How to get started bushwalking

I meet many people who would like to take themselves or their family on outdoor adventures, but they’re not sure how to get started bushwalking. In this article, I’ll outline some simple steps you can take to get started, stay safe, and have loads of fun! Keep your eyes open for a whole series of articles on places you can bushwalk across South East Queensland and beyond.

What equipment do I need to go for a bushwalk?

The basic equipment is really quite simple:bushwalking boots
  • a comfortable and sturdy pair of covered shoes
  • a drink bottle,
  • a hat, and
  • some sun protection such as sunscreen and sun-safe clothes
  • basic first aid and medical supplies for yourself or your group such as an asthma puffer and snake bandage – I slip a snake bandage into my pocket or backpack even on short walks
If you’re bushwalking in cold or alpine areas, you’ll also need:
  • warm layers of clothing eg jacket, beanie.
And if the weather is damp, you might like to have:
  • a rain coat or poncho
What else do I need to think about for longer or more challenging walks?

As you become more experienced, you might like to go on longer or more challenging bushwalks, so it’s important to have:

  • well-fitting shoes and socks suitable for the terrain and the climate
  • a small backpack that can hold all the gear you’ll need for an awesome day out – snacks, water, extra layers of clothing, raincoat, maps, emergency devices, and a camera,
  • some people like to wear gaiters to protect against snake bites and prickly plants
What about overnight hikes and camps?

If you plan on a multi-day bushwalk you’ll also need to have:bushwalking and camping

  • a well fitting backpack large enough to hold your gear, especially if you plan to be self-sufficient,
  • a shelter such as a tent,
  • food for the duration of your expedition
  • enough water plus a bit extra to get you to your next water supply – this includes water for drinking, cooking and cleaning,
  • a water purification system if you plan to collect water from untreated water supplies,
  • a sleeping mat,
  • sleeping bag,
  • toiletry items,
  • a trowel and toilet paper,
  • extra clothes to sleep in or if you want a clean set of clothes for your second day,
  • a stove and cooking equipment,
  • maps and navigation equipment such as a compass and / GPS, and
  • emergency communication equipment such as an emergency beacon, EPIRB, or GPS communication

We’ll cover equipment for overnight hikes in more detail in a future article.

How much water will I need?

The amount of water you need to take depends on lots of things including how far and how long you’ll be bushwalking as well as the temperature and humidity, whether there is drinking water available along the way, how strenuous your walk is, and how much you as an individual need to drink. A very rough guide is usually a minimum of 2 litres per day, however I’d recommend more than that especially if the weather is hot, and just in case you stay out longer than planned. If you’re planning to cook, you’ll need extra as well.

How much food should I take on a bushwalk?

If you’re going for a short walk (less than an hour), you generally won’t need to take food. bushwalking foodHowever, I think every walk is much more fun when you stop for a little picnic along the way. Choose food that won’t easily spoil or be squashed. It also pays to think about how heavy your snacks are and take a bag or container to transport your scraps back home.

Where can I go bushwalking?

Popular public walking spaces in Australia can be found in regional or council parks, state reserves and forestry, and in national parks. There also some privately owned land holdings that are open to the public. You can search the Internet for what’s available in your local area. Regional tourist information sites and centres also provide this information. Australian walking trails are often classified according to levels of difficulty from Class 1 to Class 5. This makes it easier for you to plan the right type of walk for your group.

In future articles I’ll share some of my favourite places with you.

How much does it cost to go bushwalking?

Most walking trails in Australia are free, however there are some parklands that require you to purchase a permit for vehicle entry (such as some national parks in some states). And you need to book ahead and pay an entry fee for some multi-day walks which assists with managing and maintaining the trails and surrounding environment.

Is it safe to go bushwalking alone?

Walking solo can be a great experience if you are properly prepared. I’d recommend:

  • Tell someone where you are planning to go and when you expect to be back, and then make sure you let them know you’ve arrived home safely afterwards.
  • Be extra careful about preparing and packing for your walk because you only have yourself to bushwalking equipmentrely on.
  • Take some extra water and food, as well as first aid supplies.
  • Stick to trails that are within your level of expertise.
  • Take a phone but don’t rely on having mobile coverage everywhere. (Remember you can use your phone’s GPS to help you work out where you are even if you don’t have phone coverage. The GPS function uses a satellite system not a mobile phone system.)
  • Download navigation and emergency services apps and practise using them before you go! Some suggestions include:
    • Orux Maps
    • GPS to SMS
    • Emergency+

How can I meet other people to bushwalk with?

Here are a few ways to meet other people who like to bushwalk:

  • join a bushwalking club
  • look on Facebook and MeetUp for bushwalking groups and activities
  • find a professional guide who can lead you on an organised walk
  • ask about walking groups and organised activities at tourist information centres and national parks offices
  • say hello and strike up a conversation with other people you meet along the trails – you’ll be surprised how much information other people have!

So there you have it – a brief introduction on how to get started bushwalking. Join me for future articles where we’ll explore more details about the amazing places you can go no matter your level of fitness or experience. And send me a message if there’s a particular question or topic about bushwalking that you’d like answered.

Daisy Spoke

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Kathryn Walton shares information and reflections in ‘Daisy Spoke’ that inform, inspire and empower women to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Adventures In the Great Outdoors

Daisy Spoke Banner

Daisy Spoke has started some new adventures! 

Welcome to Episode 1 of The Great Backpacking Adventure in which I turn to overnight hiking to learn more life lessons through an outdoor adventure lifestyle.

My best memories and my best learning about life have come from spending weekends and holidays in the great outdoors. As a child my parents whisked us away for family holidays in our caravan or tent, taking in wonderful adventures as we immersed ourselves in some of Australia’s most iconic landscapes. We took walks in the grandeur of rainforested mountains enthralled by stories of our ancestors’ pioneering days. On secret secluded beaches we discovered ocean life washed upon the shore – evidence of another world we could barely begin to imagine. Across the deserts we drove, soaking in the wonder of the sunrises and sunsets, a land of extremes in myriad ways.

Family Beach Camping

My teenage years brought the opportunity to go camping with my Girl Guide and Ranger crews. As a restless sleeper, I knew then that my best sleeps came after a day in the outdoors, hiking, learning woodcraft skills, cooking over a campfire, canoeing, kayaking, abseiling, riding bikes and simply being with others who loved the adventure as much as I did.

Beach Adventures

It was no surprise then that at uni I met and married a kindred spirit of the outdoors. We spent our leisure time exploring all the usual National Parks trails within a few hours drive of the city, playing frisbee in the park, cycling the local roads and pathways, paddling on the bay and local creeks, and filling our lives with regular camping trips near and far.

Rainforest Adventures

As our children arrived on the scene, they too were included in our adventures which were modified to accommodate their growing needs. Nurturing their love of the outdoors has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life so far. To see their little faces eagerly joining in on walks, creek paddling and bike rides has been completely heartwarming. And to hear their excited voices asking questions, always asking questions, soaking it all in, enthusiastic about nature and adventure, curious about their world and seeing themselves as a valuable and integral part of it has been a spirited journey.

Trop[ical Rainforest Adventures with Children

Through family illness and injury, study stresses and sporting commitments, work pressures and ties to family, friends and farm animals, we’ve kept up our habit of spending much of our leisure time in the great outdoors. Sometimes our adventures have been confined to the backyard (albeit a sizeable acreage of dry bushland) because that’s all we could do at the time. However sometimes our adventures have taken us to amazing far off places – interstate road trips with the trailer packed to the brim with camping gear. We’ve camped and hiked in awe-inspiring places like the The Warrumbungles, Mt Kaputar, the Blue Mountains, Carnarvon Gorge, Atherton Tableland, Central Australia, Birdsville, Innamincka, Gibraltar Range and Sturt National Park. By the time Miss E reached high school, she’d spent more birthdays in our tent than she had at home.

Family looking over FNQ viewpoint

And now this year I sensed I was ready to take on a new challenge. A challenge that would combine my much-loved experiences of camping with the physical challenge of bushwalking – I decided that this year I was going to have a go at backpacking! Something I was never interested in at all until now. I mean, why would you want to carry a heavy weight on your back for hours to a campsite when you can so easily tow a trailer with everything you could possibly need (and more), and pull up right beside a campsite to unpack, in easy walking distance of the bathrooms, and with plenty of walking trails to choose from right where you are! But the inner self doesn’t always operate on logic, and I’ve learned to trust myself when I sense that I’m ready for something new. Back-flipping my thinking didn’t come easily though. I’ve done a lot of soul-searching and asking myself “why?” and I don’t really have that answer yet. But what I do have is a strong pull towards challenging myself, stretching my abilities and coping skills, and discovering new possibilities for myself, not limiting myself. Surprising as it may seem, even to me, the life learning in this backpacking adventure has only just begun!

The beginning of navigation and trekking adventures

Stay tuned for my next episode of My Great Backpacking Adventure as I take off on my first overnight hiking expedition!

Discovering mountain biking as life’s ultimate parallel universe in her middle age, Daisy Spoke aka Kathryn Walton logoKathryn Walton shares information and reflections in Daisy Spoke that connect, inspire and self-empower women to make healthy choices for themselves. She integrates her love of physical exercise, family, nature, gardening and creative arts with her professional background in mental health social work to facilitate change with individuals, groups and communities of women who are committed to living life to the full.