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10 Bushwalking Tips for Beginners

February 27th, 2020

Hiking can be unpredictable and dangerous if you’re not properly prepared. So let’s get you ready. Firstly:

1. Know your limits

While I applaud you for wanting to take on this challenge, know your limits. If you’re a newbie hiker, roaming off into the wilderness on an 8 hour bush walk isn’t the smartest idea.

Be sure to consider the distance that you’re travelling, the type of terrain that you will come past and the elevation in which you will be climbing. A flat 5km walk is vastly different from that of a hilly, steep 5km walk. So be sure to check your map before you set off and do your research about which climb will be suitable for you.

2. Travel in a group

If possible to do so, travel with a companion or in a group – ideally with those who have experienced bushwalking in Victoria before. They will have more knowledge of bushwalking safety and will know what to do in case of an emergency.

It’s also a great way to learn new skills and create lasting memories and deepen friendships. However, if your friends aren’t the adventurous types or fans of the outdoors, then don’t put yourself through the pain of dragging them through the wilderness. A miserable first experience could deter you from hiking ever again and we don’t want this.

3. Let Someone Know

Be sure to tell someone where you’re going. Give them the exact location you will be travelling to and the time of day you expect to be back so they know whether they should report to the authorities.

Be sure to always take your phone with you, fully charged and to only use it when totally necessary. You’ll need it in case of an emergency but also so you can stay totally present during your hike.

4. Slow Down

Take your time! You’re not racing anyone, and trying to beat a personal best on your first day is no way to go about this.

There is a vast selection of bushwalking tracks in Victoria that will leave you in a state of amazement, so there’s no need to rush. Instead, take the time to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the wilderness that surrounds you. Observe animals in their natural habitat and pull yourself into the present, as you won’t want to miss a moment of it.

5. Rubbish

Pack in Pack out, it’s a simple rule, we all know it… Don’t litter. No one is going to clean up after you, so if you’re bringing in food, make sure you take it out with you!

The environments that you will be travelling to give you the opportunity to challenge yourself, to push yourself to the limit and enjoy the unique flora and fauna that surrounds you. However, it is important to be mindful that when hiking, the goal is to have as little impact as possible on the locations you travel to.

Preserve your surroundings and they will repay you, a million fold.

6. Clothing

If you’re reading this as a newbie and not a professional, don’t go spending money like a professional. Keep it simple. Generally speaking, stretchy, lightweight material, that’s easily peeled off and layered, is ideal. It will protect you from the elements of the outdoors but also help to regulate your body temperature while providing you with the best comfort.

Always be prepared for any condition, a durable waterproof jacket is a necessity, as is a broad-brimmed hat that protects you from the blaring sun or a beanie if you venture out in winter.

Just in case you were wondering, in no circumstance are jeans a good idea. If you’re desperate and not travelling far, fine. But chafing isn’t fun for you or for the people you travel with. So be smart! And leave your jeans at home.

people bushwalking with backpacks

7. Footwear

It can’t be stressed enough that your shoes really will make or break your experience.

If you’re wanting to invest time and money into this new hobby of yours, then finding quality hiking shoes is the perfect place to start.

Good hiking shoes need to offer you a range of characteristics. The best ones are lightweight, offer support, cushioning, breathability and most importantly they’re durable to reduce risk of injury.

Pro Tip: Wear them around the house with a thick pair of socks on before you go bushwalking. You don’t want to experience the blister hell you’re likely to experience from wearing freshly bought shoes.

8. Food

It’s important to keep your pack as light as possible, especially if you’re a newbie hiker. Too much added weight will really make a difference. In saying that, be sure to provide yourself with enough food depending on the length of your hike.

The best foods that you can pack should serve as the fuel that gets you started, keeps you energised and helps you to recover after a long day. Focus on food that’s high in energy. Aim for foods that are rich in healthy fats, as these digest slower in your body and will give you longer-lasting energy.

Keeping a few chocolates at the front of your pack is also a great idea for when you’re needing a little pick me up or facing the realisation that you still have 4 hours to go.

Golden Rule: Pack plenty of water! Water sources along the way aren’t always reliable, and this is the one thing you won’t want to get caught without!

9. First Aid

No matter the distance of your travels, it’s important to always pack your first aid kit.

The contents of your medical kit will change according to multiple factors. How long you’re travelling for, the amount of people you’re travelling with, how difficult the terrain is and whether there are any foreknown medical conditions.

Each person should carry their own first aid kit, tailored to their individual needs as one might not get you very far. The last thing you want to do is give away your last band- aid. Blisters are ruthless and common when it comes to hiking, especially if you’re just bought yourself a shiny new pair of hiking boots.

Check out this all-inclusive checklist to help you create the perfect first aid kit.

10. Check The Forecast

There’s nothing worse than spending your first bushwalking experience soaking wet after facing torrential rain, or being left dehydrated and cranky if you venture out unprepared into intense heat.

Checking the forecast regularly before you leave can save you from experiencing these unfortunate conditions and give you an all-round better experience. Although conditions can change rapidly, it’s always smart to have a plan of action if things were to take a turn.

If you’re looking for some beautiful places to hike in Victoria, Lake Mountain offers some of the best bushwalking trails near Melbourne. The trails are well marked and maintained, making it an easier and more pleasurable experience for newbies like yourselves.