GHAP Guide

Gazetteer of Historical Australian Placenames

Gazetteer of Historical Australian Placenames (GHAP) provides, for the first time, an aggregated searchable gazetteer of all available Australian placenames, including historical placenames, with coordinates for digital mapping, with advanced search and filter features.

It also works as a searchable index spatiotemporal of humanities information, built up from contributions from the humanities research community. Having launched at the end of 2020, this resource will continue to grow. Contributions from researchers are welcome - instructions below.

Both the gazetteer and humanities research data can be visualised on the Temporal Earth timeline, and in 3D terrain view.

The gazetteer is built from Australian National Placenames Data (ANPS). We thank ANPS for gathering this data and to Greg Windsor and David Blair for helping us make it available. TLCMap developers have parsed 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 is a valuable resource feeding into other TLCMap activity.

TLCMap developer for GHAP: Ben McDonnell

The matching the TLCMap staff have done to obtain latitude and longitude is automated. This means there may be 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.

TLCMap makes not guarantee on the quality of community contributed data submitted by users. This data remains the responsibility of the person providing it, and you must make your own judgements, such as to it's validity, completeness and fitness for purpose.

Always check licencing information and other the terms and conditions of use.

This system is not for commercial advertisement or promotion.

Data may be removed or corrected without notice.

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. User contributions have commenced with some indigenous data sets related to language and history. We are happy to hear of any other major sources of indigenous placename data to include.

Humanities researchers, indigenous organisations, local history societies and others are welcome to contribute information about places. This could be placenames or any research that is relevant to places and that you have coordinates for. It could be an archive of photographs which people should find when searching for information about a place, a list of places certain convicts worked, a set of music venues, or just the old name of a place you happen to know. Big or small contributions are welcome. The minimum needed is a title or name, coordinates, and description. You can add as much or little data as you like, and link to the source, or your website.

Contributing your research to GHAP has the following benefits:

Note: Only point data is stored. Lines and polygons will be converted to points. This is an index of information. If your data is more detailed, complex and nuanced people should be able to access the fully featured data through the links you provide, eg: to your website, a richly featured web application, or an archive or data repository where it can be downloaded.

How to Contribute


  1. You can add records one at a time or you can prepare your data with coordinates in CSV or KML format for upload.
  2. You can open CSV data in Quick Coordinates and export as KML to ensure it is compatible.
  3. Register and Login.
  4. Go to My Account -> My Datasets and click 'Contribute New Dataset'.
  5. Fill in the details for your dataset and either add data one record at a time, or upload a file.

Detailed Instructions


  1. Check that you have permissions and it is appropriate to contribute the data and make it public.
  2. At the top left click 'Register' to create a login, fill in the form and go through the email confirmation steps.
  3. At the top left click 'Login'.
  4. Data can be imported as KML or CSV files. If you have a KML file there should be no further preparation necessary.
  5. If possible include a URL or 'linkback' for each record, so that when people see that point on the map, they can click the link to go to your website for more details or the full features of your site.
  6. If you have a CSV file (Excel and other spreadsheets can be saved as CSV), one way to ensure it can be imported is to load it into Quick Coordinates and download as a KML file. KML files exported from Quick Coordinates have been tested for import to GHAP.
  7. If your data does not already have coordinates, or you have old maps to get coordinates from, Quick Coordinates also helps get coordinates faster. Or you can look at other TLCMap systems for creating spatiotemporal data. Or find other methods by searching the web - so long as you can get the coordinates as a CSV file (Excel spreadsheets can be saved as CSV) or a KML file, you will be able to use them in TLCMap systems.
  8. If you upload a CSV file the column names should match the data fields you can see in GHAP. They are:
    Required columns: Placename, Description, Latitude, Longitude
    Optional columns: description, feature_term, datestart, dateend, lga, parish, source, external_url

Contribute Dataset

  1. At the top left click 'Account' and choose 'My Datasets'.
  2. Click 'Contribute new dataset'.
  3. Fill in the metadata. Only a dataset name, subject and description are required. Other information will help users find and use the information. Although not required to contribute a dataset, information about sources (citation, DOIs, URLs of the originating site, etc) and licencing must be provided if available.
  4. You can set the dataset to 'private' while you work on it, or if you are unsure. Note that some features don't work in 'private' mode, and that the overall aim is to provide public access. We recommend only contributing data that is to be made 'public'.
  5. Click 'Add to Dataset' to add places and information about them one by one, OR
  6. Click 'Bulk Add From File' to upload a CSV or KML file you have already prepared.
  7. Click 'Edit Dataset', set 'Visibility' to 'Public' and click 'Submit', to make the data available.

Work With Dataset

  1. You can now edit each place individually, delete or add more rows manually or by upload.
  2. You can also edit the metadata, or set to 'public', by clicking 'Edit Dataset'.
  3. Click 'Export KML' to download the data as a KML file.
  4. Click 'Visualise' to see the dataset in 3D (only works if public) and Temporal Earth.
  5. Go to the main GHAP search page, and search for something you know to be in your data, and check that is found.
  6. Any problems, please contact us.

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

No 3D map? Blank page? Web GL Error message?

In Chrome, go to chrome://flags and set 'WebGL Draft Extensions' to 'Enabled'.

3D maps and Temporal Earth can take some time to load, so allow 20 seconds to start seeing something, especially on the first visit, or if you have a slow connection or old computer. It get's faster once it's loaded. Also, try refreshing the page.

A recent problem with Google Chrome disabled 3D rendering which the 3D terrain view and Temporal Earth depend on. This type of issue could happen in other browsers too. In some cases the map simply doesn't show up, and in others it gives an error message that might mention WebGL.

Visit to verify that your web browser and hardware support WebGL.

If it doesn't, upgrade your browser. If it does you may need to change your settings. Use your favourite search engine to find how to enable WebGL in your browser, eg by searching for the phrase 'Enable WebGL'.