I recently took Cheese, aged four, on her first proper bush walk in Katoomba. We had an amazing walk to the Minni Ha Ha Falls (you can read about it here). It got me thinking about how different it is bushwalking with little kids – not better or worse, but different.
Tips for bushwalking with small kids:
Over estimate the time it will take
The walk we did was 1.3km and should have taken an adult 15 minutes, it took us over an hour. Make sure you have plenty of time when you set out so there isn’t any rushing involved on either end of the walk.
Go slow and enjoy the journey
When I do bush walks on my own, I tend to rush through the bush to get to the waterfall at the end. When walking with Cheese, however, the walk is about the leaves and skinks and butterflies we encounter along the way. She enjoyed all the elements of the bush just as much as she did the waterfall at the end. Don’t set a time limit, just enjoy the journey.
Pack extra clothes
Particularly pack extra shoes and socks in the car (or backpack if you travelled by public transport) and shorts/dress if your child is like mine and won’t wear anything else. Even on days when it hasn’t rained in weeks, we often find mud on the trails, and are always glad to have spare shoes to change into.
Prepare for swimming
If there is the potential for a dip, bring swimmers and a small quick-dry towel, plus a wet bag. Waterfall pools can be incredibly cold, even in the middle of summer, so there is a high chance of swimmers being worn and no actual dips happening. Do be aware of slippery rocks when there is water involved.
Stock up on food
Bush walks make for hungry kids. We stopped at the base of the waterfall for a picnic so Cheese had energy for the return trip. We packed a sandwich, rice crackers, banana, apple and many bottles of water.
Get ready for the elements
Don’t get caught out – the bush is a dangerous place. Wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and a short that covers your shoulders to prevent sunburn. take plenty of water even if it’s only a short hike. Also take wipes or tissues incase a bush wee presents itself!
Conserve strength for the end
There is always carrying involved for us. Our daughter was a champ on this walk and did most of it on her own, but still needed to be carried for the last three-quarters of a kilometer. We often bring a baby backpack carrier that takes kids of bigger weight for this exact reason.
Have you been bushwalking with your kids? I’d love to hear your favourite walks.