Advice for newcomers to bushwalking - Sydney University Bushwalkers

Equipment | Eating | Minimal impact walking | Some easy walks

Bushwalkers Code

The Sydney University Bushwalkers (SUBW) is affiliated with the Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs, who have produced this important pamphlet about the Bushwalkers' Code. We recommend it as an excellent introduction to the modern bushwalkers' attitude to the bush - everything in the pamphlet is instinctive to our experienced members. Read it now!



Bushwalking need not be expensive. Most people new to walking will discover that many items can be found at home. Disposal stores and camping shops will provide other specialised equipment (there are several shops on Kent St). Some activities require different clothes or gear. If you are unsure of what to take, contact the leader of the walk.


These should be lightweight and allow free movement and comfort. The clothes will become WET, DIRTY, TORN and LOST. A spare set of clothes is recom-mended for most walks. Remember that the weather can change for the worse quickly. Always carry a jumper and rainjacket.

Essentials: Woollen jumper (better insulation than synthetics), rainjacket (gortex, japara, oilskin), hat and sunscreen.

Summer: Cotton shirt with collar and sleeves, with shorts.

Winter: Shorts, possibly trackpants for the cooler part of the day.

Night: A second set of dry, warm clothes are a good idea as you will quickly dry wet clothes while walking. Thermals may be required for colder weather.

Skiing: Thermals, balaclavalbeanie, 2+jumpers, sun-glasses, gloves and a totally waterproof outer layer: gaiters, overpants and rainjacket.

Canyoning: Thermals, shorts, jumper, rainjacket.


Debate rages over boots vs sneakers. Whatever you choose, they should be worn in. Boots are not required for the mainland (no mud); they can be hot, heavy and expensive. Volleys are cheap, light and comfort-able. Sneakers are good to use at first to avoid an expensive purchase of boots that you may not use.

General Gear

Pack: Talk to us be-fore your first pur-chase as we can give you an unbiased assess-ment of packs that suit your needs. Packs vary from daypacks to overnight packs and larger packs for longer trips. The most important feature is the comfort of the harness. The size, likely purpose and material used are other considerations. Sleeping bags: There are two types, each with its own advantages:

Sleeping mat: There are two types:

Groundsheet: Canvas or nylon to protect and insu-late from cold, wet ground.

Tent Fly: Many caves can be found in the mountains. Flies will cope with all weather except heavy rain with wind.

Tent: Used on snow, Tassie, winter walks. Anything from bivvy bags to the deluxe Macpac Olympus.

Other necessities: Torch (with spare bulb and bat-teries), map, compass, toilet paper, matches, pocket-knife, keys, licence, money, ID, pen, paper.

First-Aid Kit

Each walker should carry their own kit. It should include any particular medication that you require. The emphasis should be on the conditions you will be walking in~for example, in summer, sun-burn and insect bites are more common. Other com-mon problems will be blisters, scratches and the oc-casional sprained ankle.

Basic ingredients of a first-aid kit: large roll of bandage for ankles or compression; scissors, needle, aspirin, Puritabs, sterile dressings, Betadine swabs, antiseptic cream, sunscreen, insect repellent, anti-in-flammatory cream.


Cooking utensils: Knife, fork, spoon, mug, platel bowl, scourer, billy,jaffle-iron.

Fuel stoves: Three types are on the market:

Water: Can be carried in a 1.25 L PET bottle or a wine bladder. 1-2 L are needed each day. If you must drink polluted water, you can filter it, purify it with chlorine or iodine or boil it for 10 minutes before drink-mg.

Club Gear

SUBW has a wide range of gear available for use on club trips. For canyoning or climbing we have ropes, harnesses, karabiners etc. Five Macpac Olympus tents are available for ski-touring and walking in cold cli-mates (eg Kosciusko, Tasmania, New Zealand). For warmer climates such as the Blue Mountains, we have flies and groundsheets. There are two backpacks, two volleyballs and a net, a few lilos and some maps for planning walks at Wednesday meetings.

Borrowing the gear

The Gear Officer has access to the gear on a Wednes-day at the meeting and at other times by arrangement. Note that in busy times you may have to book gear, but trips on the walks program always have priority.

Looking after the gear

All the gear is expensive and suffers greatly if left wet for any length of time. It is essential to dry it as soon as you get home, and to return it to the Gear Officer as soon as possible. He/she should not have to chase you! You are fully responsible for any gear in your possession, and you should not pass it on to another person without letting the Gear Officer know.

Abseiling Equipment

Lives depend on the condition of gear. Any damage to ropes or harnesses, or dropped karabiners, should be reported to the trip leader immediately and to the Gear Officer on return. We realise that some wear and tear is inevitable and the cost of it is covered by your membership fee.


Although secure in bad weather (when correctly pitched), the tents are very easily damaged by humans. Make a point of asking someone to show you how to put up a tent the first time. A few points to note:

Eating In The Bush

Cooking food in the bush is not difficult. More prepa-ration may be needed at home but most meals cooked on a stove or grill can be adapted for the open fire. The important thing is to pack food which is not go-ing to occupy too much room. Below are some sug-gestions for each meal.


Muesli, cereal, fruit, croissants if you are not cook-ing. Breakfast bars are great for a quick brekkie. If there is a fire for breakfast, then porridge, bacon, eggs, or jaffles washed down with tea is terrific.

Morning tea

On leisurely walks tea may be made. Choco late is a staple. Scroggin (nuts and fruit) muesli bars, fruit and biscuits will often be appreciated by your fellow walkers.


Bread may become horribly squashed in your pack, so crackers, pitta bread, rolls may be another option. However, bread forms the basis of jaffles, which are essentially toasted sandwiches. The choice of filling is left only to your imagination. Cheese is necessary in most jaffles to bind the ingredients together. A combination of tomato, capsicum, mushroom, creamed corn, spreads, and a variety of sliced meats will make a delicious meal.



Just because we are in the bush, there is no need to suffer. Dips, chips, smoked mussels, pate, anything remotely delicious usually makes an appearance.


Bushwalking brings out everything from 2-minute noodles to gourmet extravaganzas. Only your imagi-nation and courage are the limitations. Jaffles may be eaten for dinner as well. But nothing beats freshly-

caught trout cooked on hot coals with a dash of lemon and pepper. Failing this, use combinations of some of the ingredients below.

Base: pasta, rice, polenta, lentils, cous cous. Vegetables: carrots, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, Chinese vegies, and baked potatoes. Meat: mince, sausages, steaks are good on shorter trips. On medium length trips salami and tinned fish keep well. On long trips either freeze-dried meals or using meat only for the first half on the trip may be planned.

Flavours: herbs, garlic, chilli, curry, tomato pastel flakes, soup packets.

Dessert: Chocolate, cheesecake, cakes, scones, damper,jelly, pudding have all been tried and greatly appreciated.

Minimal Impact Bushwalking

More and more people are walking in our unspoiled wilderness areas. This number will continue to in-crease. This will put a greater strain on the ability of our wild areas to dispose of wastes, regenerate old tracks and recover from fire. Only 5% of Australia is presently in the condition it was 200 years ago. This is all we have left for the future generations. We need to decrease our impact on these areas we enjoy so that we do not 'love them to death'. Below are some tips to help you to "take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints".


It is no longer safe to drink from many creeks which were clean only ten years ago. Do not put food scraps, soap, or any waste in creeks. Do not wash up in the water. Collect water upstream of your campsite.


This should be done 100 m from creeks and camp-sites-a 1-2 minute walk from camp. Dig a hole to the depth of 15 cm and bury your wastes. It is best to carry bo paper out. You can bury it but toilet paper in Tasmania is believed to take up to 5 years to de-compose. Feminine hygiene products are not going to decompose carry them out.


"The bigger the fire, the bigger the fool". If you have a fire, keep it small and lit for only as long as you need it. Do not use standing wood. Decaying wood is part of the ecosystem too. Respect fire restrictions-most fires are started as arson. Fires do not need fire rings to contain them-just clear an area of undergrowth. When you have finished, thoroughly douse the fire, scatter the ashes, and cover the bare earth with leaf litter. The goal is for the area to look as though it has never had a fire on it. Do not make fires on rock. Fuel stoves are required in alpine, heath and other prescribed areas.


If a track exists, keep to it. Do not walk to the side of tracks which are muddy, as it only further ruins the area. It causes erosion and kills adjacent plants. Do not make cairns, or paint rock walls if you want a street directory, walk in a suburb not the bush. If your navigation needs these aids you probably should not be in the area. There continues to be a plague of cairn-destroying leprechauns-beware!


If you can carry it in, you can carry it out. Plan your packing to have minimal waste, eg resealable plastic bags; remove cardboard boxes; used tins can hold rubbish. Do not put foil in fireplaces. Fruit skins are not part of the natural diet of our fauna. Pick up other parties' rubbish ideally give it back to them, pref-erably wrapped around a brick through their window (but make sure the glass falls inwards)!


Rescue operations have a huge impact on wild areas. Walk within your capabilities. Plan your trip. Have a contact person with instructions on what to do if you are delayed. Have a complete first aid kit-and know how to use it.

Easy Day Trips Around Sydney

These walks require an average level of fitness. Most can be reached by public transport. The distance cov-ered is less than 15 km. They provide a good intro-duction to the National Parks around Sydney, with-out going off-track. There are many more walks that could be included, but these are representative of some of the most beautiful areas for walking around Syd-ney. Remember to let someone know where you are going and when you will be back. Always carry wa-ter, extinguish all fires, and carry your rubbish out. Leave the bush as you found itso others may enjoy it.

1) Blue Gum forest via Perrys Lookdown

Station: Blackheath
Maps: Katoomba, Mt Wilson
A longer day walk, shorter if a car is used. Perrys Lookdown is a steep but short route into the valley. Great views of the Grose Valley. Return the same way, via Govetts Leap or Evans Lookout. Easily ex-tended into an overnight trip, camping at Acacia Flat. Remember that there is no camping allowed in the Blue Gum Forest itself.

2) Mt Solitary return

Station: Katoomba Map: Katoomba
A pleasant walk along the Narrowneck Ridge, de-scending the Golden Stairs to traverse the Jamison Valley via the Ruined Castle to lunch on Mt Solitary. Return under the cliffline to the Scenic Railway or Echo Point. Spectacular views of the mountains abound.

3) Wentworth Falls to the Valley of the Waters.

Station: Wentworth Falls
Map: Katoomba
Descend the Falls and cross around the base of the clifflines to the next valley containing the Valley of the Waters. Lush ferns and ferns mix with tall gum forests and beautiful views of the cliff lines are seen. There is a steep ascent back to the plateau, and climb out by iron ladders-but the views are worth it. Lunch downstream at Vera Falls or along the creek.

4) Magdelen Glen to Sassafras Gully

Station: Springwood
Map: Springwood
An enjoyable short walk that encourages swimming and relaxing. Waterfalls, clear blue pools and beaches feature on the walk. A side trip to Lost Worlds is worthwhile but makes a longer day.

5) Redhands Cave from Glenbrook Crossing

Station: Glenbrook
Map: Penrith
This short walk features aboriginal art on the walls of the cave. Why not explore Blue Pool and Jelly Bean Pool (apparently featured in the movie 'Sirens'!) on Glenbrook Creek at the same time. Watch out for scouts and rubbish.

6) Appletree Bay to Berowa Station

Station: Asquith
Map: Cowan
The Berowa Track is a short day trip, which can be extended by exploring the side creeks for middens, orchids, man-made wrecks, and by swimming in Waratah Bay or returning to Appletree Bay. A car is recommended.

7) Heathcote National Park

Station: Waterfall
Map: Royal National Park
Another scout-infested area, however, the creek is quite beautiful. A high ridge track runs through the park, and this provides an enjoyable walk to the cause-way, an ideal spot for lunch. The National Park can be traversed by this track and exited to the train sta-tion to the north, or return along this track to the start-ing point.

Walks around the harbour.

If you don't feel like going very far afield, or haven't got all day, there are some nice walks with good views to do around Sydney Harbour National Park. The book 'Walks in the Sydney Harbour National Park' gives walks descriptions plus historical details of things you may see along the way.

The walks include:

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