Take a walk on wild side for bushwalking fun
SCRAMBLING up rocks and wading through creeks while enjoying the peace and serenity of nature is not a high priority for most of us.
And that's a pity because regular bushwalkers say their activity is not only physical but also therapeutic.
Bushwalking involves no roads, no buildings or any type of infrastructure - only a dirt path leading the way.
Brisbane Bushwalkers Club past president David Sydes enjoys the challenges bushwalking presents.
"It's a fitness challenge," he said.
"It's getting out and enjoying nature and not being able to think about work."
Mr Sydes started bushwalking 10 years ago to become more active.
"It's restorative," he said.
"I just love the sight of water and trees, and listening to birds."
Bushwalking is the Australian term for hiking which is known as trekking in the European Alps and tramping in New Zealand.
Queensland offers an extensive range of scenic bushwalks and some hidden hiking gems.
Lamington and Springbrook national parks are far from the surf lifestyle of the Gold Coast but just as scenic.
The hinterland Great Walk, for example, winds for 54km along the rim of the ancient Tweed volcano.
North-west of Brisbane, Mount Glorious offers some popular trampled tracks, including the 2km Rainforest Circuit and 4.3km Greenes Falls Circuit.
On the Sunshine Coast, the Blackall Range presents subtropical rainforests, eucalyptus trees, bubbling creeks and waterfalls.
It takes four days to walk the mountainous 58km Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk (the Baroon Pocket entrance near Montville is the recommended starting point).
Most people only see Fraser Island through the window of their 4WD, but if you take the time to explore this sand island on foot, you'll uncover the scenic 90km Great Walk, which takes between six and eight days to complete.
Visit the Mackay Highlands for steep tracks through palm groves and rainforest and while you're there, head to Eungella National Park for a glimpse of the shy and retiring platypus.
Carnarvon National Park is a vast elevated section of sandstone country - home to the Green Canyon which is only 10km long and you can easily walk its length in a day.
Bushwalking experts strongly suggest joining social clubs, not only to connect with like-minded people, but also for safety.
"You should never walk alone," Mr Sydes said.
"I'm not saying I've never done it, but it's not advisable. Anything could happen to you and you're kilometres away from anyone."
Most bushwalking clubs throughout Queensland provide first-aid courses for newcomers and walk leaders will always carry the latest Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) which sends out a distress signal in an emergency.
"Five years ago, this fella was scrambling up a waterfall and he slipped and broke his hip," Mr Sydes said.
"We used the PLB and the helicopter came and flew him out, straight to the hospital."
Most bushwalking clubs have an annual membership fee of $25-$40 which covers introductory courses and weekly trips.
Clubs: Brisbane Bushwalkers Club: http://www.bbw.org.au
Bushwalkers of Southern Queensland: http://www.bosq.bwq.org.au
Sunshine Coast Bushwalkers: http://www.sunshinecoastbushwalkingclub.com
Ipswich Bushwalkers: http://www.ipswichbushwalkers.cjb.net
Logan and Beaudesert Bushwalkers: http://www.bushwalkers.com
Cairns Bushwalkers Club: http://www.cairnsbushwalkers.org.au
Tablelands Bushwalking Club: http://www.tablelandsbushwalking.org
Queensland Bushwalkers Club: http://sites.google.com/site/qldbwc
Redland Bushwalkers: http://www.redlandbushwalkers.org.au
Toowoomba Bushwalkers Club: http://www.toowoomba.bwq.org.au