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The goal of VicmapR is to provide functions to easily access Victorian Government spatial data through their WFS (Web Feature Service). VicmapR leverages code and a lazy querying approach developed by Teucher et al. (2021) for the {bcdata} R package, which allows for a responsive and precise querying process.

Migration of Victoria’s Open Data Geoserver

From March 2023 (VicmapR v0.2.0) the way VicmapR obtains data has changed

In March 2023 the data platform used by VicmapR will be migrated with the legacy platform discontinued. Changes have been to the VicmapR package to allow for the conversion and translation of of code in an effort to ensure legacy code still works. However, the migration may have unseen consequences and users are encouraged to review code.


You can install the released version from CRAN with:


Or you can install the the development version from GitHub with:

# install.packages("remotes")


Currently, the ability to use accurate geometric filters using VicmapR requires GDAL > 3.0. To see how to upgrade your version of GDAL and link it to the sf package visit:

#> Warning: package 'sf' was built under R version 4.1.2
#> Linking to GEOS 3.10.2, GDAL 3.4.2, PROJ 8.2.1; sf_use_s2() is TRUE
#>           GEOS           GDAL         proj.4 GDAL_with_GEOS     USE_PROJ_H 
#>       "3.10.2"        "3.4.2"        "8.2.1"        "false"         "true" 
#>           PROJ 
#>        "8.2.1"


Searching for data

#> Attaching package: 'VicmapR'
#> The following object is masked from 'package:stats':
#>     filter

# Check to see if the geoserver is working. It will error if it is not working  
#> [1] TRUE

listLayers(pattern = "watercourse", = T)
#>                                       Name                 Title
#> 1 open-data-platform:hy_water_area_polygon hy_water_area_polygon
#> 2        open-data-platform:hy_watercourse        hy_watercourse
#> 3 open-data-platform:vmlite_hy_watercourse vmlite_hy_watercourse
#>                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Abstract
#> 1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This layer is part of Vicmap Hydro and contains polygon features delineating hydrological features.\nIncludes; Lakes, Flats (subject to inundation),  Wetlands, Pondages (saltpan & sewrage), Watercourse Areas, Rapids & Waterfalls\nAttributed for name.\nCentroid layer also available.
#> 2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This layer is part of Vicmap Hydro and contains line features delineating hydrological features.\nIncludes; Watercourses (ie channels, rivers & streams) & Connectors.\nAttributed for name.  Arcs run downstream.
#> 3 This layer is part of Vicmap Lite and contains line features delineating hydrological features. Vicmap Lite datasets are suited for use between scales of 1: 250,000 and 1 : 5 million.  The linework was sourced from Vicmap Hydro. The level of attribute information, the number of features and the number of vertices has been simplified to suit the 1: 250,000  - 1 : 5 million scale range. The concept of a Scale Use Code has been introduced to help control the level of detail displayed.\n\nIf this dataset is used in conjunction with vmlite_hy_water_area, then the draw order should be such that vmlite_hy_watercourse is drawn 1st and vmlite_hy_water_area is drawn ontop.\n\nTHIS DATASET WAS LAST UPDATED IN NOVEMBER 2015
#>                             metadataID
#> 1 3984e659-2487-512d-b390-0de817979f21
#> 2 cc373943-7848-5c21-9be4-7a92632e624c
#> 3 9753ed02-4f2a-59a0-a673-73fbe934f58a

Reading in data

As of VicmapR version 0.1.0 data is read in using a lazy evaluation method with the convenience of pipe operators (%>%). A lot of the methods and code have already been written for a similar package (bcdata) that downloads data from the British Columbia WFS catalogues. Using a similar approach, VicmapR allows users to construct a WFS query in a step-wise format. In doing so a query is reserved until collect() is used on the vicmap_promise. The example below shows an extensive example of how the to easily read in spatial data:

# Read in an example shape to restrict our query to using geometric filtering
melbourne <- sf::st_read(system.file("shapes/melbourne.geojson", package="VicmapR"), quiet = T)

# Obtain a promise of what data will be returned for a given layer
vicmap_query(layer = "open-data-platform:hy_watercourse")
#> • Using collect() on this object will return 1835052 features and 21
#> • fields
#> • At most six rows of the record are printed here
#> ────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────
#> Simple feature collection with 6 features and 20 fields
#> Geometry type: LINESTRING
#> Dimension:     XY
#> Bounding box:  xmin: 146.3073 ymin: -38.9966 xmax: 146.3657 ymax: -38.9847
#> Geodetic CRS:  GDA94
#> # A tibble: 6 × 21
#>   id       ufi    pfi featu…¹ name  named…² origin const…³ usage hiera…⁴ auth_…⁵
#>   <chr>  <int>  <int> <chr>   <chr> <chr>   <chr>  <chr>   <chr> <chr>   <chr>  
#> 1 hy_w… 3.63e6 9.63e6 waterc… <NA>  <NA>    1      <NA>    1     L       <NA>   
#> 2 hy_w… 3.63e6 9.63e6 waterc… <NA>  <NA>    1      <NA>    1     L       <NA>   
#> 3 hy_w… 3.63e6 9.63e6 waterc… <NA>  <NA>    1      <NA>    1     L       <NA>   
#> 4 hy_w… 3.63e6 9.63e6 waterc… <NA>  <NA>    1      <NA>    1     L       <NA>   
#> 5 hy_w… 3.63e6 9.63e6 waterc… <NA>  <NA>    1      <NA>    1     L       <NA>   
#> 6 hy_w… 3.63e6 9.63e6 waterc… <NA>  <NA>    1      <NA>    1     L       <NA>   
#> # … with 10 more variables: auth_org_id <chr>, auth_org_verified <chr>,
#> #   feature_quality_id <int>, task_id <chr>, create_date_pfi <dttm>,
#> #   superceded_pfi <chr>, feature_ufi <int>, feature_create_date_ufi <dttm>,
#> #   create_date_ufi <dttm>, geometry <LINESTRING [°]>, and abbreviated variable
#> #   names ¹​feature_type_code, ²​named_feature_id, ³​construction, ⁴​hierarchy,
#> #   ⁵​auth_org_code

# Build a more specific query and collect the results
vicmap_query(layer = "open-data-platform:hy_watercourse") %>% # layer to query
  filter(hierarchy == "L" & feature_type_code == 'watercourse_channel_drain') %>% # simple filter for a column
  filter(INTERSECTS(melbourne)) %>% # more advanced geometric filter
  select(hierarchy, pfi) %>% 
#> Simple feature collection with 8 features and 3 fields
#> Geometry type: LINESTRING
#> Dimension:     XY
#> Bounding box:  xmin: 144.909 ymin: -37.81511 xmax: 144.9442 ymax: -37.78198
#> Geodetic CRS:  GDA94
#> # A tibble: 8 × 4
#>   id                          pfi hierarchy                             geometry
#>   <chr>                     <int> <chr>                         <LINESTRING [°]>
#> 1 hy_watercourse.763443  14577596 L         (144.929 -37.81409, 144.9294 -37.81…
#> 2 hy_watercourse.763452  14577602 L         (144.9288 -37.81417, 144.9292 -37.8…
#> 3 hy_watercourse.1191149 14608731 L         (144.9365 -37.81511, 144.9359 -37.8…
#> 4 hy_watercourse.1183449 17520306 L         (144.9415 -37.78232, 144.9414 -37.7…
#> 5 hy_watercourse.1183457 14615146 L         (144.9442 -37.78198, 144.9441 -37.7…
#> 6 hy_watercourse.1183525 14608434 L         (144.9403 -37.78253, 144.9401 -37.7…
#> 7 hy_watercourse.1651720 19272791 L         (144.9287 -37.8033, 144.9186 -37.80…
#> 8 hy_watercourse.1652842 14608551 L         (144.9201 -37.79069, 144.9202 -37.7…

VicmapR translates numerous geometric filter functions available in the Victorian Government’s WFS Geoserver supports numerous geometric filters:

These filters can be used within the filter() function by providing them an object of class sf/sfc/sfg/bbox as shown above with the melbourne object.

Using other WFS urls

Using options(vicmap.base_url) VicmapR can query data from other WFS services; while this remains somewhat untested it is relatively easy to point VicmapR to another WFS url. This option would need to be set every session to override the base VicmapR url. For instance, the BOM WFS can be used as follows:

# set the new base url
options(vicmap.base_url = "")

# collect a data sample
catchments <- vicmap_query("ahgf_shcatch:AHGFCatchment") %>% 
  head(10) %>% 

Note: Using other Geoserver WFS urls will not necessarily work as expected due to the potential differences in the capabilities of the Geoserver instance


Copyright 2018 Province of British Columbia
Modifications Copyright 2020 Justin Cally

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the “License”); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an “AS IS” BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.