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Google Maps shows image of Gold Coast when users search for Canberra
Source: Stephen Jeffery




Australians have enough trouble convincing foreigners that Canberra, not Sydney, is the nation's capital.

But a new claimant to the title has emerged, thanks to an algorithmic error on Google Maps matching searches for Canberra with an image of the Gold Coast.

The capital's waterfront may be a jogging and cycling nirvana, but a surfer's paradise it is not, a Google spokesman acknowledged when Fairfax Media contacted the company about the photograph.

Google Maps users who typed "Canberra" and "Canberra ACT" into the navigation tool on computers or mobiles were greeted with details about the weather, temperature and local time in the city as usual.




"The surf looked a bit too gnarly for Lake Burley Griffin," a Google spokesman said.
"The surf looked a bit too gnarly for Lake Burley Griffin," a Google spokesman said. Photo: Alexandar Petkovic

But they were also presented with an aerial view of the Surfers Paradise skyline and beachfront, an image which had remained in place since at least February.

Searches for "Braddon", "Parkes" or even "Canberra Central", however, had photographs of the Parliamentary Triangle and decidedly less choppy waters of Lake Burley Griffin.

Rather than the wishful thinking of some residents dreaming of Sunshine State warmth on foggy autumn mornings, the placement of the image was probably due to the search engine giant's algorithms.

The Google spokesman said most images matched to suburb and city searches were determined algorithmically, but some users could contribute photos.





Not a sight you would expect to see in Canberra.
Not a sight you would expect to see in Canberra. Photo: Louie Douvis

"Overall, this provides a very comprehensive and up-to-date experience, but we recognise that there might be occasional inaccuracies," the spokesman said.

"If something appears to be wrong, users can flag this by tapping on the image."

When clicked on, the photo of Surfers Paradise linked to a 2015 travel blog post about Canberra, which featured the Google Maps image as well as photos of Sydney Harbour and Hyams Beach.

"Thanks for pointing this out - we also thought the surf looked a bit too gnarly for Lake Burley Griffin," the spokesman said.

The mix-up appears not to have affected visitors navigating the city.

Last year, the Majura Parkway failed to show up on Apple Maps and some GPS devices for at least seven months after its opening.



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