What is bushwalking?
Simply put, bushwalking is recreational walking in natural Australian landscapes. Walkers overseas might refer to similar activities in their own countries as tramping, hiking or rambling.
Discard any preconceived ideas of bushwalking as a bearded, middle aged man in khaki carrying a cumbersome rucksack through the bush, for nothing could be further from the truth. Bushwalking is undertaken by people of all ages and backgrounds in a variety of Australian landscapes and for many varied reasons.
Bushwalking is enjoyed by family groups, uni students, couple, singles, older people and seniors. It can be enjoyed in small or large sociable groups. You don't need to be super-fit to enjoy bushwalking. In fact, bushwalking can be a pleasant way to develop fitness by engaging in a safe, low-impact sport. There are numerous Walking for Health groups around Australia who conduct activities on local tracks in urban bush reserves. However, for most bushwalkers the key objective is not about getting fit, but simply having fun and experiencing the wonders of Australia's natural landscapes.
Bushwalking can take place in remote areas or in cities. While much bushwalking is undertaken in the eucalyptus forests of national parks, it can also be located by the edge of rivers and placid lakes, along the sandy foreshores of coastal beaches and dunes, beneath lush rainforest canopy, under the blue skies of vast outback deserts, in man-made state forests, along the historic rail trails of disused railway lines, on cycle tracks, or traversing urban bush reserves and grassy parkland.
There are many styles of bushwalking. Some people enjoy a challenge and push themselves to the limit in long distance endurance hikes or ascending mountains, which may involve some scrambling up precipitous rocky slopes.
Day walks may involve travelling by car or public transport to a national park trailhead, carrying a small rucksack filled with a picnic lunch and refreshments, and walking through the bush on a well-signed bush track for a few hours to a waterfall or scenic lookout. A day walk could be as short as a couple of kilometres, or as long as you have the strength to carry on.
Many bushwalkers undertake overnight pack walks where they carry lightweight tents, cooking equipment and sleeping bags to savour the solitude of a peaceful bush campsite.
Rail trail bushwalks occur on wide, gently sloping tracks which were formerly railway routes. These trails take the bushwalker on easy walks through natural areas and are shared with cyclists.
For those who prefer a little extra comfort, glamping is a professionally guided bushwalking trip combined with a pre-set campsite and gourmet meals provided by a specialist walking company.
Others prefer a gentle stroll around a lakeshore, along a sandy beach, or in a local bushland reserve. The choice is up to you.
Bushwalking is a relatively safe sport. Sometimes people are deterred from bushwalking by fear of snakes and spiders or fear of getting lost. Occasionally you may encounter wildlife on a walk, but the dangers are minimal. Taking a few precautions such as bushwalking with a club reduces the risk significantly. There are many bushwalking safety tips and ideas on this website that will increase your confidence and help you to get started bushwalking.