Bushwalking Workflow | Planning a Bushwalk

You may have heard the saying that 80 % of the fun of a bushwalk is in the planning, 60% talking about it afterwards and – 40% doing the walk! It’s not quite like that for me, but certainly the planning and the challenge of a new location are the most important components for me.

I spend hours checking out maps, reading the bushwalking blogs of those who have done the walk before me, talking to people in the outdoors shops that I know, perusing the  walking guides, using Google Earth to see the route in 3D, plotting waypoints using my mapping software and checking out the picture galleries of those who have already done the walk. I like to have the complete picture before I do the walk so there are no surprises. This increases my anticipation and enjoyment.

Thorough planning enables me to enjoy the scenery, wildlife and plants while I walk, listen to others in my group without having to concentrate on my map too intensely, take lots of photos and generally relax. I could not do this if I hadn’t planned carefully in advance and didn’t have the whole route in my head.

The first step for me is to choose a new area where I haven’t been before or perhaps an area where I have been before but to which I would like to introduce some friends or extend the walk with a new challenge. I rarely go to the same area twice.

Steps to planning a successful group walk

  • Decide on the region and time of year, based on your experience as a leader and the weather conditions
  • Gain approval for walk, if necessary
  • Identify relevant maps, walk guides, blogs and review these
  • Prepare a tentative route (use a route card) including escape routes and alternatives in case of unforeseen circumstances
  • Pre-walk the route if possible, entering waypoints as you go into your GPS 
  • Advertise the walk or invite friends, including information such as
    • difficulty level (hazards, weather)
    • duration
    • dates
    • whether it is a qualifying walk for full membership
Sample Medical Information Sheet
  • Appoint an Assistant Walk Leader, who is compatible with your personality and who complements your skills.
  • Collect information:
    • Medical, contact details, NOK information
    •  Experience levels of potential walkers
    • Special skills of participants (first aid, navigation, photography, plants, history) ?
    • Obtain access permissions, and any Parks permits needed
    • Have a Risk waiver signed by each participant
  • Determine maximum size of group and how you will restrict group size 
  • Review list of possible participants and decide how you will eliminate those with insufficient experience.
  • Arrange Transport and Accommodation
  • Appoint an Emergency Contact person and determine the trigger for contacting police.NB: Some clubs have a designated person.
  • Obtain permits and get access permissions
  • Advise Trip Intentions to relevant authorities
  • Distribute an Information Sheet to participants including
    • Objectives of walk
    • Route card
    • Escape routes (to seek help or cut walk short)
    • Maps
    • Access, permits, hazards, water supplies
    • Transport
    • A few days before, check transport details, weather conditions, park closures, flooded access routes, bushfires in area, water availability and make adjustments, including cancellation if necessary.
    Bushwalking Leadership [SA]

    • Runs comprehensive bushwalk leadership courses from Day Walk to Advanced.
    Let us know before you go (pdf) (Parks and Wildlife SA)
    Trip Intention Form pdf (NSW Police)
    Medical Emergency Information
    A Guide to Better Bushwalking (pdf)  Bushwalking Leadership SA

    • Contains Sample Medical Information Form and Route Card

    A Risk Management Framework (pdf) (The Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs NSW, 2004)

    • Contains Incident Report Form, Risk Waiver Form

    Before You Walk – Essential Bushwalking Guide (Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania 2009) as pdf

      Creative Commons License
      This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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