Guidelines for Participants
These notes contain information about what to expect and what to bring on a Club trip, about the risks you may face in taking part in one of our activities and your obligations as a participant. This information covers similar topics to the Getting Started page, but in more detail.
The participant is a person who takes part in an activity who is responsible for their own safety and conduct and who has a duty of care to their fellow participants and to the Club.
Risk and Responsibility
It is the responsibility of all participants to make the trip a success. All participants are responsible for their own well-being. Participation in a Club activity means that if you book together you walk/cycle/kayak together and everyone looks after everyone else.
Our Club conducts peer-based activities. Peers have equal rights and responsibilities but not necessarily equal skill and experience. All participants in a peer-based activity, including visitors, have the primary responsibility for their own wellbeing in each activity in which they participate. In addition, all participants must be prepared to share responsibility for the good and orderly conduct and safety of any Club activity in which they participate. This includes helping others in an emergency.
The very nature of the outdoor activities attracts some risk of accidents that may lead to injury, illness or death or to the loss of or damage to property. Trip Coordinators, who plan, advertise and coordinate walks and rides, are not professionally trained; each activity is a peer group activity with the Trip Coordinator providing limited direction and oversight. Hence all participants must satisfy themselves as to whether they can do the walk safely. This is best done by talking with the Trip Coordinator and understanding the Club’s walk, ride and kayak grading systems. The Club endeavours to minimise risk by asking participants to behave responsibly towards themselves and others and to follow safety rules detailed in the Club’s publication Safety in the Bush.
Physical and Mental Conditioning
Bushwalking often involves strenuous physical activity and makes a wide range of physical and mental demands on the individual.
To meet those demands it is important that inexperienced walkers start with the shorter, easier type of walk and progress to longer or harder ones. Having then assessed their physical capabilities they can choose future walks accordingly.
It is important that you do not attempt walks beyond your capabilities. Should you have a fear of heights, lack confidence on rocks or have a medical condition which needs consideration, you must inform the Trip Coordinator. If your health, physical capabilities or mental condition are in doubt for a particular walk, it is your responsibility to not join that walk.
At times it is wise to try to prepare mentally for the adverse conditions likely to be encountered. Experience is the main factor in strengthening your capacity to deal with stress and discomfort.
Remember that the Trip Coordinators are unpaid volunteers. It is therefore the responsibility of every trip member to be adequately skilled, have the correct equipment and contribute to the safety of the party in decisions about risks and hazards.
The Club has Public Liability insurance to protect the Club, its coordinators and walk participants from claims for damages arising from injury and/or property damage caused by negligent acts committed on Club-operated activities. Personal accident insurance is your own responsibility.
Deciding whether to go on a Trip
Grading of Trip
Satisfy yourself that the trip is likely to be within your abilities. If you do not know the Trip Coordinator or are uncertain about any aspect of the trip contact the Trip Coordinator before the day of the trip. The grading system is described on the Gradings webpage and in the Circular.
Participants under 18 years old must be accompanied by an adult who will be responsible for them. Young walkers do not always recognise potentially dangerous situations.
Trip Planning and Preparation
It is not usual to have to book for a day walk. You must book for a trip if you are a Prospective. Booking is usually mandatory for overnight trips, or if requested in the trip description in the Circular.
- How to make a Booking
- Using your Username and Password login to HWC website
- Select drop down menu What’s On >> Current Activities
- Browse the list till you find a Trip that interests you
- Hit the activity title (or the blue triangle, or the image) to see more detail
- Note whether the activity is ‘Need to book’ or ‘No need to book’.
- If ‘Need to book’ = no:
- Make a note of the meeting place and time. For all ‘no need to book’ walks just turn up at the stated meeting point. Most day trips do not require a booking.
- If ‘Need to book’ = Yes:
- Hit ‘Request a Booking’.
- If this is your first activity with this coordinator or you are a prospective, please describe your fitness level and experience in the ‘Comments’ box. If you are a Prospective please ring the coordinator to discuss the trip to ensure it is within your capabilties.
- Hit ‘Send booking request’; the coordinator will contact you.
- Don’t hesitate to send an enquiry to the Coordinator if you need any information about the trip, or equipment, or any other aspect.
The Trip Coordinator has the right to refuse to accept anyone who, in their opinion, lacks the skills, fitness and/or equipment necessary to undertake the trip.
Minimise the risk to yourself and the other participants by being suitably healthy, experienced and fit for the trip and by having done any necessary training. For your own safety and the safety of the rest of the party, do not attempt a trip that would be too difficult for you. Tell the Trip Coordinator before the day of the trip if you are taking any medication that might affect your participation in the trip, or if you have any physical or other limitation. If you have emergency allergy medication – make sure someone knows where it is and can help administer it. The Trip Coordinator has discretion to refuse you if it could jeopardise the trip.
If you are a passenger in a vehicle on Club trips it is recommended you donate 10 cents per km for fuel. The preferred procedure is for passengers to ask the driver how much for fuel. The Club’s Transport Pooling Guidelines provide more details.
Equipment, Clothing and Footwear
You should bring appropriate food, water and equipment for the trip in a suitable backpack. You should, as a courtesy to your driver, also bring a towel and spare clothes to change into at the end of the trip if you think you might get wet or dirty. What you carry and wear on a trip will depend on the expected conditions. Club trips may take place in alpine areas, coastal areas and many places in-between. Temperatures in Tasmania may exceed 30°C in summer and fall well below zero at night in winter. You may be exposed to rain or wind at any time of the year and it can snow in alpine areas even in summer. You must prepared to cope with conditions worse than those anticipated and with accidents and emergencies.
On day walks you will need to take your lunch, water, toilet paper and a trowel, hat, wet weather gear and a warm top.
Your gear for multi-day activities will normally include a tent, sleeping bag and fuel stove. The Club runs an equipment hire service for members and prospective members at nominal cost. Hiring equipment is a great way to get informed about equipment options and your first Club activities are an opportunity to observe the equipment of other walkers, who will readily give advice. The Trip Coordinator will advise if there is any particular equipment required on a trip.
The clothing that you wear needs to be appropriate for the conditions. In sustained cold, wet weather it is unrealistic to expect to stay dry. Wool when wet and next to the skin becomes warm and is recommended. There are synthetic materials that are also quite good and which may dry more quickly. Cotton is always cold when wet and slow to dry-out but would be preferable in hot weather. Denim jeans are not a good choice for walking as they are cold when wet and cause chafing. Hats and gloves are also important for protection from the sun, wind and cold. Head covering is important in winter because most heat loss occurs from the head.
Wet weather gear must be carried on all trips. A Gore-Tex jacket or one made of a similar membrane material is recommended. Proofed nylon does not provide adequate protection in extended wet weather.
Footwear is a very individual thing and the primary consideration is that it should be comfortable for you. Joggers and walking shoes are often satisfactory on easy walks, especially on tracks. If you are planning a longish walk, especially in rough conditions, you should probably use boots, which give better protection to your feet and provide better arch and ankle support.
In deciding what to pack for a trip, you need to strike a balance between being well equipped and the weight in your pack. The Club has equipment checklists and your Trip Coordinator can advise you; but deciding what to pack is ultimately up to you. The Trip Coordinator will not inspect your pack to make sure that you have brought the right gear, but if you are obviously ill equipped, you may not be allowed to take part in the trip.
During the Trip
Adhere to Plan
All participants should respect and adhere to the details of the advertised trip plan, e.g. with respect to route, destination and pace. The Trip Coordinator should consult with the group and obtain its consent before changing this. A trip should not intentionally be made more difficult than originally planned unless all participants agree and are capable of undertaking the altered trip.
Participants who do not co-operate with coordinators and other members of the party may be refused participation in other Club trips.
During the walk, you need to keep with the group. Stay in visual contact with the people immediately in front of you. If you lose contact, call out to those in front to stop and wait for those behind to catch up. You should not walk ahead of the group without the consent of the Trip Coordinator. You must tell the coordinator if you are not comfortable with the pace of the trip, if you become affected by heat, cold, illness or an injury, or if you have any other concerns.
The Trip Coordinator will stop from time to time to allow people to rest, go to the toilet and drink, with longer breaks for morning tea and lunch. If you need to make an unscheduled stop, you must let the coordinator or ‘back marker’ know.
At the end of the walk, you will be asked to pay your driver for transport. The group may stop for coffee on the way home.
After your first walk you will better understand your own fitness and that of others and the ‘style’ of your Trip Coordinator all of which will help make the choice of your next walk easier. Some of the other people on the walk will probably recommend forthcoming trips to you! If you enjoyed the walk, tell the coordinator!
Due to unforeseen circumstances such as adverse weather, accidents, or trouble on the route, the Trip Coordinator may need to alter the trip in consultation with all other participants. Safety in the Bush (pages 111-122) gives guidelines for actions in emergencies.
One of the Trip Coordinator’s jobs is to keep the group together. Respect the coordinator’s directions or group consensus, obey all reasonable instructions and don’t leave a Club trip without first personally reporting to the Trip Coordinator.
Respect private property. Leave gates as you find them, do not damage or strain fences and do not disturb stock. Avoid invading privacy, unless invited to do so.
People mostly cater for themselves. On some multi-day trips, the group may choose to share dinners.
On multi-day trips, cold breakfasts are the norm. Lunches are seldom cooked but dinner is usually cooked, though this may not be possible due to rain or the risk of fire. What you cook it should be capable of being easily prepared.
Weight is an important consideration on longer trips. As a guide, we recommend that people of average build aim to keep their total food weight below 1kg per day. With careful planning, it is possible to keep your food weight to about 600g per day. On multi-day walks, you should consider carrying enough food for an extra night out, in case there is an unplanned delay.
On multi-day walks, you should carry food of high calorific value, such as chocolate, nuts and dried fruit, and dried food such as instant soup and dehydrated dinners. Plastic containers or bags with snap locks are suitable for carrying most food. Liquids should be decanted into leak proof, unbreakable containers. Aluminium or plastic screw top containers are good for liquids or easily damaged items. Glass containers and cans are not generally taken on walks.
It is important to drink regularly to avoid becoming dehydrated. Water needs vary with body weight and the length and strenuousness of the trip, but 1-2 litres would be the minimum for a day trip. You should carry more if it is hot, even for a medium length walk. On day trips, you should be able to carry all the water you need from home, but you should ask your coordinator about availability and purity of water. Some walkers carry electrolytes in addition to water.
You should take a first aid kit with any medication you are likely to require, and sunscreen, band-aids, elastic and triangular bandages, antiseptic, and an analgesic such as paracetamol. The Club has a webpage listing suggested contents of First Aid Kits. If you suffer from allergies, it is wise to bring antihistamines and those with epipens should be sure to bring them. For longer trips in remote areas, you should consider carrying medically prescribed antibiotics for your personal use.
We recommend that you carry a copy of the Club’s Emergency Contact Form in your first aid kit. There is also a copy of the Emergency Contact Form in the compact publication Bushwalking-Emergency Management. This is a useful little booklet to carry in your pack. We also recommend that you undertake appropriate first aid training; the Club subsidises members to do so.
Show consideration to others on the track. Use courtesy and common sense. The Club is non-political and non-sectarian. Many members ‘go bush’ for peace and quiet. Please respect their wishes.
If you become separated from the group, call out immediately. If there is no response, return to where you were last with the group, if you can confidently do so, as this is the first place they are likely to look for you. Otherwise, remain where you are, sit down, have something to eat and think it out. The rest of the group will begin to search for you once they realise you are missing, and is unlikely to be far away. Do not keep going if you are not absolutely sure of the group’s direction.
If you have your mobile phone and are in a location with reception, phone the Trip Coordinator or any other member of the group known to have a phone, or if you do not know their numbers turn the phone on so the rest of the group can phone you. Do not call in emergency services unless you have given the party reasonable time to find you and you are unable to make phone contact with anyone else on the trip.
It is difficult to be specific about what to do if you are lost – it depends on your experience, the weather, the type of terrain, your fitness and your degree of disorientation. You must use your own judgement. Determine as well as possible your location. If you decide to sit and wait, choose a prominent but sheltered place. Mark it well with bright colours contrasting with the bush so that you can be seen even if you are asleep. You should always keep your pack with you. If you expect to wait for some time, make sure you have ready access to drinking water. Do not wander around aimlessly! If you think the emergency services are searching for your campsite, you should stay there.
If you decide to move, head for a suitable landmark such as a road or hill and, if possible, keep to the ridges. Leave prominent messages giving your plans, the date and time.
Minimal Impact Bushwalking
The Club has guidelines on Minimal Impact Bushwalking describing how to minimise erosion, how to bury your faeces and avoid contaminating watercourses. It also addresses issues like the use of fire and campsites and the removal of rubbish. All participants in Club activities are requested to observe these guidelines. A Minimum Impact Code is also set out in Safety in the Bush (pages 2-3).
After the Trip
Most walkers return from walks sweaty and possibly muddy, so bring a change of clothes for the return car journey. Also bring a bag for your dirty boots and clothing, thus ensuring the vehicles are not unnecessarily soiled.
Photographs and Publishing
Ask before taking photos of other participants. In general, do not publish photos of fellow participants without their permission, especially minors.
What happens if an activity finishes late
Late finishes are rare, but can happen. Before the trip, please let anyone who is likely to worry about your late return know that the first contact point is the Search & Rescue Contacts listed in the back of the Club’s Circular, not the police or National Parks service.
The Club runs training courses in navigation and use of a GPS and will subsidise training in first aid. To see a list of upcoming training opportunities, go to Current Activities, select ‘Activity Type – Training’ and hit Search.
Happy HWC walkers on Adamson’s Plateau.