Getting ready for your first walk with the NPA
It’s great to have you join us on your first NPA bushwalk. Here we’ll run through just a few things to help you with packing, preparing and choosing your first walk. Happy walking!
Packing What gear do I need?
What clothing to wear?
Practical and comfortable clothing is key. Go for light, loose clothing: this helps you stay cool and comfortable. Avoid tight fitting clothes and/or jeans. We recommend:
- Collared shirt (sun protection)
- Long, loose shorts
- Sunhat, glasses and sunscreen (sun protection)
Check the local weather forecast to gauge how hot/cold it’ll be on the walk and tweak your gear to include extra layers if it’s cooler, and more drinking water if it’s going to be hot.
What shoes to wear?
Again, comfort is the key here. Start with a pair of sports shoes that you’re comfortable in and your feet are used to. For your first walk we recommend:
- a pair of light and comfortable runners
- ankle length socks
What to pack
Don’t rush off to expensive camping stores to buy fancy gear for your first trip – you’ll probably find that you’ve got everything you need sitting at home. Find a small, light backpack to carry:
- Water: 2 Litres is usually enough, split between a few old soft drink bottles.
- Food: Morning tea, afternoon tea and lunch. Carry food that doesn’t need preparing and snacks that are easy to eat on the move. e.g. sandwiches, fruit, nuts, muesli bars & lollies/chocolate to boost energy levels. Pack a few extra snacks in case you get back later than planned.
- Personal medication (e.g. asthma inhalers) – your trip leader will have a first aid kit.
- Everything else for Grade 1-2 on our complete gear checklist.
Lastly, if you’re worried about gear getting wet, just double wrap it in garbage bags.
Choosing your first walk What makes for a good first walk?
Where to find out about our walks
All NPA trips are listed in the activities program (produced quarterly) and weekly short notice bulletin email (sent Wednesday evenings), you can also view the program on our website.
Transport and other details
Each trip description has a little icon indicating what kind of activity it is – bushwalk, canyon, paddle, cycle etc. Most will have basic details about the walk such as the distance, grade, meeting point and what sort of terrain to expect.
Regardless of the trip length in the activities program, double check with your leader when they expect to finish before committing to being home at a certain time for dinner! There’s nothing worse than having to hurry through a bushwalk or shorten the trip because someone in the group has to make a deadline.
The nature of the walk
Everyone walks for different reasons, and every leader leads their own walks a bit differently. Some leaders prefer fast-paced walks, others like leisurely strolls with plenty of time for lunch breaks and photos. Some like to name every plant, and others like to enjoy broad vistas.
Spend a few minutes thinking about why you want to go bushwalking. Then flick through the program and get a sense for the types of trips that our leaders run. If you can find a leader that leads walks in a way that suit the reason you want to walk, then you will find it more enjoyable.
Walks are graded from 1 to 6 where 1 is the easiest and 6 is the hardest. If you’re new to bushwalking, it’s a good idea to choose an easy walk (grade 1-2) to start with to help settle in. If you’re relatively fit and have done some walking in the past then you might feel okay tackling a grade 3 on your first trip. More about walk grades.
Day before the trip
On the day before your trip make sure you hydrate well by drink plenty of water and get a good night of sleep. Double check the weather forecast and for any disruptions to your travel arrangements (e.g. rail track work).
Things changed & you can’t make the walk anymore?
We know that life gets crazy at times. Please just let your leader know if you can’t make the walk anymore.
On the day Get the most out of your walk
On the morning of your walk
On the morning of the trip, here are a few tips to help you feel great and start your walk smoothly:
- Enjoy a good breakfast, and double check your gear and walk details.
- Aim to be at the meeting point and ready to start walking 10 minutes before the actual starting time.
- Go to the toilet before arriving – many meeting points don’t have a toilet.
On your walk
On the walk, have fun and enjoy yourself, but just keep a few things in mind:
- Stick with the group, and if you’re finding it hard to keep up then chat to your leader.
- Leave nothing in the bush, no rubbish not even orange peel.
- Be mindful of other people on the track: give other groups plenty of room to pass
After your walk
At the end of the walk, remember to say thanks to your leader – they are volunteers and put in a stack of effort to organise the logistics of getting NPA members out into the bush. If someone has given you a lift, then it’s nice to offer them some petrol money or shout them a coffee instead.
You may also want to exchange contact details with a few people you met on the trip. Many of our members make life-long friends through the activities program. You may find some NPA members that live close by and can share transport to the start of walks.
Getting into it Enjoying a life long love of walking
What worked for you?
When you get back home from any activity, have a think through what parts of the trip you enjoyed most. Was is the walking pace, views, coffee, people or other things? Then flick through the activities program to find your next adventure!
Frequently asked Questions
- Are there toilets?
Walks start from many different meeting places, some with toilets, but many without. So make sure you go, before you go!
- Do I really need to bring lunch?
Yes, always carry lunch with you. Even on short day walks it’s a good idea to carry lunch or at least a substantial snack. This gives a buffer in case the trip takes longer than expected, or you end up enjoying yourself so much out there that you stay for a bit longer!
- I am an experienced bushwalker, can I do a grade 5 for my first walk?
We always recommend that you start with an easier grade walk on your first walk with the NPA. This gives you a chance to get used to the group and find your feet. For most people, start with a grade 1-2, for those with some previous bushwalking experience and good general fitness a grade 3-4 may be more appropriate.
Other activities Other activities run by the NPA
Our NPA members love bushwalking, but we’re more than just a bushwalking club. Our activities program regularly contains other kinds outdoor activities too. In summer, you’ll typically see more canyoning trips on the program. In winter, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing trips. And all year round there may be trips involving camping, cycling, abseiling, bird watching and so on, too.
There’s a lot of overlap between the outdoor activities that the NPA does, and information on topics like water collection, water treatment and etiquette are all relevant. For more specific details on outdoor activities, follow the links below.