Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Wilderness Recreation - The Wilderness Code

The experience and observation of wilderness through media, art and literature provide links with our natural heritage available to all Australians. The 95 per cent of NSW outside wilderness already provides ample opportunities for noisy motor vehicles and intrusive horse riding parties.

Wilderness offers opportunities for solitude and self-reliant recreation including bushwalking, camping and nature study. The unique experiences gained through these activities are greatly diminished when a wilderness is dissected by vehicle tracks that enable off-road vehicle and horseriding entry.

The Wilderness Code

Walk safely - walk with a bushwalking club

For more information bushwalking, visit the Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs site.

Walking in wilderness

Wilderness areas can be fragile and pristine bushland needs care and protection to retain its integrity. By ‘walking lightly’ you can minimise the damage to the natural environment and ensure wildlife and future generations continue to enjoy the area.

You ‘walk lightly’ when you:

Stay on the track, when its rough or muddy. Walking on track edges and cutting corners down a graded path increases erosion and unsightly scarring. 

Do not make parallel tracks in swampy areas; try to stay on hard ground in untracked areas; never "blaze" new or old routes or erect cairns.

Avoid sensitive vegetation. Swamp plants and other soft vegetation are easily destroyed by trampling. Stay on hard ground as much as possible.

Where there are no tracks, it is often possible to spread out in open country to disperse impact and prevent formation of new tracks.

Keep wilderness, please don’t cut or mark tracks with tape or paint as doing so can confuse other visitors.

Wear lightweight walking boots or shoes, such as vollies and runners.

Camping - Avoid fragile environments; use existing clear areas; return any displaced leaf litter or branches after use.Avoid creating new campsites. Don’t dig a trench around your tent.

Stay only one or two nights at one site. Keep to hard surfaces in popular areas, don’t go clearing new areas.

Boil water for 10 minutes in high use areas (e.g. the alps) and water low flow streams. 

Leave campsites better than you found them, remove rubbish, dismantle unnecessary or unsafe fireplaces.

Don’t damage or clear vegetation.

Fires - Use fuel stoves where dry wood is scarce; use only fallen wood; extinguish thoroughly with water until the fireplace is cold; remove and rehabilitate fireplace after use; do not leave a circle of stones around the fire place or put aluminium (foil) in fireplaces. Remember, the bigger the fire, the bigger the fool. Save the bush and prevent wildfires by using less wood.

Observe total fire bans. 

Use a fuel stove, they are faster, cleaner and easier in the wet can camp fires and don’t scar the landscape.

Water and washing - Wash well away from water sources; use a scourer in preference to soap; do not use detergents. Detergents, shampoo, soap, toothpaste harm fish and wildlife. Sand or a scourer effectively clean cooking gear. Wash well away from streams and lakes.

Rubbish - Always carry out what you carry in, even tea bags, apple cores and orange peel. Burying it spreads weeds and encourages pest animals.

Leave as much bulky packaging at home as you can, it makes packing easier.

If you see other people’s rubbish, carry that out too.

Sanitation - Don’t leave it exposed, you will cause gasto attacks (diarrhoea and vomiting). Bury human waste at least 30 metres away from water courses and campsites. 

Go 100 metres aware from campsites and watercourses.

Dig a hole at least 15 centimetres deep.

Carry out sanitary napkins, tampons, condoms and nappies.

Some final words about trip planning in wilderness

Leave details of your group, route, planned return, level of experience, vehicles numbers and equipment with relative or local police station.

Check park alerts on and fire hazards on - doing this will ensure your trip goes smoothly and is not blocked with planned events, such as harzard reduction burns and other events that can close park areas, leaving you without a planned trip.

Keep your group small (4 to 8 people) and if you can avoid busy times and busy places. 

Some areas have restrictions, including park closure, fuel stove only and camping permits.

Well planned trips are more relaxing, with less hassle and more fun.