow renderings and navigation to be developed based on the road condition. As always, users should not risk their safety based on a user contributed map, and should take steps to confirm road conditions before travelling.

Major connecting but unsealed roads - For example, the Plenty Highway, NT. This road is a secondary link road and needs to be tagged accordingly. But its also unsealed over much of its length, sandy, rutted and quite remote.


Made but unsealed roads - These roads typically have a well defined dome shape, gutters of some sort. Surface has been compacted, possibly with crushed from from elsewhere. Regular maintenance prevents potholes and washaways being a problem for very long. Corrugations may be an issues sometimes. Generally such roads are suitable for travel at 70k/h to 100k/h and most drivers are comfortable in using them.

highway=[unclassified; residential; secondary; primary]
lanes=[1; 2]

Made but neglected unsealed roads - Key difference form the above is that these roads are may not be regularly maintained and drivers can expect to come across things in the road they don't like. A slower speed is appropriate to cope with the unexpected. Examples would include forestry and national park tracks, access tracks to interesting places and many people live on roads like this.

highway=[track; residential; secondary; primary]
lanes=[1; 2]

Rough tracks - while these tracks may have once been 'made' little evidence remains. They are typically flat, no gutters and vehicles wheels have left noticeable ruts. Water can lie in those ruts leading to bog holes that are easily dug deeper by continued use. Sand, rocks etc will require some care. Drivers need to use care and be prepared to change their mind in the event of unsuitable weather for example. A 4x4 vehicle might be a good idea but is not necessarily required.

highway=[track; residential; secondary; primary]
lanes=[1; 2]

4x4 recommended - these tracks may well be quite usable by conventional vehicles but inexperienced drivers are advised not to try it. A vehicle with a bit of space under it such as an SUV and common sense is probably a little safer. Lots of popular tourist drives are included here as are some substantial "end to end" routes in more remote areas. Note definitions here are currently unsatisfactory, 'highway' (other than =track) refers to purpose of the road but renders and possibly even routers disregard tracktype warnings. Note we are using unapproved tracktype=grade6 and 4wd_only=recommended tags. Ideally, these roads would be rendered by appending "(4x4 recommended)' to the road name.

highway=[track; secondary; primary]
lanes=[1; 2]

4x4 required - Similar to the above but these tracks do need a real 4x4 vehicle, one with low ratio and drivers should consider carrying recovery gear and, perhaps not traveling alone. These tracks have the same rendering and routing concerns as do the above. Note we are using an unapproved tracktype=grade7 tag. We like to see it rendered it by adding "(4x4 Only)" to the road name.

highway=[track; secondary; primary]
lanes=[1; 2]

4x4 extreme - Now you are possibly talking about using a modified 4x4 vehicle on a well planned trip and not alone. These tracks have the same rendering and routing concerns as do the above. Note we are using an unapproved tags tracktype=grade8 and 4wd_only=extreme. We'd like to see it rendered it by adding "(4x4 Extreme)" to the road name.

highway=[track; secondary; primary]
lanes=[1; 2]


  • For most types of highway=* tags you don't need to specify the surface=paved key/value pair as this is assumed, however make sure you tag the road surface when it isn't a paved road.
  • The main OSM mapnik rendering ignores tracktype unless highway=track.
  • A ticket has been lodged (and now reopened on ) requesting the OSM website map show unsealed roads differently from sealed ones. Rather than surface= tag, the tracktype might be a better way to trigger different rendering. Whenever tracktype is declared, road should be dotted, dashed or have dashed casement.

Number of lanes

If a way has 2 lanes you don't need to tag this, as it's assumed, you only need to use lanes=* tag if there is fewer than 2 lanes or more than 2 lanes.

The only exception is when there is a oneway=yes, then the number of lanes is assumed to be 1, use lanes=2 for any one way street that have more than 1 lane.

Speed limits

It is best practice to use the maxspeed tag on every road. Indicate the source of the information using the source:maxspeed tag.

  • source:maxspeed=sign - for a signposted limit
  • source:maxspeed=local_knowledge - if you know the local streets have the default "built-up" speed limit
  • source:maxspeed=survey

The Australian traffic rules mandate speed limits for "built-up" areas, where there are no signposts. Unfortunately, there is no one-to-one correspondence between roads tagged highway=residential these speed zones. See the proposal for implicit speed zones for one proposed solution to this problem, however this proposal is not in widespread use in Australia currently.

School Zones

Use maxspeed:conditional=40 @ (Mo-Fr 08:00-09:30, 14:30-16:00;PH off;SH off) for NSW school zone on ways. See . The restriction=school_zone has been abandoned an has been replaced by max:speed:conditional.

Tunnels and bridges and layers

The guidelines here are the same as elsewhere. tunnel=yes and bridge=yes. A tunnel isn't assumed to be layer=-1 and a bridge isn't assumed to be layer=1 you must tag bridges and tunnels with layer tags too! Tagging bridges with a level less than 1 is incorrect. The default layer, is layer=0 indicating ground level, and you don't need to add to add this tag unless it adds clarity to future mappers. Rivers and streams are almost always at ground level. Bridges go over rivers and need to be tagged layer=1 or greater. Where streams go underground they can be tagged with a layer less than 1.

Mark a Track as "Dry Weather Only"

See Conditional restrictions and/or seasonal=*

Access roads on public land

These may have a sign with something like "Management Vehicles Only" and could then be tagged motor_vehicle=private and bicycle=private (as bicycles are considered to be vehicles under Australian law). Use caution with the tag access=private as that applies to all including walkers.



The general rule in Australia is that all roundabouts, big or small, have been drawn out in full. After numerous discussions as to what may constitute a single node "mini-roundabout", the common practice has evolved not to use single node mini-roundabouts at all. The way goes clockwise, indicating the direction of the traffic movement. Each entry and exit way should join the roundabout at a separate node.

Don't confuse turning circles and traffic calming with roundabouts.

This is tagged highway=turning_circle: [1]

This should be tagged traffic_calming=island [2]

You do not need to add oneway=yes tag, as this is implied by the junction=roundabout tag.

Naming Streets

  • Where a street has two different names, make a note tag on the street so future mappers understand the issue, then:
    • mark what you see (using the alt_name tag if necessary).
    • ask the people who live there
    • ask the local council for clarification
    • in Victoria [3] allows you to search for a street name in a particular suburb
    • In Qld you can search on the the "infomation Qld" site for a suburb, and then zoom into the street name, or select property search as the area of interest and you can then give street name, etc. The Brisbane council online mapping seems to be tied up in restrictions.

Missing signs/no names

Use the following tag combinations:

  • fixme:sign:no=YYYY-MM-DD
  • fixme:sign:broken=YYYY-MM-DD

The use of a date is to indicate when things were last checked. Alternatively you can contact the council responsible.

Some rural streets are unnamed. Often these have locally known names, so try and ascertain these if you can. Otherwise you can use:

  • noname=yes
  • validate:noname=YYYY-MM-DD
  • source:noname=*

Route Numbers

States either use the old 'shield' system, or the newer alphanumeric system.

Tagging highway ref=* and name=*

In most cases it's best to create a relation for each ref=* and then add all the applicable ways to the relation.

For example the majority of the A1 in QLD is the Bruce Highway, however the A1 continues after the Bruce Highway ends in Cairns and becomes the Captain Cook Highway, in this case there will be 3 relations, a relation for the A1, a relation for the Bruce Highway and a relation for the Captain Cook Highway.

The A1 relation should be tagged as follows:


The Bruce Highway relation should be tagged as follows:

name=Bruce Highway

The Captain Cook Highway relation should be tagged as follows:

name=Captain Cook Highway

Minor Highways

Minor highways generally keep the same ref=* and name=* for the entire length of the highway so there is no point making 2 relations in this case.

Minor Roads

Depending on the road it's generally best to keep tagging ways rather than making relations, although there is nothing wrong with making a relation if you think the road is big enough.

Highway Refs

Use the following tags. The style of the signage will give you clues as to which is the correct tag

Non-Alphanumeric Highway Shields

network=NR,ref=* National Route - (black on white shield)
network=alt_NR,ref=* National Route - (black on white shield, 'ALT' at the top of the shield)
network=NH,ref=* National Highway - (yellow on green shield)
network=MR,ref=* Metroad - (blue on white hexagon)
network=DR,ref=* Detour roads marked as D roads in NSW and DR in QLD
network=S,ref=* State Route - (white on blue shield)

Tourist Route (Scenic Route)

network=T,ref=* Tourist Route - (white on brown Pentagon)

Alphanumeric Highway Shields

ref=M* Motorways(yellow on green rectangle)
ref=A* A Roads (yellow on green rectangle)
network=alt,ref=A* Alt A Roads (yellow on green rectangle, with the word ALT at the top of the shield)
ref=B* B Roads (yellow on green rectangle)
ref=C* C Roads (yellow on green rectangle)
ref=D* D Roads (if they exist, yellow on green rectangle)


In the case of the M, A, B & C roads, the M7 would be ref=M7

NSW Alphanumeric references

Alphanumeric numbering is in the process of being implemented in NSW in 2013, and where signs have been seen the route can be updated to the new alphanumeric reference.

Pay close attention to the name of the road and the routing reference.

For example:

Old Road Name Description New Road Name Ref
F3 - Sydney to Newcastle Expressway From Pacific Highway at Wahroonga to John Renshaw Drive at Beresfield Pacific Motorway M1
Pacific Highway The part of the Pacific Highway from Brunswick Heads via Brunswick to Yelgun Freeway, Yelgun to Chinderah Freeway, Chinderah Bypass, Banora Point, Tweed Heads Bypass and Tugun Bypass to the Queensland Border Pacific Motorway M1
F4 Western Freeway From Concord Road (Great Western Highway) at Strathfield to Great Western Highway at Lapstone Western Motorway M4
F6 Southern Freeway From Princes Highway at Waterfall to Mt Ousley Road to the Illawarra Highway at Yallah Princes Motorway M1
Hume Highway The part of the highway from The Cross Roads at Casula, via South Western Freeway, including

Mittagong Bypass and Berrima Bypass, to Mereworth Road Interchange at Medway Rivulet

Hume Motorway M31

If practical, the old reference can be retained in old_ref=*

Rural Road Numbering

Geographic Information – Rural Addressing is published as Australian/New Zealand Standard, AS/NZS 4724:2000.

A full description of this standard can be located in this pdf document, published by Land Victoria.

Where possible, a relation should be created for rural roads indicating the start node, any ways applicable and an end node so that this information can be used for routing without needing to individually survey each possible street address. This information won't be useful for rendering.

The relation should be tagged as:


The role of ways should be listed as member, and the nodes as start/end respectively.

Urban Footpaths and Cycleways

Note: The guidelines in this section relate to footpaths and cycleways (usually paved) in urban areas. For bush and other non-urban ways see Bush Walking and Cycling Tracks.

  • Australian footpath (most footpaths on the side of streets. See Footpath Cycling).
    • Australian Road Rules[4] "Footpath, except in rule 13 (1), means an area open to the public that is designated for, or has as one of its main uses, use by pedestrians." In general a footpath is parallel to the road (Tweed Shire Council Definition [5])
    • highway=footway or see Sidewalks.
  • Australian bicycle path (Bicycle Only sign).
    • Australian Road Rules "Bicycle path means a length of path beginning at a bicycle path sign or bicycle path road marking, and ending at the nearest of the following (a) an end bicycle path sign or end bicycle path road marking; (b) a separated footpath sign or separated footpath road marking; (c) a road (except a road-related area); (d) the end of the path.
    • highway=cycleway; foot=no
  • Australian shared path (Bicycle and Pedestrian sign)
    • Australian Road Rules "A shared path is an area open to the public (except a separated footpath) that is designated for, or has as one of its main uses, use by both the riders of bicycles and pedestrians, and includes a length of path for use by both bicycles and pedestrians beginning at a shared path sign or shared path road marking and ending at the nearest of the following: (a) an end shared path sign or end shared path road marking; (b) a no bicycles sign or no bicycles road marking; (c) a bicycle path sign or bicycle path road marking; (d) a road (except a road-related area); (e) the end of the path."
    • highway=footway, foot=yes, bicycle=yes
    • highway=cycleway, foot=designated (in discussion)
  • Australian separated footpath (Bicycle and Pedestrian separated by a line)
    • Australian Road Rules "Separated footpath means a length of footpath beginning at a separated footpath sign or separated footpath road marking, and ending at the nearest of the following: (a) an end separated footpath sign or end separated footpath road marking; (b) a bicycle path sign or bicycle path road marking; (c) a no bicycles sign or no bicycles road marking; (d) a road (except a road-related area); (e) the end of the footpath. Separated footpath road marking means a road marking on a footpath consisting of a pedestrian symbol and a bicycle symbol side by side, with or without the word ‘only’."
    • highway=cycleway, foot=designated; segregated=yes (in discussion)
  • Australian bicycle lane (Bicycle Lane sign)
    • Australian Road Rules "A bicycle lane is a marked lane, or the part of a marked lane: a) beginning at a bicycle lane sign applying to the lane; and (b) ending at the nearest of the following: (i) an end bicycle lane sign applying to the lane; (ii) an intersection (unless the lane is at the unbroken side of the continuing road at a T–intersection or continued across the intersection by broken lines); (iii) if the road ends at a dead end — the end of the road."
    • highway=<type of highway>, cycleway=lane
  • Pedestrian cut-through at the end of a dead-end street also accessible to bicycles.
    • highway=footway bicycle=permissive - or bicycle=yes
  • Cut-thru where it is clearly provided as a cycle facility
    • highway=cycleway

Unfortunately, it is possible in Australia for a legally designated cycle facility to be completely unusable. A bicycle lane that is really a parking lane, or a shared path sign on a obstructed or even non-existent path. Mappers should use common sense and discretion, and map the effective facility that exists on the ground if it differs to what is defined by the Australian road rules.

Motorway tagging

The general default is that highway=motorway implies bicycle=no. Many motorways in Australia permit cycling in the shoulder, and these need to be specifically marked as bicycle=yes. Since there is little consistency here, it is a good idea to tag every section of motorway as bicycle=yes or bicycle=no.

Regional and Local Route tagging

Just with highways and motorways these routes need to have their own relation connecting the ways in the route.

OSM provides three "networks": local (lcn), regional (rcn), national (ncn), based on the UK model. Although Australia doesn't have exactly the same model, we can treat short, council bike paths as LCN and longer paths that cross council boundaries as RCN. There is currently no strict distinction between LCN and RCN for Australia, individual cases can be debated on the talk-au list.

  • For point-to-point (or even three-pronged etc) routes (bike paths, rail trails, etc), create a route relation, and put the RCN/LCN tags on there.
  • For networks without start/finishes (eg, lots of local streets with bike signage), put the LCN tags directly on the highway=* way.

NCN is currently used in NSW for very long (200km type route structures) high speed highway shoulders designated as fit for cycling by RMS, and for the Coast line cycle way project which is interstate in scope.


These paths are frequently short (less than 10km), signed on-road with signs to destinations rather than the name of a trail, and might be a network rather than a single trail. For example, see the unnamed trails in this map: [6]

  • network=lcn
  • lcn_ref=number if known, otherwise the name.

Please note the use of suburb here is for gazetted suburbs which exist in nearly all parts of the country, at present there is no tag for council and no council boundaries in the system.


Other, longer, more prominent, better known trails, generally no shorter than perhaps 5km, and as long as 200km. This includes rail trails, trails named after creeks, trails named after freeways etc. These are almost all shared-use trails.

  • network=rcn
  • rcn_ref=number if known, otherwise name.

Footpath Cycling

Note that cycling is legal on all footpaths in the ACT, Queensland and Tasmania (unless marked otherwise), but it is specifically not allowed in at least NSW, SA and Victoria -- cycling in these states is allowed only on normal roads and dedicated cyclepaths, with a concession permitting children under 12 and adults riding with those children to ride on footpaths.

Public Transport


Use railway=tram for trams in the following ways:

  • Trams in the middle of normal, undivided roads
    • Keep the way with the road information on the centre line of the road and draw in the 2 parallel tracks (using imagery), tagged as railway=tram with oneway=yes where applicable.
  • Trams on their own routes
  • Trams with their own track in a median strip
    • map it like an ordinary dual carriageway (separate ways for each direction), and then create third and fourth parallel ways down the middle that can be tagged as railway=tram with oneway=yes where applicable.
  • Route number labelling
    • Tram routes are currently managed using relations. Most major tram routes have had relations created for them.
  • Stop labelling and numbering

Bus Routes and Stops

Bus routes also need their own relations per route, and stops along the way need to be added to the relation as well


TODO: add an example.

Bush Walking and Cycling Tracks


  1. The guidelines in this section relate to footpaths and cycleways (usually unpaved) in bush and other non-urban areas. For footpaths and cycleways in urban areas see Urban Footpaths and Cycleways.
  2. Do not use highway=footway.
  3. Because of the highly variable state of bush tracks and abilities of users, tag on the basis of their physical condition (width, surface etc) and legal (usually signposted) restrictions, rather than assigning a subjective assessment of whether not they are, for example, suitable for bicycles.
  • Tracks too narrow for 4-wheeled vehicles:
  • Tracks wide enough for 4-wheeled vehicles (e.g. fire trails):
  • Cycling:
  • Optional (but helpful) in conjunction with the above:
  • Other tags used in OSM but of limited relevance to Australia:
    • sac_scale=* Applies to highway=path. Developed by the Swiss Alpine Club to describe the difficulty of paths but oriented towards mountain climbing.
    • tracktype=* Applies to highway=track. Grades the surface material of tracks (not paths).
  • Routes:
    • Using route relations (see [7]) for named tracks is encouraged as they render better in specialised maps (eg, [8])
      • Proposed use of networks (discussion required):
        • IWN: Not used.
        • NWN: Very significant trails of decent length, maybe 50km+(eg, Overland Track, Hume&Hovell Trail)
        • RWN: Trails with names, maintained by Parks bodies, of some significance and length (to be discussed)
        • LWN: Short trails, should probably be named.
    • Check for an existing route relation that can be added to before creating a new one.
    • Known long-distance routes:
      • Bibbulmun Track (WA) [9]
      • Bicentennial National Trail (Qld, NSW, ACT & Vic) [10]
      • Cape to Cape Track (WA) [11]
      • Great North Walk (NSW) [12]
      • Heysen Trail (SA) [13]
      • Hume & Hovell Walking Track (NSW) [14]
      • Munda Biddi Trail (WA) [15]
      • Overland Track (Tas) [16]

Rail Trails

(See WikiProject Victoria, Australia/Bike paths)
  • bicycle=yes
  • foot=yes
  • horse=yes
  • motorcar=no
  • motorcycle=no
  • name=Boolarra Mirboo North Rail Trail
  • railway=abandoned

Note, the trail may diverge from the old railway route at places. Use discretion here. :)

Also use an RCN relation as described above.

Cultural Features

Australia has some unique ways of doing things so we need some different tags.

Licensed Club

amenity=licensed_club A licensed club is a community based club which has meeting rooms and a liquor licence. Most have additional services eg bistro / restaurant, poker machines.

Sports Grounds

If you don't know the name of the local Bowls Club mark the grounds as leisure=park, leisure=recreation_ground or leisure=sports_centre and sport=bowls. The tag leisure=pitch should be used on the playing areas only, not the club grounds. Add the name later, or if you don't think you'll be back to fix it put a FIXME=name tag. Optionally, you can use name=Bowls Club, FIXME=name if you feel there is benefit in having it called "Bowls Club" until the full name can be determined.

Cellar Door

Even though the term "Cellar Door" is widely used, promoted and understood to be a wine tourist attraction, it seems it was too confusing to most Americans to think a cellar door was used for anything but tornado sheltering, at this stage you are best to tag these locations as:


Assuming that you aren't trying to tag a winery that offers tours of their facility, then it would be best to tag:


Seasonal or Safety Closures

Tagging closures can be done using opening_hours=* in the free text mode. For example some trails in NSW National Parks are closed during total fire ban days and can be tagged by adding to the way the tag:

opening_hours="Closed during Total Fire Ban days"

One may also tag fire places in a similar fashion.

Administrative Boundaries

Hiding admin boundaries in JOSM

Boundaries contain some very useful information, it can be a big headache if you are trying to map in roads and railway lines so this is how you can make them vanish.

Firstly bring up the filtering panel, either by clicking on the filter icon on the left hand side of the screen, or by hitting Alt+Shift+F. You should now see the filter panel appearing on the right hand side of the screen, most likely on the bottom.

Simply click the add button and type in 'boundary=administrative' and click 'Submit Filter'.

This will disable any admin boundary objects so you can no longer select or modify them, if you want to hide them completely simply tick the check box under the 'H' column (H for hide).

Unfortunately for various reasons admin boundaries have been used in the past as the basis for roads, railways, rivers etc, especially where it was difficult or impossible to get to and where the aerial imagery was lacking. So it might not be as simple as hiding all admin boundaries, but only hiding the ones that aren't used for any other purpose, to achieve this the filter string is a little bit more complex, and instead you would use this 'boundary=administrative -(highway=* | waterway=* | natural=* | railway=*) type:way'.

(National, State etc) Parks

These include National Parks, State Parks, Reserves etc etc that are administered by government authorities. Refer to the defintions below.

There are multiple standards used for mapping such areas including "landuse=forest" (refers to managed forest ie planted by humans) or "natural=wood" (natural forest). These both refer to land use, rather than defining the boundary of a park.

Park boundaries are really administrative boundaries, much like Local Government Areas etc. The current standards allow for "boundary=national_park" however this is too prescriptive ie only implies National Parks. There is a requirement to accommodate a hierarchy of parks from National Parks through to reserves managed by councils. In addition, the "boundary=" tag should always be used with the "admin_level=" tag to specify at what (zoom) level the boundaries should be displayed.


Guidelines for land use mapping in Australia: principles, procedures and definitions, Edition 3, Commonwealth of Australia, 2006 have defined land use as "the purpose to which the land cover is committed. Some land uses, such as agriculture, have a characteristic land cover pattern. These usually appear in land cover classifications. Other land uses, such as nature conservation, are not readily discriminated by a characteristic land cover pattern. For example, where the land cover is woodland, land use may be timber production or nature conservation."

To put things in context, their other definitions are;

  • Land tenure - Tenure is the form of an interest in land. Some forms of tenure (such as pastoral leases or nature conservation reserves) relate directly to land use and land management practice.
  • Land cover - Land cover refers to the physical surface of the earth, including various combinations of vegetation types, soils, exposed rocks and water bodies as well as anthropogenic elements, such as agriculture and built environments. Land cover classes can usually be discriminated by characteristic patterns using remote sensing.
  • Land management practice - Land management practice means the approach taken to achieve a land use outcome - the 'how' of land use (eg cultivation practices, such as minimum tillage and direct drilling). Some land management practices, such as stubble disposal practices and tillage rotation systems, may be discriminated by characteristic land cover patterns and linked to particular issues.

Phone Numbers

Phone numbers for OSM should in in a format for ISD (International Subscriber Dialling) calling - that is from overseas. If you place a local number into OSM it will probably 'work' but only in that local area - see the local area codes below to see how big that area is. The ISD code should work locally as the local phone system should interpret it correctly (and hopefully not charge extra for it).

ISD coding

Many Australians are not familiar with ISD so here is a guide as to what the format is.

ISD country code

Firstly there is the ISD code country prefixed which is +61 for Australia. The + sign stands for the loacl access code to obtain ISD, this varies from county of calling to another country of calling.

Local Code

Then the 'local code'. As a guide, but there are some variations close to the edges at various locations;



Qld 07

Tas/Vic 03

Complication for use with ISD the leading 0 is dropped. For cell phones too the leading 0 is dropped.


The above are then followed by the local number.

For example a NSW local number of 1234 5678 would be +61 2 1234 5678 in ISD form.

1300, 1800 and 1900 numbers

1300 and 1800 and 1900 numbers cannot be called from overseas so should simple be entered as they are. Some 1800 numbers give another number for calls from overseas. It may be best to put in the local number, no codes.

Cell Phones

For cell phones the leading 0 is dropped and the country code is added as a prefix.

For example a cell number of 0412 345 678 would be +61 4 12 345 678 in ISD form.


These are optional, you can use no separators at all.

I have used spaces to aid human understand and retention. Other separators can be used.

Emergency Phone Number 000

This should not be entered into OSM as it does not relate to any specific place.

Further reference

Reference may be made to



These are tagged man_made=windpump in OSM. The tag man_made=windmill refers to the old European wind mills not the steel structures found in the outback.


These are tagged man_made=water_well in OSM.


Do put things on the map which are relevant and have no suitable tags. Identify the nodes with some_new_tag and they can be edited later as needed.

Check taginfo to see what tags others are using in Australia.

How do I map a road that ISN'T there

It is often the case in rural Australia that un-trafficable roads end up on maps produced by other mapping companies, and sometimes even in OSM.

These can be gazetted roads that have never been built, or at least never built to a trafficable standard. Roads that exist to provide access to properties are often sold to property owners by councils when adjacent properties are merged and the road is no longer required. Some roads are mapped from aerial imagery but can correspond to farm tracks, fence lines, etc.

There isn't an easy solution. So to save yourself from trying to map a non-existent street in a blank map area, or from removing a fence line mapped by an armchair mapper for a second or third time, the following seems to be the best advice:

  • If there is a mapped road goes into private property through a gate, mark the end node as barrier=gate, you could add a note also stating that the road continues on to be access=private if you wish.
  • If there is a mapped road that turns into scrub, try to mark out the approx area of the natural=scrub.
  • If there is a mapped road that ends in a turning circle, mark the end node as highway=turning_circle
  • If there is a mapped road that would cross a fence, you could mark in the fence, but this may not be entirely obvious on the map what it is, you can also mark a node in the approx vicinity as restriction=only_straight_on, this shows up as a big blue arrow in JOSM and we are planning to make a layer on the AU maps able to display this as well.
  • Trace and tag fences, dry creeks, and other features often mistaken for roads in aerial imagery.

If you have surveyed and area try to make a note on the appropriate feature to let future mappers know what is going on, or if a way is impassable.

Obviously you should never copy 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 your surveyed.

What about using meta information from the DCDB Queensland data?

It's suggested that roads which are planned but have not yet been built could be tagged:


Using Imported Data

Imported data may not be accurate, it's entirely dependent on what the data was originally intended for, the ABS didn't need highly accurate data to do geographical based statistics, however the Qld government has release property boundary data which is accurate as it is the source to settle legal disputes between land owners. A rudimentary Qld DCDB tileserver is available for tracing: In the iD editor use a custom background URL of{z}/{x}/{y}

Use common sense when utilising imported sources to map roads from, surveyed data from GPS handsets may be more accurate if possible check imagery and GPS data to confirm.

ABS boundary data can be useful for finding rivers and roads to map them in less populated areas, however where Bing or AGRI data is available it is usually at least as accurate.

Track Submission Guidelines

  • Reduce GPS tracks to a moderate number of nodes before uploading them to OSM. Please either trace a new way over the top of your track, or use the 'Delete unnecessary nodes from a way' button in JOSM, which is part of the UtilsPlugin. This does an excellent job of removing multiple nodes that lie along a straight line path.
  • Break long ways into ways with a maximum of a few hundred nodes. JOSM will cut ways into smaller portions. Select the way, hold down shift while selecting a node part way along the way, then press P to split (part) the ways.
  • Identify the source of your data. Mark it source=xxx, where source might be survey, bing, AGRI, landsat etc. Mappers who have have been leaving the source not stated are making differing assumptions on the source, either surveyed or made from aerial photography, so we need to be specific.
  • If you gather the names of places, ways etc differently than how data on the way or place was collected use (source:name=*). For example source=survey but source:name=knowledge.
  • Howto Edit GPX files
  • Convert a Tracklog to Data Automatically

External links