Many camping grounds around Australia have excellent hiking trails near them, and for some holiday makers the idea of hiking the quiet open trail on their own is very appealing.  Trail hiking in solitude allows time for relaxation and self-examination.  You can move at your own pace and set yourself a physical and mental challenge while truly enjoying the bounties that nature has to offer. Whether you go hiking solo, or with a group, there are a number of potential situations you need to be ready for before you leave your camping ground or holiday accommodation. 

It will be your responsibility to ensure you do not get lost, remember to take a map, compass and GPS system, and if you do become lost in unfamiliar terrain or if the weather changes, remember to S T O P – Stop,  Think,  Observe, and Plan. 

Be aware of the danger of human attacks, and if you are a female and hiking on your own you can take pepper spray and if you meet other hikers let them think your hiking partner is close behind.  Animals can also attack if they feel threatened or are protecting their young.  If you see a snake, do not approach it, and if you are bitten use your first aid kit to treat the bite and get immediate medical attention.  Insects are more likely to bother you than any other animals, use insect repellent and avoid hiking during dusk and dawn. 

Changeable weather is another potential risk, make sure you carry the correct gear to protect you from adverse weather, and check the weather forecast before setting off from your camping ground.  Even the most well prepared hiker is at risk from injuries, so ensure your first aid kit is well stocked and that you know what to do if you are injured.  Set realistic goals in terms of how far and fast you can hike, and do not attempt a trail that is beyond your skill level.  You should always stay on the trail, not only does it protect the environment but if become sick or injured it will be easier to find you. 

Think through your hike before you go, propose a few “what if” situations, and make a detailed plan including having a trail map and compass, detailed weather forecast, and packing enough food, water and extreme weather gear, and of course your first aid kit.  Leave an itinerary with the group you are travelling with your camping ground manager, let them  know when to expect you back and what to do if you are past your check-in time.  Signalling or tracking devices are very useful and can give additional peace of mind. 

Solo hiking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, by being prepared and knowing your limits you can stay safe and have fun as you explore Australia’s many hiking trails.

Even if you can’t hike in Australia, these tips are excellent suggestions for your excursions!

Adam Jay is an outdoor enthusiast who frequents countless camping grounds in Australia, he writes primarily on survival topics and camping tips.