In January this year, the story that cartographers make deliberate errors made me catch my breath. You can read it in full here.
As long term readers of this blog will know from an earlier post, to walk from the mouth to the source of the Derwent River has required me to work across 17 maps. Because they were generated by a government agency I would like to believe they were accurate at the time of printing.
While my maps are scaled at 1:25,000 (I always wished they were finer in detail), I depended on them as much as I could. I registered that many were grossly out of date – too many were last printed in the 1990s and so I was cautious with my expectations. However I never once thought that a deliberate error might have been introduced.
For walkers like myself, trekking independently great distances from help and civilisation, having accurate maps seems a sensible requirement. Many readers will know that I always check with Google Earth imagery but again they are out of date – although not as old as some of the official maps I was using. I was fortunate to be flown in a small aircraft up and back along the Derwent so the photos taken contributed to understanding what the land was like below.
In recent days I have been horrified to learn that the Tasmanian State Government will never print further copies of the 1:25,000 scale maps and the common map for purchase in the future will be 1:100,000. People get lost in our dense bush, and some have died after wandering around for days. From a public safety perspective for tourists and locals who want to make their own way into our bush, where tracks are non-existent and using a compass and a map is the only means of knowing where you are, I am somewhat fearful for people in the future.