If you’re driving in parts of outback Queensland, it is probably best not to listen to the authoritative voice on Google Maps, warn the mayors of several regional towns.
- Outback mayors implore locals and visitors to not trust Google Maps
- The south-west Queensland town of Eromanga appeared 85km north of its actual location for almost two weeks
- Google Street View is more than 10 years behind the times in many outback towns
The western Queensland mayors and tourism officials are so “disappointed” by the inaccuracy of Google Maps in parts of the region, they are urging locals and tourists alike not to trust the web-based technology.
They are advising tourists to use their common sense instead.
“If you see a signpost saying a town is ‘this way’ and Google Maps is telling you something different, don’t trust Google Maps,” said Quilpie Shire Council Mayor Stuart Mackenzie.
According to the web mapping service, the south-west town of Eromanga is located 85 kilometres to the north of where it really is, while the Street View function is more than a decade out of date in many other towns.
Map ‘a bit crook’ for two weeks
While flying from Eromanga to Blackall on March 26, retired pilot Gareth Davey was alarmed to discover that Eromanga appeared on Google Maps nowhere near where he knew it was.
“Even though I flew over the town on the way out, on Google Maps I didn’t go over Eromanga, which I thought was quite unusual,” he said.
Mr Davey said he showed the error to the operations manager at the Eromanga Natural History Museum.
“I got onto Corey Richards there at the museum in Eromanga and said, ‘Mate are you seeing the same thing I’m seeing? Is it just my computer?'” he said.
“And he goes, ‘Nah, you’re right, it’s a bit crook’.
Google Maps corrected the error on April 7, almost two weeks after it was reported on March 25.
Councillor Mackenzie said it was not the first time there had been issues with Google Maps in the region.
He said he had been made aware of “bizarre” Google-suggested routes that strayed from major roads.
“It’s extraordinary and very scary, actually.”
Street View out of touch
Complaints have also been made over the Google Maps interactive Street View function.
Winton Shire Council tourism and economic development officer Adam Head wanted Google to lift its game and update the regional areas.
“The main street here has had a total revamp, it doesn’t even show the new Waltzing Matilda Centre, there’s a lot of stuff that’s been happening around here in town to get the town looking really nice.
“If you’re looking at really old pictures, you might go, ‘Well I don’t really want to go there’.”
Barcaldine Regional Council Mayor Sean Dillon said the outback’s low population base could explain the lack of interest from Google.
But as Australians hit the road in huge numbers to explore the outback to fill the void of international travel, mapping accuracy has taken on greater importance.
“I can share the sentiments of tourism operators who’ve invested significant money in infrastructure to upgrade and that’s not being accurately reflected, whether that’s on Street View or a rating system,” Councillor Dillon said.
“It’s disappointing and the ‘Google Maps and go anywhere’ approach does lead to significant concern with tourists travelling into areas they think [are] safe and normal to travel, and quite often isn’t.
The ABC has contacted Google for a response.