Many walkers have adopted the new bushwalking ethic, Minimal Impact Bushwalking, to minimise the damage caused by an increasing number of people visiting national parks, regional parks, wilderness areas
and other reserves. This new practice reduces the impact on tracks, vegetation, streams, lakes, animals, and on other walkers. Adopting the simple practice of minimal impact will maximise your enjoyment and the enjoyment of other
walkers using the Park.
Minimising the damage to the natural environment can reduce the need for restrictions on walker numbers and track closures. Not to follow this practice is to run the real risk of ‘loving our
natural areas to death’.
The following minimal-impact techniques are recommended to all walkers in natural areas. Some recommendations — in particular those to do with fire — have the force of law.
On the track
Stay on the track even if it is rough and muddy.
Walking on the edges and cutting corners on steep zigzag tracks increases damage, erosion and visual scarring, as well as causing confusion about which is the right track. If there is no track at all, a party of walkers should spread out and so reduce the impact on the vegetation.
Avoid sensitive vegetation such as bogs and cushion plants, which are easily destroyed by trampling. Stay on rocks and hard ground wherever possible.
Do not cut or mark new tracks, which can confuse other walkers, destroy vegetation and increase erosion. Do not interfere with steps or with water control
Use appropriate footwear for the terrain: solid but lightweight walking boots are best. Wear sandshoes around campsites.
It is safest not to bushwalk or camp on days of high, very high or extreme fire risk.
Bushfires started by walkers and campers can cause extensive damage and endanger life and property, including the culprits’ own lives and property.
Because of the high fire risk, only fuel stoves are allowed in the Park.
For preference use the camping area facilities at Crosslands, or use a gas fuel stove as this is safer, cleaner, quicker and easier to use in wet weather. Gas or liquid fuel stoves must not be used during total fire ban days.
If you see a bushfire, report it as soon as possible
to the nearest fire service (the Rural Fire Service or Fire Brigade), National Parks and Wildlife Service, or the police (see Appendix 1, Services Directory in this Guide for phone numbers). But first be sure that you have a safe escape route away from the head of the fire. The head of the fire is the direction in which it is moving because of wind or slope conditions. Do not try to cross in front of the head of the fire.
- If you cannot retreat from or avoid a bushfire:
- do not try to out-run it, especially uphill;
- try to move out of the path of the head of the fire and down slope to the back of the fire;
- watch very carefully for changes in wind direction or speed, which will change how the fire burns and could make the flank change into the head
of the fire;
- seek protection from the flames and more importantly the dangerous radiant heat, which will dehydrate, exhaust and even kill you.
- find the largest possible clear area — rocks or bare dirt;
- cover yourself, and get low to the ground in a depression or behind rocks until the fire passes.
- you can get into deep pools in clear areas of creeks, but do not get into rainwater tanks (you might boil!) or small pools with nearby vegetation
(not enough protection).
- on burnt ground, watch out for burning logs or stumps and falling branches or unsafe trees.
Pack to minimise rubbish
Leave unnecessary wrapping and bottles at home. This also helps to keep the weight of your pack down.
Leave nothing but footprints
If you have carried something in, carry it out again.
Make sure you take out everything, including such easy-to-miss items as silver paper, cling wrap, plastic cutlery and orange peel
Do not burn or bury rubbish. Not only is buried rubbish likely to be dug up and scattered by possums or foxes, it may injure people or animals. As well, digging disturbs the soil and encourages weeds and/or erosion.
If you come upon other people’s rubbish, do the bush a favour and take it back with you.
Do not feed animals as it encourages dependence, and can cause high population concentrations, nutritional disorders and aggressive behaviour from some of the larger animals.
Keep soap suds in your bath
Do not wash in streams and lakes. Detergents, toothpaste and soap (even biodegradable types) are harmful to fish and water life.
Do wash at least 50 m from streams and lakes,
and scatter the wash water so that it filters through the soil before returning to the stream. Use a scourer or gritty sand rather than soap to clean dishes. Do not throw food scraps into water.
Avoid the gastro attack
Increasing cases of gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and vomiting) and giardia (a human bacterial parasite which causes chronic diarrhoea) in a lot of high-use areas are thought to be due to human faecal
waste. So to avoid ‘gastro’, and to stop the spread of giardia, follow these guidelines.
Use established toilets whenever possible. If this is not possible, bury your faecal waste at least 100 m away from
campsites and watercourses, in a hole at least 150 mm (six inches) deep using a hand trowel or a stick. Make sure all of the waste and paper is covered and mixed with soil to aid decomposition and discourage animals. Carry out
nappies, sanitary pads, tampons and condoms in a plastic bag.
Flies and small animals are attracted to both faecal matter and food, so cover all food, and avoid putting it directly on surfaces accessible to flies and
As the Berowra Catchment is surrounded by urban development, all of the streams should be assumed to be polluted, particularly after rain. Berowra Creek is considered to be unsuitable for primary human contact
(i.e. washing, bathing) for at least four days after rain.
All drinking water should be carried in, or collected from taps where available in council parks and at
It is recommended that at least two to three litres of water per person per day be carried on longer walks. If water is taken from a spring or small stream, it should either be boiled for at least five and preferably ten minutes before use, or one of several proprietary water purifiers available from camping stores should be used.
The best plans
Planning a trip is important. Plan the route and become familiar with the expected landmarks and terrain. Ensure that the grade of walk is suitable for the fitness and experience of all walkers
Let someone know that you are going bushwalking. Tell them who is going, your route, how long you expect to be away and what equipment you are taking. Let them know when
you get back.
Keep the party small (4-8 people is best). Large parties have more impact on the environment, affect the bush experience, and are difficult to
control. Keep in touch with other members of the party and avoid splitting up. Have a reliable experienced person as the tailender.
Take a detailed map (at least a
1:25 000 topographic map) and/or a Park information brochure and compass, and check the important junctions and creeks to be sure which way you should be going.
Camp only at authorised campsites. Do not create a new site unless this is unavoidable
Minimise impact by taking the following items with you, if you are going on more than a day-long walk:
- a gas fuel stove and fuel for cooking;
- good quality tent with sewn-in floor and insect netting
- hand trowel to bury waste.
It is obviously necessary to carry camping and cooking equipment only if a walk of more than one day’s duration, such as the great North Walk, is being attempted.
Always remember that Australia is a hot dry country. Ensure that every member of the party has adequate water or drink for the proposed walk. In the Sydney region in summer 2-3
litres per person per day is a m inimum.
A first-aid kit and some emergency rations, such as fruit or chocolate, should be carried on all walks.
A mobile phone is
a good additional safeguard although it may be out of range in many parts of the valley.
Minimal Impact Bushwalking Code
The Minimal Impact Bushwalking Code was originally developed for the alpine areas of Tasmania’s World Heritage Area. This code is now supported by the State National Parks
Services of the ACT, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania. This section is based on the brochure ‘Bushwalking Code — Minimal Impact Bushwalking’, produced by the four state services listed above.
Keeping to formed tracks helps preserve plant
fauna habitats and reduce the spread of weeds
Dogs are natural predators and must be on a lead at all times. Free-roaming domestic dogs
may form impromptu packs and exhibit hunting behaviour not seen at home.
Observe all the commonsense rules regarding
fires - and always report even small fires.
Remove any litter by carrying rubbish out with
you. Litter racks in streams like this would not be needed if we all took care with the rubbish we make.
Finding even a small amount of litter spoiling a
picnic fireplace is disappointing. Taking everything, other than your footprints, out with you, ensures that a day in the Park is a pleasure for everyone.
Pretty to look at, but unfortunately, unsafe to
drink. Streams carry water from local streets and gardens.
Quite challenging walks and terrain exist within
the Park. Always have a plan for accidents or emergencies that may make it necessary for assistance to be sought. Steep cliffs and dense vegetation can lead to walkers who leave constructed paths being lost even when not far
from nearby residential areas.
Dunlevy, M. 1978, Stay Alive: A Handbook on Survival, 2nd edn, Aust. Govt. Publishing Service, Canberra.
National Parks and Wildlife Service 1994, ‘Living with fire’, brochure, NPWS, Sydney.
Pallin, P. 1995, Bushwalking and Camping: Paddy Pallin’s Handbook on Bushwalking and
Camping, 14th edn, Paddy Pallin, Sydney.
Rural Fire Service 1998, ‘Wildfire safety and survival: A guide for firefighter survival’, booklet, CFA Corporate Communications (available
through Rural Fire Service of NSW).