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A Beginner’s Guide to Bushwalking in Sydney
Part 1: Prep
The Australian landscape is unlike any other. It is raw, stripped back and utterly stunning. Unlike many other parts of the world, Australia’s beauty is harsh. The land is sunburnt, dry and unforgiving. And to the untrained eye, it is seemingly untouched. In truth, however, people have lived with this land for over 40,000 years, and as we take you through a beginner’s guide to bushwalking in Sydney, we hope that you will tread lightly and respect your surroundings. As they say, take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints.
Before you head out the door.
Wear comfortable clothes, preferably fabrics that breathe, because you’re likely to work up a sweat! It’s also a good idea to dress in layers, so you can strip down or add on, depending on the temperature.
Bushwalking in Aus, you need GOOD FOOTWEAR. For most bush trails, sneakers will suffice. Just make sure you’re wearing shoes with good grip for when you’re walking over loose earth or rocks. Carrying bandaids for blisters is ALWAYS a good idea!
Slip. Slop. Slap. You know the drill. You need lots of sunscreen, protective clothing, a hat and sunnies!
Take more water than you think you’ll need.
Pack light. It’s really helpful here to pack foods that are small in size but big in nutrition and energy. Think muesli bars, dark chocolate covered goji berries, activated nuts, carrot sticks and fruit. Take a plastic bag or container in your bag to put your rubbish in. It’s best not to leave any scraps behind, even if they’re organic and biodegradable.
Perhaps most important, bring a good water bottle to stay hydrated. The S'well Insulated Water Bottle is a great option, which keeps liquids cold for 24 hours or hot for 12:
Safety. It’s Australia. We have lots of things that can kill you.
The small, compact first aid kits you can get from the chemist or supermarket are always a good idea. In them, you’ll usually find tweezers (great for splinters or tick bites), antiseptic cream/ointment, bandaids and a small bandage. If you have allergies to insects or pollens, don’t forget a pack of antihistamines.
Now for some obvious ones… Don’t stray off the paths into unmarked bush. And don’t approach or attempt to pat wild animals.
Snakes are probably the greatest threat in the bush around Sydney, and although it’s unlikely you’ll see one, it’s good to know that they don’t like noise. If you have to duck into the bushes for a wee, bang a stick on the ground or stomp your feet first to avoid a surprise visit.
Often there is little to no reception in National Parks so tell someone where you’re going and what time you’ll be back. It’s also great to walk in groups of 3 or more. This way, if someone is injured, one person can go for help, while the other stays with the one who’s injured.
Pick up a brochure from the information booth at the entrance to your National Park. Most are really informative and you’ll find things you might have otherwise overlooked. Having a look at Google Maps on the satellite setting is another way to get your bearings before you go. You can take a few screenshots of where you’re headed and keep them in your pocket.
Almost all of the National Park bush trails are signposted and will tell you track distances and walking times. Unless you’re going one-way, always double the time estimate to account for a return trip. The last thing you want to do is set off on a 2-hour track with 3 hours of daylight left, forgetting the time it will take you to walk back.
Now, you’re ready to step outside!
Check in with us next week for Part 2 of the Beginner’s Guide to Bushwalking in Sydney. We’ll take you through summer and winter tracks, wildlife, landscapes and flowers.
Sophie Hardcastle is a twenty-two-year-old author and artist based in Sydney. Sophie has a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Sydney College of the Arts. Her memoir Running like China was released in September 2015, and her debut novel, Breathing Under Water was released in July 2016. Hachette publishes both of Sophie’s books. In addition to her books, Sophie has written for various magazine publications, including ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar and Surfing World and has also written for theatre.