Bushwalking Tips for state forests

Where can I go bushwalking?

Bushwalking has long been a popular recreational activity in forest and there are many areas of public land where bushwalkers  can  go to  enjoy Victoria's  great outdoors.

Bushwalkers are welcome to use most areas of  State  forest in Victoria  with a variety of walking tracks throughout the State suitable for bushwalking. Specific information on tracks and trails in State forest can be obtained from the Warburton Visitor Information Centre at the Waterwheel on the mian street of Warburton.

Bushwalking is also allowed in some national parks and other reserves, where it does not pose a significant conflict with conservation. Due to some differences in regulations between these national,  state, wilderness  and  other parks, to avoid disappointment it is best to check with Parks Victoria .

Where can't I walk?

In State forest, walkers are generally not encouraged in certain areas such as reference areas. For safety reasons, entry into operational logging coupes and operational firewood coupes  are also not  encouraged.

These limitations are in protected, significant and environmentally sensitive areas, for your safety and to prevent the introduction and spread of noxious and exotic plants .

For restrictions on bushwalking in national parks and reserves, contact  Parks Victoria  for further  information.

When are permits required?

Permits  are generally not required  for small  scale, casual bushwalking in State forest. They are however required for: events that are of a competitive nature or that may pose a risk to public safety; commercial events (ie. entry fees apply, prize money involved); large scale club or group activities involving more than 30 persons; any activity involving  constructions  or the marking of a course; any activity requiring the total or near total exclusive use of picnic or campgrounds.

To apply for a permit, please contact Parks Victoria at least four weeks prior to the   event.

The bushwalking code

In some areas, walking tracks are being upgraded to minimise the impact of increasing foot traffic; boardwalks are necessary in some places with large numbers of visitors. You can help minimise damage in the following ways:

Stay on the track even if it's rough  and muddy. Walking on the track edges and cutting comers on steep 'zigzag' tracks, increases damage, erosion and visual scarring, as well as causing confusion about which is the right track.

Observe the fire lighting regulations. Regulations governing the lighting and use of fires vary from state to state. You should check local variations if you 're planning to walk and use open fires.

Where there is a toilet, please use it. In areas without toilets, bury your faecal waste. Choose a spot at least 100 metres away from campsites and watercourses. Dig a hole 15 cm (6 inches) deep (take a hand trowel  for this purpose).  Bury all faecal waste  and paper, mixing it with soil to help decomposition and discourage animals.

Boil water for at least five and preferably ten minutes before drinking in high-use areas or areas with low water flow.

If you've carried it in, carry it out. Don 't bum or bury rubbish . Carry out all your rubbish, including those easy­ to-forget items like silver paper, plastic wrappers and orange peel which won 't easily decompose. If you have the misfortune to come across other people's rubbish, do the bush a favour and pick that up too.

Don't wash in streams and lakes. Detergents, tooth paste and soap (even biodegradable types) harm fish and waterlife. Wash at least 50 metres away from streams and lakes.

Practice low impact camping. Camp at an existing campsite rather than a new one, and keep at least 20 metres away from watercourses and the track. Spend only one or two nights at each campsite. Use waterproof tents and foam sleeping-mats to minimise damage to camping areas. Digging trenches around tents is damaging, and unnecessary if the tents are sited properly.

Always carry a fuel stove when camping. If you carry warm clothing and a fuel stove, fires will not be needed for warmth or cooking. Compared with campfires, fuel stoves are faster, cleaner, easier to use in wet weather and they don't scar the landscape.

Planning your trip

Let someone  know  before  you  go bushwalking. Tell them about your party, your route, when you plan to return and the equipment the party is carrying. Remember to contact them when you get back.

Keep your party small (4-8 people) . Large parties have more environmental impact, affect the experience of others and are socially unwieldy.

Go off peak. If possible avoid the peak times of the year (December to February) and the more popular areas. You will miss the crowds and spread the impact, giving the environment a chance to recover.

For further information about where to go in national parks and reserves,  contact the Parks Victoria hotline  on 131963