Some considerations while hiking


Although somewhat season-dependent, flies can be a real annoyance.  These are not your typical house fly that looks for food or dead animals.  These flies like to lick the secretions that form in your eyes, nostrils and mouth.  While they do  not bite or carry disease, their numbers can present a real problem if you want to have an enjoyable hike.  The “Auzzy salute” is the name given the action of trying to shoo away the flies often seen when hiking in fly-infested areas.  It is best to come prepared and bring a head net.   This is not an ideal solution, but it makes a big difference if flies are present as they tend to be very persistent.


Land leeches are found in parts of tropical and subtropical eastern Australia and parts of Asia and while they don’t transmit diseases.  They look and move like small inch-worms.  They can be very numerous after rains.  They are only found in wet rainforest, primarily in the East.  If you don’t take precautions you can end up with many leeches attaching to your legs.  Some people can have allergic reactions.  If you are going to be hiking in a moist rainforest and it has rained recently you should wear long pants and you should tuck your socks over the pants.  A strong repellent applied to shoes, pants and a long-sleeve shirt should help quite a bit.  Frequent visual checks are also recommended.  It is best to catch them before they latch on to your skin.  If that happens we were told that putting a bit of iodine on the leech makes them release their jaws and they drop to the ground.   Also it is best to not stop where many people stop (e.g waterfalls) if conditions are favorable for leeches.  They tend to congregate on the ground by the hundreds in those areas (attracted by vibrations) and if you are not careful you will certainly get them.  Once they latch on to your skin they will swell up to the size of a large black olive and then they drop.  Like other leeches, they have an anticoagulant secretion in their saliva so you will bleed after they drop.

Trail signs  (bad signage in many places).  Check the web and download maps and PDF’s before visiting if possible.

Trail difficulty level

Pay attention to the difficulty levels assigned to the trail you are considering.  Many Australian trails can be very steep from the moment you get on the trail.  Sometimes this means many steps down and up and some trails can be very steep. If a trail says strenuous or difficult it is best to take that seriously and consider not taking such a trail unless you fitness level is well above average.

General safety while on the trail

In some areas trails go near (or up or along) cliffs or dangerous drop-offs and there are no guardrails.  Other trails can be very slippery.  In general we found that some trails were somewhat unsafe by US-standards and thought that trails with these particular problems would not be often found in the US.  The liability issue would be too great.   We found out that people do go missing in some areas due to lack of good signs or maps along the trails.  Steep steps and trails near dangerous drop-offs and or cliffs do result in injuries and even deaths of tourists.   How can this happen?  Perhaps a quote often posted in national parks in Australia would best explain this.  Signs often said:  “Safety is our concern but your responsibility”.  The parks are not responsible for making all of the trails perfectly safe…

Hikers should be well aware of possible dangers and have the proper gear, stamina and ability to find their way out if they become lost.