Last updated: 7Aug23

Trip Planning, Recording and Review using Digital Resources


 Windows desktop, iOS iPhone mobile phone for me. Test yourself on MacOS, tablets, Android mobiles.


AllTrails, BackCountry Navigator, ExpertGPS, GNSS Receivers, Getlost Maps, Google Earth, Google Maps, GPS Babel, GPS Visualizer, HandyGPS, NSW Bushwalking Maps, OziExplorer, Relive, SIX Geo PDF Maps, Other mobile navigation apps, Other Useful Mobile apps
Hint for using navigation apps on a mobile phone: Minimise battery drain by using Aeroplane Mode, close all other apps, lock and blank home screen when app screen not in use. iOS Guided Access (= Android Screen pinning) might be useful.

AllTrails (mobile and web)

  1. Download and install mobile from the App Store
  2. Access the website at
  3. Need to create a free account
  4. Has hundreds of thousands of worldwide curated and user trails; many, many around Canberra.
  5. Worth purchasing the Pro version of the AllTrails app for additional features ($59.99 for 3 year non-auto renew subscription in Nov 21). No cost version works well
  6. Worldwide topographic vector map from OSM. Satellite imagery. Pan and zoom, 2D and 3D view
  7. When creating a map (route), smart routing and free draw options.
  8. Has good digital elevation model (DEM) data, although Elevation Gain can seem a little high
  9. Can import and export gpx files
  10. Mark created maps as Private or for Public viewing
  11. Can download maps for offline navigation.

Advantages: No cost option works well, recommend purchasing Pro version. Quick and easy to use. A great planning tool.
Disadvantages: Cannot create waypoints when using AllTrails mobile as a planning tool (ie. Create Map). But can create waypoint at current location when using AllTrails mobile to navigate (…, Add a waypoint). Of course the web version allows creation of planned waypoints. A VERY WISE article here, on the limitations of not only AllTrails, but all community-sourced data.

BackCountry Navigator (mobile) 

  1. Android users swear by it
  2. Not so good for me on iPhone.


ExpertGPS (desktop)

  1. ExpertGPS – GPS Mapping Software
  2. I had a very brief look at this using the free 5-day trial download
  3. Although set up for the US, it seems to work on calibrated e-topo downloads of 1:25000 topo maps
  4. A plethora of features that may be of use to you.

Disadvantages: $33/yr (USD?)

Getlost Maps (web)

  2. This might be a source of Australian map images
  3. … more to come.


GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) Receivers

  1. There are a number of national satellite systems, such as GPS (Global Positioning System, US Defense), GLONASS (Russian), Galileo (European), BeiDou (Chinese), which can be used internationally. There are some additional regional systems (such as IRNSS, Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System)
  2. Whatever floats your boat eg. watches, handhelds
  3. My current go tos are a Garmin MAP66i handheld. My thoughts here. I guess it’s a 2-band receiver as, with the inReach facility operating, the only GNSS available is GPS. I also use a Garmin Epix Gen 2 watch (very initial thoughts here), which has multi-band, multi-frequency capability.
  4. Garmin devices are supported by a number of mobile apps and websites, including Garmin Connect, Garmin Explore; BaseCamp desktop app.


Google Earth

3 versions of Google Earth – GE on web, GE on mobile, GE Pro on desktop. All no cost. Require good hardware/software capability to render display.

GE (web)

  1. Go to The current experimental version of Earth is awesome.
  2. Select the desired area (eg. search for Canberra, Fly to your location, pan and zoom)
    1. Create your planned route – Do hamburger icon (ie. Menu), Projects, New Project, Create KML file, New feature, Add placemark or Draw line or shape. When finished, do vertical ellipsis, Export as KML file.
  3. Import a kml file – Do hamburger icon (ie. Menu), Projects, New Project, Import KML file from computer

Advantages: 2D and 3D imagery. No cost. Quick and easy to use. Can import and export kml files.
Disadvantages: Only manipulates kml files. Use GPSBabel to convert to/from gpx files. Or use GE Pro to import gpx file and export kml file.

GE Pro (desktop)

      1. Download from Earth Versions – Google Earth and install
      2. Pan and zoom to desired area
      3. Use Add placemark, Add path (add the path points before naming path)
      4. File, Save, Save Place As…, select file type as kml or kmz
      5. Convert to gpx (eg. use GPSBabel, GPS Visualizer)

Advantages: 2D and 3D imagery. Can open gpx files (change file type to Gps or All). Once a placemark is located, it can be edited to change its coordinates
Disadvantages: Can only save kml or kmz files. If gpx wanted, need to convert.

 GE (mobile) 

      1. … more to come


Google Maps (mobile and web)

‘nuff said.

GPS Babel (desktop)

      1. Download GPS Babel from and install
      2. Allows conversion of waypoints, tracks, routes from/to many GNSS receivers in varied file formats. Most useful is conversion between kml (not kmz) and gpx
      3. Works with trip data, not maps.

Advantages: No cost.
Disadvantages: Can’t convert from kmz. Use Google Earth to convert from kmz to kml.

GPS Visualizer (web)

      1. Go to and activate the Sandbox (drawing) link
      2. Center the map on a location eg. Canberra
      3. The default map is OMS + relief shading. Change it to au-NSW: SIXMaps topo
      4. Pan and zoom as required
      5. Using the wpt Drawing tool, mark waypoints. (from Adam 9Jun23) “The Sandbox doesn’t support permanently visible waypoint labels. You can mouse-over them though”; “Click on the waypoint and click [edit], or just right-click on it. Then it becomes draggable.”
      6. Using the trk Drawing tool, mark a route
      7. Using the GPX or KML Drawing tool, save the trip plan
      8. Can change the map to AERIAL/SATELLITE

Here’s a handy use of GPS Visualizer.

Advantages: No cost. Can draw waypoints and routes. Can import and export gpx files. World-wide application.
Disadvantages: The Sandbox doesn’t support permanently visible waypoint labels. You can mouse-over them though.

HandyGPS (mobile)

      1. Download from the App Store. $14.99 in June 22
      2. The app works well on Android, a little differently on iPhone
      3. Download map tiles from a number of map tile servers. The URLs for various servers are:  NSW{z}/{y}/{x}
        Australia wide (Geoscience Australia) – up to zoom level 12 only{z}/{y}/{x}
        Thanks to Anthony Dunk, the HandyGPS developer, and Peter Conroy, CBC’s smart phone navigation expert, for these URLs.
        See Anthony’s documentation on Tile Server URLs. Note that the Vic and SA URLs need a / before the {x}
      4. When the downloaded map is zoomed outside the default, non user set Zoom levels, map reverts to AppleMaps
      5. Note warning on first use to completely close the app when finished with it
      6. There is a quick start guide here. There is a manual here, but for the Android version.
      7. There is an Introduction to HandGPS for iPhone video here. There are videos for Android HandyGPS here, here and here.
      8. Screen pinning could be useful.

Disadvantages: iOS version uses AppleMaps rather than Google Maps as the base map.

NSW Bushwalking Maps (web) 

      1. Go to
      2. Pan and zoom to a desired location
      3. Display of cursor position lat/lon, UTM, 1:25000 map name
      4. Vector topographic map, aerial image
      5. Using the Draw Marker, can mark and name waypoints
      6. Using the Draw Polyline, can construct a route
      7. Can import and export gpx files

Advantages: No cost. Can draw waypoints and routes. Can import and export gpx files.
Disadvantages:  Ony NSW maps.

OziExplorer (desktop)

      1. Download from and install. Paid version $130.
      2. Maps: Over the years I have purchased TopoView2006 (NSW 1st edition and current (as at 2006!) topographic raster maps (1:25000 in eastern NSW and ACT); OZraster state topographic maps; GeoTIFFs from TASMAP eShop; a number of others
        OziExplorer can load internet maps such as OSM, Google Maps, Google Satellite, Open Topo Maps. There is no indication of currency and download of map tiles from servers is a bit slow
        You can calibrate maps in a lot of formats in OziExplorer. An example of this is to download a NSW 1:25000 geo PDF topographic map from SIX via , thus getting the latest published data, convert it to tiff (eg. using free Wondershare PDFelement), rename it as .tif (an Ozi requirement) and calibrate. Note that this requires you to specify three or more calibration points and this may introduce error if you’re not careful
      3. Pan and zoom.
      4. Create and save waypoints, tracks (the more track points created, the more the route equates a breadcrumb track), gpx files. Optionally view in Google Earth.
      5. Import and export gpx files
      6. Use custom Name Search files to quickly navigate to a location. See my notes here. I have a list of over 3000 waypoints of interesting (to me) places in the ACT, freely available for download and use in Ozi and other resources which can import gpx/kml files
      7. Heaps more of options – worth exploring. There is a trial version download for no cost
      8. Some old notes of mine here, some of which are still relevant.

Advantages: My go to for many years for trip planning and review. Manipulates my data store of wpt, trk and gpx file trip records
Disadvantages: Somewhat clunky compared to more recent website and mobile navigation tools.


  1. Check it out at
  2. Creates a video using a track and geotagged photos
  3. See a simple example at 2 Oct 22.


SIX Geo(referenced) PDF Maps (web, then desktop) 

      1. Go to
      2. Select a map, Download PDF
      3. Save it
      4. Open it in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC
      5. Tools, Measure, Geospacial Location Tool
      6. The mouse pointer changes to crosshairs and its position is shown in lat/lon
      7. Pan and zoom to an area of interest. It’s a vector image – notice that as you zoom in, more detail is shown and the image remains sharp.

Advantages: Latest official data from NSW LPI. Clean vector image
Disadvantages: Can’t plot waypoints and routes.

Other mobile navigation apps

There are lots of them. Eg. Gaia GPS, Avenza Maps,, OsmAnd.

Other Useful Mobile apps


      1. Download from the App Store. $7.99 in June 22
      2. Start the app and point your phone at hills. Up pops their names
      3. Take a photo and save neatly labelled photos
      4. Also website at

Trip Planning 

      1. Use you favourite resource to make a trip plan of waypoints, route/track. Save the plan as a gpx file.
      2. Import the gpx file into your preferred navigation app/device
      3. Have a route plan, at least in your head, of what to expect on the bounds eg. going, estimated time.

Trip Recording

Record the trip, using offline maps if possible and minimising battery drain. Save the record at the end of the trip.

Trip Review

Import the gpx file into your favourite resource to relive the pain/glory.

File formats – gpx or kml

Thanks to Peter Conroy (an absolute tech guru) for pointing out most of these issues.

  1. Most of the above resources can import, manipulate and export kml files, as well as gpx.
  2. kml files are smaller than gpx, particularly in the way kml stores a ‘breadcrumb’ track as a compact LineString whereas gpx stores Trk elements in a less efficient manner. You can see this by planning a route (breadcrumb), storing it as kml and gpx, and examining the files with a text editor.
  3. Still, with my preferred use of OziExplorer and MAP66i, and user community, I’ll stick with gpx files.
  4. An advantage for me of kml files output from OziExplorer is that they will preserves track colour.