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2011/73/1 Road maps (5), Shell Road Guides for New South Wales, Newcastle District and Sydney-Brisbane, paper, published by the Shell Touring Service, Shell Oil Company of Australia Ltd, printed by P C Grosser, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1962-1965. Click to enlarge.

Shell Road Guide road maps

Made by P C Grosser in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1962-1965.

These five Shell Road Guides are fold-out road maps for travelling from Sydney to Brisbane, around New South Wales and the Newcastle District in the early 1960s. They were published by the Shell Touring Service of the Shell Oil Company of Australia Ltd.

The Shell oil company began in Australia in 1901. At first fuel was supplied in tins, and then from 1921 Shell began to use motor tankers while bulk delivery to their roadside pumps began in 1926. The firm established an extensive fuel distribu...


Object No.


Object Statement

Road maps (5), Shell Road Guides for New South Wales, Newcastle District and Sydney-Brisbane, paper, published by the Shell Touring Service, Shell Oil Company of Australia Ltd, printed by P C Grosser, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1962-1965

Physical Description

Road maps (5), Shell Road Guides for New South Wales, Newcastle District and Sydney-Brisbane, paper, published by the Shell Touring Service, Shell Oil Company of Australia Ltd, printed by P C Grosser, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1962-1965

Five fold-out coloured road maps, consisting of two copies of the 'Shell Road Guide: Newcastle District', two copies of the 'Shell Road Guide: Sydney-Brisbane, Pacific Beautizone, Summerland, City of Gold Coast', and the 'Shell Road Guide: New South Wales'.



272 mm


113 mm



The five road maps were published by the Shell Touring Service, part of the Shell Oil Company of Australia Ltd. They were printed by P.C. Grosser, lithographer of Melbourne between 1962-1965. This firm is thought to have originally been called Colour Photographs and later Queen City Printers. They became P.C. Grosser & Co. Pty Ltd, a large printing and packaging company with over 300 employees. In 1954 this firm was located at 239 William Street, Melbourne.

Today (2011) having easy access to detailed and accurate road maps is taken for granted, albeit no longer free or on fold-out sheets. However, well before the arrival of the motor car, road maps and touring guides were developed to inform cyclists of road conditions, directions, distances and accommodation facilities. Weekend tours for both men and women on bicycles involved pedalling 80 to 120 km over the countryside.

These motoring maps were produced by the Shell Touring Service, part of the Shell oil company which began in Australia in 1901 by importing bulk kerosene by ship. Shell began the kerbside distribution of petrol from pumps in Australia in 1926. The following year the Fiat car club of Western Australia organised a tour from Perth to Melbourne and were accompanied by a Shell officer who made detailed maps of the route along the way. He recruited Shell dealers to establish fuel distribution dumps at telegraph stations, and sheep and cattle stations and other remote areas which opened up the country for motoring and aviation. The petrol was stored in fuel tins, ironically carried on wagons drawn by camels and donkeys and later 6-wheel motor trucks, to the isolated centres. This all helped to open up Australia not only for inland motoring but aviation.

In 1930 Shell established its Overland Department and went on to produce Australian road maps and information on water supplies, shelter and road obstacles to businessmen, tourists, prospectors and even aviators. Then in 1947 the Shell Touring Service was established which apparently became one of the most comprehensive mapping groups in Australia at the time. Before the common use of aerial photography, staff from the Shell Around Australian Mapping Unit would drive through the country in panel vans hauling a trailer recording the conditions of outback roads.

The 1950s saw the use of private cars soar. Post-World War Two petrol rationing finished in 1950, and the production of Holden cars, which began in 1948, reached 20,000 only two years later. It was during the 1950s that the price of cars reduced and wages increased escalating suburban car ownership. Cars were increasingly used to commute from home to work, and to travel to tourist destinations on weekends and holidays. Trams were removed from Sydney in 1961 and rail was losing its hold enabling the expansion of the interstate road transport industry.

According to Rosemary Broomham in "Vital Connections: A History of NSW Roads from 1788", at this time expressways were regarded as urgent necessities as traffic became more congested and delays increased. In 1960 the redesigned four-lane section of the Pacific highway near Mt White, north of Sydney, became the first motorway proclaimed in New South Wales. Nevertheless, in the country two-third's of the state's main roads were yet to receive bitumen surfaces. The only fully-sealed major roads were the Pacific and Hume Highways and the Federal and Barton Highways. From the 1950s roads were gradually upgraded and local councils built caravan parts at beach resorts and tourist towns and the family caravan holiday became popular.

The Shell Touring Service was an important aspect of the firm's customer relations and provided a personalised map and road advisory service for motorists going on holidays. The customer would enquire about the required maps for a trip at the local Shell service station. The dealer would then post the customer's request to the state's Touring Service office who would post back the maps and other local information. The dealer would then telephone the customer advising of the arrival of the maps and ask if they required a "pre-trip" lubrication. On return from the holiday the dealers were encouraged to make a follow up call to see if the customer required a "post-trip" service. It should be remembered that unlike 2011, during the 1950s and 1960s cars needed much more regular maintenance to ensure reliability. This included topping up or replacing the oil and water in the service station "lubratorium", unlike now, engines burnt oil.

As well as providing maps, the latest road conditions were recorded and collated by local Shell employees who undertook reconnaissance of their local areas reporting on the road conditions, bridges, car ferries (punts) across rivers and even accommodation. Floods were common, roads easily washed away and ferries could be closed for maintenance. These details were updated on a card index at the state's Touring Service office to give the most up-to-date conditions for tourists and truck drivers either via a phone call or personal visit.



These maps were found in a house purchased by a member of the donor's family. Nothing more is known of their provenance.


Credit Line

Gift of W and A Rees, 2011

Acquisition Date

26 August 2011

Cite this Object


Shell Road Guide road maps 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 20 May 2019, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Shell Road Guide road maps |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=20 May 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}


This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.

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