It's summer, and time to enjoy Australia's great outdoors. Camping is fun, and hiking lets you savour the glory of Australia without rushing.
Day hikes are a good way to start, or you may want to combine your hikes with some camping. If you need to go low budget, check the internet for free camping sites and some of the best hikes in Australia -- there are many.
Here are some tips to get the most out of your trip, including some tips for beginner hikers.
Fuel up Going for a hike requires physical effort, so don't hike on an empty stomach. Make sure you know what to eat before hiking. Some hints: Eat a good breakfast or lunch that contains high quality protein, fruits and vegetables, and lots of water. During your hike, you'll want to snack every two hours on dried fruits, seeds, or other high-energy carbs that fit easily into your pack. Be sure to take plenty of water to avoid dehydration. After your hike, make sure you eat within an hour and drink at least two cups of water.
Master your pack There's an art to packing a hiking pack. Put your sleeping bag and other items you won't need right away on the bottom. Heavier items should rest next to your spine. Remember to pack a first aid kit that includes bandages, pain relievers, antihistamines, and antibiotic ointments -- enough for the length of your outing and the number of people in your group. Keep your flashlight or other light source where you can reach it easily at any time. It's a good idea to do a test pack at home so you know you have everything you need, that it fits into your backpack, and that it's comfortable to carry.
Beware of drop bears OK, drop bears don't exist. But Australia is home to poisonous spiders and snakes and to crocodiles. Common sense is the key here. Don't cool off with a swim in or near crocodile habitats, and wear protective clothing and footwear when hiking where you might get bitten. Spider bites can be deadly, so if you do get bitten, get treatment immediately.
If you get caught in a thunderstorm, make sure you're not the tallest object in the area. Get low to the ground, and be aware that lightning strikes can occur up to 10 miles from the centre of the storm. Always check the weather before you begin a hike, and always start early enough to reach your destination before sunset.
Know your route or hire a guide Map out your route before you start with a good topographical map or designated trail map. Know how rugged the terrain will be. If you're not familiar with the area where you'll be hiking, hire a local guide.
Dress for success Ditch the denim jeans. They're cotton, so they don't wick away moisture, and they take a long time to dry out. Wet cotton against your skin saps your body heat, leaving you at risk for hypothermia. Unless you're on a very short hike, stick to wool or polyester.
Break in your footwear before you hike any distance in it. Brand new boots or shoes can cause blisters or hotspots, so purchase your footwear several weeks before the trip and take the time to break it in.
While this isn't exactly "dress," buy quality gear -- sleeping bags, tents, rainwear, and clothing and shoes or boots.
So that's it. Pack smartly, dress well, and use your common sense, and you'll have a trek filled with great memories.