Information Sheet for Overseas Visitors190.63 KB
Many parts of Australia have conditions for hiking or bushwalking that are idyllic and plenty of challenging hikes and adventure await you. Australia has unique scenery, fauna and flora and one of the best ways to see this wonderful, vast country is on foot.
We highly recommend walking with a local Bushwalking Club as they know the risks associated with the local area, what is required and, best of all, what to see.
There are many other useful sources of information including National Park staff and commercial tour operators who can help you with information about seasonal beauty and local conditions you might expect to encounter at the time of your visit.
Australia with its diverse climate and landforms is a great country for hiking. However there are some hazards which you need to be aware of before you set out to explore. Check the latest information for the area you wish to visit and then plan your trip to maximise your enjoyment of our wonderful natural areas and manage the risks to minimise the likelihood of injury or distress.
Check out the Useful Links
Australia has a wide range of weather conditions. The continent is large and has tropical conditions in the north, dry desert in the centre and conditions ranging from dry to heavy rain and snow in the south. Some of these weather events can be severe and pose a threat to personal safety.
- Northern Australia
Wet season, very heavy rain with flooding and some areas becoming inaccessible. Dry season can have high daytime temperatures.
- Desert Areas
Summer temperature in these areas can exceed 45C and almost certainly there will not be any surface water.
Rain events when they occur in these places can however cause dangerous flooding and areas can be isolated for several days. This includes parts of Western Australia, Northern Territory, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
- South East & South West Australia (including Tasmania)
Snow, hail, heavy rain (even in summer), temperatures of 40°C plus in summer.
Severe thunderstorms can occur anywhere in Australia.
- Risks Associated with Weather
UV levels are often very high and can cause severe skin damage. Check the UV index on the Bureau of Meteorology website and be prepared to cover-up and use SPF 30+ sunscreen.
Dehydration and heat stoke can be a consequence of activity in high temperatures.
Hypothermia is a risk in wet cold conditions. Please heed local advice.
However many areas have pleasant stable weather at different times of the year. Where possible you are advised to check weather forecasts with the Bureau of Meteorology, www.bom.gov.au
The Australian sun is very strong, especially in the summer months, and as a consequence Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world.
Always wear a shirt, hat, sunglasses and SPF 30+ sunscreen lotion, even on cloudy days. If spending the whole day outdoors, reapply sunscreen regularly. Stay out of the sun during the middle of the day when the sun is strongest. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
For more information visit the Cancer Council Australia - http://www.cancer.org.au/
Australians live with the risk of bushfires. The danger period in most parts of the country is from late spring to summer and during this time observe some simple safety precautions.
Before setting out on a journey, inform yourself of bushfire risks through TV, radio and newspapers reports. When camping, use designated fireplaces and comply with warning signs and total fire bans. If you must light a fire, always extinguish it completely with water.
On days of extreme fire danger authorities may declare a Total Fire Ban covering either all or designated parts of a state. When a total fire ban is in force no fires can be lit in the open. Campfires and portable stoves of any kind are included in the ban and cannot be used in a tent or shelter. Severe penalties apply where someone lights of fire in the open on a day of total fire ban.
The most authoritative source of weather information, including fire danger information is the web site of Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology at www.bom.gov.au
Australia is one of the driest continents on earth. In the tropical areas of northern Australia water may be plentiful but availability will vary according to the time of year. In most western and central areas including parts of South Australia potable surface water is almost nonexistent. Mountain areas in the South East may have perennial streams but in dry years these can disappear.
When planning a hike in an area always check with local authorities as to the availability of water. If travelling by vehicle in remote locations always carry plenty of drinking water for emergencies.
Despite Australia's world-wide reputation for its dangerous animals, on average, all the people killed each year by snakes, crocs or sharks can be counted on just one hand. Nevertheless, when out in the Australian bush it is common sense and good practice to be aware of possible dangers. For comprensive advice on Australian animals, including our dangerous ones, visit the Australian Museum web site. They even have a mobile app about dangerous Australian creatures.
Despite sharing our continent with about 140 species of land snakes, some equipped with extremely toxic venom, snakebite is more a fear than a reality. On average only 1-2 cases of snakebite a year result in death. Many more deaths from snake bite occur in Asia and Africa.
Unprovoked, snakes rarely attack humans. Although snakes cannot hear they can detect vibrations in the ground, so walk heavily to encourage them to instinctively flee from your path. If you do encounter a snake in your pathway, do not disturb it. Simply alert the other members of your party and give it a wide berth.
When bushwalking it is recommended that you always wear stout footwear and be observant. In areas where snakes are prevalent it is wise to wear long trousers and/or gaiters. When camping, use a tent with an integral floor and always zip up the doors. Use a torch at night.
Estuarine crocodiles (also known as saltwater crocodiles) can be found in waterways considerable distances from the coast, in the Northern Territory and tropical areas of Western Australia and Queensland. Crocodiles also occur around offshore islands in these areas. These animals are extremely dangerous and all warning signs about them should be heeded.
While Australia has its share of these they are, in general, not a problem if protective clothing is worn. Malaria is not present in Australia however mosquitoes can carry and spread other diseases such as Dengue Fever and Ross River Virus. Where mosquitoes are prevalent the best protection is to wear long pants and a long sleeved shirt, preferably of a light colour. Insect repellents containing DEET can be used on exposed skin.
Finally always tell someone about your planned excursion or route whether you are hiking or driving. You can easily do this online at www.tripintentions.org This is a free service provided for community benefit by the volunteer group Bush Search & Rescue Victoria.
In addition make sure you have extra food and water in case you are delayed or your vehicle breaks down in a remote location. Mobile (cell) phone coverage is limited to population centres. The emergency telephone number used in all parts of Australia is 000. If travelling or bushwalking in remote or difficult terrain it is advisable to carry a Personal Locator Beacon (sometimes referred to as an EPIRB) to obtain help in a life threatening situation. These can be hired from some National Park information centres and some Police Stations.
- For more information about visiting and walking in Australia, including information specific to each state, check out Links in the top menu.
- Information about Personal Locator Beacons
- Tourism Australia - Australia Travel Tips
- Travel Tips
National Parks Service in Each State & Territory
- New South Wales
- Australian Capital Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia
- Northern Territory
- Kakadu & Uluru National Parks
This web page is intended to provide general advice only and will not cover each and every circumstance you may encounter.
Bushwalking Australia does not accept responsibility for errors or omissions on this web page or for the manner in which the information is interpreted or implemented. Users may need to seek independent professional advice as to the application of this information to their particular circumstances.