Preparing for the Bush

When it comes to the Australian bush, it’s really important to be prepared. Many people worry about poisonous snakes and other scary critters in the grass, but the real dangers are dehydration, getting lost, and getting injured. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, it’s important to prepare adequately for bushwalking to ensure your safety and enjoyment.

Some key tips for preparing for bushwalking

Plan your route

Before embarking on a bushwalk, it’s important to plan your route carefully. Consider factors such as the distance, terrain, weather conditions, and your level of fitness. You’ll find the NSW National Parks site provides a lot of information about walks to help you prepare, e.g. Threlfall walking track

Pack the right gear

A key part of preparing for bushwalking is packing the right gear. This includes comfortable and sturdy hiking boots, appropriate clothing (such as a waterproof jacket and breathable layers), a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a first aid kit. You may also want to bring a backpack, trekking poles, a map, a compass, and a whistle.

Stay hydrated

Dehydration is a common risk when bushwalking, especially in hot or dry weather conditions. Many camping grounds and bushwalking locations do not have drinkable water available. Make sure to bring plenty of water and to drink regularly throughout your walk. It’s also a good idea to bring a water filter or purification tablets in case you need to refill your water supply from natural sources.

A general rule of thumb is to drink half a liter of water per hour of hiking, and more if it’s hot and humid. Bring enough water to last you the entire hike, and drink regularly, even if you’re not thirsty. You’ll want to pack more water than you think you need as you may be out longer than expected.

Check the weather forecast

Before heading out on a bushwalk, check the weather forecast for the area you’ll be hiking in. Avoid hiking during extreme weather conditions such as thunderstorms or high winds, and be prepared for changes in weather conditions by bringing appropriate clothing and gear.

Tell someone your plans

It’s important to let someone know your plans before heading out on a bushwalk. Tell a friend or family member where you’re going, what route you’re taking, and when you plan to return. If possible, bring a mobile phone or other communication device in case of emergency.

An Important Note on Sun Protection

Sun protection is essential in Australia due to the high levels of UV radiation. In particular, places in high altitudes like Armidale often have extreme UV radiation ratings, so it is particularly important in this area.

The Australian sun is especially harsh, and even short periods of exposure can cause significant sunburn and skin damage. Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, with around two in three Australians developing some form of skin cancer before the age of 70.

To protect yourself from the harmful effects of UV radiation, it’s essential to wear protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, and apply sunscreen regularly. It is highly recommended you use SPF30 or SPF50+ sunscreen, and if you are an international visitor, please purchase Australian sunscreen.