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VIC, NSW, NZ Release Free Spatial Data

data.vic home page extract

Recent releases

July saw Victoria follow NSW in making available online, free spatial data free. New Zealand’s LINZ released a significant amount of aerial imagery with more to follow. I checked out the VIC release and created a quick guide for those not familiar with accessing spatial data.

Apart from being useful to create base maps, spatial data makes it easy to georeference existing maps. The most useful data sets for orienteering and rogaining are elevation (contours, spot heights), transport (road, rail, tracks), hydro (lakes, streams, watercourses), property boundaries and vegetation density. Most of those data sets have associated infrastructure but some might be obtained from a features data set.

The remainder of this post deals with my quick survey of the VIC offering. The situation is likely to be broadly similar in other states.


900 data sets released on

While Orienteering Victoria has had a free data licence for some years, acquiring a data set cost $200 for the work involved. Not to mention the time of orienteers in preparing and submitting the application.

Now you can download seemingly any or all of the six data sets useful to map sports to some degree.

Rail data on map
Preview of rail data overlaid on map

[unordered_list style=”green-dot”]

  • Elevation
  • hydro
  • transport
  • vegetation
  • features
  • property.


Another 100 data sets will be available by September.

Locating your data sets

Easiest is to download the Guide below and search using the ID attached to each recommended data set. If you wish to peruse at leisure then read on.

Each data set may appear in multiple categories. For sport purposes, it appears easiest to search for or select a data set name that includes the words VicMap 1:25,000. These data sets include subsets that otherwise you would need to locate and order individually. For example, Vicmap Hydro 1:25,000 includes subsets watercourses (rivers, streams, channels…), water points (ponds, dams…), water areas (lakes, reservoirs…).

However, the listings are not perfect. For example at time of writing, the Spatial | Transport section does not include VicMap Transport 1:25,000 but does include VicMap Vegetation 1:25,000 (I have notified this).

A quick guide

For the uninitiated, selection of an appropriate data set may seem daunting when you first hit For example, if you select Transport from the category list shown you end up with social data sets, not spatial data sets. You first have to select Spatial, then the relevant sub category.

And which data format you select depends upon your edition of OCAD. For Professional, select ESRI Shape. For Standard, select Autocad DXF.

To assist, while watching the exciting Tour de France Mont Ventoux stage, I delved into the web site and prepared a quick guide which you can download. It will not be perfect but it should help you avoid long detours. I will update it as necessary (let me know of any errors) and am working on some short video guides.

[ilink url=”” style=”download”]Guide to access free VIC spatial data.[/ilink]    1 page pdf. Updated 17 July 2013.

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Selecting OCAD Editions for Rogaining

OCAD 12 Professional image

Data Source

Data source is perhaps the key determinant to selection of an appropriate OCAD edition for rogaine mapping.

I am not apprised of the data sources of rogaining associations apart from Victoria. If the assumptions I have made are incomplete, you are welcome to contact me to discuss your situation.

MappersBezier curve image from an orienteering background

Mappers from an orienteering background who continue to use orienteering type data sources, are probably best to check out the companion post for orienteering clubs.

In particular be aware that if mapping at or near orienteering level of detail, it is likely OCAD Starter will not cope with the number of map objects on the larger rogaine maps.

Government and private data sources

Government may be state government units such as VicMap in Victoria or shire GIS units. Private would often include forestry companies and commercial geo data providers. The most comprehensive and easily usable data from these sources is in the format of ESRI Shape file sets.

Why not DXF? I used DXF files from VicMap until I found reasonably priced utility Arcv2CAD from Adelaide’s Guthrie CAD. It converts Shape files to DXF. I no longer had to research and be specific about the features I ordered for my DXF datasets. Just as importantly, the Shape file sets are far superior in terms of the wealth of information available to select for import.

With the advent of OCAD 10 and an upgrade to Professional I revelled in the ease of importing Shape files direct to OCAD. ArcV2CAD is amazingly flexible but that comes at a cost of learning a myriad of options pertaining to each Shape file set.

Existing map setsCorel Draw image

Some rogaining associations may have existing map sets that could be worth converting. For example, many of Victoria’s maps have been imported into Corel Draw from the Country Fire Authority (CFA) PDF map sets, and then massaged. Only OCAD Professional imports Corel Draw files (as PDFs).

An aspect to consider with existing maps sets is whether they are still appropriate. For example, the CFA map sets have long been superseded in terms of data accuracy and might be considered outside the pale of acceptability.

OCAD Editions

OCAD StarterOCAD 11 Starter icon

OCAD Starter imports DXF files and thus would be great value for the experienced DXF file user.

However, direct GPSr import and GPX file import indirectly from a GPSr, require OCAD Standard or Professional. And if mapping at or near orienteering detail, it is likely OCAD Starter will not cope with the number of map objects.

OCAD Standard

OCAD Standard appears to be of value to rogaine mapping only in the situation that Starter is OK apart from a limitation that Standard overcomes. For OCAD 11 Standard smallexample, Standard can import PDF files (from mapping agency downloads or Corel Draw).

OCAD Professional

Certainly Professional is the most productive edition for handling many and varied data sources especially Shape.

Other software

Guthrie CAD Viewer

Rogaine mappers might well consider purchasing CAD Viewer at just US$89. When I am handling DXF and Shape files I nearly always use CAD

Hepburn road names image
Shape: Hepburnshire road names

Viewer for a quick visual of the data. Apart from detecting use of a wrong DXF or Shape file, it also alerts me to having selected an oversize dataset that will import excessive objects. For example I have a dataset of the whole of Wombat Forest but use only a relatively small portion for any map.

Unfortunately there is no simple answer to having an oversize Shape dataset. At my request, OCAD AG have placed that facility on their wish list. Similarly, Guthrie CAD have added to their wish list the facility to output extent limited Shape files from Arcv2CAD.

CAD Viewer bonus

Rogaining purchasers of a new professional licence may elect to have CAD Viewer as their bonus instead of Course Setting.

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Easy EPS Viewing

EPS viewing is easy after all. Missing from the digital print map Guides was a method of viewing a Condes course planning EPS file without having to buy Adobe Acrobat. Alister Metherell of NZ alerted me to IrfanView having that capability. As an IrfanView user for yonks I was very surprised but knowing Alister I didn’t doubt it. An email exchange later, Alister suggested a reason for EPS viewing throwing up an error for me.

Turned out that I hadn’t bothered reading notes for the IrfanView Postscript plugin and therefore had not installed GhostScript which the plugin needs. Now I can view an EPS even faster than using Acrobat. A $10 donation to IrfanView is certainly a significant saving over hundreds for Acrobat.

The Guides have been updated.

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Breaking Up Seems Hard to Do

Get On Song with the Break

Breaking control circles and lines on our orienteering maps seems to be a dying practice judging by this year’s events (championships excluded). That some maps had no broken circles at all seems to indicate a lack of appreciation as to why it should be done. Other maps didn’t go far enough thus also contributing to unfairness on those courses. New course planners could be forgiven for such lapses. Is it that there is a trend to not having controllers and thus a lost opportunity to educate course planners? Continue reading Breaking Up Seems Hard to Do

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Magnetic Variation a No No?!*

Yes Yes, Magnetic Variation is a No No, so here’s the Real Angle

Drifting off course just might not be your fault on a long compass leg. This year I happened to notice a few orienteering and rogaining maps with the wrong correction angle applied or specified. There may well be a few more like that.

Intrigued, I did a bit of sleuthing and came up with a convenient culprit Continue reading Magnetic Variation a No No?!*