From cosmopolitan city skylines to seaside suburbs, Australia truly has it all. Although, it is the nature walks and hikes aplenty that remain on the tip of the tongue for locals and tourists alike. With a landmass of nearly 7.7 million km², this continent boasts trails for every level of adventurer. Whether a seasoned explorer or first-time trekker, here are our top tips on how to stay safe hiking in Australia.
Plan ahead, taking into consideration the date and time of a hike, intended trail and timeframe. National parks offer some of the most beautiful hiking grounds in Australia and often have information centres dedicated to helping adventurers stay safe! It is always advised to contact the relevant information centre prior to any trip since they may have some useful information to share.
Work out the distance of the proposed hike and how long it should take, then add some! Unseen factors can always arise, changing the duration of a hike, and, in turn, the nature of a hike. For instance, you never know when a day trip could become an overnight trip.
Check the weather beforehand and remember: Weather can change in an instant. Take into consideration the terrain, altitude and distance to the nearest town or information centre; should any issues arise, it is always good to have an alternative route or contingency plan.
No matter a hiker’s experience, it is importance to inform a reliable source of expected plans and timeframe before embarking on any trip.
Always check the intensity of a hike per the Australian Walking Track Grading System. Remember, even a fit or athletic individual may struggle hiking the Australian landscape. Hiking requires a different type of stamina; so start slow, take it easy and enjoy the scenery!
Try to make mental notes of surroundings. Observing trees or rocks formations can give a sense of direction, offering an additional safety measure.
Trail maps are gold dust in the wilderness, so never head out without one. Additionally, GPS and safety beacons for use in emergencies are advised, especially on longer trips or when going off the beaten track.
Hydration is crucial when hiking in Australia. The climate can be extreme and often changeable. How much each person needs to drink on a hike can be affected by many factors (temperature, intensity of hike or distance travelled, for example). Although, a general rule of thumb is one litre of water every one to two hours.
Note the location of water sources; should a group member have to seek water urgently, this information will be invaluable.
Although most hikers carry their own water supply, this can be cumbersome; bring a water filter and be able to drink from any water source without hesitation.
Pack with care, questioning each item’s purpose and playing with different scenarios. Suitable footwear is essential. Although both runners and hiking boots can be the perfect option, consider a trail’s length and terrain.
Pack sufficient layers for all times of the day and night, considering possible weather changes. Bring enough food, allowing for possible delays or emergency stops. Dried fruits and nuts are a good option since they are both filling and nutritious.
Additional supplies for a safe journey include tape, scissors, comprehensive first aid kit, waterproof wear, space blanket, two ignition sources for fire (in case one is lost!), whistle and/or flare and a flashlight and/or headlamp.
Always travel in groups of three or more so that if there’s an emergency, no one person will be left alone. Stick together and maintain a pace suitable for all members of the group. Take breaks to rest and rehydrate often. Always tell your partners when you’re going to break away from the group and why. Never assume to ‘catch up’. Getting lost is never too hard in ‘the bush’.
Remember: It’s OK to call it a day. Hiking in Australia can be extremely challenging; there is no shame in opting to cut the hike short over finishing with flying colours!
Relax, enjoy and take unforgettable photos; Australian hikes are some of the most beautiful in the world!