Are we allowed to have this much fun?

Sometimes you are taught how to use a new feature online and you end up having so much fun.  AND you learn new things.  AND it just keeps on getting better!

Have you used the PROV (Public Record Office) MapWarper?  If you say … what’s that … or just plain NO … you’re the one missing out on all of the fun.

This is where you’ll find MapWarper –

Read about it –

Learn how to use it –

I know it’s human nature to click on one of those links and not spend time with the details!  So let me repeat the important ABOUT section here:

This application is an image and map georeferencing or “geo-rectification” service to warp or stretch historic maps to fit on present day real world map coordinates and annotate them.

Libraries and other institutions have used it, including the New York Public Library, Harvard, Stanford Universities, Leiden Archives (in The Netherlands), The Department of Education and the National Environment Protection Authority (US Federal Government), and Wikimedia Commons. As far as we know Public Record Office Victoria is the only archive in Australia and possibly the southern hemisphere to use MapWarper and offer researchers the ability to view thousands of Victorian historic maps and plans to better understand how urban and rural landscapes have changed or not changed over time.


In June 2019 Public Record Office Victoria launched this application Mapwarper with close to 5000 Parish Plans. You can read more about those records HERE. They have now been ‘rectified’ or geoplaced by PROV staff, volunteers and the public. One year later we added over 6000 historic maps from The Historic Plan Collection of Victoria (Victorian Public Record Series 8168) to the site. These maps date from 1804 until 1984 but are predominantly pre-1950. You can read more about the types of maps that make up this significant collection HERE and more specific information regarding the collection sub categories HERE. These sub categories may help refine your search for specific topographical features. As we add more maps to Map Warper we hope you will create an account and help us rectify these national treasures for easy access by future researchers.

Let me give you a couple of REAL examples you mightn’t associate with MapWarper:

  1. You’ve found an allotment or section on a Parish Plan that an ancestor owned back in the 1800s – but how the hell do you find it TODAY?  The roads are different – in fact everything is different.  So what do you do?  Find the Parish Plan on MapWarper – if it hasn’t been “warped” then do it and you’ll end up with your piece of land with a transparency slider – see it ‘back then’ or see it today.  You can see today’s roads that will get you there.
  2. You are interested in researching a particular waterway – river, creek, waterhole, lake – see how much it has changed from the mid 1800s to today!
  3. You found a really important item on a historic map – you make a note of it but it’s not easy telling and showing others exactly what and where it is.  That’s what the image above is all about.  I came across this exciting find a couple of years ago – and I confess I keep forgetting where I found it and how to show others its exactly location – including today’s streets.

This is an image from MapWarper showing the exact location of Anne Drysdale’s Boronggoop Station:




I slid it down to about 50% transparency and you can clearly see Wilsons Road and Woods Road with the notation “Drysdale’s Statn” (Station).  Anyone could use Google Maps to find that corner as well as street view to see if there are any buildings there today.

To show you where that is in MapWarper, here are some simple steps:

  • Go to MapWarper –
  • I strongly recommend that you REGISTER and LOG IN – you’ll want to do this so you can have as much fun with MapWarper as I have and also help PROV to RECTIFY (WARP) their Historic Maps and Plans.
  • Then follow these steps:
    • From the HOME page
    • Click on the down arrow beside the Search / Text box
    • Select Annotations from the drop-down list
    • Enter Drysdale in the Search for box – Drysdale is easier to spell than
    • Click on SEARCH
    • Look at the results – one will be for a map Titled – SYDNEY M16 MOOLAP



    • When you can view that map, there will be an Annotation marker on it
    • Zoom in / enlarge that spot and you’ll see the reference to Drysdale’s Station










What about those waterways?  Just use the Transparency slider on any Rectified map that has rivers etc.  After I post this blog, I’ll be doing a link in our Geelong and District Facebook page and tagging Jo Mitchell who, if she isn’t using MapWarper yet, will LOVE using it in the future.

Have a look at this map – – you’ll also find an annotation for Moorabool Viaduct across the Moorabool Valley and River.  And you’ll be able to see the massive changes in the banks and path of the Moorabool River.

Bottom line – if you want to have as much fun as me – go to MapWarper, Register, and start Rectifying / Warping.  The more you use it the more fun you’ll have.  I want to do lots of annotations like:

  • Name of Surveyor
  • Pre-emptive rights
  • Other map annotations

And of course I want to Rectify / Warp more maps.

One BIG tip I’ve learnt in playing recently – don’t add Control Points along rivers – give preference to adding points where roads meet or cross – remember that roads naturally followed boundaries of Sections or Allotments so often easier to add a more accurate Control Point.

Have fun!  I am.






















6 Responses

  1. Justine Heazlewood

    Nice one Susie! It is a fun resource to use and play with.

  2. Patsy Daly

    Thank you Susie. I have thought about the potential of playing with these maps as I go through my land records. I have a slip of paper on which my grandfather has written where the houses were built as part the requirements for the 1869 Land Acts. I remember a couple of the places as a child because there were chimneys remaining or orchards remaining. But imagine my surprise to find the cliff face named on a very early Portland map in the Historical Maps Collection where my other grandfather found a wandering albatross no longer wandering after a storm. Far from where I expected. Lots to explore?

  3. Susie Zada

    Hi Patsy,

    You would have an absolute ball with the Annotation option! PROV are encouraging ‘locals’ with familiarity with an area to contribute. Obviously they are keen to have people warp maps that haven’t been rectified yet but also adding Annotations to those that have.

    A couple of words come to mind that I’ve used – pre-emptive – and – hotel.

    On the Home page do a search – select Annotation from the drop-down list beside text and look for those words!

    BUT make sure you rectify some that haven’t been warped yet – it really is addictive. Search text for your parish(es) and click on the headind in the last column – that will bring the unconfirmed ones to the top.

    Have fun!

  4. asa letourneau

    Thanks so much for your help spreading the word Susie! Always so much bertter for a new service to be endorsed by the users!!!! Look forwartd to seeing all your future efforts.

    • Susie Zada

      I only have one complaint – I keep getting drawn back to MapWarper and not doing things I should be doing! But when you’re having this much fun, why not just have fun???

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