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Correct track notes and maps for bushwalks are essential!

So you're going on a bushwalk - do you know the true track conditions or are you heading out into the great unknown?

Brad Lester cartoon 1

Cartoon by Brad Lester

Don’t let this happen to you!

Rainy weather

When is a track not a track? When it is a creek ...

  • Have you checked the weather forecast for the area?
  • Do you understand how quickly weather conditions can change in the area, especially in the High Country?
  • What are the current track and access conditions?
  • Will you be checking with someone who knows or has recently been there?
  • Have you had a look for updates on the Parks Victoria website or if possible, speak to the land manager or park ranger? 
  • Have you been to the area before?

Mountain Track

When is a track not the track? When it's the wrong track or it's not a track...

  • Can you read a map?
  • Do you have a decent and recent map of the area? (Here is a good guide on where to source maps)
  • Do you have adequate navigation skills for the walk?
  • Are you able to follow a faint track or stay on an unmarked “route only” and not wander off into a scrubby gully?
  • Are you respectful of the environment by not walking off track? 

Answered NO to the above? You should be going out there with a Bushwalking Club!

Club walk leaders:

  • Are trained to plan and successfully lead walks,
  • Will mentor inexperienced walkers,
  • Guide aspiring walk leaders into being capable and confident leaders, and, best of all
  • Will get you back to civilisation.

A club walk leader will have done all the planning for you, so you can:

  • Walk with confidence,
  • Enjoy on the scenery,
  • Socialise,
  • Experience the pure enjoyment of being out there in the bush, and
  • Forget time - as the club leader knows where the group should be and when they should be there.

Bushwalking Clubs have a wealth of experience in their membership which club leaders draw on when planning walks. So you will receive the benefit of all that experience.


Want to answer YES to all the above? A Bushwalking Club ticks all the boxes!

  • It is inexpensive. Annual Membership of a club is on average between $50-$100 a year and you can go on as many walks as you like!
  • Clubs often have a bushwalking/camping gear for hire/loan to members, so you don't have to buy lots of stuff.
  • Enjoy the companionship, and the pleasure of being with like-minded people;
  • Relax in the safety of a group,
    • Be rescued if you accidentally walk into an irate wombat’s burrow,
    • Be missed if you inadvertently disappear into a ferocious Bunyip’s den.
    • First Aid - there will probably one or more people on the trip who have First Aid qualifications.
  • Meet new people, some may even become close friends!

Please do not go out into the bush on your own, even very confident and experienced walkers can become disorientated in weather changes or sprain an ankle and be unable to walk further!

Be prepared – enjoy the bush- and easiest of all - join a club! 




Bushwalking for fun, fitness, friendship and nature!

Retiring soon? Consider bushwalking as a way to stay fit, get outdoors and socialise!

2018 07 13 YouYangs13 FB

At last, you have the time to make your dreams of leisure a reality ...

You have retired! 

Or at least have reduced your working hours. 

You most likely have this on your wishlist:

To get fitter or maintain your fitness,

To get outdoors more – commune with nature, as they say in the classics,

To socialise more, meet new people and make lasting friendships,

To spend quality time with your spouse or showing your grandchildren the bush,

You cannot, no you must not be stuck at home, looking for a new weed to pull from the garden!


2017 07 18 You Yangs FB

Most of us look forward to retirement with so much anticipation, but once the dust has settled:

  • You have been on that trip, and there will be more travels, but not next week.

  • You have, at last, put the regimen of working life behind you, swept away the former routines, and finally grasped the concept that work, paid or voluntary, is now optional, not compulsory.

  • You have caught up on all those jobs around the house that have been deferred for as long as you can remember.


 2018 09 16 Masons Fall Kinglake FB10

Retirement can bring on many challenges such as:

  • Adjusting to a change in the pace of life;

  • Settling into your new lifestyle, new routines;

  • Coming to terms with your changed financial position, and for many,

  • Downsizing from the family home and moving to a new neighbourhood;

  • Moving to be near family, more childminding.

Some retirees find it hard to imagine how they had time to go to work while others find time weighing heavily. Many retirees speak of feeling lost and disconnected or socially isolated.  Few retirees will spend their golden years cruising the seven seas, living the life of the eternal grey nomad or find the meaning of life managing their personal superannuation fund.

Everybody needs and wants to find their correct balance between satisfying, meaningful activity and leisure. 


2019 05 12 Brisbane Ranges 7

Eventually, the years move on and the physical realities of aging cannot be swept under the carpet any more. To keep the aches and pains to a minimum, to help medication do its job and reduce the risk of all the ‘modern’ epidemics, all advice leads to staying socially connected and physically active.

BUSHWALKING TICKS ALL THE BOXES - Fun, fitness, friendship, well-being and nature!

2019_05_18 Grampians13.jpg

So let’s look at the amazing opportunities of having time on your hands and the world at your feet:  

  • Bushwalking is a fantastic way to meet like-minded people, make new friends and to keep in touch with old friends. For families, it is a great multigenerational activity to enjoy together, to share in the wonders of nature and to learn or pass on knowledge of the natural world.

  • Here in Victoria, we are blessed with ample opportunities and a variety of terrains in which to explore.

    • Close to Melbourne, near to regional cities or towns, one hour from home near public transport or two hours drive out in the countryside, and if you are so inclined, at more remote destinations.

    • There are Council Parks, State Parks and Forests, National Parks and popular recreational areas.

    • A choice of short, medium or long walks;

    • Every grading of walk from easy through to challenging, catering to every level of fitness and ability;

  • Bushwalking does not require expensive membership fees or elaborate equipment.  It is something that can be enjoyed as a member of a club or group or in a casual get together with friends. Best practice is not to go onto less travelled tracks on your own.


Ayres Inlet 14- Feb 2019.jpg

Most bushwalking clubs will allow you to join them as a guest (usually for up to three walks), that way you can get a feel for the club and its members and what recreation it can provide for you, before you commit. You can explore our affiliated bushwalking clubs here. Many clubs arrange interstate and international walks, so there are many options for you to spread your wings. 

Click on this link to see how Bushwalking could be your gateway to safe outdoor recreation!

2019 05 12 Brisbane Ranges 8

All Images courtesy of Melton Bushwalkers, one of our affiliated bushwalking clubs. 



Injured or ill in a remote area?


Demo at BWV Leadership Forum

The last few years have seen Ambulance Victoria up-skilling specialist paramedics across the state for responding into remote and wilderness environments. Wilderness Response Paramedics are trained to assist in medical emergencies in Victoria’s bush and alpine areas and can provide patient care over protracted periods in challenging locations. We had the privilege of being introduced to this service by Andy Oates (paramedic with Ambulance Victoria) and volunteer with our Bush Search and Rescue (BSAR) team (photo above) at the recent Bushwalking Victoria Leadership Forum. 

They respond as part of a multi-agency team which typically sees members from Victoria Police (VicPol), Victoria State Emergency Service (SES), County Fire Authority (CFA), or the Department of Land, Environment, Water, and Planning (DELWP) co-respond.

The team is able to access areas that are otherwise inaccessible. Wilderness Response Paramedics then assess and manage a patient until extrication can be arranged either by ground or air.

Troopies front  Training at Tawoga Huts

This month (June 2019) saw the rollout of this service extended to a group of paramedics working in the metropolitan region. There are now more than 90 trained responders throughout the Victoria. A number of the paramedics involved in the program have a BSAR background. Note that VicPol is the ‘Lead Agency’ in any Search and Rescue incident in Victoria and that the new Ambulance Victoria program is aimed at giving its paramedics the capacity to safely provide a high level of medical support for an injured or ill patient once located. Here is a training video. 


More information about Ambulance Victoria Services here

Bushwalkers are most grateful for this service in the unlikely event of an incident whilst on a remote bushwalk - thank you Ambulance Victoria! 

Finding Maps for Bushwalking in Victoria

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Where to start when looking for maps?

Bushwalkers need accurate, up-to-date maps. Whether planning or leading a walk, or just walking with a few friends in the bush, good maps enable walkers to safely navigate their intended route. They also open new possibilities both during the walk planning and on the track. So, where are these good maps found? We asked map expert, Andrew Robinson from the Koonung Bushwalking Club, to put together a guide for us. 

Paper or digital maps?

Using both is best. The paper map provides the 'big picture', can be annotated during planning and is 'weatherproof'. A mapping GPS or Smartphone will, at the very least, provide an accurate position. Put both together and you have a well-equipped walker who is unlikely to be 'mislaid'. Both paper and digital maps are discussed below.

A word about scales

Large scale maps are a must; a good scale is 1:25,000, i.e. 4cm on the map = 1km on the ground. 1:50,000 (2cm = 1km ) is borderline, sometimes lacking sufficient detail for walkers, while 1:100,000 (1cm = 1km) is really only a detailed road map.

Some Smartphone apps

There are a large number of mapping apps, many linked to websites. For bushwalking, maps should be saved offline into the Smartphone itself, rather than continually accessing the internet via a mobile signal. I will mention just a few free apps.
Avenza maps is linked to a map store containing about a million maps worldwide. It can also display custom maps from other sources and is used by many mapping organisations. You can use your phone's built-in GPS to track your location on any map, plot tracks, add photos and much more. is your worldwide street directory with lots of additional information.

Terra Map is a good, easy app for plotting your track on a walk.

Map sources

  1. Vicmap

Vicmap is the Victorian Government mapping agency. It is part of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. It produces over 10,000 separate map sheets using 3 scales covering the entire state. These are:

  • Vicmap Topographic 1:25,000, A0 sheet
  • Vicmap Topographic 1:30,000, A4 sheet
  • Vicmap Topographic 1:30,000, A3 sheet
    (1:30,000 maps contain the same detail as 1:25,000, but are designed for easy printing on A4 or A3)
  • Vicmap Topographic 1:50,000, A0 sheet
  • Vicmap Topographic 1:100,000, A0 sheet

These maps are updated every 18 months to two years.

The maps are available either online or via the Vicmap Viewer Smartphone app. This app allows you to purchase, download, store and copy Vicmaps to the Avenza map app. Remember, only 3 custom maps (including Vicmaps) can be loaded into the Avenza free version at any time. So the Vicmap Viewer app is handy storage for the maps.
Vicmap mainly prints 1:50,000 paper maps and only a few 1:25,000. As all the map files are PDF’s, you can print any map you want; the 1:30,000 maps are especially handy here.

If a large number of Vicmaps are required, they can be purchased through a value-added reseller. Memory-map is one such reseller that has all Vicmaps. There are limitations. You must use memory-map software for viewing and printing the maps, but the cost savings can be considerable. Memory-map works on both your desktop and through a Smartphone app. Maps are downloaded as you need them or can be fully downloaded from the memory-map digital map store.

  1. Spatial Vision

A number of areas of interest to walkers are covered by Spatial Vision’s Outdoor recreation guides. Most of these maps are at a scale of 1:50,000 and are packed with detail. Wilsons Promontory, The Grampians and Bogong Alpine area are just a few. The maps can be purchased as paper or are also available in a georeferenced form through the Avenza app map shop. Spatial Vision also produces the Vicmap books, covering Victoria at a scale of 1:50,000. These are used by the CFA and emergency services.

  1. Meridian

Popular walking places, such as the Brisbane Ranges, Lerderderg and Werribee Georges, Hattah-Kulkyne and others are covered by Meridian’s Victoria Parks Guides. The maps can be purchased as paper or are also available in a georeferenced form through the Avenza app map shop.

  1. OpenStreetMap

OpenStreetMap is a free editable map of the world maintained by over two million volunteers. These maps form the basis of the maps used in many Smartphone mapping apps. Many areas are mapped in great detail including the accurate plotting of walking tracks. Occasionally, one may come across a remote area where the mapping is incomplete. Printing of these maps can be done through a number of websites. Inkatlas is one such site which is free, easy to use and you can add your own track plots too. It can print in black/white and A4 multipage so expensive printing is not required.

  1. Google and Apple maps

These online maps are primarily road maps but can show some tracks in some areas. Both are available as apps for a Smartphone and Google maps are readily opened on a desktop.

  1. Melway

This much-loved street directory does show minor roads and some walking tracks. In some areas, the tracks are incomplete or inaccurately marked. There is also an online version.

  1. Parks Victoria

Parks Vic visitor guides often contain good information on visitor facilities, walks and a good sketch map of the park. Many of the maps are also available in a georeferenced form through the Avenza app map shop for free. So you can print a copy and have the map available on your mobile too.

  1. Rooftop and Hayman maps

These maps can be only obtained through map resellers. See list below. The Forest Activities Map series are the ones for walkers at a scale of 1:50,000 with more detailed insert maps of some areas. They cover some popular walking areas.

  1. Google Earth

Don’t forget this superb resource. Once you have decided on your walk route, you can visualise it on Google Earth. Check out every twist and turn you intend to walk. If you don’t have the program on your desktop or smartphone, you can use the web version.

  1. Local Organisations

Don’t forget local organisations. Councils, alpine resort managements etc. often produce excellent maps and track notes of walks in their areas.

  1. Map Resellers

ABC Maps – shop and online

Maps, Books and Travel Guides – online only

MapWorks – shop and online

Melbourne Map Centre – online only

The above list is not exhaustive, but can start you on the way to finding quality, up-to-date maps for your next walk.

Links and sources accurate as on 20 May, 2019. Link validity and link content are subject to change. 

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