Comparison of Offline 4WD Maps & GPS Navigation Apps & Software

This articles compares the current range of 2021 navigation options in Australia including standalone navigators, raster mapping software for Android & Windows, and covers a large comparison of Navigation Apps for use in Australia for Android & Apple phones, tablets, iPads and PCs. Just tap the headings for each subheading below to read the full article.

Where to Start?

Digital mapping is quite simply, maps that you use on a digital device - a computer, tablet or smartphone. However, the complexities of digital mapping is three-fold because there are 3 parts to the system and lots of personal choice. The 3 parts are:- the device, the mapping engine (software or app), and the actual maps.

Many people don't realise how the device you use can directly limit the use of available maps you can use. The novice can mistakenly assume that most factory car-fitted or aftermarket sat/nav devices, Android Auto or Apple Car Play systems will be compatible with anything they want to load into it - sorry, nope. Same with handheld navigators such as Garmin, Magellan GPS, HX1, and Navman navigators.

So we've organised this article into sections based on device/program type to help you easily work out your options.

CarPlay & Android Auto

The CarPlay/Android Auto system is unlike the Google Playstore and Apple's own App store so you won't find all apps available in this system, which can make it a little frustrating if you want to run an app like ExplorOz Traveller on your nice new big headunit.

The CarPlay/Android Auto system has come about because Apple don't make headunits. Instead, they have partnered with Google to devise a method to allow customers from both ecosystems to use a universal headunit. These offer a hybrid system for accessing apps to download onto the headunit. Available apps have been custom-made to meet the specifications and requirements of this system which demand hands-free operation.

The apps that are available in the navigation category offer apps that fit the use of mainstream commuters who have different mapping and navigation needs to what we target with the ExplorOz Traveller app. Note that WAZE is owned by Google so of course that's included. Gaia recently built a bespoke version of their app for CarPlay/Android Auto but this product does not offer quality maps of Australia such as EOTopo.

ExplorOz Traveller is an Australian, bespoke navigation and mapping app designed specifically for our local conditions providing a whole of Australia offline mapping experience suitable for overlanding, remote outback travel and is not suitable for the CarPlay/Android Auto system that targets a different navigational market.

However - you can still use ExplorOz Traveller on a headunit !

Option 1 - install a headunit that offers access to the Playstore. There are many of these out there. T'eyes, Polaris, ECVision, VHEDIA, some Kenwood models etc. Shop around and check specifically for the Playstore access. Not limited to Android Auto/CarPlay operation.

Option 2 - install a headunit that offers both Android Auto/CarPlay AND "screen-mirroring" functionality, sometimes called "Miracast" or other names. You can then have the app installed on another device (Android, iPhone, iPad) and whatever you see on the screen of your device can be mirrored to the headunit. Some headunits provide this with a 2 way control for Android devices but 1 way control for iOS devices. Check device specification documentation.

Option 3 - if your vehicle already has an Android Auto/CarPlay headunit, you can now buy an AI box adapter that plugs in via a USB connection and takes over the operating system and supplies you with a full Android system and hence access to the Google Playstore to select apps such as ExplorOz Traveller to download directly. The app will download into the AI box not the headunit's storage so you can unplug the AI box adaptor and take your apps with you. A good option when travelling and using hirecars, friends/family cars etc. All hire cars these days have Android Auto/CarPlay headunits. These AI box adapters are not cheap as they are as powerful as your phone/tablet - expect to pay upwards of $300. Buy online or from various car audio outlets. Search Car Play AI. At the moment we are not making any direct brand/model recommendations.

Standalone Navigators


These are portable devices that you purchase complete with a mapping program, GPS receiver, and maps installed. Whilst there are many other GPS devices on the market, they all have limitations in what maps are compatible. The following is a selection of the devices:-

Hema Navigator HX-2

Current model HX-2 is a stand-alone 7" GPS Navigation screen that is effectively built on an 32GB, Android 10 tablet but cannot be used like a normal tablet to access your choice of programs/apps. Unlike its predecessor HX-1 the HX-2 does allow connection of a reversing camera. It does accept microSD card. It comes with a windscreen mount. The device is pre-loaded with digitised versions of Hema's printed maps and offers both on-road navigation and offroad navigation modes. On road navigation mode uses mapping from HERE maps and for off-road navigation mode uses Hema's vector map. Hema provide a POI database that is updated a few times per year with updates available via the Hema Cloud. Trip planning is done via the Hema Cloud which is then synced back to the device. The device has 2GB RAM which is very slow these days and has resulted in many negative reviews about the device's performance. Cost around $799.

Garmin Overlander

Garmin Overlander is a 7" colour touch screen navigator with 64GB of internal storage. The device offers the HERE maps on-road navigation system, and Hema raster (1:150K) offroad maps. You will have access to purchase/download additional maps via the Garmin Explore app (limited options for Australia). In addition, 25K OZTopo (not 2K EOTopo) raster maps are available to purchase for an additional $230 - $260 on SD card. Comes with a suction cup mount, and RAM ball adapter and plate. Unit Price around $1000.

Other brands such as VMS, NavMan and TomTom, are less favoured in Australia due to the lack of decent Australian offroad mapping data and offline features. In addition, there is no option to load the ExplorOz offline maps (EOTopo) to any of these above units. EOTopo maps are favoured over all the above available offline maps due to the higher level of detail - compare EOTopo 2K vector to Hema's 150K vector, or OzTopo 25K. The data speaks for itself.

The overall ExplorOz Traveller solution enables you to load both the app, and the EOTopo maps on your existing phone, tablet, computer for cheaper than any of these standalone navigator device options.

Raster Mapping Software for Android & Windows


These are software programs (not apps) that you buy directly from the business (not via App stores) and are typically outdated programs that don't provide access to new maps. If you have a modern Windows 10 device or Android smartphone or tablet then you're better off looking at the range of Navigation Apps available from the app store.


Available for Android, Windows CE and Windows PC this is a robust technical bit of software that was originally designed for use by surveyors and geologists and has stood the test of time but is not at all user friendly. Most people find it has many features that you simply don't need and is too complicated to learn to use. The user interface is very clunky and isn't easy to operate in a moving vehicle. Does not come with any maps, no POI data, no route data, and you need to add a GPS receiver. Cannot be used online, is an offline program only. Maps can be purchased separately provided they in the raster format. ECW files can be converted to the optimised OziExplorer format which is OZF. Compatible with EOTopo 2019 Raster Version but not the new upcoming EOTopo 2021 maps which will be vector only. This an old style product that is now superseded by newer technologies such as Apps.

Track Ranger

Mapping software for Windows PC. Similar to OziExplorer in function but reportedly a little easier to use. Requires additional maps in raster format and a GPS receiver. Not compatible with the EOTopo vector maps (EOTopo 2021, or EOTopo 2023). ExplorOz no longer produces maps in the raster format.

Navigation Apps for Phones, Tablets, iPads & PCs in 2023

These products are apps which you get from Playstore, Apple Store, Windows Store to install onto your personal device (tablet, phone, laptop, iPad etc).

ExplorOz Traveller App

Developed by the operators of the ExplorOz website, the Traveller app has fast become the favourite. Boasting an average lifetime app rating of 4.3 out of 5 consistently across the past 7 years, the app has been updated (free) over 35 times with numerous new features added, plus constant attention to tweaking the program for optimum performance and compatibility with new OS releases. The Traveller app uses offline vector maps (EOTopo mapset) that guarantee the best detail and high resolution imaginable. Included is the POI (Places) database that is the best verified set of campsite and point of interest/facility listings. Unlike sites listed in Wikicamps that use generic descriptions, or just user reviews, the ExplorOz Places dataset contains hand-curated, verified, detailed site descriptions prepared by Australian travel authors that provide information you won't easily find elsewhere. Many sites contain historical facts and references that have been documented specifically to suit the ExplorOz demographic rather than a mainstream demographic.

ExplorOz Traveller is also the only navigation app in the app stores that is truly Australian. The ExplorOz business owner is the app developer, who also manages the production of the offline mapset, and if you happen to need to seek support, you'll be communicating directly with the developer - not via a automated system or foreign support desk. The developers (David & Michelle Martin) are passionate Australian outback adventures with 28 years of 4WD and camping experience. They have travelled extensively over the years, through every state and along just about every track imaginable. Their experience shows in this app's features design.

Traveller is also the only navigation app that is available for 3 major app store platforms with an identical app experience. Purchase of the app is $59.99 and includes exceptional online maps with Level 18 zoom, plus the LoRes EOTopo map of Australia for basic offline use however if you need to use the app offline you need to also purchase a licence to download the full EOTopo mapset for $49.99 (one-time payment, not an annual subscription). You than then download the remaining mappacks that contain the detailed zoom levels required for offline navigation and planning. Once downloaded, the offline EOTopo mapset is identical to the online EOTopo mapset covering the whole of Australia and no need to download sections as you need. The detail and accuracy of the app content is excellent and gets rave reviews. ExplorOz Traveller has the best of many other apps wrapped all into one and most people say its the only mapping & navigation app they need. For further details check the dedicated ExplorOz Traveller webpage here - ExplorOz Traveller.
Independent YouTuber AllOffRoad 4x4 Adventures TV rated it the "Best 4WD Navigation App in Oz". Check it out here.

Hema Explorer App

In a controversial move, Hema launched into the app scene naming their app with "Explorer", which is very close to the name of the "OziExplorer" mapping software already known in the industry as well as the name of Australia's most popular 4x4 and camping website "ExplorOz" who also published an app around the same time using the name "ExplorOz Traveller". This confusion of names caught many customers unaware. Despite this, many people bought this app based on the reputation and brand power of Hema who invested heavily in marketing and exposure. However, the Hema Explorer app was a complete disaster and failed to satisfy thousands of buyers who rated the app lower than 2 out of 5 stars in the app store. Despite the original Hema company being Australian, the app was not developed by Australian developers and updates and bug fixes plagued the operation. Many customers were dissatisfied with the maps being "sanitised" (ie missing tracks that appear on other maps such as EOTopo) and also lacking contrast (hard to define road lines - all washed-out colours). Hema also chose to use a Hema Cloud subscription process with additional costs for those that wanted access to download more detail maps using the Pro Subscription which added an ongoing cost to use rather than the one-time payment option by ExplorOz with the ExplorOz Traveller app and EOTopo map download. Hema customers who were happy and could get this app to work suddenly found that OS updates on Android and iOS devices during 2019 were unsupported by Hema so this app eventually became unusable. Much to the dissatisfaction of many Hema customers, Hema's solution was to launch a new app in 2020 rather than fix the broken app.

Hema 4x4 Explorer

This next app by Hema has not received any better positive response in the market than the previous app. Despite moving from raster maps to vector maps (an improvement in theory), the map detail is greatly criticised for being too "sanitised" and lacks contrast at low zoom scales making readability very difficult when driving. Issues with then being charged for the Pro Subscription to access the Hema Cloud remain unchanged. Hema customers still rate this newer app at 2 out of 5 stars in the app stores and comments about no support or poor support are common.

Hema 4WD Maps iOS App

This is a re-packaged version of the Memory-Map app but is only available on iPads. This app uses the old 250K scale Australia Topo map that is exactly the same data as the old NATMAP 250K circa 2008 data. App with Hema maps costs $99. No access to the Memory-Map store to obtain the other files. No access to EOTopo maps. Nothing exciting here.

Gaia GPS

Gaia GPS is an American made app designed for iOS and Android devices. Whilst it is has some powerful features when online, and offers offline maps of Australia, it does not match the quality of detail and performance that is available in the Australian-made ExplorOz Traveller app with EOTopo offline maps. Independent YouTuber AllOffRoad 4x4 Adventures TV recently published a review of it here:


Whilst this become popular a few years ago, it is ultimately too much effort downloading all individual maps and the cost and cumbersome setup makes it less appealing than more modern apps such as ExplorOz Traveller that offer simple click download buttons to access the whole of Australia maps. In addition, it is not Australian made and doesn't offer access to the best maps of Australia that are now available.

Billy Goat

This app like many other cheap apps use the free open source mapping (OSM) which is fine for street level detail in cities etc but when looking at outback and regional areas it is lacking in detail with many known 4WD tracks completely missing. When looking at outback regions you need to zoom in so far before road definitions become visible and then you lose orientation of where you are so it really becomes unusable and is not a suitable navigation app for a 4x4 traveller as a result.


This app also uses freely available open source mapping which is fine if you're just a casual road tripper and don't care that the maps are incomplete. The problem for navigation in remote areas is that you are simply following a blue dot on the screen with no clear mapping definition so it is easy to take a wrong turn and go down the wrong road/track. The main advantage of Wiki camps is that is it cheap but it's a matter of getting what you pay for. WikiCamps is developed by a US company that sells franchise app modules to different user-bases. ie. WikiCamps Australia manage the content verification and customer service in Australia but they are not the app developer and don't have any control over app features, bug fixes etc. This has recently resulted in a major fault with the 2023 app update which has left many customers very unhappy with an unusable app and lost data.

Another problem is the use of generalised site descriptions, rather than bespoke curated descriptions. To make any sense of a site's potential to be suitable you have to read the user reviews which means you are relying on highly subjective information that may not be relevant to your needs. Free and low-cost apps all suffer from this same issue. The content in this app seems to focus on tar-accessible destinations and services so it really attracts a different sort of app user.


Memory-Map is a free app for iOS, Windows and Android but requires purchase of maps via a portal. The NZ/Australian company had an abrupt withdrawal from the Australian market sometime in 2019 and a lot of customers were unable to access their maps via the Australian portal or gain any support rendering their mapping program unusable. The situation seems to have been resolved by a takeover by the US operators however no access to good Australian maps such as EOTopo. The company recently launched a new app called Memory Maps for All but there has been very slow sales and uptake with those that have tried it commenting that the flaws are it is too complicated to use, and the offline maps are inferior to EOTopo. You may hear recommendations to buy Hema maps to use in the Memory Map for All app but think about it - this means going back to support a company that has let down their customers and is patching one problem with another as the Hema maps are old and outdated yet you'll pay over $100.


Also see Best 2021 Offline Navigation App for Australia

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Created: June 2016
Revised: August 2023
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Digital Topographic Maps, Free Online Maps, 4X4 Maps, 4Wd Maps, Offline Maps, Ipad Maps, Android Maps, Eotopo, Hema Maps, Oziexplorer, Carplay, Android Auto, Avenza, Hn7, Raster Maps, Vector Maps, Gps Navigation

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