Want to find out more about Hiking in Australia?
These advice below is general in nature and all hikers must research their hikes and take responsibility for safety.
You can hike in Australia at any time of the year!
In general the north and center should be hiked in Winter. For example the Larapinta Trail out of Alice Springs is best hiked from May to August with an ideal time of June July.
The southern sections of South Australia and West Australia, two of the driest states, should be avoided in Jan and Feb.
Victoria, Tasmania and the high country of NSW can be very cold with snow in winter and so are best hiked in summer.
Always check bushfire and weather warnings. Remember to check water availability on any hike you plan to undertake.
Water availability is something you must always check when bushwalking in Australia.
This is a dry country and so water can be hard to find. Even when there are camping huts with roof run off into tanks for water supply, you must check. If there has not been much rain the tanks may be empty.
Water will often need to be treated. Carry a water purifier – either tablets, filters or battery powered purifying devices. You can boil water provided it is not a Total Fire Ban Day (see section on Bushfires)
Bushfires or Wild fires are a very real threat in Australia. They affect every part of the country. They can happen very quickly, move very fast and are often lit by lightning strikes. Many people have died during bushfires in Australia so if you are planning a hike tell someone where you plan to go and who is with you. Tell them when you return safely home. A fire can be terrifying, with strong winds, intense heat and flames, and thick smoke. So plan ahead!
If hot weather is forecast there will be a Fire Danger rating for the area you are planning to visit. Ask the National Park, Trail Management Group or local Fire Authority where you are going about the conditions you might experience. Do not go bushwalking on hot windy days that are rated very high, severe, extreme or catastrophic on the Fire Danger Index.
High fire danger days = a Total Fire Ban. You must not light fires, use your cooker, or use anything that has a flame on these days. The National Parks and Wildlife Service in NSW put a Park Fire Ban in place when there are active fires or the potential for a fire to start. The area may have limited access, or have very dry or overgrown areas that could cause a bush fire to move quickly.
Weather conditions and weather warnings can be found at at www.bom.gov.au
Fire Danger Ratings and Bush Fire Alerts at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au or on the Fires Near Me Smartphone application
Australia is known as the land of ‘Drought and Flooding Rains’.
Floods can happen quickly and river rises can be very dramatic. Never cross a swollen river or camp in a river bed.
- Change your route before departure if there has been heavy rain in catchment areas
- Do not enter canyons if rain is predicted or it has been raining
- Be aware that rain in upstream areas may flood a canyon unexpectedly, even though it is not raining in the area you are exploring
- Check with local authorities if there is a possibility that bridges may have been damaged by flood waters
- Wait for a swollen river to subside, or use an alternative route
- Do not cross a flooded river
- Don’t camp in dry creek beds as they can unexpectedly flood
Mobile phone coverage outside of cities and large country towns is very patchy in Australia. This is due the low population coverage.
The best phone to have is the Telstra 4G. Expensive though! No matter what phone plan you have DO NOT expect that your phone will work. It may work sometimes but most likely it will only work when you get back to the local towns.
Best to take an EPRIB beacon for emergencies.
If you feel you need it, there are devices with manned emergency response that can also allow you to send an email each night to your contact that will locate you on your hike.
The Guthook Guides App work with no mobile coverage, in airplane mode.
Make sure you take a solar panel and/or battery pack to charge your devices if you plan to use them.
In Australia is expected that you will have significant distance between resupply on some of the longer distance hikes.
You will need to check the resupply stages on multi-day hikes.
Where possible this information will be in the Guthook Guide app. We also detail companies that will carry out resupply where they exist. We always appreciate your questions and new information/feedback if it is not clear.
This is a very hard question to answer.
In Australia most hikes are quite flat.
However you do need to be very self reliant as there are not likely to be too many people around. In a wide beautiful landscape, this is the attraction!
Just remember, whatever you do, you will need to rely on you!
Having said that many walks are not very difficult and are very doable if you prepare well.
In Australia when hiking bring the usual gear. A suggested list is below.
The main items to consider that might be different to your usual kit out side Australia are:
- Water and water purification. You might need to carry water and so need to think about how much you will need.
- What to eat if it is a Total Fire Ban Day when you cannot use a fire or cooker or anything with an open flame.
- First aid kit with a snake bandage (highly unlikely this will ever be needed) and antidote for insect/spider bites if you are allergic
- What you might need for heat stress or hypothermia if its a cold location.
- A Pack to put it all in (Duh)
- Rain cover for pack
- Sleeping Bag
- Sleeping Mat
Cooking / Eating Gear
- Camping Stove & Fuel (ie, Trangia or MSR stove)
- Associated Pots/Pans & Cutlery
- 2 or 3 Litre Camelback (Water Bladder) – Check out inline refill modification
- Aluminium Water Bottles (Cooking & Top-up water)
- Washcloth (Chux style)
Survival & Sanitation
- Water-Proof Bags x3
- Compass and/ or Map
- Camp Towel (Small / Microfibre)
- Water Filter (Good idea at least)
- Purification Tablets
- First Aid/ Survival Kit
- Stone & flint (Optional)
- Knife -> Swiss Army knife or Leatherman are great. (Aka Multi-tool)
- Headlamp -> Spare Batteries *may* be a good idea
- Bug repellent
- Anti-Bacterial evaporative liquid
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Small Spade -> “Doug”
- Loo Paper
- Rope – Optional
- Tarp – (ie 2m x 1.5m)
- Small square of Closed Cell foam for sitting (Yoga Mat cut to size)
Clothing & Footwear
- Hiking boots
- Appropriate Clothing
- Thermals (Top and Bottoms)
- Fleecy or Warm Top
- Rain Jacket / Outer Shell
- Rain pants (Overpants)
- Take your shoes in the tent at night so nothing sleeps there and surprises you in the morning.
- Don’t leave bags unpacked or open, making it easy for spiders to crawl inside.
- Check under chairs for spiders that may be lurking beneath the seat.
- Keep your distance from anything that does happen to wander by.
Don’t panic if you are unlucky enough to be bitten. Fear sends adrenaline rushing through your body and spreads the venom more quickly. Instead, firmly bandage (and consider splinting) the entire limb. This will slow the flow of the poison.
Do not suck, cut or disturb the bite in any way. The old myth that you can suck out the venom isn’t true. Sucking the bite could make it harder to identify which anti venom to use when you get to hospital.
Do not walk to the hospital. Get emergency help. Call 000 if in mobile contact area. Call 112 if outside mobile area and identify your location as best you can. Don’t walk to the hospital. The extra effort will circulate the poison more quickly. Get someone to drive you to medical help. Carry an Epipen if you know you’re prone to severe allergic reactions but also know when to use it. In some cases, it could do more harm than good. Consult a physician before you go.
Some things to watch out for:
Bees are by far the biggest danger when it comes to bites and stings. Allergic reactions to their stings are the main reason people are hospitalized.
Redback Spiders, in the same family as the Black Widow, are another likely cause of suffering for campers. About the size of a U.S. quarter, they are easy to spot from the large splash of red colour on their backs. Although their bites can be extremely painful, it’s not believed that anyone has died from a Redback bite since the anti venom was introduced in 1956. We saw them most often in residential gardens. When camping, take your shoes in your tent at night to make sure none crawl in and surprise you in the morning!
Ants are another common feature across Australia, with several different varieties from region to region. Bull ants are particularly large. Like the Redback Spider, their sting can be eye watering but usually not life-threatening. Jack Jumper ants are a more aggressive species, mostly found in the east of Australia. Check for anthills when you set up your tent.
Ticks are something you should check for every night if you’ve been wandering through the bush in search of a good tent site. Ticks, including paralyzing ticks, in other parts of the country can be more of a threat.
Snakes aren’t a big problem for the camper. As long as you make enough noise, the snake is likely to take off before you even see it. Brown Snakes account for about half of the roughly 800 cases of snakebite a year but according to one emergency physician, only 10-20 percent of snakebites have enough venom to hurt the recipient. The rest are ‘dry bites’ and just a warning from the snake to stay away.
“A large number of people who have snakebites are seriously pissed at the time and are misbehaving with a snake,” says Associate Professor Simon Brown, who works in the emergency room of a Perth hospital, quoted in the West Australian newspaper.
Marine animals can also pack a punch. Everyone has heard of shark attacks. They attract a lot of attention but are very rare. Of the 1,000 people hospitalised between 2002 and 2005 from problems with ocean life, about 400 were stung by a jellyfish. Another 200 had a bad encounter with a stinging fish and about 170 people met up with stingrays.
It is always just so tempting to go into the surf on a remote beach. Or to dive into a beautiful river.
Beach Safety is covered well by BeachSafe
Surf beaches can be dangerous with rips, currents and smashing surf. Staying safe and making the most of the coast requires knowledge and skills. Rips are the number one hazard on Australian beaches. The best way to avoid a rip is to swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags. Rips are complex, can quickly change shape and location, and at times, are difficult to see. The things to look for are deeper, dark-coloured water; fewer breaking waves; a rippled surface surrounded by smooth waters; and anything floating out to sea or foamy, discoloured, sandy, water flowing out beyond the waves. Rips don’t always show all of these signs at once. Can you spot a rip?
Some things to consider are, but read the Beachsafe website for more information:
- Always swim between the red and yellow flags
- Look and take notice of the signs at the beach
- Ask a lifeguard or lifesaver for safety advice
- Learn how to identify a rip
- Swim with a friend – never swim or surf alone
- If you need help, stay calm and attract attention by raising your arm above your head
- Never enter the water if you have been drinking alcohol or are under the influence of drugs
- Wear sunscreen, seek shade and stay hydrated
Rivers and Lakes
Our rivers are beautiful, but more people drown here than anywhere else. Royal Life Saving
Inland waterways in Australia contain many environments where drowning deaths occur – rivers, lakes, dams, irrigation channels, water tanks and creeks have all been sites of drowning deaths.
The flat, still surface of an inland waterway can give a false sense of security. Currents, undertows or submerged objects – even in seemingly tranquil waterways – can prove to be very dangerous. Inland waterways are not patrolled by lifeguards, and should someone get into trouble, there may be no one there to assist.
Remember that water conditions can change very quickly. What may have appeared safe earlier could become very different a few hours later. Submerged objects, like branches or rocks, are often invisible from above the surface and present a real risk of neck and spinal injuries, especially to divers. Always enter the water slowly, feet first and never dive in. Be aware that cold water can cause hypothermia. Water can also be deeper than first thought due to steep drop-offs in dams or riverbeds.
People of all ages and ability drown in inland waterways. In 2011/12 there were 104 drowning deaths in inland waterways. Of these 75 occurred in rivers, creeks and streams and 29 in lakes, dams and lagoons.
Did you know that most drowning deaths occur in natural water environments – rivers, lakes, and dams? Don’t be fooled by calm water on a clear day, many seemingly tranquil waterways can present dangerous hazards.
Changing seasonal patterns, flooding and other effects of nature can cause inland waterway to change. Remember if the water crossing is flooded don’t try to cross it, while it may look calm and shallow on the surface it is possible that the road that was there no longer exists.
Public Transport in Australia is sparse, especially when it comes to bushwalking locations.
Check out how to get home before you go.
We try to list the relevant transport providers in the app but you will need to recheck to make sure that they are still operation.
Some known hikes have Trail Angels who will offer transport if you join the relevant facebook page.
Others have tour operators who will manage food drops and transport for hikers.
Otherwise you will need to pre-plan or hire a car.
Kangaroos, Wombats and possums are usually quite harmless. They are normally only active in the early morning and late afternoon evening.
In known campsites where campers have fed them frequently they can come to like what is in our packs.
In those cases where there are animals you see close by, you will need to take the usual precautions – pack your food deep inside your pack, don’t keep open food in your tent and most importantly don’t feed the animals!
Lizards are usually harmless and quite beautiful. The most common large lizards are goannas, monitors and blue tongues. They are beautiful and will run away.
Smaller lizards are skinks and they will drop their tails if you chase them. It is deterrant to predators.