Last updated 19Jun19
What is SIX?
Spacial Information eXchange is an online mapping tool for NSW developed by Land and Property Information, the area responsible for producing NSW (and ACT) topographic maps of the scale used by bushwalkers. The website is at http://maps.six.nsw.gov.au/ .
What can it do for you?
You can view and print topographic map segments at no cost; obtain coordinates of locations; and do many other things which will help you plan a great walk. Whilst it is important to carry the relevant paper topographic maps for the area you are walking in, having a map segment in your pocket gives quick access and preserves folded paper maps carried in your pack.
2017 update makes it even easier to use!
The NSW mapping authority has streamlined access to topographic maps. It’s now very easy to print out a map segment which covers your trip’s planned route. Go to https://maps.six.nsw.gov.au/etopo.html , select a map from the drop-down list (eg. TIDBINBILLA 1:25000), select PDF as the map format and activate Download PDF. You now have the map as a pdf which you can zoom and pan to the desired level of detail and print via screen capture or snip.
Enter the site at http://maps.six.nsw.gov.au/ .
Use the Zoom slider near the top left to zoom in and out. The map scale and distance scale are at the bottom left.
Use the Basemaps button at the top right to select the imagery that you want. The default is NSW imagery. To see a NSW map, click Basemaps, then click NSW Map. Use the slider to blend the imagery/map.
Want a topographic map? Click Looking for 1943 imagery? then Topo Maps (Current). Adjust the slider if necessary. For example, 100% Topo Maps (Current) looks like a paper topographic map. A blend of NSW Imagery/Topo Maps (Current) looks the same as Garmin’s Bird’s Eye service and doesn’t cost.
Use the Search function to find a location. Enter a name in the Search field. For example Namadgi. Clicking Search gives and warning message plus results; pressing enter calls the Advanced search and returns the results. Click the entry required. The view changes to centred on the feature and the feature is flagged. Close the Search dialogue to remove the flag.
Print a map segment
Set up the SIX map image at the location and scale that you want. Use the Print/PDF Tool, selected from the tools centre top. Set the orientation in the Template drop down. Enter a Title and Subtitle if desired. Click Preview. You can still pan the map, but not change the scale. Click Generate PDF. Print/Save the pdf from your browser.
After printing your map segment, it would be a good idea to return to SIX and use the Coordinate Tool (see below) to identify a couple of Easting and Northing lines and hand write them on your map.
What’s the GR of a location, or what’s at a particular location?
Use the Coordinate Tool, selected from the tools centre top, to find the coordinates of a location or the location of known coordinates. The default coordinate system is Geographic, which will use locations in Latitude/Longitude as decimal degrees. More useful for bushwalkers is the relevant GDA-MGAnn coordinate system. nn is the relevant UTM Zone Number. For the ACT (and most of NSW), use GDA-MGA55. Note that the Easting and Northing are in UTM format, so if you want MGRS (the usual GR) ignore the left-most digit of the Easting and the 2 left-most digits of the Northing. Values are in millimetres, so your can usefully ignore the three decimal places! If you’re navigating by GPSr, that should do down to the metre; if navigating via map and compass, perhaps delete 2 digits to the left of the decimal point – that will give you the location within a 100m square.
Let’s look at an example. ‘namadgi’ into the search function returns MOUNT NAMADGI at Easting 671000.559 and Northing 6048104.304 with GDA-MGA55 as the coordinate system. Pop GR 71000-48104 into your GPSr (if you’re on MGRS and WGS 84 or GDA 94) and use GR 710E 481N as a 6-figure grid reference if you’re navigating with map and compass (or GR71004810 if you want an 8-figure grid reference).
Using SIX map segments in OziExplorer
Open the required e-Topo Geo PDF map from https://maps.six.nsw.gov.au/etopo.html and download it. Convert it to tiff format. I’ve used a free (don’t know how long that will last for) Wondershare PDFelement. This conversion seems to compress the vector image in some way, as zooming the end product in oziExplorer shows some pixelation. Change the file extension from .tiff to .tif (this is a requirement of the OziExplorer input file type).
Open OziExplorer and do File, Load and Calibrate Map Image. Open the .tif file. Source the grid-magnetic angle for the segment from somewhere and enter it in the Setup tab.
For each of the 3 or more points, mark the location on the map and enter the UTM coordinates. Enter the appropriate zone in Point 1. Select the next Point tab and repeat the process. Save the .map file for future use.