Queensland National Parks are a treasure trove of remarkable nature experiences. Here, we can take time for ourselves—pause, breathe and reflect—and feel the benefits of nature for both our bodies and minds.
‘We need the tonic of wildness … At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.’ Henry David Thoreau
There is magic in being in nature. As you begin your nature walk or adventure hike in one of Queensland National Parks, you feel the tension seep from your neck and shoulders. The air fills your lungs; you breathe deeply and feel a heady, elated sense of wellbeing. The green of the forest is your peaceful backdrop and the calls of the birds the calming soundtrack for your senses.
Making time for nature should be on everyone’s wellbeing checklist! So, if you’re new to bushwalking, here are our tips to help you get out of the office and into the wild … with a little more ease.
Escape the concrete jungle
Step out and into nature | Greg Cartwright © Queensland Government
In urban environments, many of us spend lots of time on synthetic surfaces, in artificial lighting, inside air-conditioned homes and offices, surrounded by traffic noise and other stressors. The surfaces we walk on are typically flat, hard and smooth.
Use your imagination to take yourself out of the office and onto a bush track or coastal trail. Your body and mind now need to adapt to undulating terrain, dappled light and varied weather conditions.
These are wonderful challenges for the body and mind, if you are willing to prepare for them and be adaptable. Resilience is something we all want for our children, but many adults have lost the ability adapt to changing conditions and unexpected circumstances, because so much of life is predictable and measured. It’s time to get out into nature!
Step off the pavement
Walk in nature to build up resilience | Greg Cartwright © Queensland Government
Stepping out of your office and on to the trails requires some preparation to adapt to the change of environment. Simple preparation includes walking often on undulating terrain, avoiding synthetic surfaces and instead walking on the grass or on natural trails or beaches. Walking often on natural, uneven surfaces instead of hard, unforgiving pavement will develop greater ankle stability and movement through the foot.
Get agile, not injured
Gear up for your next hike | Greg Cartwright © Queensland Government
Nature is the perfect environment in which to encourage your body and mind to adapt and become more agile. Sprained or twisted ankles are the most common injuries for hikers. Reduce your risk of injury by training on different terrain, practising ankle stabilisation exercises, wearing the correct foot gear for hiking and using walking poles for added support if you struggle with balance or have sore knees or ankles.
Find the right eyewear | Greg Cartwright © Queensland Government
If you wear prescription sunglasses, spectacles or contact lenses, practise wearing them when hiking to see how they perform. In dappled sunlight on a steep trail, your depth perception can be affected. In deep forest, dark sunglasses can reduce your vision.
Consider sunglasses with photochromic lenses that adjust to surrounding light levels. Or remove your sunglasses when you are walking in the shade. When you sweat, moisture can drip into your eyes, affecting your vision. Wear a sweatband or keep a bandana tied to your shoulder strap for easy access to wipe your eyes and forehead.
Be one with nature | Greg Cartwright © Queensland Government
Sometimes ‘letting go’, and being present in nature takes a little longer to achieve. Having a ‘cue’ to let go of swirling thoughts, and immerse yourself in your natural surroundings can help. Cues such as pulling on your hiking boots, throwing on your backpack, or turning your phone to airplane mode, can help you to step out of the everyday and just ‘be’, so that you can make the most of walking in nature.
Take the step!
You have so much to gain from spending time walking in nature. Go on, take that first step. You won’t regret it!
Find out more about walking safely in Queensland National Parks.