GHAP Guide

Access the Gazetteer of Historical Australian Placenames

Gazetteer of Historical Australian Placename Survey v1.0 beta is built from Australian National Placenames Data (ANPS), for the first time aggregating 'all' Australian placenames from state government and other sources, including both up to date and old placenames. This is a beta version with planned enhancements.

We are greatly indebted to ANPS for gathering this data and to Greg Windsor and David Blair for helping us make it available. The TLCMap contribution has been to parse free text in approximately 2/3 of the 334208 places recorded to extract latitude and longitude coordinates, and to build this searchable web interface that can also be accessed as a web service delivering results as KML or GeoJSON.

The gazetteer will be a valuable resource feeding into other TLCMap activity. It will be essential for 'Text Map Text' for example, which auto detects placenames in texts. It will be useful for humanities researchers and the public for their own needs, and will potentially feed into global gazetteer efforts to ensure Australia is 'on the map'.

TLCMap developers: Ben McDonnell

The matching the TLCMap staff have done to obtain latitude and longitude is automated. This means we may have made some errors. Please contact us about any errors in places.

Of 334208 places in the ANPS data there were a few thousand that the TLCMap team could not associate with any specific point so the LGA was used instead. There remain only 1328 places for which we could not devise an automated way to find any coordinate at all. The way the coordinates were obtained is indicated in the results in the 'Original Data Source' field. In some cases ANPS also provides more detailed information on where they obtained the data.

The ability for users to add place names means that indigenous people can add any places they wish to be publicly known or to name places in language.

Anybody adding indigenous placenames should respect the wishes of indigenous people and observe protocols for consultation and protection of indigenous knowledge, places and culture. Do not add places that are secret or that could result in desecration. One suggestion to promote places but ensure they are accessed in the right way is to put the contact point to arrange access, rather than the place itself on the map (eg: if there is a traditional ochre mine called 'Red Ochre' to which guides or tours can be arranged, add the site of the organisation arranging access, and name the place 'Red Ochre Access Point' or similar, as preferred.)

The gazetteer currently includes indigenous placenames that are part of the Australian National Placenames Data. We have plans to include some indigenous placename data from other sources but we are happy to hear of any other major sources of indigenous placename data to include.

This is the first version and a 'beta' version. That means we are aware it has some problems and that we would like to hear of any other problems you might find as part of testing, to make it better in future versions. Please contact us if you have helpful suggestions. The major phases of future development are:

Any of the search features can be used alone, or in combination. In all cases, just use the magnifying glass button near the top to run the search.

Fuzzy Search The simplest search is just to put in a placename at the top and click the magnifying glass button. This will conduct a basic 'fuzzy' search. The first results will be exact matches, and then places with similar spelling will be matched (at present this similar spelling is limited to spellings starting with the same letter.)

Exact Match Just tick the exact match box to get only placenames with the precise spelling you entered.

Filter Filter results by LGA, State or by a range of record IDs (this can be handy if you want to get large subsets of data exported as KML files or similar. The full dataset produces a KML file that is too large and unusable). For example, you might want to find only those places called 'Newcastle' that are within NSW. NB: you do not have specify a place name. You could simply search for all places in an LGA if you want.

Bounding Box This is another filter. On the map, click the button that has a little pencil and square on it. Use this to draw a rectangle on the map. This will put latitutes and longitudes in the bounding box fields. If you know specific coordinates you want to search within, you can just enter them directly. This will find all places within the rectangle. NB: As with other filters you can search, for example, for all places named 'Newcastle' within the bounding box, or not specifying a placename, just get all placenames within the rectangle, or all places with the rectangle and within an LGA, etc etc.

Format The results can be returned as a web page (default, if you just want to browse on the web), or as KML (good for Google Earth), GeoJSON or a CSV file (CSV files are 'comma seperated' and can easily be imported to Excel).

Search Multiple Placenames To find multiple places as one, make a plain text file (in Notepad or other text editor, with the .txt file extension) with one placename on each line, and upload it.

Web services are typically used by developers. You can construct a query using a URL (GET parameters) to return results. Note that simply doing a search through the normal GUI interface produces a URL with the same get parameters the webservice would use - simple. Eg: to fuzzy search for 'newcastle' within NSW and get the results as KML just use: Easy as! Here's the full details (note that filters are treated as logical AND conditions, ie: set intersection. There is no OR functionality.)

Aliases that reflect Trove web services APIs have been added for ease of use.

ParameterTrove AliasDescriptionConstraints
nameexactqAn exact match between the input and placenames in the registrySearching ‘Newcastle’ will only show exact matches of ‘Newcastle’ not entries such as ‘Newcastle City’
fuzzynameqA fuzzy search that first searches for entries where the placename CONTAINS the input (%input%), and then checks for placenames that SOUND LIKE the input (mysql soundex). Orders by exact match, starts with input, contains input, then most sounds like inputCan handle slight typos (eg ‘Nwecastel’), but must start with the correct letter. Needs adjusting or a better solution
anps_idExact match for an item in the registry with that anps id
lgal-lgaAn exact match on the LGA for registry items. Input form contains an autocomplete feature for lga.Unsure if gazetteer contains full LGA data for all entries
statel-placeSearch only for entries in this state
fromsSearch for entries whose anps_id is equal to or greater than this value
toeSearch for entries whose anps_id is equal to or less than this value
formatencodingReturn the result in the given format

Formats are: html, csv, kml, json

Selecting csv will automatically download the file instead of displaying in browser


Will automatically download the results to file if download=on

Will only work if format is kml,json, or csv

Options are on or off(default)\


Specifies how many results to display per page when viewing in browser.

Choosing a lower paging will speed up loading, as it only queries x results at a time.

Do not use for non-html formats, it will simply limit the output to x results.

If you want your kml/json results split use chunks instead.


Split the download into x chunks for kml/json

Downloads a zip file with content listed as x children, with a parent/master file referencing them

Requires format as kml/json and download=on

Needs further testing,

not currently on the form.

Unsure of how some geographical programs can handle parent/child outputs


Specifies a bounding box to search for results within, using decimal format for latitude and longitude.

The order is

minimum longitude

minimum latitude

maximum longitude

maximum latitude

Eg: bbox=143,-34,144,-33

Shows results where latitude is between -34 and -33

AND longitude is between 143 and 144

Requires all 4 to have an input or it will be ignored.

Can use either commas or %2C to separate values

Gets a little confusing with negatives sometimes, will be simpler with a map widget