Bushwalking Etiquette

Being considerate to others in the bush

Etiquette is the invention of wise men to keep fools at a distance. Richard Steele

Different cultures around the world have wildly different customs to others, and sometimes when people go traveling outside their own cultural, they can go into cultural shock, a feeling of total confusion about how to act or behave. Some actions viewed as exceptionally rude in one culture are highly complementary in another. For example, in Japan it’s standard practice to slurp when eating a bowl of noodles, whereas it’s the height of rudeness in Britain. These examples highlight different cultural norms around the world.

Within any culture there are sub-cultures, and these too have customs, rituals and expectations. These practices form the expected etiquette of that community and can vary in place and time. These practices are often ingrained and followed unconsciously. Etiquette guidelines strongly reflect the culture they’re held in, and getting these unspoken expectations correct can make a big difference to how easy it is to feel accepted by that community.

The bushwalking community is a good example of an Australian subculture with its own set of unique etiquette. In the bush, while the core etiquette ideas are similar, clubs (and states) have their own expectations and unique culture. The point of this etiquette article is not to dictate a set of rules, but rather to provide guidelines. Etiquette isn’t about being right or wrong, but rather it’s about knowing what the expectations of that community are so that if people stray from the norm, they do so knowingly.

Bushwalking etiquette involves being considerate to others before, during and after the walk and includes people within the group as well as others on the track. The etiquette around bushwalking is all about respecting how other people want to experience natural places and taking care of each other on the track.

While a walk is usually organised by a single leader, it’s not up to one person to make the trip a success. It comes down to every single member of the group being well prepared, turning up with the right expectations and equipment, and being an inclusive, respectful and courteous participant. These ideas all highlight that the actions of an individual can dramatically impact upon others and this is the focus of this etiquette article.