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Tips for New Bushwalkers

Choose your walks

Walkers on a day walk.

Easy and easy-medium walks are suitable for beginners. Please check with the leader if you are unsure. For medium walks you should be reasonably fit and preferably have some recent walking experience. Unless you are already an experienced bushwalker, you should not attempt medium-hard and hard walks at first.

Weekend pack-carrying trips are more difficult because of the weight of the pack, and you should try a few day trips first, unless you already have some previous experience.

For base camps, you need not have any experience. They are a good way of learning camping techniques, cooking and food preparation, to try out tents and sleeping bags etc AND to see if you like camping, before trying a weekend pack-carry trip. Walks are usually Easy or Easy-Medium

Equipment and What to Take

Walkers on a day walk.

Day Walks
The equipment you need is fairly basic and you will probably have most of it already.

Wear comfortable lightweight clothing, a sun hat, well cushioned socks and a pair of low cut walking shoes with cleated soles or quality walking boots. Footwear fit is critical and it could be worth talking to our Equipment Officer before making a purchase. If you wear boots, make sure they are comfortable and well broken-in!

Carry a day pack (not a shoulder or carry bag as you will need your hands free) containing:

  1. Lunch, a morning and afternoon snack.
  2. Full Water bottle - we recommend a minimum of 2 litres, more in warmer weather (You can't rely on finding water on the walk, and it may be unsafe to drink)
  3. An unlined waterproof jacket or cape (water resistant garments are not suitable), waterproof over-trousers (if your jacket is short).
  4. A wide brimmed hat is essential in Summer.
  5. A pullover or fleece jacket, beanie and gloves in Winter.
  6. Matches in a waterproof container, and a torch, especially in winter.
  7. Extra food for snacks or emergencies.
  8. Whistle, pencil and paper.
  9. Personal and first aid items, including sun screen, lip screen, toilet paper, identification, club green Health Card, some money etc. Note: The leader always carries a comprehensive first aid kit.
  10. Change of clothing, especially in winter. These can be left in the bus or car. Also a change of shoes is required on bus and car trips.

Base Camps:
As well as Day equipment you may need a tent, sleeping bag, lilo or mat, cooking equipment and extra food. If the camp is near the cars then extra treats can be taken!

Pack-carrying trips:
Equipment for these trips is far more critical. It is all too easy to spend more than you need to on equipment you later regret. It is strongly recommended that you talk to our Equipment Officer and hire before you buy or arrange to meet in the Clubroom.

Help can be provided in the form of demonstrations and advice on specific items of gear and where to buy them. You can have your name added to an email list alerting you to good buys. Also hire some of the latest lightweight gear from the club at very reasonable rates (a description of each item and its hire cost is on the web site).

Consult the leader if you are in any doubt as to what gear may be required or desirable.

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Relaxing after setting up the tents on a Beginners walk at Wilsons Promontary.
Relaxing after setting up the tents on a Beginners walk at Wilsons Promontary.
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The leader sets out the contents of his pack on a Beginners pack-carry trip.
The leader sets out the contents of his pack on a Beginners pack-carry trip.
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Equipment demonstration night in the clubrooms.
Equipment demonstration night in the clubrooms.
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Picking up some tips on tent selection.
Picking up some tips on tent selection.
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Capturing the views on a day walk along the Great Ocean Road.
Capturing the views on a day walk along the Great Ocean Road.


Walkers on a day walk.

Every party has an experienced leader. It is their job to navigate the route. Keep in mind however, that all leaders are volunteers and therefore you cannot expect the same standards that you would expect from a commercially run bushwalking operation. If you are interested in map reading and navigation - and we encourage you to learn the basics - then the leader and others will be happy to assist and explain as you go. The names of the map sheets applicable to the walk are usually listed in the walk previews. You don't need to buy the map unless you are interested.

The club also conducts navigation courses and day trips at least once a year, where you can learn map reading and navigation, and try out your ability in safety. Rogaining and orienteering are other good ways to improve your skills.

An understanding of the country through which you are walking greatly enhances the value of bushwalking. There are usually knowledgeable people on the walks who know something of the geology, the native plants and wildflowers, the birds or the history of the area.

Snakes and other hazards

Walkers on a day walk.

We occasionally see snakes on our walks, but they are usually eager to get away from us. Do NOT interfere with or attempt to kill a snake. Take insect repellent if you are concerned about mossies, march flies, leeches (try salt as well) or other bities!