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Packing and planning for the best trip in Europe

One of the wonderful things about walking in Europe is the accommodation available to walkers.  Amazingly, this remote mountain refuge (Rifugio Pramparet), on stage 9 of the most beautiful walk in Europe, had the most interesting and delicious food of all rifugios on the trip!

 

Local communities and mountaineers have been walking these routes for generations. So to make it all a lot easier, they have built places to stay called rifugios (refuges). Rifugios provide bunkbed accommodation, a cooked breakfast and dinner, alcoholic beverages, cakes, and a packed lunch. To top it off you can often even get a shower … though some of them are cold!

 

All this in a cozy hut, high in the mountains surrounded by amazing beauty. The speck in the middle of this incredibly steep forest is Rifugio Vassoler:

All of these luxuries can reduce the weight of your pack to a sleeping sheet, towel, your walking snacks, toiletries, and the gear you will need for the wide range of weather and track conditions you can encounter in the mountains. But don’t forget your walking sticks – they are essential equipment for the Alta Via 1 walk which is unbelievable steep in places:

The best way to learn how to lighten your pack is by joining a bushwalking club like the Coast and Mountain Walkers (CMW) and heading out on some overnight walks with them. Super-experienced bushwalking club members, like those from CMW, have so many tips and tricks for keeping you comfortable and happy in all conditions out in nature 🙂

 

Having that kind of experience behind you means you’ll enjoy your trip so much more.  Nothing beats knowing how to thrive in the wild. It’s like opening a door way to a world of adventure.
The other thing you can learn in a bushwalking club, is how to pack a light meal and save yourself some money for more trips like this! Then lunch can be a picnic spread out in the middle of all that beauty!

 

On stage 8 of the most beautiful walk in Europe, we ate our lunch at a pass called Forcella del Camp. As we ate, we watched a tiny speck of colour moving up the impressive face of Cima della Busazza in front of us – some rock climbers!
Here is where you can find a club near you that will help you discover the most beautiful places to walk in NSW, the ACT and the world: our clubs.

Walking Volunteers Map Greater Sydney

the walking volunteers

Walking Volunteers Map Greater Sydney

The Walking Volunteers (WV) were formed in 2004 when the North Sydney Walking Volunteers and the Hunters Hill Walkers came together to walk and map a continuous walking route around Sydney Harbour and along the coast from Barrenjoey to Port Hacking. The group worked with the Department of Planning, councils, community groups and the Sydway Mapping Division to prepare nine brochures for this continuous walking route. Over 400,000 of these were printed and distributed. The brochures were also available as a download from the Sydney Coastal Councils Group web site which received over 30,000 visitors a month including 2,300 from overseas. The Sydney Harbour & Coast maps were also available as a free App (Sydway Walker) and over 270 of these apps were downloaded every month.

Barrenjoey to Parramatta

Maintaining a supply of up-to-date printed maps has proved difficult so the Walking Volunteers decided to adopt a ‘digital’ solution. Since 2014 they have been re-walking their routes, mapping them on GPS, ‘normalising’ them with Google Earth and loading onto GoogleMyMaps to provide walkers with an online, scalable walking map of the Sydney metropolitan area.

The WV maps are now structured to feature the main continuous walking routes (shown in red) focussing on the coast, harbour and river with links to the Great North Walk and the Federation Track. Their most recent project has been the establishment of the Great West Walk from Parramatta to Penrith and Katoomba that links major green spaces like Parramatta Park, Western Sydney Parklands and Wianamatta Regional Park with Blue Mountains National Park and provides one-day walks from station to station on the Western Railway Line.

Parramatta to Penrith

Complementing these main red routes are loops and links, shown in green, spreading into adjacent neighbourhoods for shorter local walks and connections to transport, community nodes and points of interest.

Whenever possible. the routes identified are existing walking tracks or paths built by councils, National Parks and other land managers. In places the maps indicate future projected routes and these are indicated in blue.

The project is ongoing with the aim of providing a metropolitan-wide walking network in line with the government’s concept of a Green Grid linking the city’s green spaces.

Using the Maps

You can zoom in to whatever scale you wish and print off whatever area you are interested in, using the Snipping Tool. The map may also be downloaded onto your smartphone or tablet.

North Head

Download

To download the map just click on this link:-

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1WPb6QnNn9Wfgr61qiv6dPVKW2SI&usp=sharing

Personal Computer

Just click on this link and it will open. Use the +/- button in the bottom LH corner of the map to zoom into any scale that suits you. If you want to view the map in Satellite mode, use the slide on the LH panel and slide down to the satellite button in the LH corner of this panel.

The red lines on the map are the main walking routes. The green lines are the local links and loops that are so important to local walkers. The blue lines are future walking routes. There are also layers for:

  • Toilets/water fountains
  • B-line Bus Stops on the Northern Beaches
  • T-way Bus Stops in Western Sydney

Just click the box on these layers when you need them.

Smartphone/Tablet

You can also download the link onto a smartphone or tablet:-

On an Android phone (Google, Samsung, LG, Sony, HPC, Huawei, Xiaomi, Acer and Motorola) click on this link. You may be asked if you want to open the map in Google Maps. If so, enter ”Y”. If it doesn’t ask you, close the direct link and:-.

Click on the Google Maps app .

Tap Menu   Your Places  Maps.

Tap the map “Sydney Walking Tracks” which should now be on the Maps menu

You will now be able to follow any walking route as it will show you your location on the map,

 

On an Iphone or Ipad just click on this link and the map will open but it will not show your location on the map.

Feedback

We would appreciate any feedback on the app or the walking routes. Also, please feel free to pass on the link to anyone who might use it.

Parramatta Female Factory

 

 

The most beautiful walk in Europe

For me one of the awesome aspects of being a member of a bushwalking club is discovering new places to walk and knowing what are the most beautiful and amazing places to explore. By joining a club walk, you often save yourself weeks of time researching destinations, maps, routes, access logistics, weather conditions and all other trip details. Amazingly, the trip leaders do this mountain of work for you – for free!

 

 

When I joined the Coast and Mountain Walkers (CMW), a Sydney-based bushwalking club specialising in overnight walks, I was looking forward to discovering fabulous new adventures within NSW. The CMW certainly didn’t let me down. They took me on stunning walks in NSW and across Australia. I was amazed and impressed. I learnt so much about how to walk, how to camp with the lightest-weight gear, as well as, of course, where to walk!

 

 

But my amazement didn’t end there, because what I wasn’t counting on was the CMW members’ amazing knowledge of walks in Europe. CMW members have walked in so many places in Europe and can tell you so much about the walks, how to get there, and how to have the best time while you are there.

 

 

Of all those fabulous walks in Europe their trips to the Dolomites, in northern Italy always seemed the most stunning. So, when I finally got the chance to go to Europe last (European) summer, a walk in the Dolomites was a must. But knowing the region doesn’t necessarily make it easier to be sure you’re going to get the absolute best walk for those precious few days you have in Europe.

 

 

To start my planning for this very special trip, I called a friend from CMW!  I asked him for walks he would recommend and he kindly shared loads of knowledge with me. He told me the best guide book to use, how to get around there using local transport, when was the best time to go, what the accommodation and food was like, what I needed to pack (and not pack), and what it was actually like being there.

 

I took his guidance and planned our walk. I choose to do the last six days of the Alta Via 1. These photos give you just a peek of that stunningly beautiful walk.
 

 

On the walk I ran into an old neighbour from Tasmania who had done the full Alta Via 1.  She exclaimed how the scenery just keep getting better every day.  I was delighted with yet more confirmation that my CMW guidance had paid off!
 

 

Stay tuned for more details of this amazing walk in our next newsletter! And in the meantime, find a club near you that will help you discover the most beautiful places to walk in NSW, the ACT and the world in our map of our clubs.

 

Bushwalker recognised with O.A.M.

Well know bushwalking historian, rogainer and conservationist Andy Macqueen has been recognised with an O.A.M. in the latest Queen’s Birthday Honours list.  It is great to see bushwalking being recognised.

Over many years Andy has been busy in so many ways from rewalking the routes of early European explorers (to determine where they really went) to weeding of invasive willow in remote sections of the Colo River Gorge to delving deep into NSW State Library archives to research the early history of bushwalking and Bushwalking NSW (BNSW).  So, BNSW extends its congratulations to a past BNSW President.

In a way Andy is being honoured for being a bushwalker.  While the O.A.M. newspaper citation is for “service to conservation and the environment” the full citation at the “Its an Honour” website lists –

# Foundation Member, Sea Spurge Remote Area Teams (SPRAT), since 2007.

# Foundation President, Friends of the Colo, since 2000.

# Member, Blue Mountains Regional Advisory Committee, National Parks and Wildlife Service.

 

These extraordinary activities are only possible by being a bushwalker.  Hence, congratulations to Andy Macqueen for being a bushwalking conservationist.

The link below to the Blue Mountains Gazette has an excellent profile of Andy Macqueen O.A.M.

https://www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au/story/6200917/environmental-activist-andy-macqueen-honored/?cs=1432

Change in search and rescue over time

The history of Bush Search and Rescue NSW (BSAR) shows how remote area search and rescue in NSW has changed since 1936 when it was established as the “Search and Rescue Section of the NSW Federation of Bushwalking Clubs” (S&R).  In 1936 a team of bushwalkers informally assisted NSW Police in the search for four young men missing in the Grose Valley.  After this search Paddy Pallin, among others, approached NSW Police to formalise arrangements to assist NSW Police in the future.

The model of BSAR has always been to use bushwalkers skilled in remote area navigation to travel independently in National Park type country to aid NSW Police as required.  Mostly, BSAR has been involved in searching for missing persons.

The first “Director” of S&R was Paddy Pallin (founder of the well-known bushwalking shop).

In these early days a telephone tree was used to contact bushwalkers as required.  The S&R Committee would contact a particular “Club Phone Contact” to ‘callout’ club members.  In the very early days search teams would travel by train to an incident.

Sgt Ray Tyson of NSW Police Rescue Squad would often rely on S&R Secretary, Heather White (1959 – 1975) who he thought had an uncanny knowledge of the Blue Mountains.

The “Field Officer” is in control of S&R field operations.  Ninian Melville was appointed as S&R Field Officer in 1961 and replaced Paddy as Director in 1970.  Also, in May 1970 S&R joined the  Volunteer Rescue Association of NSW (VRA) at their first Mid-Year Conference.

HF radio was introduced to S&R by Bob Mead during the 1960’s.  Dick Smith, then a member of Sydney Bush Walkers, assisted in the purchase of the first generation of AM field radios.  In 1979 the second generation of field radios moved to FM SSB.  The ‘QMac’ fourth generation of field radio has given outstanding service for many years as smaller, lighter and more powerful than all previous radios.  BSAR now uses a mix of VHF / UHF radios with these HF radios.

Robert Pallin, son of Paddy took over as Director in October 1971 when Ninian stood down.  Vertical rescue for S&R at this time was done by members of the Sydney Rock Climbing Club (SRC) with Fergus Bell was the “Rock Rescue Officer”.

Fergus Bell worked closely with Robert until he became Director in September 1980. Later, in July 1984 the author moved from Field Officer to Director.

NavShield was set up in 1989 by Secretary, John Tonitto (1987 – 2012) so 2018 was the 30th NavShield.

A major change occurred in 2001 when S&R became a fixed membership squad since it was no longer acceptable to ‘just’ callout club bushwalkers.  S&R incorporated as “Bushwalkers Wilderness Rescue Squad” (BWRS – later to become BSAR) to formalise its training and member skills through CBT (Competency Based Training).  BWRS separated from “Federation” with the author its first President.

Overtime, remote area search and rescue has changed further.  In 2018, after much consideration, BSAR reluctantly left the VRA and moved to NSW SES (from 1 May) as a better place to fulfil this role.

Within SES the most senior person in SES BSAR now is its Controller, currently Paul Campbell-Allen.

Since 1936 BSAR has been involved in many incidents occasionally multiday.  Some high profile searches have included an injured person below Narrow Neck, near Katoomba (1949), schoolgirls Monica Schofield (1963) & Vicki Barton (1969), Scout Leader lost in the flooded Shoalhaven River (1977), Trudie Adams (1978 – see 2018 ABC TV investigation), three young men lost in Kangaroo Valley (1987), lost plane and pilots at Kanangra Walls (1993), lost plane in Barrington Tops (1981; an ongoing mystery), David Iredale, near Mt Solitary of the Blue Mtns (2006), deceased person on Mt Cloudmaker (2007 – see VRA Journal Volume 2.3) and Sevak Simonian at Kanangra Walls (2014)

Technology has improved outdoors safety.  The latest field radios can give continuous GPS location of BSAR search teams.  Mobile phones now have better coverage and distress beacons (PLB and EPIRB) can send an emergency signal far more quickly for a person in distress.  However, many people don’t have access to these devices which are yet to be 100% effective.   Experienced ground searchers like SES BSAR are still essential.

Further history of BSAR can be found in a Google drive folder at https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1cSOMp9zsdYCFG7qbtHrrSQ2-i36U64Pz

Keith Maxwell

President BSAR

Youth & Young Adult Engagement

Ben Trewen attended the 2018 Bushwalking Australia Face-to-face conference for Walking SA and shared his thoughts on Youth & Youth Adult Engagement in clubs and outdoor adventure groups:

G’day all,

I was really encouraged by your recognition of and enthusiasm towards engaging young people within your states, so I have put some thought to some engagement ideas that you may wish to pursue.

To begin with, I think the challenge needs to be tackled by asking some key questions of your [clubs and] groups.

Is there actually an identified ‘young person’ problem? If so, what does this look like? (Remember, this is your problem, not theirs).
Are current members ready to engage with young people? (Doesn’t need to be a shift in your identity, but it does likely require a shift in attitude and/or culture).
Do young people wish to engage with your club/group? If yes – can you determine the barriers? If no – why not?
What is the incentive? What can you offer to a young person that others can’t? (You DO have a lot to offer!)

To help work through these questions, here are some ideas/strategies you might consider:

When it comes to implementing strategies as I discuss below… please don’t look to do what you think is best. Collaborate with young people on what IS best!

Keep in mind also, that engaging young people may take more give, than take (especially to begin with) – but in the long run, it can absolutely be worth it. Young people today may be different to you when you were their age, but they still have as much potential, value and ambition as you did/do!

Here we go:

Access to [Walks]/Hikes
Provide them with hike options to get them walking in their own time – an initial point of engagement. Ensure they are easy to understand and use (consider GPX files). I think we do this incredibly well at Walking SA through our website.

Duke of Edinburgh
Have members train and register as Duke of Ed Award Leaders, then offer to assess young people completing the award. I know in SA, there is a shortage of Award Leaders. I’ve trained as one – it’s not hard, an online course.

Subject Matter Experts
Offer your skill and experience to verify/assess a young persons ‘outdoor education’ learning – this can apply to high school students, TAFE students and uni students.

Diversity of Options
Offer a range of group hikes that are maybe more appealing within their ‘lifestyle’ – early morning, night hikes, school/uni holidays etc.

Networking
Looking beyond the outdoor recreational benefits. Many young people are looking for employment opportunities and maybe people in your clubs can offer this beyond the bushwalking experiences.

Mentoring
See bushwalking as more than just a recreational activity. It’s a chance for a young person to work on their wellbeing and mental health with the support (mentorship) of an older, experienced, patient and wiser person. A chance to have time and space to think, talk through challenges, breath in fresh air, de-stress… whatever it might be for them. This may not require a specific ‘program’, but just a consideration to the fact that a young person may get a different outcome from an experience to what you might typically consider. I have so many thoughts on this one because of my own experience.

‘Discount’ Incentives
Young people will typically be students, apprentices, trainees or on crap money. Any opportunity to reduce their financial burden will help. Discounts with retailers, concessions on membership fees, free entry to events/activities. The tight nature of their spending won’t last forever, but can be a great offset to begin with.

Leverage Relationships
Get involved with outdoor educators, Scouts groups and similar and piggy back of the introductory work they are already doing to introduce young people to outdoor recreation. Otherwise, you risk them becoming absorbed in mainstream sport (or no physical activity). Outdoor recreation has so many benefits on mainstream sports, the sell is easy (there was only so many Saturday’s I could handle being wasted away after being cleaned up for a duck). It’s making the connection between what their school (or similar) offers them for a week or two and the ongoing opportunity that is the challenge.

Up-skill/Formal Education
Seek opportunities to partner with local training bodies (RTOs or similar) and see if they’ll incorporate part of their course into your groups activities. For example, a learner has to lead one of your walks which can then be recorded in their training log.

Tech Engagement
Consider introducing more ’tech’ into your activities that would appeal. Thinking GPX files, Geocaching, Strava, Radio Communications etc.

Content
Let’s not rule out the appeal of young people keen to capture the ‘money shot’, write about their experiences on their blog, put together an adventurous clip from their GoPro or similar. If you can provide and facilitate opportunities to do this, it can then come full circle and benefit you. You may have just engaged your next marketing and communications person to take care of your website and social media. Who knows…?

Gear
Two thoughts on this one – the first one is the young people like me who froth on gear. Think ‘Geardos’. Provide opportunities for people to play with different types of gear, explore what’s new in the market, and share what the good ol’ days were like (before everything in a kit was made of titanium). The second one is to appeal to the reuse/recycle types. Consider gear swap nights, share information about ethical products and purchasing etc. Patagonia and North Face are two of many brands doing lots in this space.

I hope this has been of some help or inspiration (and these points can apply to all outdoor recreation including sea kayaking, not just bushwalking). Young people are just incredible (they always have been).

On reflection, I would love to help you and your state body, clubs, groups etc work through these present challenges, because I’m excited to think about the potential for when we can engage them. So please let me know if there is anything I can do.

To conclude, I’ll leave you with a some words from Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard – “The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong – that’s when adventure starts”.

Guest Blogger: Ben Trewren

Join Ben on his Churchill Fellowship travels for outdoor adventure: https://www.bentrewren.com/

The shoe spray challenge

 

You know those boot-cleaning stations at the start of iconic walks?

They help to stop the spread of diseases that can fell mighty big trees.

Well one of the walkers on a walk I did last month, almost knocked me over too with this brilliant idea:

He brought along his own spray bottle to spray everyone’s boots at the start of the walk!

We all raised each foot and got a spray all over our soles.

And oh boy did my soul feel good to be walking so softly through that beautiful un-tracked rainforest!

This little trick is easy and cheap to do.

All you need is a spray bottle with either methylated spirits (70-100%), bleach (dilute to 25%) or F10 disinfectant solution.

Read more

The challenge

Will you be the sole cleaner for the walks you lead or join?

You’ll be helping out nature and maybe also making some more souls feel good 🙂

 

Happy, clean walking shoes at the iconic Protester Falls in northern NSW | Fellow walkers with clean boots | Beautiful Protester Falls country. Photos: Kirsten Mayer

PHOTO COMPETITION: winners announced!

A huge thank you to everyone who entered our photo competition – we have now reviewed the submissions, and we have a few shoutouts to make, as well as the announcement of the winners!

A big thank you to those who included shots of people bushwalking – we love nothing more than seeing you in nature. Additionally, we would like to make a very special mention to the below:

  • Bruce Lyman who contributed 20 photos, all with great stories to tell
  • Andrew Stanger who put forward 13 photos of beauty and fun
  • Andrew Conner who submitted 5 very beautiful photos
  • Nerida Walkers for her “Young Bushwalker” photo submission!

Our winners are:

3rd place: Peter Cai, Fortress Creek in the Blue Mountains

2nd place: Andrew Stanger, Kosciusko National Park

1st place: Ryan Hansen, Anvil Rock Lookout, Blue Mountains

Congratulations to everyone!

Gail trekked 100km across the Great Ocean Road!

Trek 100km along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road – join Diabetes NSW & ACT’s adventure of a lifetime!

gail diabetes walk

Trekking along the Great Ocean Road is a life changing experience you will never forget. Explore the diverse and inspiring landscapes as you are awe struck by lush rainforests, deserted beaches, majestic cliff faces and an abundance of local wildlife.

After receiving much positive feedback, the charity leading the adventure, Diabetes NSW & ACT, are very excited to roll it out again for 2019. Celebrating its fifth year this year, the trek covers 100km from Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles across Victoria’s rugged coastline. Lace up your hiking boots and join them for this seven day, 100km trek along the Great Ocean Road. Set yourself a challenge for fun, fitness and fundraising.

Gail Wright, North Rothbury, was motivated to take on the challenge in 2018.  Describing it as one of the best experiences of her life, Gail shared with us a few highlights of the journey. “The views on the trek were phenomenal. Every time we walked a few kilometres the scenery would change, at one point we were trekking through a rainforest, the next through the bush, further along we would pass cliff faces and the ocean and at other times find ourselves amongst rich green rolling hills”, Gail says.

The day commences with breakfast at the award-winning Bimbi Park each morning and then a shuttle to the day’s starting point. Each day is approximately 20km with snack breaks, photo opportunities and lunch. Of an evening the team enjoys hot showers and hearty dinner back at Bimbi Park.

For many of the 2018 GORT team it was more than just spectacular views and physical endurance. It changed their life. As well as floods of memories, many walked away with the motivation to live beyond their comfort zone. The last day was described as “a rush of emotion and joy as we congratulated each other, we felt like a family”.

Participants recalled the enthusiasm from fellow trekkers sharing enthralling stories of what propelled them to get involved in GORT. As a fundraising event, it serves as an incredibly gratifying accomplishment. By taking on the challenge, vital funds are raised to help people living with diabetes.

“I’m happy with my efforts, the money raised, meeting fabulous people and my journey on the walk. Thank you for the opportunity to be involved.” says Gail. She added “ to anyone thinking of walking GORT 2019 I say have a go, you never know what you are capable of until you try!”

Best of all, by taking on the challenge, you will be helping people living with diabetes live a healthier, happier life every step of the way – what could be more fulfilling?

Don’t miss out, simply call 1300 342 238 or head to diabetesnsw.com.au/great-ocean-road-walk

Special Award for bushwalking

This is a call to member clubs of Bushwalking NSW to nominate an outstanding bushwalker(s) from their club as a potential recipient of this special award of Bushwalking NSW.  This award is intended to also raise the profile of that great outdoors activity; bushwalking.

The CHARDON AWARD is intended to recognise particular bushwalkers who have made an exceptional contribution to the bushwalking movement.  It is named after Harold Chardon who was the foundation Secretary, in 1932, for “Federation” now known as Bushwalking NSW (BNSW).

CRITERIA:  An award to a bushwalker who has made an outstanding contribution, over a number of years, to the NSW and ACT bushwalking movement; hence it must be more than service to just one club of Bushwalking NSW.  Deceased members should not be excluded.

The award was first offered in 2017 to Dodie Green of Yarrawood Bushwalking Club and the late Wilf Hilder.

In 2018 the recipients were David Noble of Sydney University Bushwalking Club (SUBW) plus the late Gordon Lee.

NOMINATIONS:  Please forward the nomination from your Club for the Chardon Award to the President of Bushwalking NSW, Alex Allchin at president@bushwalkingnsw.org.au

Keith Maxwell.