When it comes to the activities available in the New South Wales region, hiking is certainly something that continues to grow in popularity. Not only is it great for your health and a wonderful way to see some of the scenery that NSW has to offer, but hiking is something that both men and women love to do. However, like with any other kind of wilderness-based activity, there are always a number of things to keep in mind–and there can be special considerations for women choosing to hit the trail in the area. Here are some tips for women who plan on hiking and staying in NSW.
Use the AWTGS
Short for Australian Walking Track Grading System, the AWTGS is a resource that you can use to find a hiking trail in NSW that is suited to your level of experience and fitness. Divided into five different grades, the AWTGS can point you in the right direction when it comes to finding a route that is safe and that you will be happy with.
Keep the slowest pace
When hiking in a group, it is always a good idea to stick to the pace of the slowest person–especially if you are a beginning hiker. This will ensure that you don’t run the risk of splitting off and getting separated from the other hikers in your group. One of the biggest mistakes that newbies can make walking too quickly ahead–it can cause you to lose sight of your group and to become lost.
Tell someone where you are going
Before setting off, you should always tell a friend or family member where you are going and what route you are planning to take. If for some reason you find yourself in trouble, there will be a person who can notify your friends and family of where you were headed. The worst thing that you can do before going off on a hike, especially a solo hike, is to not to let anyone know where your intended destination will be. It makes it much harder to work out a search and rescue plan if the situation becomes dire.
Check the weather
Weather can sometimes be very unpredictable from one hour to the next when you’re in NSW. Before setting off on a big hike, always check the forecast to see what the outlook is for the rest of the day. It could be bright and sunny as you set off and you might have no idea that a nasty patch of stormy weather is on the way. You certainly don’t want to be caught in a treacherous area with the wrong gear or without anyone knowing where you are.
Stay on track
No matter how experienced you are as a hiker, you should always stick to the designated and signposted paths that are on your selected trail. They are there for a reason. Even if you think you might be able to get better photos for your Instagram feed or experience something much more “natural,” you should always respect the advice and rules of the area in which you are hiking. Not following the paths can lead you to dangerous areas that have not been kept up for hikers and it can make it that much harder to find you if you get lost.
You never know what kind of terrain you are going to encounter at different stages of your hike, so a sensible, strong pair of hiking boots for women is an absolute must. The terrain on a hike can change from mile to mile, and there is no way of knowing until you get there. To be on the safe side, stick to a solid pair of boots that have you have taken time to break in. It’s also a good idea to pack some first aid kit items such as bandages or antiseptic in case you end up with blisters.
Water is arguably one of the most important things that you need to remember to take with you on a hike–never forget it! The recommended amount is at least two bottles per person and you should remember to use it sparingly during the course of your hike. Don’t drink it all within the first hour if you know you have many more hours to go. If your hike is longer than an hour or two, you might want to consider investing in a water bladder that can hold more fluid and can be easily transported on your back.
It’s no surprise that the NSW bush is a haven for bugs of all kinds. Make sure to bring a strong insect repellent to ward off uninvited pests. Besides the normal, annoying bites that come with hiking in Australia, there are also insects out there that can cause much more serious symptoms if not warded off. The country is known to have some of the most dangerous spiders in the world–it’s not pleasant when you find yourself the victim of one of their bites!
Groups of three
It is always recommended that you hike in a group of at least three people. In a state of emergency, one of you can go to seek help while the other stays with the injured person. In an instance like this, try to be smart and sensible about the person who is sent to find help. Make sure they are the most experienced hiker (and ideally, have hiked this trail before) since they are going to be hiking back some distance alone and will not have any assistance if something happens to them, as well.
No matter how covered by trees you think your hiking trail might be, you should always be prepared for the hot Aussie sun. A high SPF sunscreen is always a must-have item in any hiking backpack. Not only does it protect your skin while you are hiking, but it also helps to avoid the long-term effects of sun damage, as well.
Do you have any hiking tips for women in Australia?
Header photo by Christian Joudrey.