The journals that follow come from my experiences of five decades of bushwalking with friends and family. They are accounts of bushwalks and kayak trips that range from long distance treks… occasionally arduous, through to easy day walks or maybe even just an a hour or two poking around in my sea kayak. For those of you addicted to those interminable blow by blow navigational track notes, track logs and lists of waypoints, look elsewhere. But if you share a geographer’s enthusiasm for maps and journeys across landscapes, read on. I hope you find them informative and perhaps entertaining. And as that great 16th century Dutch explorer, Abel Janszoon Tasman noted: ” He who might wish to know his country must first walk over it.”
Some thoughts on bush navigation.
Using a map and compass is a basic skill that should be mastered by any walkers who intend to venture away from marked tracks and trails. There is nothing mystical about the use of a map and compass or a GPS for that matter. These skills are very easy to learn and there are numerous publications and web sites that can give assistance. My favourite publication is a little booklet published by Geoscience Australia: Natmap: Map Reading Guide (Geoscience Australia, Canberra. 2013). I confess to using GPS regularly, usually to clarify tricky navigational issues. While I like my map and compass for navigation, I was an early adopter of GPS technology and have been using a GPS and mapping/ GIS software( OziExplorer, Mapinfo and ArcView) since the early 1990s. In addition to a map and compass my walking kit contains either a Magellan GPS using Tracks and Topo software or my Android phone using geo-referenced map files. Call me old fashioned, but I urge walkers to occasionally desert their matchbox size GPS screens, waypoints and track logs. Unfold that printed map sheet and get a feel for the elements of the broader landscape and enjoy the unpredictability of an unknown path through the bush.