When you think about navigation, thick impenetrable scrub and vast empty wilderness spring to mind. But navigation is not only for off-track walking. It’s just as important when following established routes, that is, on-track walking. Unlike other parts of the world, not every route is signposted in the Australian bush! Also, routes fade, reform and change over time. Following a track, trail or path blindly can very quickly take you to somewhere completely different to where you intended.
Typical navigation decisions that bushwalkers face on established routes include:
- “Do I take the right or left fork at the junction?”,
- “Does the track continue on the other side of the creek now”, and
- “Is this the last water source for 10km?”
On-track walking means using pre-existing ways to get from A to B. On-track navigation involves planning a route that links these ways together. By comparison, off-track navigation is where bushwalkers plan and walk their route without following established ways. Both types of navigation rely on following the plan, staying found and recognising reliable map features.
Famous on-track walks in and around Australia include: the Great North Walk, the Overland Track and the Larapinta Trail.