Care in Walking and Backpacking

Please note the areas mentioned in this site may be in a wild or wilderness area of a National Park, such as Kosciuszko in the Snowy Mountains of NSW or nearby Namadgi. Much of it is remote and can become dangerous with a variety of weather conditions including snow and strong winds that sometimes make it hard to stand up. Mobile phone reception is variable at best. Walkers should be prepared and carry a PLB, satphone or equivalent.

All walks should be undertaken with regard to the following recommendations (Note: I have used information from John Evans Blog for the basis of the following as he had laid it out quite well):

  • Do not walk alone – party size should be a minimum of 4 (This is a contentious issue for some. Especially those who are experienced solo walkers. Certainly if you are not very experienced don’t walk alone)
  • Plan your walk carefully including additional exit routes. Do not plan a route beyond the physical capabilities of the party
  • Leave details, including party members’ contact details & also an emergency contact person for each walker, location where the car is parked & registration number, proposed route & estimated time of return, with a responsible person. Inform them of your safe return. Its also a good idea to leave a legible note on the dashboard of your car informing any possible ranger passing by of who you are & your expected return date
  • Weather conditions can be extreme & can change rapidly. Consider postponing a walk if extreme cold or heat is forecast. Be prepared to be caught in extreme conditions
  • Always carry sufficient water & food, warm & protective clothing
  • Carry a first aid kit & know how to use it. Someone in the party should be First Aid trained
  • Carry an emergency kit including items such as matches, whistle, mirror, ‘space’ blanket, additional food, torch or headlamp
  • Exercise prudent navigation & safety strategies – carry map & compass & know how to use them. Carrying a GPS and know how to use it.  Make a track of your route & know how to trackback. Have spare batteries. Carry a PLB; or consider carrying a mobile or satellite mobile phone, or other communications device.

Protection of Culture and History

Please note the huts of the Snowy Mountains, Namadgi (ACT), Victoria and Tasmania should be respected and cared for. Any hut ruins or historic sites and relics should also be respected and not disturbed. The Snowy Mountains and Namadgi huts may be maintained by KHA in association with NPWS and ACT Parks & Wildlife Service and should only be used for emergency purposes

Lessons from Bushwalking and Searching for Tracks and Sites

There are several lessons I have learned from many walks and a long time of walking and camping:

  • Australian topographic maps are not always correct. There are examples of mountain hut sites being shown incorrectly even out by 200m or more ie Kidmans, Boltons on the Finn in Kosciuszko NP
  • Others who profess to know where the site or route is are not always correct either
  • Collect all data available and assess the range of information. Within data there is often some truth
  • Hut sites are mostly located on fairly level ground and close to water. Usually they do not face west or south and are shielded by ridges or hills
  • Tracks and routes tend to follow high ground or ridge lines
  • Old photos can help especially in showing the landscape and the background hills etc
  • Once you have your data try and create a circle or similar in which to search. Looking for hut site or sign or marker use 100m x 100m search grids or similar
  • Don’t think you can find it the first time. You have to keep at it

GPS Readings and Maps

I use UTM readings with Eastings and Northing. These are the accepted format for bushwalkers as you can directly relate the figures with co-ordinates on the latest 1:25000 map series which use datum GDA94. This is close enough to WGS84 which is what you need to set most GPS units to.

At home I have Garmin Mapsource on my PC with OzTopo Maps v5 installed, plus also Oziexplorer with various maps including TopoView 2006 & Ozraster (NSW and other States) digital topo Maps from OzTopo. You can also of course use Garmin Basecamp as Mapsource is an old product and is not being updated. How to get Mapsource and install it. Using Open Street Maps (OSM) for urban walking & cycling is useful as they show local paths quite well. How to load an OSM img file into Mapsource or Basecamp

Maps Produced

These are produced using Oziexplorer and screen captured using IrfanView. The base maps used with Oziexplorer are either from Topoview with NSW Land and Property Information (was Land and Property Management Authority) approval for display (Others can copy for personal use but need permission to publish), or using OzRaster Map with permission of © BKK Enterprises Pty Ltd,

Diagrams and Pictures Available

My pictures of trips are still available in albums on Picasa. Since the move by Google to Google Photos, archive links to Picasa scramble all the Picasa albums so they are not in order. Better quality pictures are on Google Photos but I can only link to photos or albums. Any blog posts or special walk page I will include a link to a Google Photos album.

The original pictures were all ~4320 x 2432, 16:9, 10.5 Megapixels, ~ 5Mbytes; from May 2015 4000 x 2248, 16:9, 9 Megapixels, ~4 MBytes. The GPS map extracts are about 1000-2000 pixels wide but may vary.

Shared Google Drive folder with gpx, gdb, kmz and some jpg map pictures. Currently doesnt work. Will be reactivated on this blog

Google earth kmz files cover a trip available on Google Drive. Note opening this link will go the Google Drive and open the trip file in Google Earth; you do not have to install Google Earth. You also have the option to download the file or view in Google Maps. Put your mouse over and click on a waypoint and it will bring up a small description.

Food Used (for overnight backpacks)

I use my own home made muesli mixture for breakfast and nothing else. This largely consisted of one cup in a plastic bag (freezer bag) of oats, wheat germ, barley flakes, millet flakes, rice flakes, oat bran some commercial muesli, raw sugar and powered milk. I am now trying Soy powered milk. You can get the Bonvit variety at some health food stores.

For lunch I take one packet of Mountain Bread (8 pieces) and add pre-packaged cheese cubes, vegemite from a tube plus some peanut butter and honey mixture in a small plastic bottle (small marmite plastic bottles are perfect as they do not leak).

For dinner I use for 2 nights half a packet of crunchy noddles (just add hot water) plus a 100g aluminium packet of Safcol Salmon spiced with some cous cous and deb powdered potato. The other 2 nights I would use a freeze dried dinner pack from Back Country Foods of NZ, 1 person serve about 90g (add boiling water and let stand for 10 mins) also spiced with some cous cous and deb powdered potato. I also add a small packet of soup per night as an entrée.

I also drink coffee and tea. Some instant coffee but I am now hooked on Robert Timms Italian Expresso coffee bags that my daughter introduced me to. These are much nicer than the instant. You can always get at least two cups from one coffee bag. My tea bags are mostly Twinings Lemon/Ginger. These latter tea bags pack a punch, so try them out before a trip

I also carry some munchy bars previously the Wallaby Yoghurt bars (no longer available so trying The Bar Counter Salted Caramel & Banana) and some energy satchels or energy bars and Coles Trail Mix or similar. You can make the latter easily by buying peanuts, cashews & mix with some sultanas.

I also drink water a lot mostly from the local streams. In the high country its usually quite fine to drink it straight. Just make sure what’s upstream.

This is Cam’s diet on the trail from The Hiking Life. Cam is slightly excentric. He doesn’t drink tea or coffee nor has hot food. I am not a believer in constant snacking. I always have a good hot muesli and coffee breakfast. Morning tea is snack bar and maybe some trail mix. Lunch a couple of slices of mountain bread covered with peanut butter/honey and cheese. Afternoon more snack bars, trail mix. Dinner is soup and main meal which can be quite varied but typically a small freeze dried dinner pack enhanced with powered potato/onion and cous cous. Sometimes I just mix some noodles with the other bits for taste and maybe add some salmon from an aluminium packet. Note that Changs Noodles can be eaten uncooked. Cam would approve.

Equipment (for overnight backpacks)

Below is a list of things I use sometimes or always –

Stove: In 2014 I bought a new Kovea Titanium piezo ignition (no matches required) small isobutane-propane stove. It’s was about $90 maybe cheaper on EBay. I used to use a MSR Pocket Rocket small isobutane-propane stove. In 4-5 nights and mornings of use I would use most of one 230g gas canister. This latter unit requires a match to light it. I typically buy the 230g gas canisters and carry one or two depending on the number of days of the trip and if I can cook on a fire or not. Its useful also making out of an aluminium baking tray, a wind protector to place around the stove and cooker or buying something similar. If you cook inside a hut or in a shallow depression its less of an issue

Cooking equipment: Minimal: one small aluminium billy, one spoon, one polycarbonate knife, one spondonicals (old Paddy Pallin classic billy grips), one flexible plastic plate (polycarbonate one might do). One stainless steel pad for cleaning the billy if required and small plastic container with detergent (reuse one of those hotel shampoo bottles)

The spondonical (old Paddy Palin classic billy grips) or pair of spondonacles (or spondonicles?) was designed by early bushwalkers in NSW Australia. Paddy Pallin in NSW used to sell a metal one and I have used one since the early 1970’s. I still use it. This predates the Trangia concepts. I actually call mine spondonicals or spondonicles. See also David Nobles great information Yep my spondo comes from the same source as Davids

Slurp Tube: small length ie about 750mm of plastic tubing of dia 7mm internal and 10mm external. Used for placing into creeks or cliff cracks to drain out water, also used to blow concentrated oxygen into fires to get them going well. Works well with damp and wet wood. Great in the Snowies where wood is often quite damp in autumn & spring
Lights: One small LED from Kathmandu that uses 2 CR2032 batteries (very light), one large LED with 3+ LEDs and three AAA batteries (good for reading)
Pack: I have a Macpac Glissade Pack (2002) with size 3 frame. It’s now 13 years old but is still going.
Boots: I have 4 years old Scarpa leather boots with gortex lining. Size 45
Gaiters: Velcro gaiters from Kathmandu (also leather strap under to hold in place). I have also bought Macpac Velcro gaiters with stainless steel strap under
Tent: MSR Hubba HP 1 man (2010) (very expensive but very light and fits into the light weight backpacking regime). Note it can leak in very heavy rain when the fly flaps against the inner.
Airbed: Self inflating Prolite 3 – full length, now many years old
Raincoat: 2013 Macpac Hollyford eVent jacket. Macpac eVent fabric alternative to Gortex. I still have my original Paddy Palin Gortex jacket although it leaks a little. I also have newer Paddy Palin version I bought for the son on a school excursion but he outgrew it
Overpants: Mountain Designs gortex. Expensive but great in bad weather
Sleeping Bag: Fairly old Paddy Palin Gingera mummy bag (~1990). It’s still effective and warm down to maybe -10C
Sleeping Sheet: Expensive $60 silk inner liner. Great for warmth and keeping the bag clean
Camera: Panazonic TZ10 (with one spare battery if longer than one day). April 2015 I acquired a Panzonic TZ70 (battery charges through AV port) 9M pixels in 16:9. I have also used my new Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Phone (16M pixels). My new Oregon GPS also has a camera but I keep it as a backup
PLB: RescuMe PLB1 made by Ocean Signal of the UK. Its only 50mmW x 75mmH x 35mmD Weight: 115 g or 164g inc Pouch (Used to use a MTE 406Mhz GPS equipped personal EPIRB. It expired in 2016)
SatellitePhone: I know a local guy who 4WDs & walks & also carries a PLB but has also started using a small Satellite Phone. Its quite small and has an extending aerial. It is charged from a USB port. It works using an Australian 04 standard mobile number. You need to pay for a Thuraya phone $15 per month access fee & its AUD$0.99c per minute outgoing call. It accesses a GeoStationary Satellite so you need open sky coverage ie no deep gorges in SE Australia. He uses the Pivotel service which uses the Thuraya network. There are a range of Thuraya phones available with the Thuraya XT Lite available on EBay for $655. These are the specs of the phone Thuraya XT Lite
GPS: Garmin Oregon 650 (with spare batteries) GPS Maps: GPS Oztopo v5, plus OSM Garmin img version for NSW
Maps: Old Jagungal sketch map, Khancoban 1:50,000 old topo for Jagungal area. For other places the latest and appropriate 1:25,000 topographic maps
Reading Material: Well if you in a tent or hut for several hours per day a good book is useful. I now use my Kindle Paperwhite with inbuilt light for up to 8+ nights. I have found it amazingly useful and can be easily read with no lights. PS you can use it in bed at home as well

Snakes (in the Snowies)

Whilst uncommon, the alpine environment has snakes. The two that you are most likely to come across are the White-Lipped Snake (Drysdalia coronoides) (often referred to as a Whip Snake) and the Highlands or Alpine Copperhead (Austrelaps ramsayi). While snakes can look innocuous and quaint as little things less than a foot long and very skinny. However they are poisonous. Copperheads tend to be not aggressive however they are highly poisonous thus avoid. Also unfortunately around Canberra the altitude can vary from 350-800m meaning brown and black snakes can be found. I once saw a brown snake go across a sports oval where young children were playing

Snake Protection The best protection is avoidance. However if your paranoid about these critters then good boots and gaiters may give you piece of mind. You might like to read about Protex Snake Gaiters. Here is a YouTube video on the product | These Protex Snake gaiters look well made but may cost around $144. Availability of these gaiters is through safety places such as Protector Alsafe, Unit 1, 80-82 Kembla St, Fyshwick 6290 0155, or Fyshwick Outdoor Power Centre, 6 Wiluna St 6280 5203.

Gaiters & Bushwalking Equipment

Normal gaiters and most bushwalking equipment can be sourced through Macpac | Paddy Pallin | Mountain Designs all of Lonsdale St, Braddon; BCF, 47 Newcastle St, Fyshwick, 6280 8888, now also at Nettlefold St, Belconnen, Anaconda, 36 Iron Knob St, Fyshwick, 6123 3600; Kathmandu, Belconnen Mall, 6251 7678. Mont of 18 Pirie St, Fyshwick, 6162 1661 also has lots of excellent items and is worth checking. Yes these are all Canberra addresses but most of the companies are Aust wide. Just Google for your local outlet or buy on the web