Government Datasets or APIs

Shapefile for 'Aboriginal Australia Map'


Last year I did a big trip around Australia with my family and I became very aware of just how clueless most of us city folk are of the diversity and sheer quantity of distinct indigenous cultures that spread across this great land.

Discovering the 'Aboriginal Australia map' was an awakening for me.

This year I’m participating in GovHack ( ) and would love to build a smartphone app which lets you know when you have entered a new indigenous land. The working title might even be something like 'Welcome to Country' (Assuming that’s appropriate) and as people travel Australia the phone can notify visitors when they have come to new country and let them know who’s country they have arrived in and possibly even provide a little information and possibly over time even a welcome message from the local people.

The app intends to be a fun educational way for people to become more aware of our local indigenous cultures and I hope we can be supported with data so we may build the app I wished I had as I was working to better understand local culture when I travelled Australia last year. Please note we understand borders may not be definitive and as such we intend to notify users of their arrival once they are a certain distance into a new zone.


What I'm seeking is a ESRI shapefile ( ).

Shapefiles commonly take the extension .shp, .shx, .dbf

The original image file for the AIATSIS ‘Aboriginal Australia Map’ is available via ABC online here: and here from AIATISI

The map data is held by AIATSIS. The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) is the national research and collecting institution for information and research about the cultures and lifestyles of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, past and present. AIATSIS was established under the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Act 1989.


Im the case where no relevant shapefile is available what I would be seeking is permission to use the visual copywrited image of the map for the purposes of generating a shapefile from the map image myself.


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Stage: Closed

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Similar Ideas [ 4 ]


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  1. Comment

    That's a good idea. Don't know if you have came across Bruce Chatwin's Songlines before ( but would be great to have more narrative/story to go with the landmark. When I was in Uluru 4 years ago it was quite eye opening to read all the legends related to the land.

    Good luck with the idea.


  2. Comment
    Allan Barger
    ( Moderator )


    This request has been received and we have passed it on to relevant agency. We will keep you updated on any progress.


  3. Comment
    evolve2k ( Idea Submitter )

    Thanks for your help Alan, much appreciated :)

  4. Comment
    David Bacon

    I've sent it to a friend in the national community development team at Red Cross to see if he has any feedback or can get any from indigenous connections.

  5. Comment
    evolve2k ( Idea Submitter )

    Thanks Dave! I'm hopeful that Allan and the crew will be able to work things out for us but yeah the more support we can get the better. Cheers :)

  6. Comment

    Such a wonderful idea! Could lead to lots more applications of this information.

  7. Comment
    Allan Barger
    ( Moderator )

    Hello Evolve2k,

    Thank you for your request. AIATSIS has declined to make the data available on at this time. We received the following response with regard to this request:

    "Agencies with a legal identity separate to the Commonwealth consider their individual business objectives and legislative framework when considering opportunities to share IP with other agencies and when considering licensing arrangement for their IP. AIATSIS has done so and on that basis do not share the data underlying the map with other government agencies or with individuals or organisations. AIATSIS copyright allows the Institute to ensure that its IP is used as far as possible in ways that are consistent with its legislated purpose."

    We have marked this request as closed.

    Kind Regards,

    Allan, team.

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