Leave What You Find

How to interact with the natural surroundings

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. Carl Sagan

People visit natural areas for a range of reasons, but all seem to share the same desire to experience wild beauty and reconnect with something fundamentally natural. All bushwalkers want to be able to return again and again to these wilderness areas and experience them exactly unchanged and untouched. Think of natural areas as a museum to explore, look and learn from, and leave for other to see too. By leaving behind every element of nature just as they found it, bushwalkers can have minimal impact on the natural ecology of the system, and minimal disturbance to wildlife.

Some simple guidelines include:

  1. Do not touch or remove any natural material. This includes flowers, feathers, rocks, plants, fossils, shells and so on. It also means not to move artifacts between sites in natural areas. Leave everything as it should be.
  2. If your group builds rock structures (e.g. cairns) or makes signals (e.g. stick arrows), destroy them after they have been used. Spread the material out where it belongs. Do not scratch markings into rocks or put carvings onto trees.
  3. Never interfere with Aboriginal artwork or artifacts. Bushwalking tracks traverse through areas that have been home to indigenous people for tens of thousands of years and have a great deal of historical, cultural and spiritual significance. It is an offense under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 to tamper with Aboriginal artifacts, engravings or paintings: leave them just as they are for others to enjoy. If anyone in the group finds an Aboriginal artifact, report it to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

Further reading Some references on ‘Leave what you find’

Taçon, Paul SC, et al. “Eagle’s Reach: a focal point for past and present social identity within the Northern Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Australia.”Archaeologies of Art: Time, Place, and Identity (2008): 195-214.

Kelleher, Matthew, et al. “Wollemi petroglyphs, NSW, Australia: an unusual assemblage with rare motifs.” (2006): 227.

Taylor, Audrey R., and Richard L. Knight. “Wildlife responses to recreation and associated visitor perceptions.” Ecological Applications 13.4 (2003): 951-963.

Knight, Richard L., and David N. Cole. “Wildlife responses to recreationists.”Wildlife and recreationists: coexistence through management and research(1995): 51-69.