Your Guide to

Staying Safe
on the trail

Trail winding ahead, sun on your shoulders, and leaves whispering beneath your boots – you’re deep in the Aussie bush. It’s easy to get lost in the beauty, but remember, a safe return needs some planning too. Think of this page as your on-trail guide, packed with tips to ensure you get back home with just the memories, not the worries.


Use your map and compass: Even if you have a GPS device, knowing how to navigate with a map and compass is crucial. Familiarise yourself with the map before you start and regularly check your location throughout the hike.

Be aware that mobile reception can be unreliable in remote areas. GPS and mobile phones help but they should not replace preparation, as you may unexpectantly fall out of GPS range.

Stay on the trail: This is the most important rule for staying safe. Avoid venturing off into unmarked areas, as it’s easy to get lost, especially in dense bushland.

Respect park and trail closures: Park and trail closures safeguard visitors and the environment. They protect against hazards, sensitive ecosystems, and facilitate maintenance. By respecting closures and consulting official sources, you become a responsible steward, ensuring safe and enjoyable experiences for all.

Stay Alert

Watch out for wildlife: Australia boasts incredible wildlife, but remember, we’re guests in their home. Stay vigilant on the trail and avoid contact with animals, especially snakes, kangaroos, and emus. Store your food securely to avoid attracting unwanted guests. Remember, respecting wildlife means protecting both them and you.

Look for hazards: Watch out for slippery rocks, uneven terrain, and potential drop-offs. Take your time and use your hands for balance on difficult sections.

Be observant: Watch where you are going and where you have been. It’s important to remember what the trail looks like behind you in case you need to retrace your steps.

Be weather aware: Weather conditions can change quickly in the outdoors. If the weather turns bad, find shelter, or seek help immediately.

Stay hydrated and fuelled

Drink plenty of water: Even on short hikes, dehydration can be a serious risk. Aim to drink at least 2 litres of water per day, more if it’s hot or you’re exerting yourself. Become familiar with signs of dehydration, heat stroke, and hypothermia.

Eat snacks and meals regularly:
Pack energy-rich snacks and a nutritious food to keep your energy levels up. Avoid heavy meals before or during the hike. Become familiar with the signs of physical and mental fatigue as these can affect your judgement and decision making.


Even the most careful hiker can encounter minor injuries. Pack a basic first-aid kit with essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and insect repellent.

Learn how to handle common hiking injuries like cuts, scrapes, insect bites, blisters, and sprains. Remember, knowing what to do in an emergency can make a world of difference.

Know Your Limits

Beyond bumps and scrapes, remember your body’s limits. Track your hydration and be familiar with signs of dehydration, heat stroke, and hypothermia. Dizziness, muscle cramps, and excessive thirst are red flags for dehydration.

Watch for chills, confusion, and rapid heartbeat indicating potentially serious conditions like heat stroke or hypothermia.

Prioritise rehydration, shade, and shelter as needed, and don’t hesitate to seek help if symptoms worsen. Taking care of your physical well-being is just as crucial as mental resilience for a safe and enjoyable adventure.

Don’t push yourself too hard: Take breaks when you need them and don’t be afraid to turn back if you’re feeling tired, unwell, or lost.

Stay Connected

Tell someone your plans: Before you start your hike, let a friend or family member know your chosen trail, estimated duration, and expected return time. This way, someone can raise the alarm if you’re overdue.

Carry a communication device: If possible, bring a mobile phone and satellite communicator or personal locator beacon (PLB) in case you need to call for assistance.

Be aware that mobile reception can be unreliable in remote areas. GPS and mobile phones help but they should not replace preparation, as you may unexpectantly fall out of GPS range.

Emergency preparedness

Become familiar with emergency markers located along bushwalking tracks. They are designed to pinpoint your exact location during an emergency in public open spaces or a hard to define places. They display three letters and three numbers which gives an exact location of where the markers are.

Have communications equipment that will work where you are going – like a satellite phone if you’re going for extended periods across low coverage areas. Consider if you’ll need radio backup, a Personal Locator Beacon, a copy of any important phone numbers, a phone charger, battery pack or other communications supplies.

Stress and Mental Fatigue

While we often focus on the physical challenges of outdoor adventures, the mental and emotional aspects can be just as crucial. Just like your body needs rest and recovery, your mind needs the same during and after a trek through the wilderness.

Stress and mental fatigue can cloud judgment, reduce resilience, and zap enjoyment. Learn to recognise the signs (irritability, negative thoughts, feeling overwhelmed) and take control. Simple practices like mindfulness breaks, connecting with nature, and open communication can keep your spirits high. Remember, outdoor journeys are about inner growth as much as physical feats.

What to do if you become lost

If you are unable to find your way back to where you started, seek assistance. Be aware it can take a considerable time for rescuers to reach you.

  • Stay calm.
  • Stop and think.
  • Re-check your navigation and map.
  • Re-trace your steps for a short distance.
  • Locate your last known point if possible.
  • Gain some height to assist in orientation.
  • If you have mobile reception, call 000 and ask for police. The international standard emergency number is 112, but in Australia, dialling 112 will connect you to 000.
  • If you have marginal mobile reception, SMS may be more reliable than voice, but 000 does not accept SMS messages. If SMS is the only way you can seem to connect, then you will have to SMS a friend and get them to call 000 for you.
  • If you believe your life is at risk, activate your personal locator beacon (PLB). PLBs are powerful devices that can send a distress signal to search and rescue satellites.
  • Find shelter to stay warm and dry.
  • Stay in one place.
  • Attempt to make your position visible to land and air searchers – fire or bright clothing in an open area that can be seen by air searchers.
  • If you are in a group stay together, never separate.
  • Ration your food and water if necessary.

Leave No Trace

The beauty of our trails depends on responsible hikers like you. Stay on designated paths to protect native plants and animals. Don’t pick wildflowers or disturb wildlife habitats. Pack out all your trash, including fruit peels and food scraps. Leave the trail even better than you found it for future adventurers to enjoy.

Think of the “Leave No Trace” principles as your outdoor etiquette guide. These seven easy-to-grasp practices minimise your impact, whether traversing remote wilderness, strolling through the local park, or even enjoying your own backyard. Each principle tackles a specific aspect, empowering you to be a responsible visitor wherever you choose to explore.

  • Plan Ahead & Prepare
  • Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Minimise Campfire Impacts
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Others

Familiarise yourself with the 7 Leave No Trace Principles at

Your safety is your priority. Remember, stay on track, respect the terrain and its inhabitants, listen to your body, and always prioritise safety.