As much as I spend a lot of time on the internet cruising around local and international outdoor, hiking and bushwalking websites I am still surprised by what I miss. There is some fantastic (often free) resources available with great content is out there that has slipped under my radar.
Wildwalks is one of these.
Based in New South Wales, Australia:
Wildwalks is a free online bushwalking and camping guidebook for NSW. There is currently detailed information on 938 walks, and more to come.
After checking out the great information on the site, I contacted Matt and asked him to write up a piece about Wildwalks for this site. He sent the following across (weeks ago, sorry Matt) I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:
Over to Matt:
My vision is similar to yours; I want a much great depth, breadth and quality of information on walking experience in Australia. I believe that the best way to protect our finite natural landscapes, is by encouraging more people to appreciate them. I know no better way to do this than by helping people have better experiences when walking in the bush.
I was once told that “from small things, big things grow”, and silly me was surprised by this. But it did give me permission to start something small and see where it goes. So, wildwalks was born based on a dream to build a definitive guide to bushwalking experiences in Australia. I am very conscious I am a looooong way from that goal, but this small thing is growing. So far we have documented over 900 walking experiences in NSW, mostly in the greater Sydney area and have around 1500 using the website each day.
I don’t want to simply provide a list of walks, I want to provide a lot of specific information about lots of walks, so that people are better able to choose which walk is best for them. Recently we have started referencing our tracknotes, so when we say you walk ‘over a bridge’ you can click on the link to see the bridge, if you are scared of heights you can decide if it OK for you.
Wildwalks runs as a small business, our costs are covered through sponsorship and advertisements. NSW NPWS is our biggest sponsor, and I have greatly appreciated their support, as well as the support of our other sponsors.
I work full time on wildwalks.com and spend as much of that time as I can, walking and writing up the tracknotes. James spends his week walking and writing tracknotes, cool job hey :). My wife (Fi) also works a few days a week editing and cleaning up my (atrocious) spelling and grammar.
I can try to describe what this all looks like, but that would be silly when you can look for yourself, Have a look at a few walks in this list: Bushwalking and Hiking Kosciuszko National Park – South .
Whilst there, check out the printable PDF (and the topo maps), click on a reference in the tracknotes, look at the terrain profile, scan through the photo gallery, and if you have done the walk, why not leave a note in the feedback section? We use the same basic template for all walks, so 10 minute walks and 3 days hikes look essentially the same.
So where to from here?
I am glad you asked, there is a long journey ahead. We have produced a couple of books and are currently writing a few more. These books showcase a collection of ‘best’ walks in a region. We have plans for better search, an iphone app and stuff like that, but really the main focus is on documenting more nature based experiences.
The funny thing about sitting at the other end of a web server is that you really have no idea what people are thinking. I would love to hear any ideas, suggestions, thoughts on Wildwalk.com why not drop me an e-mail (matt at wildwalks dot com) or leave a comment below.