Hiking Do’s and Don’ts for Walking in Australia

Australia, the land down under has some straight forward hiking Do’s and Don’ts. A mystical, magical place that is filled with rugged terrain and is as beautiful as it is…dangerous. Yeah, this place could potentially kill you if you’re careless.

Each year thousands and thousands of people trek Australia’s outback, this amazing land and do so safely and without any incident. But every year, there are plenty of stories of tourists and even locals who get hurt. A few are even killed as they tackle this intense terrain, usually due to exposure. The difference between staying safe and succumbing to the dangers of the wild Australian outback lie in hiking do’s and don’ts. If you plan on hiking in Australia’s vast outback, then pay attention to this list and you can emerge unscathed with some amazing stories to tell!

Hiking Do’s

DO bring lots of water

Bring LOTS of water. It is recommended when hiking in Australia that you should bring a minimum of 3 liters of water per day. If you plan on staying out overnight, you will want to double that amount. One of the main reasons people succumb to hot climates is lack of water. When in doubt, bring a little more. This is probably the most important one of the hiking do’s and don’ts.

hiking do's and don'ts - Uluru at Sunset

DO bring a satellite phone

If you are hiking in Australia, keep your iPhone at home…it won’t work once you’ve left the big cities. Cell phones are so named as they utilize waves beamed from cell towers, mobile phones are not as mobile as the name might imply. You won’t find such towers where you are going. Instead, you will want to have a satellite phone or SAT phone which can utilise signals as beamed from other phones or directly from orbiting satellites. If you get lost or get injured, a sat phone may be your only lifeline for safety. This can be very crucial as you go further out especially if you need to signal for help in an emergency, or if you come across similarly stranded people in need of assistance.

Satellite Phone

DO plan out your path

Sure, wandering around and discovering while hiking can be fun, but in Australia, it can be incredibly easy to lose your bearings and get lost before you know it. So if you’re going trekking or just walking in Australia, make sure to take some time before you leave to plan a solid hiking map and follow it closely. Know where you started, plot out some landmarks, and don’t stray from the route. Temperatures can be harsh, the animals unforgiving, and your water supply can dwindle quickly if you are wandering around aimlessly.

Australian route planning

DO bring a first aid kit with you

Snake bites, spider bites, insect stings, cuts and abrasions…those are just of few of the reasons why you DO need to bring a first aid kit with you when hiking in Australia. I’m not talking about a small box of band-aids and some Neosporin, but a serious first-aid kit that can be used to treat serious injury. If something does happen in the Outback to you or a friend you are with, the person injured may not be able to be moved and help could be HOURS away. Making sure to bring the necessary tools for survival can sometimes make the difference between life or death.

Outback first aid kit

DO tell other people exactly where you are going to be and when you should be back

If you are planning a hike in Australia, don’t keep it a secret. On the contrary, tell several people where you are going, where your car will be parked, and when you should be back, even listing your intended route can be essential in returning you safe and sound to civilisation should alarm be raised and the authorities have to come and rescue you. If you don’t check in with those you tell, they can establish a search party quickly. If someone is hurt or becomes lost while hiking in the Australian Outback, every minute can count.

Now that we have gone over a few of the things you should do, let’s now visit the thinks you should NOT do as we continue our list of hiking do’s and don’ts in Australia.

Hiking Don’ts

DON’T pick up or try to touch anything that moves

While you may truly be a lover of nature and all things creepy-crawly, it is NOT recommended to try to pick up or touch pretty much any creatures you come across while hiking in Australia. There are nearly 50 types of poisonous spiders in Australia that can cause sickness or even death if one is bitten. There are almost 100 venomous snakes here as well. Add to this list scorpions, ants, hornets…well, you get the idea. There are a LOT of things that can bite, sting, and otherwise harm you. Even if you think something is non-lethal, it is better to be safe than sorry. Leave the creatures be and go on about your hike. If you’re in Queensland or Darwin, watch out for crocodiles too! Seriously the creeks and the logs within them, can be cause for serious surprise.

DON’T try to take selfies with a ROO

Kangaroos, or roos as Aussies call them, can be encountered when hiking in Australia and if they are, it is advised to keep your distance. Unlike the cute cartoon kangaroos featured in books and cartoons such as Winnie the Pooh, kangaroos can often have a temper. And that temper comes with an incredible ability to do some serious damage if a person gets to close. They have claws that can disembowel a human and their powerful kicks can be lethal. In most cases, a roo will keep their distance but if you get too close, and they feel threatened, then you may be in some serious trouble. Back away slowly and head in the other direction. Yes, they are cute, and yes, they can be deadly. If you’d like a selfie with a kangaroo – there are an abundance of zoos and parks in major cities (or even golf courses near sundown) where kangaroos are used to humans and will be far more pleasant and familiar with selfies and getting close. You can even feed them in certain zoos with recommended and provided pellets.

hiking in Australia kangaroo selfie

DON’T try to tread lightly

Some hikers feel the need to try to be quiet when in the wild so as not to disturb the wildlife. This, however, can be a lethal mistake. You see, most animals and creatures want to avoid us as much as we want to avoid them and if they hear you or sense your presence, they will take off to a safer location. So, if you are making enough noise while hiking, you are actually safer. BUT, if you are too quiet and end up sneaking up on a creature that didn’t hear you coming, they may fear for their safety and strike, or bite, or sting, or kick, or…well, you get it.

DON’T continue hiking after dark

Just as being quiet while hiking in Australia is a big no-no, so is hiking after dark. If you DO become disoriented or lose track of time and night falls, you are often better off simply trying to find a safe spot in the open to stay put for the night. If you are hiking in the dark, you won’t be able to see if you are coming up on an animal or creature that could cause you harm, not to mention simply tripping and falling over a stick, rock, or uneven path that is hidden by the shadows. Use your sat phone to call for help and stay put.

DON’T wear low-cut tennis shoes

Sure, tennis or other low-cut shoes can be comfy, but you are in the OUTBACK. Your best bet is NOT to wear that type of footwear, but instead, wear some serious hiking boots that can withstand the terrain and protect your feet and ankles from sticks and potential snakebites. In addition, hiking boots with high ankle protection can help you avoid twisting your ankle while hiking through uneven terrain. You won’t get very far with the wrong footwear, so remember this as another one of the fundamental hiking do’s and don’ts.

EVEN THOUGH hiking in Australia presents some dangers, the fact is that even with all the scary creepy-crawlies this Southern Land holds, deaths in the Outback are actually quite rare. Armed with this list of hiking do’s and don’ts, your chances of returning from your journey unscathed can be even higher. Use common sense and the tips above as your guide and enjoy yourself on your hike down under!

By Kokoda Gear Walking in Australia