Tourists heading to Canberra this summer can follow in the virtual footsteps of explorers and movie stars at an extraordinary exhibition that blends rare and historical charts with cutting-edge mapping technology.

The Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia­ exhibition, which was opened late 2013 by self-proclaimed ‘map geek’ Russell Crowe, used next-gen touchscreen apps to navigate through the once-in-a-lifetime display of ancient maps and treasures at the National Library of Australia.

The interactive tablet device apps have been developed exclusively by mapping technology giant Esri Australia for the exhibition and have been a huge hit with adventurous kids and adults alike.

Esri Australia’s Communications Manager, Alicia Kouparitsas, said the interactive apps would give families access to the mysterious and wonderful histories behind the exhibits.

“The exhibition features some of the world’s oldest and rarest maps, atlases and globes from places as far flung as the Vatican in Rome and the British Library in London,” Ms Kouparitsas said.

“But we decided to transport them into the digital age to make the exhibition even more engaging for both adults and kids and demonstrate how exciting geography can be.

“My favourite is the Flinders’ Voyage app, which features an interactive animation of early British cartographer Matthew Flinders’ original journey around Australia.

“The Discovery of Australia Map features time-stamped maps created over centuries: from a 1663 Dutch map of New Holland – known as the ‘birth certificate of Australia’ – to maps ordered by Captain Cook himself.”

Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia ended on 10 March 2014.

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