Melbourne Net


A few years ago I did a comparison of the results from online trip planners. Here’s an update of sorts.

I tested 247 Flinders Lane (which is an address on a one-way street, in an area with lots of turn restrictions and pedestrian streets) to see what the various navigators would do. For the destination I just put Bentleigh (my neighbourhood).

Yahoo Maps couldn’t give me an answer, reporting that “Driving directions cannot be determined between these locations”. I tried giving it a specific destination, but it wouldn’t do it.

Google Maps directionsGoogle Maps:

1. Head west on Flinders Ln towards Flinders Way    0.1 km
2. Turn right at Elizabeth St    0.1 km
3. Take the 1st right on to Collins St    0.5 km
4. Turn right at Russell St    0.2 km
5. Turn right at Flinders St    0.2 km
6. Take the 1st left on to St Kilda Rd    4.6 km
7. Turn left at Fitzroy St    77 m
8. Turn right at St Kilda Rd    1.3 km
9. Continue onto Brighton Rd    1.9 km
10. Continue onto Nepean Hwy    4.1 km
11. Slight left at Centre Rd    1.5 km

Google decided that just entering the suburb for the destination would go to the post office.

The directions are pretty good, but St Kilda Junction confused it; you don’t (you can’t) turn at Fitzroy Street when headed southbound; you turn briefly onto Punt Road, which then leads you onto St Kilda Road.


1. Continue on Flinders La, Melbourne – head towards Degraves St
2. Turn left onto Degraves St, Melbourne at Punt Hill
3. Turn left onto Flinders St, Melbourne
4. Turn right onto Swanston St, Melbourne at Young & Jackson Hotel
5. Continue along St Kilda Rd, Melbourne at Arintji Cafe & Bar
6. Veer right onto Punt Rd, St Kilda
7. Continue along St Kilda Rd, St Kilda
8. Continue along Brighton Rd, St Kilda
9. Continue along Nepean Hwy, Elsternwick at McDonalds
10. Veer left onto Ramp, Brighton East
11. Continue along Brewer Rd, Brighton East
12. At the roundabout – take the 2nd exit onto Brewer Rd, Bentleigh
13. Arrive at Brewer Rd, Bentleigh

Curiously it’s led me to somewhere well outside the logical centre of Bentleigh, though it might be the geographic centre of the suburb.

It figured out St Kilda Junction, but got the initial directions completely wrong, directing me to turn into Degraves Street, which is mostly closed to traffic, and then to do an illegal right hand turn from Flinders St into Swanston St. I kinda like the use of landmarks for directions though.

Bing/MSN maps:

1. Depart -37.81673, 144.96600 on Flinders Ln (West)
2. Turn LEFT (South) onto King St  (0.1 km)
3. Road name changes to Kings Way  (2.3 km)
4. Bear RIGHT (South) onto Queens Rd  (2.0 km)
5. Turn LEFT (East) onto Union St  (0.4 km)
6. Turn RIGHT (South) onto Punt Rd  (0.3 km)
7. Keep STRAIGHT onto St Kilda Rd  (1.3 km)
8. Road name changes to Brighton Rd  (1.9 km)
9. Keep LEFT onto Nepean Hwy  (4.1 km)
10. Keep LEFT onto Centre Rd  (1.5 km)
11. Turn RIGHT (South) onto Loranne St  (0.0 km)
12. Arrive -37.91806, 145.03544  (0.0 km)

This one has also led me to the post office. Unlike the others it preferred Kingsway to St Kilda Road, but I can’t see any flaws with its logic, though it did decide I should go all the way along Union Street to Punt Road — that may well be faster than turning off Union Street at St Kilda Road.

And for non-drivers, how about Metlink’s journey planner?

From 247 Flinders Lane (Melbourne City)    
Walk about 220 metres to Flinders Street Railway Station (Melbourne City)

1. Continue along  Royston Pl   20 m  about 1 min
2. Turn right at  Flinders Lane   80 m  about 2 min
3. Turn right at  Swanston St   120 m  about 2 min
4. Continue along  St Kilda Rd   10 m  about 1 min
5. Arr:  10:08 am  To Flinders Street Railway Station (Melbourne City)  210 m  4 min

DEP: 10:08 am  Flinders Street Railway Station (Melbourne City) Platform 8
Take the train towards Frankston — Time 21 min
ARR: 10:29 am

Get off at Bentleigh Railway Station (Bentleigh) Platform 2    

DEP: From Stop Bentleigh Railway Station (Bentleigh)
Walk about 50 metres Time 7 min
10:36 am To Bentleigh (Bentleigh)

Metlink decided “Bentleigh” meant a street next to the railway station. Not sure why.

The instructions to walk to the station assume that Royston Place is a thoroughfare; It’s a deadend; you can’t get to Flinders Street station that way. Update: Ah, it assumed I was starting in Royston Place, not walking through it. Not sure why it would do that though. And it didn’t send me via the quickest pedestrian route, which is the Degraves Street subway.

But the train trip itself is correct.

Unknown why it thinks it’ll take 7 minutes to walk 50 metres at the end of the trip. Maybe it’s adding a bit in case the train is late, or you have to wait for a train at the level crossing.

So, Bing gave the best result. All the others appear to need some attention.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

7 replies on “Navigation”

A while back I actually tried to use Google Maps for navigation around some unfamiliar areas; I had it trying to make me drive through a military base (in Point Cook); turning left from Kings Way heading south into the West Gate Freeway (which is not physically possible); and turning into the Southbank foot path in front of Freshwater Place to get to the Eureka Tower (which would be the best path if I were not driving, I guess).

If entering Melbourne on the Calder/Tullamarine Fwys and wanting to go to somewhere in Essendon, Google insists there is a Fwy exit between Bell St and Moreland Rd. Unfortunately most of that section of road has a 3 or 4 metre retaining wall!!. The next exit from the Tullamarine Fwy after the Bell St exit, is Brunswick Rd

Also, in Adelaide (can’t remember exactly where) recently Google wanted me to make a left turn and then a U-turn, instead of just a right turn!!!

Google, also gets confused at some major intersections, wanting you to turn onto the wrong side of the road

I always check Google and Whereis for a comparison, but in general I find Whereis is better.

One of my friends has a GPS in her car. One time, we needed to travel from the local Westfield to a park less than 1 km. In fact you can see the park from the top level of the carpark. I drove to the park and waited for her. After about 30 minutes I called her, she was 20 km away and headed for Darwin. There is apparently a park with the same name in Darwin. She then got lost on the way back, and she lives in that suburb !

I often put the online ones to the test just to see what they recommend. The online ones like Google and whereis are getting better than they used to be. They used to make a lot of crazy suggestions. I recently had to drive from Sydney to Dubbo. According to their computer, from Epping in Sydney to Dubbo, you should go via the Hunter Valley. But from Eastwood, 1 km from Epping, you should go via the Blue Mountains and Orange. Remarkably both are correct since the distance is almost identical either way.

I live in Adelaide.

As most folk know, the Adelaide CBD is bound by North Terrace, East Terrace/Hutt street, South Terrace and West Terrace. However, East Terrace is a popular name for roads around the suburbs as well.

I have used Google Maps and the UBD on Disk on my computer to plan routes when I’m going places around town. When I’m in the car, I use my Nokia N95 as my GPS unit (surprisingly cheap) making use of either Nokia (Ovi) Maps or Google Maps (Nokia Maps mostly because it uses GPS rather than A-GPS and is thus more accurate in its positioning).

BUT – it doesn’t matter *which* of these I use – computer or phone, UBD, Nokia or Google – *none of them* will give me the correct East Terrace when I wish to go from the eastern side of the CBD to *anywhere!!!!* (or vice versa).

Whenever I tell a navigation system to take me from or to East Terrace Adelaide 5000, it *always* chooses East Terrace in either Thebarton or Mile End, both suburbs to the west and the former slightly north of the city and *nowhere near* the East Terrace I want!

This has been happening for over two years through several updates and new versions of all these navigation systems, a bizarre bit of behaviour in what are otherwise reasonably efficient and reliable systems.

My boss went to Melbourne, hired a car and trusted the GPS. He turned right into a street as instructed and found himself facing four lanes of on-coming traffic because it was a one-way street. (He drove up onto the footpath!)

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