Bushwalker’s Code

Bushwalkers value the bush and its pristine nature. To ensure its preservation, bushwalkers follow a Code which sets out guidelines for how to behave while hiking in the bush.

The Bushwalker’s Code covers general care of the environment, dealing with rubbish, hygiene, fires, choice of campsites and many other issues. Download a pdf copy for printing as a trifold leaflet.

The Bushwalker’s Code of Conduct

Minimal Impact Bushwalking

We leave no trace

  • We leave campsites better than we found them.
  • We use existing fireplaces or carry cooking equipment when possible, and do not scar the landscape with fire rings.
  • We comply with fuel-stove only requirements.
  • We remove our rubbish from the bush and bury human waste away from watercourses.
  • We do not pollute the ground and waterways with soaps and detergents.
  • We do not remove plants or rocks from National Parks.
  • We do not disturb native wildlife.
  • We avoid easily damaged places such as peat bogs, cushion moss, swamps and fragile rock formations.
  • We use existing tracks where possible and avoid creating multiple tracks which lead to erosion.

We preserve Australia’s bio-security

  • We seek to protect the natural environment from the negative impacts of pests, diseases and weeds. Learn more
  • We clean our clothing, equipment, cars, wheels and vessels to prevent the spread of pathogens and diseases that threaten bio-security. Learn more
  • We report significant or unusual pests, diseases and weeds.

We mitigate incidents

Because incidents and rescues have the greatest impact on the environment:

  • We prepare for, and carefully plan each trip
  • We share our trip intentions
  • We act safely
  • We are self-reliant
  • We seek appropriate training in remote area first aid and rescue

We take responsibility for acting safely

  • We always carry clothing and equipment appropriate to our planned activity
  • We carry first aid kits and are trained in first aid appropriate to our activities.
  • We do not rely solely on GPS systems, but carry a map and compass, which we know how to use.
  • We do not rely on mobile phone coverage for dealing with an emergency, but carry a Personal Locator Beacon and/or satellite phone when appropriate.
  • We prepare an exit plan as part of our emergency planning.
  • We check the safety status of our destinations before entering, observe the safety instructions of park rangers, and do not enter closed National Parks.
  • We advise appropriate authorities, friends or relatives of our walking plans
  • We walk in groups of three or more so that there are sufficient people to summon help in an emergency.
  • We keep emergency contact details updated on our club website
  • We only light fires when it is safe to do so, and ensure they are fully extinguished.
  • We ensure the safety and well-being of all children entrusted to our care on a bushwalk.
  • We engage in bushwalking activities unimpaired by the consumption of alcohol or use of drugs.

We are self-reliant

  • We carry sufficient food and water in order to survive unexpected delays.
  • We wear and carry appropriate clothing and equipment for our comfort and safety in expected weather conditions, and carry gear to suit the worst possible conditions we are likely to encounter.
  • We ensure we have sufficient training, experience and expertise to safely carry out our planned activity.

We respect fellow bushwalkers

  • We welcome people from all walks of life irrespective of gender, age, race, religion, culture, colour, sexuality; and behave in an harmonious manner.
  • We appreciate difference and welcome learning from others, building relationships based on mutual respect.
  • We do not tolerate bullying, harassment or discrimination in any form.
  • We encourage, respect and support our leaders as competent and motivated leaders are essential to the success of our activities.
  • We respect the right of our leaders to accept or reject walker applicants for specific activities based upon the assessed degree of difficulty and the assessed competence of individual walkers.
  • We respect the right of bushwalkers to enjoy the peace and quiet of the bush without undue disturbance from technology.
  • We help fellow bushwalkers in need, in situations such as: assisting with emergency communications, offering medical aid for which we are qualified, carrying the gear of an injured person, or sharing equipment.

We respect indigenous culture

  • We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we walk.
  • We treat sites of spiritual or cultural significance with respect.
  • We obtain permission from traditional landowners or the relevant land manager to visit sensitive areas.
  • We do not damage aboriginal rock art or camp under overhangs that contain aboriginal rock art.

We respect landowners

  • We respect landowners and do not trespass on their land.
  • We leave farm gates as we find them.
  • We respect the rules of National Parks, and other land managers, regarding camping conditions, maximum numbers in wilderness areas, pets, permitted activities and park closures.

Although these Safety Tips are not part of the Bushwalker’s Code, this information is provided for your guidance.

Safety Tips

  • Plan what you will do in an emergency and maintain a current first aid qualification so that you know how to handle illness and injuries.
  • If possible carry a satellite phone as it has global coverage and will allow you to inform emergency services of your needs. Otherwise, carry a mobile phone, but be aware that it may not have coverage in remote areas or national parks. Consider battery life and take a recharger if necessary.
  • Even if you have a GPS, carry a map and compass and Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). Your PLB must be registered with AMSA and is essential in wilderness areas.

Emergency contact

  • Before heading off complete a Trip Intention Form and give it to a responsible person who will check that you have returned on time. Register your trip at selected police stations or national park offices.
  • Inform your contact when your group has safely returned.
  • If in distress contact the emergency services on Triple Zero (000). If you are in distress and need assistance and have no other means of communication, set off your Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). Remain near your PLB and be prepared with food and shelter to wait for a response. This may take several hours, or longer if conditions are not suitable for flying, or if a ground team needs to reach you. Make yourself visible from the air with a brightly coloured sheet of fabric, or if safe, make a smoky fire. Extinguish any fire entirely when the helicopter approaches. Pack up and secure your gear against the helicopter downdraft so your gear is not lost and the rescue site is left as untouched as possible.

Walk safely, walk with a club

Find a list of bushwalking and hiking clubs in NSW and the ACT  here.