Queensland historical maps georeferencing program
Calling all map enthusiasts!
Are you interested in exploring the history of Queensland through its maps? Would you like to use new technology to identify past and present railways, roads, towns and cities?
If so, we would love your help with our georeferencing program. Started in 2019 as a pilot project, 'Old Maps News Tricks' was so successful that it is now an ongoing program with a new name.
DNRME has thousands of historical maps dating back to 1841. Imagine being able to view and search these historical maps in a modern mapping system such as the Queensland Globe.
Help us give these old maps new life!
The process of georeferencing is easy - it involves assigning geographical points in common between the old and new maps and then linking the historical map to its spatial location. The result is that historical maps can be viewed alongside their modern-day counterparts.
Before you start
We recommend first-time users watch the Georeferencer demo video.
How to georeference a historical map
1. Open the georeferencing application
Click the ‘Open georeferencer’ button to load the application.
The application will open in a side-by-side view, with the historical map appearing on the right and its modern counterpart on the left. On the modern map (left) you will need to zoom in to Queensland to start.
2. Choose a basemap
Select the earth icon on the left side of your modern map to open up the basemap options. Here you can choose to use one of the standard basemaps or to import the Queensland Government Topographic Base Map service. The Queensland Government service will be easier to use for these maps as it shows more detailed landmarks, roads and land parcels.
To add the service, copy the following URL and paste it into the ‘Add a custom map service’ box. Select 'Queensland Topographic Map Cache'.
3. Identify and assign your points
You can choose to input your points visually (by zooming in and assigning) or by entering coordinates. First, find a recognisable point such as a town, river or road name. Next, find the corresponding location on the modern map. Use the search option at the top left if necessary.
Click on either map to assign your first point and then assign the corresponding point on the other map. Add as many points as you can over the entire map. We recommend you assign 10 to 20 control points to correctly georeference the historical map. Keep in mind that the more points added, the better the map’s accuracy. Existing points can be moved around or deleted if needed.
Make sure you choose points that are unlikely to have changed over time. Built elements such as railways and roads (especially where they intersect) may be more reliable than creeks or coastlines, which may have shifted due to natural processes.
To prevent issues with the georeferencing process, please do not use the latitude and longitude markers on the map.
4. Save your work
Select ‘Save’ to store the points you have added. After saving, you will be given the option to view or compare and overlay the map.
5. Check for accuracy
Select ‘Compare & Overlay’ to see the historical map overlaid on the modern map. Use the opacity slider to check the accuracy of your points. Continue to make any required adjustments by alternating between the georeference and view tabs. Make sure you save any changes each time.
Once you have finished georeferencing a map, you can choose to do another map (click on 'Next', or 'All maps' to select from a list) or close your browser window.
Exporting or uploading maps
If you want to export your georeferenced map or upload maps of your own for georeferencing, you will need to create an account and sign in.
Recently georeferenced maps
Last updated 4 March 2020