National Tourism Symbols explained
The national tourism symbols are designed to be used consistently throughout Australia. The criteria for each are explained below. Before you use each symbol you must gain the approval of your State or Territory road and tourism authority, as they may have their own additional criteria for use.
Waste dump symbol (white on blue background)
Denotes a purpose-built facility for the legal discharge of effluent (‘black’ water) from caravans, motor homes and camper vans/trailers.
Golf course symbol (white on blue background)
Denotes the location of a golf course open to the general public on a casual basis. Does not include mini-golf, stand-alone golf driving ranges, golf practice venues and golfing retail venues. It should not be used to denote private golf courses open only to members and/or their invited guests.
Heritage symbol (white on brown background)
Denotes the location of attractions, display/interpretive centres, sites, monuments and other objects of historical interest. This symbol is not used to denote towns of historic interest (in which case the words ‘historic town’ or ‘historic village’ are considered more appropriate on road signing).
Museum symbol (white on brown background)
Denotes a building used as a museum regularly open to the public, which displays items of a general or thematic nature and features a high level of interpretation. Does not include small historical centres or interpretive displays attached to visitor information outlets, in which case the heritage symbol may be more appropriate. Use of this symbol in some states/territories may be subject to the approval of and/or accreditation by Museums Australia or other appropriate agencies.
Whales symbol (white on brown background)
Denotes an area designated for the seasonal viewing of whale migratory activity, although it may also feature other marine life. The area must incorporate adequate car parking, viewing areas and safety precautions/traffic management facilities that meet State and Local Government requirements. The area should feature high-level interpretive information, which will be of interest to the public during periods when whales are not visible.
Winery symbol (white on brown background)
Denotes a winery that holds a Vignerons Licence or a licence that permits direct sales to the general public, and which features a purpose-built facility (cellar door) for the tasting and interpretation of wine. Note: this symbol denotes all variations of wine production and sales, including fruit wines.
Walking trail symbol (white on brown background)
Denotes a trail designed for the safe passage of pedestrians that complies with all safety requirements of State and Local Government authorities. Generally trails using this symbol will also provide some level of interpretation.
Lookout symbol (white on brown background)
Denotes a lookout point readily accessible to vehicular traffic that complies with all safety and traffic management requirements of State and Local Government authorities.
Aboriginal attraction symbol (white on brown background)
Denotes an attraction, cultural centre or a site of Aboriginal significance, which has been approved for general visitation by relevant traditional owners and/or other authorised authorities. Such sites should feature interpretive material, although for cultural reasons this may not always be appropriate. It is not to be used to denote purely retail attractions, nor for commercial galleries. Note: In some jurisdictions approval to use this symbol has not been granted by the relevant Aboriginal authority. Proponents should consult with their State/Territory road authority for clarification.
These symbols were endorsed by the National Tourism Signing Reference Group in November 2006.
National tourist symbols
These nationally approved tourist symbols have been developed so that users can enjoy a consistent experience as they visit Australia’s tourism destinations.
They are intended for use on roadside signs, maps, guidebooks, directories and tourism websites.
Other symbols may be added in future, as the need and funding arises.
All symbols have been consumer tested according to Australian Standards and have been adopted for use by all Australian states and territories. Some states or territories may choose not to use some symbols so you should consult the officer in charge of tourist road signing at your State or Territory road authority to determine whether they are applicable in your area.
Using these tourist symbols
Criteria for the use of each symbol has been agreed to at a national level, but some states and territories may choose to apply additional criteria to meet local needs and/or policies. You should consult your state or territory road authority and/or tourism commission for clarification about how they are to be applied in your region.
These symbols are copyright protected, but they may be used by authorised individuals, agencies and commercial organisations only for the purpose for which they are intended and according to the base criteria.
The development of a set of national tourist symbols has been a major project of the National Tourism Signing Reference Group (NTSRG) since 2000.
Find out more about:
To request to use or find out more about the symbols, please contact your relevant road authority.
Effective sign design
Road signs must be easy for passing motorists to comprehend quickly. In most cases, motorists have only a few seconds to glance at the sign and understand its message. Signs must also meet important safety, aesthetic and environmental considerations.
Design for a roadside context
Extensive research by road authorities has determined optimum lettering size, spacing, and the number of words and lines on a sign to suit various traffic speeds, location considerations and to help motorists to understand the sign’s message. The size, style and wording of your sign will be determined by these factors.
Logos are generally unsuitable for use on road signs because they cannot usually be clearly distinguished from a moving vehicle.
Signing officers employed by councils and the road traffic agencies know and understand these requirements. Contact them early to discuss your application for signage.
What is the difference between road signs and outdoor advertising signs?
Road signs, including tourist and services signs, are the responsibility of the appropriate road authority. They should not be confused with advertising signs, which are covered by different rules and regulations.
Types of road signs
There are four major types of road signs used by visitors to find tourist attractions and facilities in Australia. They are:
- direction signs (white on green)
- tourist attraction signs (white on brown)
- services signs (white on blue)
- community facility signs (white on blue).
Direction road signs
Direction signs are distinctive in their use of white lettering on a green background. They provide directions to towns and cities and particular locations, and most include reference to a route numbering system or road name. They are the primary means of directional signing for visitors and are generally used in conjunction with maps. They reassure motorists that they are travelling in the desired direction, and facilitate traffic movement in the safest and most direct way.
Tourist attraction signs
Tourist attraction signs use white lettering on a brown background. They indicate features and tourist attractions of significant recreation and cultural interest, and may make use of tourist attraction symbols.
Tourist attraction signs include:
- commercial/non-commercial tourist operations
- national parks
- natural features
- conservation parks/botanic gardens
- wineries catering for tourists
- historic sites/buildings/towns
- scenic lookouts
- tourist drives and trails.
Tourist attraction signs signal commercial and non-commercial tourist establishments and features of tourist interest that meet the eligibility criteria. In order to qualify for tourist signing, the core business must be tourism-based, with a strong commitment to servicing visitors. Road authorities in partnership with State Tourism Organisations establish the criteria that determine whether a business qualifies for tourist attraction signing.
Service signs, with white lettering on a blue background, direct motorists to facilities and services that may benefit them. With the exception of some accommodation facilities, signing to other services uses Australian Standards symbols. Service signs are used for:
- accommodation facilities
- caravan and camping parks/areas
- visitor information centres
- tourist information bays
- visitor radio services
- service stations
- public toilets
- rest areas
- parking areas.
Service signs direct the travelling public to essential and desirable facilities and service businesses (as endorsed by road authorities, often in consultation with tourism managers).
Community facilities signs
Community facility signing (white on blue) generally denotes facilities most commonly used by the community. Those facilities may be used by visitors and, in some cases, attract visitors in their own right.
- arts centres
- recreation centres
- golf courses
- swimming pools