We recently spent a weekend at the glorious Wilson’s Promontory in Victoria, checking out some of the wonderful walking tracks there.
The first walk we did was to the top of a mountain, Mt Bishop (an easier walk than it sounds!), and the three of us headed off with Steve carrying Abbey in a carrier on his back. It wasn’t long before our inquisitive girl was asking to walk “all by myself” – and I have to say, after carrying 18kg of squirming child, Steve didn’t take much convincing!
She walked with us to the top of the mountain, and then halfway back down, a total of about 3.5kms along rough tracks. We’ve done this a couple of times before in the national park close to our home, and always see so many benefits of taking a young child bushwalking.
Here are some reasons to get out there and give it a go:
It’s a full sensory experience. Smell the air, see the beautiful sights and colours, taste the fresh running water, hear the wildlife noises, and feel the different textures. All the senses are stimulated during a bushwalk.
It’s good for the imagination. Abbey spent much of our walk chatting away about what she was imagining, drawing in the dirt with a stick, and pretending the rocks at the top of the mountain were a shop (as you do!). It really is a whole other play experience – with no toys required.
Seeing wildlife outside a zoo. These days we spend a lot of time taking our kids to see relatively tamed animals that they can watch, pat and feed. Seeing animals in their natural habitat is something different altogether, and teaches children a great respect for and understanding of them.
The exercise is good for them. And for you. And the best thing about Australia is there are so many walks available to us, for all different fitness levels and abilities – you can find something that suits you and your kids.
They’ll learn respect for their environment. Until now, most of our bushwalking with Abbey has been with her in the back carrier. Giving her a chance to walk taught her new things: not to walk off the track, not to stomp all over the plants, and how to be safe in the bush.
Bushwalking is great for their gross motor skills. Going for walks around suburbia or in parks is great on a day-to-day basis, but this is a different experience entirely. Walking along rough tracks covered with tree roots, rock steps, bridges and puddles is amazingly good for young walking legs.
It’s valuable family time. While you walk, you’re together and you’ll probably be chatting to each other. What better way to spend a few hours together than just enjoying each other’s company?
It suits any budget – or lack thereof. Bushwalking doesn’t cost a cent, so you don’t have to worry about trying to squeeze it into your budget.
You’ll feel like the best parent afterwards. It was a great parenting day, giving Abbey the chance to learn while having fun and being outside. And it taught me a lot about what she’s interested in at the moment, by listening to her questions and watching what she was drawn to.
Bushwalking is the perfect confidence booster. When we reached the top of the mountain, Abbey looked at the view in amazement. “Did I climb to the TOP?!” she asked, and the grin on her face when we told her she had was priceless. It was even better when we reached the bottom again, and pointed to the tip, showing her where we had just been. The rest of the weekend she looked up at that mountain and said, “I did that!” It’s a wonderful way to show your child that they really can reach great heights.
Bushwalking is a fun family activity that will benefit everyone. Most of all, you’ll notice how much your kids love being in the great outdoors, roaming and exploring their environment.
Why not give it a go!