How to interact respectfully with other on the track
It is necessary for a man
to go away by himself
to sit on a rock and ask
‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?’ Carl Sandburg
Although people escape to the bush for a variety of reasons, most people enjoy entering nature in a quiet and reflective state to reconnect with nature and escape from their loud and busy city lives. It’s also the best way to see wildlife with minimal disturbance.
Let everyone in the group Immerse their senses into their surrounding. Who knows what interesting birds and animals the group might hear! Leave any music devices and speakers at home, and turn all mobile phone to silent.
Walk in single file so that oncoming walkers can easily pass. If the group stops for a break, make sure that it’s not blocking the track for other bushwalkers. Similarly, give way for other bushwalkers to overtake the group on the track if their walking pace is faster.
Say a polite “hello” or “g’day” to other walkers on the track, but be aware that not everyone will be up for a lengthy chat. As a general rule, most bushwalkers are there to walk, engage with nature and reflect on their own lives, rather than have long conversations with every person they meet. The exception, of course, is if people look in trouble, or lost. It’s definitely ok to start up a conversation to gauge if they are capable of getting out safely and what equipment are carrying.
Keep a few paces between you and the person in front: this stops the group running into each other or stepping on heels. Relay track information to the back of the group (e.g. “watch out for that slippery section”, “there’s a loose rock here”). If the person in front walks through a branch, be really careful that it doesn’t spring back suddenly: best to hold the branch and pass it onto the next person to minimise injury risk.
Respecting your hosts
Remember that rangers and land managers work tirelessly to maintain tracks and trails, signs and information in natural areas. Make their job easier by respect signs and other infrastructure, and reporting any damage.
After the walk drop into an information hut to thank the local rangers and land managers for maintaining the facilities. Consider volunteering one weekend to help out with track maintenance, weed control or community events.