The State Library aims to collect a copy of every new map and chart produced in Western Australia and is a legal deposit library for all Government and private publishers. The extensive collection of original cartographic and nautical charts by early Dutch and French explorers, the first surveys of the Swan River Colony, architectural plans and drawings produced by Lands & Surveys, Public Works, Government Railways, and other federal and state government agencies. There are over 30,000 sheets held in the collection, including print, hand-drawn and digital editions.

Aerial photographic maps

The Battye Library holds several aerial photograph sequences (CN15 & CN16/1 & CN16/2). Aerial photographic maps can help track changes in an area. For example, in 1942, the RAAF carried out an aerial survey of Perth showing houses and buildings there at the time, from the air.

Aerial photograph of ploughed land and a farm dam near Northam 1988

Cadastral maps

Cadastral maps show the boundaries of land, often with areas of individual land parcels for describing ownership. These maps may also depict other features relating to land use and value. Produced by WA’s Lands and Surveys Department from c1910 to the 1960s (CN77). Known as chain series (Bonnes projection), because they are based upon the imperial measurement - the chain.

80 chains equal 1 mile or 1.6 kilometres. The 80 chain series has the greatest coverage across Western Australia. The 240, 300, 800 chain series covers most of WA. With 4, 20 and 40 chains available for the Perth metropolitan area.

Western Australia Bonnes 4 chain cadastral series, No. 117, Rivervale, 1953

Historic maps

The Battye Library has many original cartographic and nautical charts by early Dutch and French explorers and the first surveys of the Swan River Colony around Australia and the southern hemisphere.

Polus Antarcticus Henricus Hondius excudi, Hendrik Hondius, 1641

Military maps

The Battye Library holds several sequences of army maps produced over the years by Australia and other countries. These are all topographic maps showing considerable infrastructure details. These maps are excellent for the sites of schools, telephone exchanges, farms, etc.

Australia Soviet military city plans, Perth South

Mining lease maps

Battye Library holds a series of maps (CN7) that assist researchers looking for mining lease locations and numbers in various areas. Maps are catalogued individually and published as Mines Department 212C (list in CN7). The State Records Office also hold an index of mining leases held to individuals and companies (1892-1909).

Map showing gold mining leases at Kalgoorlie, East Coolgardie Goldfields

Nautical charts

Nautical charts show coastal features, navigational aids and bathymetrical information to assist travelling around coastal Australia. The State Library collection includes charts published from the 1870s by the British Admiralty (CN73), later by the Australian Hydrographic Office and versions by WA’s Department of Transport suitable for small watercraft. These are available digitally. Scales vary chart to chart depending upon the area covered.

Australia Soviet military city plans, Perth South

Real estate plans

The collection has approximately 1050 early real estate plans of Perth suburbs (CN1 & CN3). Many of the plans have now been catalogued and digitised. Prepared by various real estate companies between the 1890s to 1930s, the plans mainly cover the Perth metropolitan area, with some country town coverage.

Scarborough Beach Estate, 1915

Topographic maps

Topographic maps present the horizontal and vertical positions of the features shown, using metric measurements. Produced by a Federal body, currently Geoscience Australia, formerly NATMAP, since World War 2 with coverage for the whole of Australia. There are different mapping scales produced, giving different levels of detail.

The Battye Library holds the scales of 1:1 000 000, 1:250 000, 1:100 000 and 1:50,000  for Western Australia. These have been published digitally since 2015. There are three separate records for the 1:250,000 series, each published from 1958-1996, 1996-2002 and 2006 onwards.

WA townsite map series

This series of maps consists of about 958 cadastral plans of various Western Australia towns from c1890 to the 1970s. They show street names, location numbers, subdivisions, reserves and town boundaries. Some towns may have an abundance of maps relating to them, others a single map.

Unlike many other series, the townsite map series have been individually catalogued. To locate a plan of a particular town, simply enter the name of the town and the word townsite in the keyword option of a map search. Map reference numbers can be located in the online catalogue.

Tools for finding and accessing WA map collections

Access to the published collection of maps and plans is via the State Library Catalogue and some card catalogues and indexes. Full holdings of map series are usually shown on index maps kept in the Library.

Dead Reckoning - Maps

Dead Reckoning has useful information on SLWA’s map collections.

Index maps

A number of the map collections have large index maps that show the full map series holdings within the State Library collections. The index maps are available on Level 3 of the State Library building and some digitised versions of index maps have been added to the catalogue record.

Cartographic notes

Cartographic Notes(CN) are library finding aids for a particular series of maps or charts and can be used in conjunction with the index maps. Digitised versions of Cartographic Notes have been added to the map series catalogue record. Some map series contain many maps and/or editions (Lands & Surveys Chain Series, Real Estate Plans, Mining Maps etc.) and so only the series has been catalogued, not each individual map. The Cartographic Notes will list all the maps in that particular series, including map number, title, publishing date and editions.

Maps highlights

Gallipoli 1915 & Ypres 1917
In 1915 and 1917, our historical maps of Gallipoli and Ypres were working documents. Paying attention to them could be the difference between a soldier writing home or someone else writing to their family.
Letters, stories, maps and cigarette cards
Peter Edwards, Heritage Team Librarian, discusses original ANZAC materials from the State Library archives.
A map in four states plus one
The State Library has five editions of a hemispherical map centred on the South Pole. These show southern parts of South America and South Africa and the west and south coasts of Australia.

Map eResources

Mapping the World: Maps and Travel Literature Archive presents unique insight into the age of cartography and the rise of leisure travel during the nineteenth century, including a myriad of sketch map
Age of Exploration Archive covers five centuries of journeys across the globe, scientific discoveries, the expansion of European colonialism, conflict over territories and trade routes, and decades-lo
Last updated on 12 October 2021