If you have been following our adventures for awhile, then you will know how much we love getting out into Springbrook National Park (or any National Park) for a bush walk. What often surprises us when we visit our National Parks, is the amount of people who are seemingly unprepared for walking. So here are our top tips for bush walking safety.
On our most recent walk, we saw some other walkers who were only wearing thongs. We passed a couple who were carrying a large pram and as they were walking along items that were in the basket were falling out onto the side of the track. Another man was carrying the baby loosely in his arms. Another group of tourists had climbed up some very rough rocks for photo’s. We also passed a couple of ladies who were heavily pregnant.
In the media, we hear and see reports all the time of walkers who have either become lost or injured and have not been found until the following day after a large scale search and rescue effort.
Checking how a walking track is classified, will give you an idea of what to expect before you walk. The track we were on is the very popular Purling Brook Falls Walking Circuit. It is a Class 3 track, which means it is an intermediate track and walkers should have a reasonable level of fitness. Class 3 tracks often have steps, muddy sections, narrow sections and obstacles such as fallen trees, rocks and tree roots.
We certainly encountered all of the above on our walk thanks to recent heavy rains in the Gold Coast Hinterland area over the last week. Since the last time we walked this track, another tree has fallen across the path and not yet been cleared. This meant bending over to get underneath the tree and also stepping over branches that were laying flat on the track.
There are approximately 450 steps to negotiate on this track and most of these are made of rocks. A build up of leaf litter and soil makes many of these steps very slippery.
All of these factors can add an element of risk to your walk. The last thing you want to do is slip and injure yourself. Especially if you happen to be pregnant or carrying a small child in your arms.
BUSH WALKING SAFETY
Before you tackle any walking track that is rated above a class 2 (easy, level track) you might find these tips for Bush Walking Safety handy.
1. ASSESS YOUR RISK
Are you in the late stages of pregnancy or suffering from complications related to pregnancy? Is bush walking an activity that you would normally carry out when not pregnant? Do you suffer from another medical condition that could make a walk risky for you? Do you suffer from asthma or require regular medication? These are all things that you should consider before setting off.
2. WEAR STURDY SHOES
Thongs and sandals really aren’t suitable footwear for bush walking. They offer no support to your foot and no grip on the ground meaning that the chance of injury becomes higher. Even some sports shoes are not great for this activity but are certainly better than thongs. Smooth soled shoes or boots should not be worn either. Wearing enclosed footwear will also prevent injury from sharp sticks and rocks.
If you plan on doing lots of bushwalking, it might pay to invest in a pair of good hiking boots.
I find these Merrell Moab 2 Hiking Boots very comfortable. They are a wider fit and have good arch support, as well as supporting my ankles. They are also really comfortable for general walking. They also come in half sizes.
3. BE PREPARED
Weather conditions can change rapidly in many areas of Australia, including the Gold Coast Hinterland. In particular areas like Mt Kosciousko in NSW and Cradle Mountain in Tasmania can be fine one minute and snowing the next. Consider carrying a spray jacket and always carry at least one bottle of water. Always pack a few snacks as well. Fruit, muesli bars or some cheese and crackers are good.
4. SEEK ADVICE
Before you go on any bush walk or hike, check with the local National Parks and Wildlife office to obtain information on things like track conditions, track closure and weather conditions. They can also provide you with maps and information on walking times and distances. Also pay attention to signs that are located at the start of walking tracks. These can be a great guide as to what kind of conditions you might encounter.
5. WHAT TIME IS IT?
Before you start a walk you need to consider what time of the day it is. Even though a walk may only be four or five kilometres long, it may take you two hours to complete because of the rough terrain. Therefore starting your walk early in the day rather than late would be wise. You don’t want to be walking in the hottest part of the day nor do you want to still be walking as darkness falls.
6. IN AN EMERGENCY
Do not rely on your mobile phone in the event of an emergency. Many places, like Springbrook National Park have limited mobile reception. Always let someone know where you are going to be walking and how long you think you will be gone for. For longer walks, you may want to consider carrying a first aid kit and personal locator beacon.
7. WALK TOGETHER
Always walk with another person or in a group. Never on your own. If you become lost, or an accident occurs always stay together. This will increase your chances of help finding all of your group quickly.
STATE PARKS AND WILDLIFE
For more information on Bush Walking in Australia visit the Parks and Wildlife websites for state you are visiting.