To outline directions to each other, outback travellers used to draw maps in the dirt or in the mud after it had rained. These in turn became known as mud maps.
In those days it was a lonely life droving and travelling around the bush and the chance to stop and chat for a while with a friendly face was something to be enjoyed.
Often while sitting around a campfire fellow outback travellers would share stories, trade information and pass on the latest news. This news may have been the latest gold rush or possibly a recent flood and so the mud map became the focal point for describing the whole event.
The term mud map has remained in the Australian language particularly with people from the bush. These days however the maps are usually hand drawn on paper although you may occasionally see someone squat down and actually draw a map in the mud.
While maps drawn in this way have largely been replaced by printed maps, the local knowledge of the outback area which was so vital in days gone by must still be passed on by the experienced themselves.
Today in Australia there are many unmarked roads and old tracks.