Australian Tagging Guidelines/Roads

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The mapping of Australian roads is broadly consistent with the global guidelines in OpenStreetMap. This page provides supplementary guidance specific to Australia and its unique infrastructure.

Road Hierarchy

The implementation of highway=* classifications varies significantly from country to country. The standard practice in Australia is generally consistent with the global definition, and the examples below can help contextualise the application of this hierarchy for local mappers.

There is no direct correlation between the road classification and route numbers. The classifications provided below are a guide, but mappers should classify highways based on the actual nature of the road, rather than any formal route designation.

Australian Road Hierarchy
Tag Rendering Classification Description Example
highway=motorway Rendering-highway motorway neutral.png M roads
Motorways, freeways, and freeway-standard roads. Urban The metropolitan motorway/freeway network. relation M4 Western Motorway, Greater Sydney
Rural Generally will be divided roads with 2 or 3 lanes in each direction, 100km/h+ speed limit, limited access via interchanges, and no traffic lights. relation Federal Highway (M23), New South Wales
highway=trunk Rendering-highway trunk carto.png A roads
M (Non-Fwy)
The next-most important roads. Major highways, trunk routes spanning connecting population centres. Urban Major highways and cross-city roads that don't qualify as a motorway. relation Canning Highway, Greater Perth
Rural Important highways connecting major population centres. relation Landsborough Highway, Western Queensland
highway=primary Rendering-highway primary neutral.png B roads

Other State Roads

The next-most important roads. Major connecting roads and highways. Urban Other cross-city routes and arterial roads.

State roads that are not Class A roads in some metropolitan areas (except transit ways).

relation Tiger Brennan Drive, Darwin
Rural State maintained roads connecting major population centres and the trunk network. relation The Outback Highway, South Australia
highway=secondary Rendering-highway secondary neutral.png C roads

Regional Roads (NSW)

The next-most important roads. Urban Major roads within a local area, often connecting neighbouring suburbs. relation Invermay Road, Invermay
Rural Roads providing links to smaller population centres and the primary network. way Wallabadah Road, Quirindi
highway=tertiary Rendering-highway tertiary neutral.png D roads
Collector Roads

Distributor B/Local Distributor (WA)

The next-most important roads. Urban Minor through roads and routes within a local area. Often act as feeders to residential streets and are managed by local councils. way Skye Road, Frankston
Rural Roads providing links towns, villages, points of interest. way Springs Road, Kangaroo Island
highway=unclassified Rendering-highway unclassified.png Industrial Roads (WA) Minor roads that are neither tertiary or residential roads. Not generally through routes. Urban Other streets. way Lawrence Hargrave Way, Parafield
Rural Other named minor roads. way Ruwolts Road, Boomanoomana
highway=residential Rendering-highway residential.png Access Roads (WA) Residential and other local streets. Urban Residential Streets. way Wayfarer Avenue, Mermaid Waters
Rural Local streets in and around towns and rural areas. way Gurney Way, Eucla
highway=service Rendering-highway service.png Service and access roads Urban Service and access roads. Also used for small rear-access lanes. way Lennox Crossing, Acton
Rural Same as urban. way Toms Ridge Road, Christmas Island
highway=track Rendering-highway track.png Service and access roads that aren't part of the general road network. Generally not paved, often not public access for vehicles. Urban Unpaved access tracks and paths in urban parklands, fire tracks, etc. way Blackbutt West Firetrail, Blackbutt
Rural Fire trails, forest drives, 4WD tracks, and similar roads. way Telephone Swamp Road, Tibooburra

Other Roads

Other Australian Roads
Tag Rendering Description Example Image
highway=living_street Living street osm.png A "shared zone" thoroughfare with low speed limits (often 10-20km/h) where pedestrian traffic is given higher priority over vehicles. Often used on major pedestrian shopping roads or where pedestrians may cross the road unexpectedly.

Does not include "shared zone" parking aisles/driveways: use designation=shared_zone.

way Wells Street, Redfern
"Shared Zone" (signage) roads that do not qualify as a living street, such as "shared zone" parking aisles and driveways..

way Redcliffe Parade, Redcliffe Reflective shared zone and give way to pedestrians signs in Redcliffe, QLD.png

Re pipestem discussions see talk-au Sept 21, Mar 22,
Possible indicators of shared driveways vs streets include:
named streets,
house numbers,
rubbish collection location,
road markings,
sign posts,
nature strips
letter box locations
breaks the kerb with a ramp or level
has a kerb
private or public land
maintained by government or owners
part of the public road network
access control: gates and signage

Road Details

Surface and Road Seal

Portions of the primary [W] Diamantina Developmental Road (Way 231792517) in Queensland are unpaved.

Australia is the sixth largest country by area in the world and is one of the most sparsely populated. Australia's population is heavily concentrated on the coast, and the interior of the country is dominated by harsh, unforgiving terrain. Construction and maintenance of paved roads in profoundly remote areas is both impractical and uneconomical, and some outback highways are challenging roads only navigable by certain vehicles. Due to the highly variable standard of maintenance of roads in Australia the classification of a road cannot be used to infer the type of road surface. The surface=* tag should be added to roads wherever possible, particularly in regional and rural areas, for this reason.

Example of an important, unpaved road in OpenStreetMap: way Diamantina Developmental Road.

Road Quality and 4WD-only roads

4WD recommended sign on the relation Canning Stock Route

The Australian usage of the term "[W] four-wheel drive" (4WD) has caused confusion for international mappers in the past, who may be more familiar with terms such as "[W] off road vehicle".

The tracktype=* tag can be used to denote the navigability of an unsealed road. In addition to the documented, globally accepted values grade1grade5, the tag has been used to denote difficult tracks. In addition, the tag 4wd_only=* can be used to indicate signage recommending vehicle suitability. These tags are not currently rendered in the standard OSM style (see Rendering of road surface in standard OSM style) but are still useful for data consumers.

Track Types 6—8 usage in Australia
Track type code Description Aus. Usage Example Image
tracktype=grade6 Roads that are best navigated by off road vehicles. Conventional road vehicles may be able to use these roads, but may challenge inexperienced drivers or risk vehicle damage. way Nyangumarta Highway image needed
tracktype=grade7 Roads that can only be navigated by off road vehicles. Conventional road vehicles would not be able to use these roads at all. way Rudall River Road image needed
tracktype=grade8 Roads so treacherous they can only be navigated by experienced off road drivers in specially equipped or modified vehicles. way Kangaroo Hill Track image needed
4WD road suitability
4wd_only code Description Aus. Usage Example Image
4wd_only=recommended Roads that are best navigated by off road vehicles. Conventional road vehicles may be able to use these roads, but may challenge inexperienced drivers or risk vehicle damage. way Mount Korong Firebreak Track image needed
4wd_only=yes Roads that can only be navigated by off road vehicles. Conventional road vehicles would not be able to use these roads at all. way Kidson Track image needed
4wd_only=extreme Roads so treacherous they can only be navigated by experienced off road drivers in specially equipped or modified vehicles. way Ruby Gap Park image needed

Dry Weather Only / Seasonal Roads

Roads that are only suitable in certain kinds of weather can be mapped using conditional restrictions, or seasonal=*.

An example of these are roads, tracks & walking trails in the Victorian High Country, that are usually closed from June - October. In addition to normal highway=* tagging, they could also be tagged as access:conditional=no @ (Jun-Oct) + seasonal=yes

Road Rules

School Zones

School zones can be mapped using the maxspeed:conditional=* tag in conjunction with the "SH" opening hours syntax. Each state and territory has its own speed zone laws and the table below can be a helpful guide to tagging these restrictions accurately. Most states introduce a 40km/h or 60km/h speed limit during times where children are likely to be present.

Example Speed Zones by State/Territory
S/T Description Tag Suggestion Example Signage
ACT 40km/h between 8am and 4pm Monday-Friday. The school zone signs are folded up and hidden during school holidays. maxspeed:conditional=40 @ (Mo-Fr 08:00-16:00; SH off) way Davenport Street, Dickson outside Emmaus Christian School. School zone in Campbell ACT.jpg
NSW Standard Times are 8am to 9:30am, and 2:30pm to 4pm. Individual zones can vary. maxspeed:conditional=40 @ (Mo-Fr 08:00-09:30,14:30-16:00; PH off; SH off) way Yass Street, Queanbeyan outside Queanbeyan East Primary School Reflective LED school zone sign.jpg
NT Standard Times are 7am to 5pm on School Days. Individual zones can vary maxspeed:conditional=40 @ (Mo-Fr 07:00-17:00; PH off; SH off) way Belyuen Road, Rosebery outside Palmerston College image needed
QLD Standard times are 7am to 9am, and 2pm - 4pm on School Days. Individual zones can vary. maxspeed:conditional=40 @ (Mo-Fr 07:00-09:00,14:00-16:00; PH off; SH off) way Yundah Street, Shorncliffe outside Shorncliffe State School and St Patrick's College School zone in Shorncliffe, QLD.png
SA School Zones operate at all times, "when children present". This includes pedestrians and cyclists. maxspeed:conditional=25 @ ("children present") way Long Street, Whyalla outside Long Street Primary School
TAS The times for each school vary, but are generally consistent with the times used in other states Varies - see other states above. way George Street, Currie outside King Island District High School
VIC Standard Times are 8am to 9:30am, and 2:30pm to 4pm. Individual zones can vary maxspeed:conditional=40 @ (Mo-Fr 08:00-09:30,14:30-16:00; PH off; SH off) way Great Alpine Road, Bruthen outside Bruthen Primary School AU-VIC road sign R4-V105 (40).svg
WA There are three different standards for school zone times.
Northern WA is 7:30am-9am, 2pm-3:30pm
Carnarvon is 7:30am-9am, 2pm-4pm
Rest of WA is 7:30am-9am and 2:30pm-4pm.
maxspeed:conditional=40 @ (Mo-Fr 7:30-09:00,14:00-15:30; PH off; SH off)
maxspeed:conditional=40 @ (Mo-Fr 7:30-09:00,14:00-16:00; PH off; SH off)
maxspeed:conditional=40 @ (Mo-Fr 7:30-09:00,14:30-16:00; PH off; SH off)
way Kent Street, Kensington outside Kent Street Senior High School

Speed Limits and Traffic Enforcement

It's good practice to include the maxspeed=* tag on each road, the source:maxspeed=* (indicating where the speed limit is sourced), and the maxspeed:type=* (indicating the nature of the speed limit) where possible.

Common source:maxspeed=* and maxspeed:type=* values
Value Description Aust. Usage
source:maxspeed=local_knowledge If you know the speed limit from local knowledge.
source:maxspeed=survey If the speed limit was sourced from a survey.
Value Description Aust. Usage
maxspeed:type=sign For a signposted limit.
maxspeed:type=AU:urban For tagging an implicit speed limit in urban areas (60km/h in NT; 50km/h elsewhere).
maxspeed:type=AU:rural For tagging an implicit speed limit in rural areas (110km/h in NT, WA and some parts of QLD; 100km/h elsewhere).

Local Traffic Only

A NSW local traffic only sign

"Local Traffic Only" signs are common in residential areas in Australia and are intended to discourage roads from being used by through traffic. As these signs are not legally enforceable, the tag-value combination motor_vehicle:advisory=destination is the preferred tagging.

Example of a 'Local Traffic Only' road. way The Boulevard, Port Melbourne.

Heavy Vehicle Enforcement

There are multiple different types of cameras that monitor heavy goods vehicles and their compliance with regulations. These cameras are operated by the New South Wales and South Australian government in their respective states, and the federal National Heavy Vehicle Regulator elsewhere. These cameras can be mapped using highway:hgv=fatigue_management_camera and/or enforcement:hgv=fatigue_management_camera.

A sign permitting u-turn's at traffic signals.

U-turn at traffic signals

Generally, u-turn's are not permitted at traffic signals however in some cases, you are permitted to if there is a "U-turn permitted" sign. If a sign is typically present at the traffic signals but has been removed, it is illegal to conduct a u-turn. Due to this, it is recommended that a relation uses the restriction:conditional=* tag instead of having no turn restriction at the intersection.

restriction:conditional=no_u_turn @ ("If the u-turn permitted sign has been removed")
note=U-turn permitted by sign
A relation U-turn permitted relation example in OpenStreetMap where a U-turn permitted sign is present at the traffic signals.

Road Access and Roadside Features

Private Roads

Private roads can be mapped using the appropriate access=* restriction. This includes access roads on public land (sometimes sign as "Management Vehicles Only", or similar).

Roadside Rest Areas

There are many different tags that mappers can use to accurately describe a roadside rest area. Most common is the global tag: highway=rest_area.

Some rest areas are located within a town park and should be tagged as leisure=park. Larger rest areas may have separate amenity=parking areas mapped, and dedicated heavy vehicle parking can be mapped using access=no with hgv=designated (and capacity:hgv=* if known).

When camping is permitted, the rest area can also be tagged as a tourism=camp_site, with the maximum camping time indicated with maxstay=*.

Driver Revivers

Driver Reviver stations are often located at rest areas, but good practice is to leave these temporary services unmapped.


Milestones are the plates on a post at the side of a highway that indicate e.g. "MH 10" , which in this case indicates that Mandurah is 10km away. They should be mapped by adding a node at that location beside the road, tagged as: highway=milestone + destination=* + distance=*

OIC distance sign MH 10.jpg

Road Mapping Techniques


As a general rule, all roundabouts in Australia are drawn out as a way with the junction=roundabout tag, in a clockwise direction. Single node highway=mini_roundabouts aren't used at all.


Always use official sources, such as those from the state or territory government listed on the Australian Data Sources page.

Dual Road Naming

A common feature of many roads in Australia is dual naming. This often occurs a major highway passes through a small town, when a local name is used in preference to the "highway name". The local name is normally the most suitable choice for the name=* tag, and other names can be included in the alt_name=* tag. As always, using a note=* can help future mappers understand the issue.

name=Jacaranda Street
alt_name=Calder Highway
Example of a dual named road: relation Calder Highway is named way Jacaranda Street as it passes through Red Cliffs.

Unnamed Roads

Where a road does not have an official name, use the noname=yes tag.

Gazetted 'Paper' Roads

There are many rural roads that are not trafficable despite having been gazetted. Some may be overgrown, sold to adjacent property owners, or may have never even been built. When mapping these roads, always ensure to use the most up-to-date imagery (or, even better, survey), and take care not to confuse features such as fences, dry creek beds, etc for a road.

These roads can be mapped with the appropriate tags indicating their condition, access, and trafficability.

  • For private roads, use the appropriate access=* tag.
  • Use the current state of the road to determine the appropriate highway=* tag
  • For former and proposed roads, use the appropriate lifecycle prefix.


Each state and territory has its own system for allocating route numbers. Many states have moved to the newer, "alphanumeric" numbering system for route allocation. Other states are still in the process of transitioning to the new system, or haven't started transitioning at all, and continue to use the "old style" numeric routes. Both route types of route numbers should be documented with the ref=* and network=* tags

Network tags

The network=* tag should be used to identify the state or territory in which a road is located, while the ref=* tag should contain the route number. For alphanumeric route numbers, the ref=* should include the route letter prefix.

Route Tagging
Alpha-numeric routes












ref=route number
ref=route number
Example of an alphanumeric route:


(relation C123) in Victoria
Numeric routes
National Route
Australian Route 79.svg
Alt National Route
Australian Alternate Route 1.svg
National Highway
Australian National Route 1.svg
State Route
Australian State Route 66.svg
Alt State Route
Australian Alternate State Route 153.png
Australian Metroad Route 2.svg
Tourist Route
Australian Tourist Route 2.svg
ref=route number
ref=route number
ref=route number
ref=route number
ref=route number
ref=route number
ref=route number
Example of a numeric route: Australian State Route 116.svg (relation State Route 116) in Western Australia
Special Tourist Routes
State_Strategic_Touring_Routes_in_Queensland (QLD)


Tourist Drives (Logos) (QLD)
(various shields - see TMR)
Brisbane Valley Heritage Trail Great Bunya Tourist Drive Cobb & Co Tourist Drive
ref=route ref
network=AU:QLD:TD:Brisbane_Valley network=AU:QLD:TD:Bunya network=AU:QLD:TD:Cobb_Co
Moreton Bay Tourist Drive Great Barrier Reef Tourist Drive Cane Cutter Way Tourist Drive
network=AU:QLD:TD:GBR network=AU:QLD:TD:Cane_Cutter
Cassowary Tourist Drive Dinosaur Way Tourist Drive Muttaburrasaurus Tourist Drive
network=AU:QLD:TD:Cassowary network=AU:QLD:TD:Dinosaur network=AU:QLD:TD:Muttaburrasaurus
Example of a special tourist route: relation Cobb & Co Tourist Drive

Route and Highway Relations

A illustrative example of how a route reference, highway name and street name can vary. This would be correctly mapped with one relation for the route number (C413), and another for the "Blue Highway".

Each route number should have its own route=road relation consisting of each constituent road.

Example of a route relation: relation B45 in South Australia, consisting of Ferry Road, Langhorne Creek Road, Wellington Road, Bridge Road, and Wellington-Strathalbyn Road.

Many named routes and highways will be known by different names as they pass through towns and cities; most famously the Princes Highway. These major routes should also be given their own, separate, relation.

name=Pacific Motorway
Example of a route relation: relation Pacific Motorway between Gold Coast and Brisbane, It itself is one part of the larger M1 route.

Interstate Routes

When a route crosses a state boundary, the route relation should be split into multiple single state routes and added to a "national" super-relation.

Example of a route relation: relation B12 between Tailem Bend, South Australia and Tooleybuc. It's members are relation B12 (SA) and relation B12 (VIC).

Old Route Scheme

The previous tagging guidelines documented a different scheme for mapping routes and route numbers.

Alphanumeric Highway Shields







ref=Mnn ref=Ann ref=Bnn ref=Cnn ref=Dnn ref=Rnn
Numeric Highway Shields
National Route Alt Nat. Route National Highway State Route Tourist Route







where nn is a one- or two-digit number.

Network Ref SVG Image Description/Notes
T brisbane_valley
Shield australia tourist brisbane.svg
Brisbane Valley Heritage Trail (TL-Q01_2). Non-commercial use only.
T bunya
Shield australia tourist bunya.svg
Great Bunya Tourist Drive (TL-Q01_4). Non-commercial use only.
T cobbco
Shield australia tourist wheel.svg
Cobb and Co Tourist Drive (TL-Q01_1). Non-commercial use only.
T dugong
Shield australia tourist dugong.svg
Moreton Bay Tourist Drive (TL-Q01_9). Non-commercial use only.
T muttaburrasaurus
Shield australia tourist muttaburrasaurus.svg
Muttaburrasaurus Tourist Drive (TL-Q01_3). Non-commercial use only.
Dinosaur Way Tourist Drive (TL-Q01_5).
Cassowary Tourist Drive (TL-Q01_6).
Cane Cutter Way Tourist Drive (TL-Q01_7).
Great Barrier Reef Tourist Drive (TL-Q01_8).