Whether walking, riding or driving, follow formed tracks at all times
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 the damage in the following ways:
- Stay on the track even if it’s rough and muddy – Walking on the track edges and cutting corners on steep ‘zigzag’ tracks increase damage, erosion and visual scarring, as well as causing confusion about which is the right track.
- Spread out in open country where there are no tracks – Spreading out (rather than following in each other’s footsteps) disperses impact. A plant stepped on only once has more chance of survival than if trampled by the whole party.
- Avoid sensitive vegetation – Sphagnum bogs, cushion plants and other sensitive vegetation are easily destroyed by trampling. Stay on rocks and hard ground whenever possible.
- Keep the wilderness wild – Cutting new tracks is illegal and marking tracks with cairns, tape or other materials is unsightly and can confuse other walkers.
- Walk softly – Choose appropriate footwear for the terrain. Solid but lightweight walking boots are best. Sandshoes can be used on most tracks on the mainland in summer and sandshoes should be worn around campsites.
- Choose a different route – each time you visit a trackless area, and camp at different sites whenever possible.
Camping is perhaps the most popular way of enjoying the great outdoors, and car-based camping is an excellent way for people of all ages to visit the Australian Alps. Whether you camp at a designated campsite with several other groups or have found your own private camping spot, follow these simple rules to limit the impact of your visit:
- Drive on the track – Drive your vehicle only on roads that are open to the public and avoid using muddy tracks where you are likely to leave wheel ruts that cause greater soil erosion. It is irresponsible and illegal to drive off formed roads and tracks. Remove fallen trees across tracks rather than driving around them.
- Management tracks are closed to private vehicles – to ensure sensitive areas are not damaged and to enable other visitors to enjoy their recreation without the intrusion of vehicles.
- Drive carefully on mountain roads – they can be hazardous when wet and if vehicles travel too fast. Slower speeds will also enable you to enjoy more of the alpine scenery, and help protect native animals which cross and use roads in alpine areas.
- Take care on gravel surfaces and edges – Remember that other vehicles such as large trucks may be sharing the road with you.
- Think before you park and leave your vehicle – Are you blocking a track that may be needed in an emergency or by another visitor to the Alps?
- Carry wheel chains in winter.
- Leave your pets and firearms at home – They are not allowed in national parks.
Mountain bike riding has increased at a very rapid rate in recent years. The pleasure and exhilaration of cycling in natural areas has resulted in people of all ages taking to their bikes for day and overnight trips.
If cyclists are to continue to experience the pleasure of riding in relatively undisturbed areas, they will need to follow this code and limit the impact of their visit:
- Ride on bike tracks, roads and management vehicle tracks only – Even roads and tracks are particularly susceptible to damage when wet. They cannot be used when they are seasonally closed. Bicycles may not be used (even on management tracks) in wilderness areas. Walking tracks are managed for walkers and are not available for use by bicycles.
- Respect the rights of others – Other visitors have the same rights as you, so let them go about their activities without interference. Keep speeds down to avoid frightening other visitors.
- If you meet walkers – announce your presence, slow down and give them right of way as you pass.
- If you pass horse riders, always give horses right of way – Some horses are easily frightened by bicycles and a spooked horse can be dangerous to you and its rider. Announce your presence by voice, dismount and talk as the horse and rider pass to reassure the animal. If necessary, move off the track to give the horse plenty of room. Be alert for signs of horses (hoof prints or droppings) and watch for them on bends or crests.
- Wear your helmet whenever you are cycling – It is required by law even on fire tracks.
- Avoid skidding – Skidding damages tracks by removing the harder surface layer. This can then lead to erosion. Cutting corners also causes erosion. Don’t cut corners, stay on the track.
- Stay away from wet, muddy areas – Muddy areas are very prone to damage. The tracks you leave behind channel the water when it rains and this leads to erosion.
- Check before you leave – It is a good idea to check with local land managers to find out about any areas specific track closures, fire regulations, limits on camping or other general information.
Horses are more than welcome in the Alps – it is a wonderful and authentic way to explore these environments. Quite a bit of care is required to ensure the fragile ecosystems remain unharmed for future use. Visit the Horse riding page for more information on caring for the Alps.