Never walk alone
Bushwalking NSW recommends bushwalking with a minimum of three people. If someone is injured one person can stay with the injured walker while the other finds help. For this reason we recommend walking with a club on an activity led by an experienced leader. Most clubs will allow you to attend a couple of walks as a visitor before joining. Look for a local club and be prepared to try walking with a couple of clubs to find the right one for you. Ring the walk leader a week before the walk. Never turn up unannounced!
Before going on a hike or bushwalk it is important to discuss the proposed route with the leader, giving them a realistic picture of your fitness level and experience. Don’t be offended if the leader recommends an easier walk. The leader is thinking of your safety and the safety of the group.
Read the club’s guidelines on their hiking grade system carefully and choose a short walk with an easy grade. Bushwalking is different to walking in suburban streets. Tracks can be uneven and steep. Even if you walk the dog daily you will find a bushwalk more tiring than you expect. You can’t leave a bushwalk early if you have overestimated your fitness level, so err on the side of caution. Bushwalking, like most activities, requires a certain amount of gear to get started. At a minimum, this includes a pack or bag to carry things in, clothing, food, drink, and protection from the weather.
For ideas on what to bring and how to pack a backpack, watch this:
Read the gear pages for more detail on what to wear and what to carry while hiking. It is not necessary to spend a lot of money on the right gear, but it is essential for your safety and comfort, and the safety of the group, to bring appropriate footwear, clothing, food and equipment
Talk to people. Decide what sort of activities you are going to do. As you become more experienced, you will realise that some things work better than others, and you will become interested in the more advanced aspects. Don’t buy a lot of very expensive gear until you are sure you want to continue bushwalking, and you know what to look for.
There’s more good advice on the NPA Bushwalking101 website.
Above all, be aware of safety. This video from NSW Police and NPWS TREK project covers a number of the issues you need to consider:
You should also review the safety material on this site.