How to get the most out of bushwalking
We chatted to Neil Fahey from Bushwalking Blog about bushwalking’s popularity and some of his favourite trails.
To what do you attribute the popularity of bushwalking in Australia?
Australians have always had a close relationship with the outdoors – no doubt built on our history of bushrangers, stockmen and drovers. We’ve got such a diverse range of stunning landscapes and incredible flora and fauna, so it’s only natural that many of us want to explore it. With the internet giving greater access to information about hiking trails, it’s growing more popular all the time.
What are some of your favourite bushwalks that are under two hours from a major capital city?
The Cathedral Range Southern Circuit, just under two hours from Melbourne, is my favourite place in the world. It starts with an almost rock climb up to Sugarloaf Peak. From there you duck and weave your way between the massive upturned rocks of the Razorback Ridge before descending the range surrounded by the often bizarre calls of lyrebirds that sometimes imitate farm animals and machinery.
The Ruined Castle hike in Sydney’s Blue Mountains is another great one where you hike through the rainforest of the Jamison Valley, encountering a giant landslide along the way, to get to a massive rock formation that supposedly resembles a castle. It looks nothing like a castle to me, but it’s pretty amazing all the same. This one has the added benefit that if you don’t want to take on the steep staircase in and out of the valley, you can start and finish at the famous Scenic World and use the cable car or the world’s steepest train.
What are the essential items to take on a bushwalk?
If I’m heading off for more than a few hours, I’ll always bring a map and compass, sun protection, clothing to suit all possible weather conditions, a torch, first-aid kit, something to start a fire with and of course water and food (more than I need).
What are some good bushwalking trails for kids?
Our kids love Olinda Falls in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges National Park. Depending on where you park, it can be a 4km rainforest hike or a few-hundred-metres stroll, so it’s perfect for tailoring to your kids’ abilities and current mood. They’ll love the cascading waterfall, which you can view from an upper and lower platform.
Just over an hour from Sydney, on the edge of the Southern Highlands, there’s another great little trail that our kids still talk about. It’s called Cave Creek Walking Track, and although the return trip is only a few kilometres, it takes you to a rainforest amphitheatre where there’s an incredible waterfall in a cave.
What’s the most amusing situation you’ve ever found yourself in on a bushwalk?
I’ve always been pretty proud of my ability to laugh at myself, so that keeps me entertained on most bushwalks. On one particularly uncoordinated day out, I managed to get stung on the forehead by a bee, fall in a river with my camera and fall into a patch of stinging nettles, cutting my leg on a rock on the way down. What else is there to do after a day like that except laugh?