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Learning how to navigate along a pre-existing route
When you think about navigation, thick impenetrable scrub and vast empty wilderness spring to mind. But navigation is not only for off-track walking. It’s just as important when following established routes, that is, on-track walking. Unlike other parts of the world, not every route is signposted in the Australian bush! Also, routes fade, reform and change over time. Following a track, trail or path blindly can very quickly take you to somewhere completely different to where you intended.
Typical navigation decisions that bushwalkers face on established routes include:
- “Do I take the right or left fork at the junction?”,
- “Does the track continue on the other side of the creek now”, and
- “Is this the last water source for 10km?”
On-track walking means using pre-existing ways to get from A to B. On-track navigation involves planning a route that links these ways together. By comparison, off-track navigation is where bushwalkers plan and walk their route without following established ways. Both types of navigation rely on following the plan, staying found and recognising reliable map features.