The Bushwalkers Code
The National Parks Association
fully supports the Code of Ethics for Bushwalkers and urges its members
and all others to observe it.
Do not disturb
- If you enjoy the pleasures of bushwalking and related
self-reliant outdoor activities, you have a big responsibility to protect
and preserve the natural landscape for the enjoyment of future generations.
This guide will help you enjoy the bush without leaving your mark.
Be self reliant
- Enjoy the natural landscape as it is, on nature's terms. Carry with
you the things you need for your comfort and safety.
- For shelter carry a lightweight tent or fly, or use a cave or rock
overhang. Avoid huts except when weather conditions are really bad.
- Keep walking parties small in number; four to six people is ideal.
- Avoid popular areas in holiday periods when campsites are crowded.
- Use existing tracks; don't create new ones. On zigzag paths, don't
cut corners as this creates unsightly damage that leads to erosion.
- In trackless country, spread your party out; don't walk in one another's
footsteps. Avoid easily damaged places such as peat bogs, cushion moss,
swamps and fragile rock formations.
- Wade through waterlogged sections of tracks; don't create a skein of'
new tracks around them.
- Except in really rough terrain, wear lightweight, soft-soled walking
shoes or joggers rather than heavy boots.
- Become proficient at bush navigation. If you need to build cairns,
blaze trees, place tags, break off twigs, or tie knots in clumps of grass
to mark your route, you are lacking in bush navigation skills. Placing
signposts and permanent markers of any kind is the responsibility of the
relevant land manager (such as the NPWS).
Watch your safety
- Know what to do in emergencies. Rescue operations often cause serious
damage so take care to avoid the need for rescue.
- Acquire knowledge of First Aid so you know how to handle illness and
- Carry clothing and equipment to suit the. worst possible conditions
you are likely to encounter.
- Carry a mobile phone if you want to, but use it only for summoning
aid in an emergency. Keep it switched off until needed.
Pack it in, pack it out
- Don't carry glass bottles and jars, cans, drink cartons lined with
aluminium foil and excess packaging. If you can't resist carrying such
things, don't leave them in the bush. Remember, if you carry a full container
in, you can carry the empty one out.
- Remove all your rubbish including food scraps, paper, plastic, aluminium
foil and empty containers. Don't burn or bury rubbish. Burning creates
pollution and buried rubbish may be dug up and scattered by animals. Digging
also disturbs the soil, causing erosion and encouraging weeds.
- Carry a plastic bag for your rubbish. If you find litter left by irresponsible
people along the track or around a campsite, please remove it. Show you
care for the environment, even if others don't.
- Ensure you are at least 50 metres from campsites, streams and lakes,
when going to the toilet. Wait until you get out of sensitive areas such
as caves and canyons before defecating or urinating.
- Bury all faeces and toilet paper at least 15cm deep. In snow, dig through
the snow first? then dig a hole in the ground.
- Carry out things that won't easily decompose, such as used tampons,
sanitary pads and condoms.
- Carry a lightweight plastic trowel or a large aluminium tent peg to
make digging easier.
Keep water pure
- Wash well back from the edge of lakes and streams so waste water falls
on soil where it will be absorbed.
- Prevent soap, detergent or toothpaste from getting into natural water
systems. Similarly, when washing cooking utensils, don't use deter-gent
and don't let oils and food scraps get into streams or lakes.
- Always swim downstream from where you draw drinking water.
Be VERY careful with fire
- Have a fire only when you are absolutely certain you can light it with
safety. A fuel stove is preferable for cooking and thermal clothing is
better for warmth.
- Always use a fuel stove in places where even a tiny fire may cause
permanent damage. Places where fire lighting should be avoided include
many rainforest and all alpine regions.
- Do not light fires: in hot, summer conditions * in dry windy
weather * in declared 'fuel stove only' areas * when there is a declared
- Fire doesn't destroy aluminium foil, and plastics release toxic gases
when burnt. So carry foil and plastics out in your pack with all your other
rubbish, including food scraps. Don't use your campfire as a rubbish incinerator.
If you must light a campfire, follow these rules:
- In popular campsites, light your fire on a bare patch left by previous
fires. Don't light it on fresh ground.
- Light your fire on bare soil or sand, well away from stumps, logs,
living plants and river stones (which may explode when heated).
- Definitely don't build a ring of stones as a fireplace. This
is unnecessary and unsightly. Dismantle stone rings wherever you find them.
- Sweep away all leaves, grass and other flammable material for at least
two metres around your fireplace. (Major bushfires have been caused by
careless campers who didn't take this precaution.)
- Burn only dead wood that's fallen to the ground. Don't break limbs
from trees or shrubs.
- keep your fire small-remember, the bigger the fool, the bigger the
Before you leave-
- Douse your fire thoroughly with water, even if it appears to be already
out. Don't try to smother a fire by covering it with soil or sand as the
coals will continue to smoulder for days. Only water puts a fire out with
- Feel the ground under the coals. If it is too hot to touch, the fire
is not out. Douse it some more.
- Scatter the cold charcoal and ashes well clear of your campsite then
rake soil and leaves over the spot where your fire was. You should aim
to remove all trace of it.
Choose campsites carefully
- Think twice about using a popular campsite to avoid overuse. If possible,
vary your route slightly so you can find an alternative site in a less
- Find an open space to erect your tent so it is unnecessary to clear
vegetation. In difficult overgrown areas, trample undergrowth growth flat
rather than pull plants out of the ground. A tram pled spot soon recovers.
- Use a waterproof groundsheet or tent with a sewn in floor and you won't
have to worry about surface runoff in wet weather. Avoid the temptation
to dig drains around your tent. This environmentally damaging practice
is no longer acceptable.
- If you have to remove branches or rocks to create a tent site, replace
them before you leave.
- Leave your campsite pristine. After a few days it should be impossible
to see where you were camped.
Protect plants and animals
- Try not to disturb wildlife. Remember, you are. the trespasser.
- Give snakes a wide berth and leave them alone. They have more right
to be there than you do.
- Watch where. you put your feet. Walk around delicate plants.
- Don't feed birds and animals around campsites or they may become pests.
Unnatural food can be harmful to many species.
Respect aboriginal heritage
- Many places have spiritual or cultural significance for Aborigines.
Treat such places with consideration and respect.
- Obtain permission from traditional landowners or the relevant land
manager to visit sensitive areas.
- Leave Aboriginal relies as you find them. Don't touch paintings or
Be courteous to others
- The sound of radios, CD players, mobile phones and similar devices
is out of place in the natural environment. Leave the electronics at home.
(See note under Safety concerning the acceptable use of mobile phones.)
- Ensure your behaviour and activities don't disturb or offend others.
- Camp as far away from other groups as conditions allow. Don't use another
group's campfire without permission.
- Leave gates and slip rails as you find them. When you open a gate,
make sure the last person through knows it has to be closed.
- Respect the rights of landholders and land managers. Don't enter private
property without permission. In national parks, abide by plans of management
and encourage others to do so too.
When in camp-
- Do your share of getting firewood and water. When Breaking camp, help
to remove the remains of your fire (if you had one) and clean up the site.
- Don't throw rubbish on a fire where people are cooking. In fact, don't
throw rubbish on a fire at all; carry it out with you. (See section: Pack
it in Pack it Out.)
- Don't step over other people's uncovered food.
Minimal Impact Bushwalking means
do nothing, leave nothing
that shows where you have been.
Code of ethics reprinted from the Confederation
of Bushwalking Clubs (NSW) Inc.
| National Parks Association of NSW Inc
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