The fears urban walkers have about bush walking in Australia

walker on the Cape to Cape Track

Australia is full of bush. So full of bush it is practically just one big bush with a tiny skerrick of urban area we named Sydney and Melbourne:)

Amazingly, despite living in a country that is basically 98% non urban, less than 4% of us bush walk! This is a tiny percentage compared to urban walking of which 30% of women and 17% of men participate.

Why is this so? Why do so few of us explore our beautiful natural environments in favour of the safe and predictability of our urban areas?

Well, most of us live in urban areas for a start, so it is no doubt that it is more convenient. That aside, I believe there is something more that is holding many of us back… and it is fear.

Here are some of the fears that we hear about at Inspiration Outdoors.

Fear One: Many urban walkers think that the bush is full of man eating venomous snakes.

Yep, Australia is full of venomous snakes. Some of our snakes are so venomous that they could almost kill Chuck Norris ! … almost.

But the truth is, it is almost impossible to die from a snake bite in Australia… well almost impossible.

We do not have ANY aggressive snakes in Australia. All of them will run away from you unless you corner them and provoke it. That includes Tiger Snakes which have an terribly undeserved reputation for aggression.

Our snakes have tiny 3mm fangs, and mostly in the back of their mouth, so getting a hold of your leg is pretty hard for a start.  They have almost no chance of getting through a trouser leg. Add to that, only one in ten bites actually delivers any venom and of those successful strikes, only one in ten bites deliver enough venom that you would be in any trouble.

Yes there are  2 – 3 fatalities from snake bite a year in Oz, but mostly from people who are trying to pick up the snakes. To put that in context, 13,000 people are hospitalised around Australia from dog bites with roughly 2 fatalities a year.

The lesson is fairly simple. If you don’t want to die from snake bite, don’t attempt to pick one up.

Fear Two: Many urban walkers think that bush walking is super strenuous.

Now there is bush walking and there is full pack hiking, and they are not the same thing. Strapping on a 15kg back pack and sleeping in a tent is admittedly a fairly physical activity. It requires aerobic fitness and muscles on top of muscles (Chuck is an excellent hiker).

Bushwalking with a small day pack is something different altogether. A good day pack won’t feel heavy at all.

Of course there are bush walks with difficult terrain, but overwhelmingly bush walking trails that have been built by local/state/federal government, within an hour or 3 of urban areas are constructed with regular people in mind. There are a plethora of bush walks close by to you and chance are, most of them are fairly moderate.

two ladies on the Cape to Cape TrackFear Three: Many urban walkers think you need to be MacGyver to bush walk.

I once watched MacGyver blow up a warehouse with chewing gum, a matchstick and a really bad mullet haircut.  The truth is you don’t need a lot fancy gear or mad MacGyver skills to go bush walking… nor a mullet for that matter.

I used to carry a pocket knife when bushwalking, until I realised that for three years I had carried around, and the only time I used it was to cut a vanilla slice in half.

There are definitely items for your day pack, which are must have, but nothing that is really unusual. Read about them here.

And in terms of mad skillz, bush walking definitely requires a little more fore thought than urban walking, but common sense is the only must have skill.

Fear Four: Many urban walkers think that going to the toilet in the bush is a big deal.

If you are going for a bush walk of more than a couple of hours, yes, you may need to wee in the bush. However, these days it is very common for National parks to have good toilet facilities close by to trail heads.

I urge you to embrace the bush wee. Pop some toilet paper in your bag, and bury after use.

Fear Five: Many urban walkers think that they are going to get lost.

Getting lost in the bush is not a great idea. In fact it is a bad idea and something you should avoid.

The truth is the vast majority of near to urban area bush walking trails are incredibly well marked, so the only navigation skills you need, is to be able to follow an arrow.> > > > See > > > easy huh> > !

Take a friend, a map, and stick to the trail. If you leave the trail (don’t), remain calm, it can’t be far.

Did we miss any? Do you have any bush walking fears that we can address? Post them in the comment below.


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