Get Back To Basics With Bushwalking
Bushwalking, or Hiking, is also called Tramping in New Zealand. Both on and off-trails, it can be easily available or it can involve quite a bit of bushwhacking.
We are lucky enough that Australia hosts some of the best trails on the planet and the second oldest national park in the world: The Royal National Park, located south of Sydney. The choice is yours and the possibilities are endless.
The History Of Bushwalking
For a long time country walks, and walking in general, were synonymous with poverty and even vagrancy.
It is not until the Romantic area that people started to show more interest in simple country walks and hiking.
Romanticism, as a cultural movement inspired by Medievalism, was born in Western Europe in the eighteenth century, when writers, artist and intellectuals started protesting against the industrial revolution and urban overpopulation.
It all started when the English clergyman, Thomas West, published a walking guide to the Lake District in 1778.
His book became a huge success.
A century later the famous Scottish writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, would write his travel essay ‘Walking Tour’ in 1876.
Stevenson’s book ‘Travels With a Donkey in the Cevennes’ would subsequently be published in 1879.
That same year, Leslie White created the ‘Sunday Tramps’ club to promote the freedom to ‘roam’ the countryside of Northern England as most land was owned and it was illegal to trespass at the time.
This inspired the creation of the national Federation of Rambling Clubs in London in 1905.
The expression, bushwalking, was inspired by the Sydney’s Bush Walkers (SBW) created in the late 1920s.
Benefits Of Bushwalking
Bushwalking is an excellent way to get fit and discovering new places, which you would have never been able to see by car.
You will not just tone all your lower body but you will also exercise your core and improve your balance and strength.
Bushwalking can be a great cardiovascular exercise as you increase your pace and the difficulty of the terrain.
Bushwalking is sometimes associated with other sports including swimming, kayaking, climbing and canyoning. In this case, you will tone your upper body as well. It is a fantastic way to strengthen the bones and joints as well.
As every step you take is different from the previous one, and you walk uphill and downhill, your body will use a lot of muscles that you don’t normally use in other types of exercises.
It is a great stress relief if you live a fast paced life in the city and you want to escape momentarily and recharge your batteries. Nature walks have also been proven to help with mild depression.
As it can bring challenges, at the end of the day, you will feel a great sense of achievement while your level of fitness will improve.
As you become more self-reliant, and you increase the difficulty of your walks, you will improve your navigational skills.
You won’t just be learning about your surroundings, you have the opportunity to learn about native plants and your local history.
Bushwalking is also the best way to spot aboriginal art and if you are lucky enough, you might meet some of the local wildlife as well.
How To Get Started With Bush Walking
Bushwalking is suitable for all ages and all levels and fitness. Do some research first about the nature of the tracks, from beginners to advanced, to ensure you find the ones which meets your needs and level of expertise.
A lot of bush walks are easy to access by public transports and are designed for beginners. But if you are aiming for a walk in more advanced terrain, you will need to wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes as well as a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
And don’t forget to carry a backpack with enough water and snacks to keep you going. In some cases, you might even need to bring insect repellent or a torch. Start your walk with a few stretches.
A bushwalk can last from an hour to a few days for the more experienced. If you are going alone, it is a good idea to inform someone of your whereabouts.
If you have no previous experience, walk with friends or join a club. Club members will help you familiarise yourself with the bushwalkers code: learn the art of light packing, take care of your own safety and the safety of others with you, be self-reliant, leave no trace including taking your rubbish with you and respecting your environment.
It is a good idea to learn about park regulations and any protected areas before you get there.
If you decide to go off-trail you will need to know how to use a compass and bring 1:25000 map of the local area.
Depending on the type of walk, you might need to wear a pair hiking shoes with ankle support. It is always a good idea to bring a first aid kit with you. If you go for a few days, you can find light and affordable camping equipment at your nearest camping store.
The staff at the store will be more than happy to provide you with the best advice to help you purchase all you need including a tent, sleeping bag, pots and a stove.
If you are thinking about making a fire, always find out if bush fires are allowed before you head out to a specific area depending on the time of the year.
There are bushwalking clubs all over Australia and it a great way to meet like-minded people who share the same interests and love of nature.
Therefore, you do not need to go solo and you will have the pleasure to exchange great stories and gain tons of experience from the experts.
Plus you will learn about walks happening around your area. You will feel privileged as you will improve your mental and physical health while enjoying some amazing scenery!