Why (not) walk?

“Happy is the [wo]man who has acquired the love of walking for its own sake!”

– W.J. Holland (“Walking as a Fine Art,” in The Moth Book: A Guide to the Moths of North America. 1903.)

This page of WalkGPS is dedicated to the benefits of walking in general and bushwalking / hiking in particular.

Regular walkers, including bushwalkers, need no convincing of the many quality-of-life benefits they obtain from the humble activity of walking.

Fitness campaigns and numerous websites extol the physical health benefits, but many walkers are motivated just as much by broader, often-overlooked richer rewards. Scroll through the notes and quotes below to discover more about these other benefits. More than 100 quotations from the famous and not-so-famous are included. Some may be corny or dated, but if it’s inspiration you are seeking, then maybe there are one or two little gems here for you!   – Dave Osborne

  • Why "WalkGPS"?

    The purpose of WalkGPS is to encourage anyone who can walk, young or not-so-young, to discover the great wealth of opportunities for bushwalking close to Perth. Bushwalking is the objective. GPS is simply a tool that can help walkers navigate accurately and confidently. WalkGPS is a privately-owned non-sponsored site and doesn’t exist to make money.

    Traditional navigation? – The forested terrain of the Darling Range (or Plateau) is gentle and undulating in many areas, with often limited lines of sight to assist visual navigation when cross-country walking. Traditional map and compass navigation on its own in this type of terrain can often be unreliable for locating subtle natural features along an intended, meandering walk route; which is not to say you can’t have fun trying!

    The joy of uncertainty? – For many, that opportunity to be ‘temporarily geographically challenged’ is an essential part of bushwalking (and especially so for rogaining and orienteering). GPS navigation may appear to remove the adventure and resourcefulness that comes with the uncertainties of compass navigation; of often not knowing exactly where you are, nor exactly where you have been, nor exactly where you are going.

    Or freedom from frustration? – For others those traditional navigational uncertainties become frustrations detracting from their enjoyment of a walk. Using GPS, these walkers can have confidence not only that subtle route markers won’t be missed, but that they can choose to wander freely; to explore away from their planned route, not keeping to a compass-bearing, but remaining able to easily navigate back to the known route at any time from wherever they may be. In that sense, GPS navigation offers both freedom and adventure. It is also ideal for walkers for whom solitude and relaxation in the forest is the priority, rather than pure adventure.

    Horses-for-courses – It’s not a case of choosing a “right” way to navigate, but finding what ‘style’ of navigation best suits you personally. Those who prefer compass navigation and no GPS will be able to adapt and simplify the WalkGPS walk routes to suit their own needs.


    “There is no orthodoxy in walking. It is a land of many paths and no-paths, where every one goes his own and is right.” – G.M. Trevelyan  (1876-1962), British historian.

    “… ‘real’ bushwalkers have developed a tenacious sense of their historical mission. Some have been almost obsessive when it comes to positioning themselves as the inventors of a new recreation and the practitioners of the most authentic way of walking.” – Melissa Harper (Australian researcher); from “The ways of the bushwalker: on foot in Australia”, 2007.

    “Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.” – Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931), American inventor & businessman.

    “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” – John Cage  (1912-1992), U.S. composer of avant-garde music, philosopher & writer.

  • Why bushwalk?

    Bushwalkers gain all of the benefits of walking and more:


    “..people were walking in the bush for pleasure long before the first club had ever been thought of, or before the first tourist track was ever laid ... bushwalking can be traced back to 1788.” – Melissa Harper (Australian researcher); from “The ways of the bushwalker: on foot in Australia”, 2007.

    “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”– John Muir (1838-1914), Scottish-American wilderness preservationist; from Steep Trails, 1918.

    “I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least – and it is commonly more than that – sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.” – Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), American philosopher, author, naturalist.

    “It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.” – Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), Scottish writer, critic, naturalist.

    “My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing.” – Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), British writer.

    “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and places to pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.” – John Muir (1838-1914), Scottish-American wilderness preservationist & naturalist. “The Hetch Hetchy Valley” Sierra Club Bulletin, Vol. VI, No.4, Jan. 1908.

    “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” – John Muir (1838-1914), Scottish-American wilderness preservationist; from Our National Parks, 1901, p.56.

    “Not to have known – as most men have not – either the mountain or the desert is not to have known one’s self. Not to have known one’s self is to have known no one.” – Joseph Wood Krutch (1893-1970), American writer, critic, naturalist.

    “The wilderness is a place of rest – not in the sense of being motionless, for the lure, after all, is to move, to round the next bend. The rest comes in the isolation from distractions, in the slowing of the daily centrifugal forces that keep us off balance.” – David Douglas, American writer, water issues advocate; from Wilderness Sojourn; 1987.

    “Away, away, from men and towns,
    To the wild wood and downs,
    To the silent wilderness,
    Where the soul need not repress
    Its music.”  

    – Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), British poet. The Invitation; 1820.

    “When we walk, we naturally go to the fields and woods: what would become of us, if we walked only in a garden or a mall?”  – Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. From “Walking” (1862), in “The Writings of Henry David Thoreau”, 1906, vol. 5, pp. 210-211.

    “Of course it is of no use to direct our steps to the woods, if they do not carry us thither. I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit…. What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?” – Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. From “Walking” (1862), in “The Writings of Henry David Thoreau”, 1906, vol. 5, p. 211.

    “For me and for thousands with similar inclinations, the most important passion of life is the overpowering desire to escape periodically from the clutches of a mechanistic civilization. To us the enjoyment of solitude, complete independence, and the beauty of undefiled panoramas is absolutely essential to happiness.” – Bob Marshall (1901-1939), Co-founder of the Wilderness Society (USA).

    “The tendency nowadays to wander in wilderness is delightful to see. Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” – John Muir (1838-1914), Scottish-American wilderness preservationist & naturalist; Our National Parks, 1901.

    “Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” – John Muir (1838-1914), Scottish-American wilderness preservationist & naturalist; The Life and Letters of John Muir, 1924; (Letter to wife Louie, July 1888).

    “Simplicity in all things is the secret of the wilderness and one of its most valuable lessons. It is what we leave behind that is important. I think the matter of simplicity goes further than just food, equipment, and unnecessary gadgets; it goes into the matter of thoughts and objectives as well. When in the wilds, we must not carry our problems with us or the joy is lost.” – Sigurd F. Olson  (1899-1982), American author, environmentalist, wilderness advocate; from The Singing Wilderness; 1956.

    “Riverbanks lined with green trees, fragrant grasses: A place not sacred? Where?” – Proverbs, Sayings and Songs, Zen Forest Saying

    “In the country it is as if every tree said to me, ‘Holy! Holy!’  Who can ever express the ecstasy of the woods. O, the sweet stillness of the woods!” – Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), German romantic composer; July 1814, note on visit to Baden.

    “How happy I am to be able to wander among bushes and herbs, under trees and over rocks; no man can love the country as I love it. Woods, trees and rocks send back the echo that man desires.” – Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), German romantic composer; note ca.1812-14.

    “For I have learned
    To look on nature, not as in the hour
    Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
    The still, sad music of humanity,
    Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
    To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
    A presence that disturbs me with the joy
    Of elevated thoughts; a sense of sublime
    Of something far more deeply infused,
    Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
    And the round ocean and the living air,
    And the blue sky, and in the minds of man:
    A motion and a spirit, that impels
    All living things, all objects of all thought,
    And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
    A lover of the meadows and the woods
    And mountains, and of all that we behold
    From this green earth, of all the mighty world
    Of eye, and ear – both what they half create,
    And what they perceive, will be pleased to recognize
    In nature and the Language of the sense
    The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
    The guide, the guardian of my heart and soul
    Of all my moral being.”

    – William Wordsworth (1770-1850), English poet. Excerpt from: Composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey, on revisiting the banks of the Wye during a tour. July 13, 1798.

  • Why cross-country walk?

    Many bushwalkers most enjoy cross-country walking in the more remote areas lacking existing paths or trails. They gain all of the benefits of bushwalking, but their off-track walking also adds a special sense of freedom, of exploration and adventure, and a heightened appreciation and valuation of wilderness. Often they are seeking greater solitude, away from popular existing trails.

    Cross-country bushwalking in the Perth region’s open jarrah forests and wandoo woodlands is a sustainable, minimum impact activity. It doesn’t create worn ‘tracks’ or ‘trails’ – the walkers are in very small numbers (especially in comparison to kangaroos, emus, feral pigs and illegal trail-bike riders!) and rarely follow precisely the same route, which in any event is very difficult to do, even with GPS and/or compass as navigational aids. Despite this, the future of traditional bushwalking in the region is under increasing threat from access and land-use issues, particularly water catchment policies and the expansion of bauxite strip-mining.


    “I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?” – Aldo Leopold (1887-1948), ecologist, forester, environmentalist, co-founder of The Wilderness Society (USA); considered to be father of American wildlife management.

    “The more that’s done for hikers in the forests and woods and mountains, in that far do they fail to get the most out of it… We must retain the challenging character of the wilderness.” – Walter O’Kane, American guidebook writer, 1935.

    “When all the dangerous cliffs are fenced off, all the trees that might fall on people are cut down, all of the insects that bite are poisoned… and all of the grizzlies are dead because they are occasionally dangerous, the wilderness will not be made safe. Rather, the safety will have destroyed the wilderness.” –  Yorke Edwards (1924-2011), Canadian biologist & former director of Royal BC Museum.

    “Every man needs a place where he can go to go crazy in peace. Every Boy Scout troop deserves a forest to get lost, miserable, and starving in…. ” – Edward Abbey (1927-1989), American author & essayist; from The Journey Home; 1977.

    “Always in big woods, when you leave familiar ground and step off alone to a new place, there will be, along with feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the unknown, and it is your bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. You are understanding the first experience, not of the place, but of yourself in that place. It is the experience of our essential loneliness, for nobody can discover the world for anybody else. It is only after we have discovered it for ourselves that it becomes common ground, and a common bond, and we cease to be alone.” – Wendell Berry (b. 1934), American writer & poet; The Unknown Wilderness: Kentucky’s Red River Gorge, 1971.

    “If a walker is indeed an individualist there is nowhere he can’t go at dawn and not many places he can’t go at noon. But just as it demeans life to live alongside a great river you can no longer swim in or drink from, to be crowded into safer areas and hours takes much of the gloss off walking – one sport you shouldn’t have to reserve a time and a court for.” – Edward Hoagland (b. 1932), U.S. novelist, essayist. repr.  in “Heart’s Desire” (1988).

    “What is there that confers the noblest delight? What is that which swells a man’s breast with pride above  that which any other experience can bring to him? Discovery! To know that you are walking where none others have walked” – Mark Twain [Samuel Clemens] (1835–1910), American humorist, satirist, writer, lecturer.

    “There is a pleasure in the pathless woods.” – Lord George Gordon Byron (1788-1824), English poet; from “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”; 1814.

    “Don’t think you’re on the right road just because it’s a well-beaten path.”– Author Unknown

    “The wisest men follow their own direction.” –  Euripides (484-406BC), Greek tragic dramatist.

    “People say that you’re going the wrong way when it’s simply a way of your own.” – Angelina Jolie (b.1975), American actress.

    “The contented person enjoys the scenery of a detour.” (or more recently “Embrace the detours” – version attributed to Kevin Charbonneau); original Author Unknown.

    “Let your walks now be a little more adventurous.” – Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist.

    “It is not down in any map; true places never are.” – Herman Melville (1819-1891), American novelist, essayist, poet; from Moby Dick; 1851.

    “One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight, for a very long time, of the shore”. (often misquoted as “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”.) – Andre Gidé (1869-1951), French author, Nobel Prize winner in literature 1947; from “Les faux-monnayeurs” (The Counterfeiters); 1925.

    “Happiness is a direction not a place.” – Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986), American journalist.

    “I just wish the world was twice as big and half of it was still unexplored.” – David Attenborough (b. 1926), British broadcaster & naturalist.

    “Why get lost in the Tweetersphere when you can find yourself in the wilderness?” – Dave Osborne  @WalkGPS Tweet, 25 Nov. 2011.

    “Still round the corner there may wait
    A new road or a secret gate,
    And though I oft have passed them by,
    A day will come at last when I
    Shall take the hidden paths that run
    West of the Moon, East of the Sun.”

    – J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), English philologist & writer; from one of several walking songs from Lord of the Rings; 1954-55.

    “All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), English philologist & writer; from Lord of the Rings; 1954-55.

    “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-  I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost (1874-1963), American poet; from “The Road Not Taken”; 1916.

    “Wilderness management is 80-90 percent education and information and 10 percent regulation.” – Max Peterson (b. 1927), Chief of the U.S. Forest Service; 1979-1987.

    “If every citizen could take one walk through this [Sierra] reserve, there would be no more trouble about its care; for only in darkness does vandalism flourish.” – John Muir (1838-1914), Scottish-American wilderness preservationist & naturalist; Our National Parks, 1901.

    “Consider, for example, the question of “accessibility”.  An area that cannot be reached is obviously not being put to use.  On the other hand, one reached too easily becomes a mere “resort” to which people flock for purposes just as well served by golf courses, swimming pools, and summer hotels.  Parks are often described as “recreation areas” and so they are.  But the term “recreation” as ordinarily used does not imply much stress upon the kind of experience which Grand Canyon, despite the flood of visitors that comes to it, still does provide  namely, the experience of being in the presence of nature’s ways and nature’s work.” – Joseph Wood Krutch (1893-1970), American writer, critic, naturalist.

    “Preserving Our Natural Resources for the Public, Instead of from the Public. .” – motto of the Blue Ribbon Coalition,1987; promoting responsible use of public land in California, USA.

    “All power being derived from the people: therefore all officers of government, whether legislative or executive, are the trustees and servants and in all times accountable to them.” – 1776 Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights.

  • Why day walk?

    Designated Camping policy – For many bushwalkers, the most satisfying walking involves backpacking over a number of days and camping out, to become immersed in the ‘wilderness’ experience. However, camping is currently banned within most of the forested walk areas within the Perth region of Western Australia. Around 80% of the total traditional bushwalking areas close to Perth lie within the extensive water catchments of the Darling Range where camping for walkers is restricted to 15 designated campsites along the Bibbulmun Track between the Kalamunda Terminus and Dwellingup townsite. Within a larger part of these forest areas totalling around 4500 sq km, bushwalkers are therefore limited to day walks only. Unfortunately that will be the case for as long as current State regulations and policies remain unchanged. See also Overnighting on WalkGPS.

    Time & Convenience – Many walkers today can’t make the time commitment needed for extended walks involving backpacking and camping whereas they may be able to fit in a day walk most weekends during the walking season. For most walks detailed in WalkGPS, walkers can leave Perth at 8.00am and be back well before 5.00pm the same day, having completed a fulfilling, but not exhausting day walk. Minimal advance preparation is required, whereas more extended overnight walks require more time on planning and provisioning.

    Light load – A very light day-pack is adequate to carry the day’s requirements (i.e. at least water, food, compass/GPS, map, first aid kit, sunscreen, hat, rain jacket).

    Low cost  – Equipment requirements are quite modest. Car fuel costs to reach most walk areas are not excessive.

    Comfort and suitability – Some may not have the enthusiasm or maybe the capability to carry the heavy backpack required for more extended, overnight walks; they may prefer to return to the comforts of their home after a bushwalk, to a hot shower, a home-cooked meal, and a comfortable bed. For their needs, day walks are an excellent compromise.

    Variety – A stimulating change,  away from your regular exercise and walk routines close to home.

    Sense of well being and accomplishment – The completion of a good day walk leaves most walkers feeling great!

    Plus all the other benefits of walking and  bushwalking as above.


    “I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” – John Muir  (1838-1914), Scottish-American wilderness preservationist & naturalist; 1913; in “John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir”, L.M. Wolfe, ed., 1938, p. 439.

    “The walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise, as it is called, as the sick take medicine at stated hours … but is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day.” – Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist; Walking, Atlantic Monthly, June 1862.

    “I think,” said Christopher Robin, “that we ought to eat all our Provisions now, so we shan’t have so much to carry” – A.A. Milne (1882-1956),  English author; from “Winnie-the-Pooh”, Chap. 8, 1954.

    “Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!” – Jane Austen  (1775-1817), English novelist; from “Emma”, 1815.

  • Why walk? - Part 1: Reasons 1-5
    1.  Opportunity to Socialise

    – Join walking clubs/groups. See WalkGPS links to bushwalking Club websites .
    – Build a sense of community & friendship and a supportive network through shared, relaxed activity.


    “The true charm of pedestrianism does not lie in the walking, or in the scenery, but in the talking. The walking is good to time the movement of the tongue by, and to keep the blood and the brain stirred up and active; the scenery and the woodsy smells are good to bear in upon a man an unconscious and unobtrusive charm and solace to eye and soul and sense; but the supreme pleasure comes from the talk.” – Mark Twain  [Samuel Clemens] (1835–1910), American humorist, satirist, writer, lecturer; In A Tramp Abroad, Ch. 23 (1880).

    2. Opportunity for Solitude, Time to reflect, or Meditate

    – Many walkers enjoy walking alone at least some of the time.

    – A chance to ‘slow down’ and find yourself, to take time out, to find some space.  Leave the mobile phone and iPod at home!

    – Some walkers also practice Walking Meditation, initially focusing on a physical awareness of the body’s motion and rhythm and of the senses; experiencing the moment while freeing the mind of everyday thoughts and cares;  allowing new thoughts to flow; achieving ‘mindfulness’ and a sense of contentment and fulfilment; a more ‘spiritual’ dimension of walking.


     “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” – Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), German philosopher

    “I can only meditate when I am walking.  When I stop, I cease to think; my mind works only with my legs.” –  Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), Genevan philosopher; from Les Confessions.

    “To find new things, take the path you took yesterday.” – John Burroughs (1837-1921), American naturalist.

    “Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”– Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist.

    “The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts.  This creates an odd consonance between internal and external passage, one that suggests that the mind is also a landscape of sorts and that walking is one way to traverse it. A new thought often seems like a feature of the landscape that was  there all along, as though thinking were traveling rather than making.”– Rebecca Solnit, American writer, historian, environmental activist; from “Wanderlust: A History of Walking”, p. 5; 2000.

    “I was the world in which I walked.” – Wallace Stevens  (1879-1955), American modernist poet; from Tea at the Palaz of Hoon, in Collected Poetry & Prose, p.51.

    “Solvitur ambulando” (Translation: “It is solved by walking.”) – Latin proverb

    “Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” – A.A. Milne (1882-1956), Pooh’s Little Instruction Book, publ. Methuen 1996.

    “It is not talking but walking that will bring us to heaven.” – Matthew Henry(1662-1714), English non-conformist clergyman.

    “Walking meditation means to enjoy walking without any intention to arrive. We don’t need to arrive anywhere.  We just walk. We enjoy walking.  …..  Usually in our daily life we walk because we want to go somewhere.  Walking is only a means to an end, and that is why we do not enjoy every step we take. Walking meditation is different.  Walking is only for walking. You enjoy every step you take.  So this is a kind of revolution in walking.  You allow yourself to enjoy every step you take.” – Thich Nhat Hanh  (b. 1926), Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, peace activist; from Resting in the River.

    “If you look for the truth outside yourself,
    It gets farther and farther away.
    Today walking alone, I meet it everywhere I step.
    It is the same as me, yet I am not it.
    Only if you understand it in this way
    Will you merge with the way things are.”

    – Tung-shan Liang-chieh (806-869), ancient Chinese Zen (Ch’an) master.

    “On the path that leads to Nowhere I have sometimes found my soul!” – Corinne Roosevelt Robinson  (1861-1933), poet, lecturer, orator. From the poem “The Path that leads to Nowhere” in The Poems of Corinne Roosevelt Robinson. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1921.

    “One step at a time is good walking.” – Chinese Proverb

    Walking alone;
    Happy alone.”

    – Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902), Japanese author, poet, critic;  ‘Haiku’ poem.

    “Nature is shy and noncommittal in a crowd. To learn her secrets, visit her alone or with a single friend, at most. Everything evades you, everything hides, even your thoughts escape you, when you walk in a crowd.”  – Edwin Way Teale (1899-1980), American naturalist, photographer, writer; Circle of the Seasons: The Journal of a Naturalist’s Year – May 4. (1987).

    3. Increased ‘Sense of Place’

    Improve your knowledge of your local environment and feel a part of it.


     “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust (1871-1922), French intellectual, novelist, essayist & critic.


    Where the track curves out of sight
    between the fire-scarred jarrahs,
    shadowy among the shadows but noisy
    for the forest litter, kangaroos
    are rising and retreating. An awe,
    an ache, this glimpse. Proceeding,
    I discover where they dozed beneath
    the grasstrees. I feel their desertion.
    I wonder if I should go on or go back.
    Either way, who will give me welcome?

    – © Andrew Lansdown  (b. 1954-), West Australian poet; from Birds in Mind (Wombat Books, 2009). Visit andrewlansdown.com

    “We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time.”

    – T. S. Eliot (1888-1965), American poet, dramatist, and literary critic; from Little Gidding.

    “It is not enough to just “love nature” or want to “be in harmony with Gaia.” Our relation to the natural world takes place in a place, and it must be grounded in information and experience.” – Gary Snyder (b.1930), American poet, essayist, environmental activist.

    “The country was all wrong and I felt cheated.  This wasn’t what I had come back for; where were the ferntree gullies, the high plains, the trout?  All the plants scratched your legs.  The jarrah was a grotesque parody of a tree, gaunt, misshapen, usually with a few dead limbs, fire-blackened trunk, and barely enough leaves to shade a small ant.  If you went camping in the summer, you carried water – you couldn’t take a running stream for granted. It was slowly borne in on me that I wasn’t an Australian at all, but a Victorian…. Slowly I came to understand the land better.” – George Seddon (1927-2007), Australian academic; writing of Western Australia in the Foreword to his “Sense of Place”; 1972.

    “One of the most interesting anomalies in Australian environmentalism is that the alumina industry is destroying the jarrah forest – and nobody seems to care. At least, nobody is complaining. ”  ……  “…there will come a time in the not-too-distant future when West Australians realise what has gone on, and the extent and cost of the ecological damage which has occurred. Then perhaps they will look back on the government, agency and NGO-supported destruction of the jarrah forest by bauxite mining as one of the greatest conservation blunders in our history.” – Roger Underwood, former General Manager of W.A. Dept. of Conservation & Land Management (CALM); from blog post, 8 August, 2007. (See also Bauxite mining on WalkGPS.)

    “There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country.  A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo.  Even a bicycle goes too fast.” – Paul Scott Mowrer (1887-1971), U.S. newspaper correspondent; from The House of Europe; 1945.

    “If a certain assemblage of trees, of mountains, of waters, and of houses that we call a landscape is beautiful, it is not because of itself, but through me, through my own indulgence, through the thought or the sentiment that I attach to it.” – Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), French poet.

    “If the day ever comes when they know who
    They are, they may know better where they are.” 

    – Robert Frost (1874-1963), American poet; from A Cabin in the Clearing; 1951.

    “The beauty of nature includes all that is called beautiful, as its flower, and all that is not called beautiful, as its stalk and roots.  Indeed, when I go to the woods or the fields, or ascend to the hilltop, I do not seem to be gazing upon beauty at all, but to be breathing it like the air. I am not dazzled or astonished; I am in no hurry to look lest it be gone. I would not have the litter and debris removed, or at the bands trimmed, or the ground painted. What I enjoy is commensurate with the earth and sky itself. It clings to the rocks and trees; it is kindred to the roughness and savagery; it arises from every tangle and chasm; it perches on the dry oakstubs with the hawks and buzzards; the crows shed it from their wings and weave it in to their nests of coarse sticks; the fox barks it, the cattle low it, and every mountain path leads to its haunts. I am not a spectator of, but a participator in it. It is not an adornment; its roots strike to the centre of the earth.” – John Burroughs (1837-1921), American naturalist; from Birds and Poets, 1877.

    “I thought how sadly beauty of inscape was unknown and buried away from simple people and yet how near at hand it was if they had eyes to see it and it could be called out everywhere again.” – Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1899), British poet, Jesuit priest; from Journal, July 19, 1872.

    4. Experience the outdoors

    Away from the internet and sedentary lifestyle diseases.  Stimulate the senses and perhaps help the kids discover nature. (See also The Sandgropers blog-Bushwalks for family inspiration.) Discover also that a place need not be “stunning”, “splendid”, “spectacular”, “breathtaking” or “iconic” to reward the walker (and the family) with a ‘great’ walk! Also see  “Why Bushwalk?”.


    “Go outside and walk a bit, long enough to take in and record new surroundings.  Enjoy the best-kept secret around – the ordinary, everyday landscape that touches any explorer with magic.” – John R. Stilgoe, Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places, 1998.

    for Naomi, aged three
    ‘Do Kookeeburras
    eat cookies?’ she asks. The bird
    laughs again, rattling
    it out. We are bushwalking.
    She holds my hand, my heart.

    – © Andrew Lansdown (b. 1954-), West Australian poet; from The Grasshopper Heart (Collins/Angus & Robertson, 1991). Visit andrewlansdown.com

    “Bad weather always looks worse through a window.” – Tom Lehrer (1928-), American singer, satirical songwriter, mathematician.

    5. Work-Life balance

    Walking is a natural and gentle discipline – while exercising the body it also slows us down and takes us out of the ‘fast lane’ for a while.  While it may not provide the level of excitement and technical and physical challenges of modern competitive sports and many other recreational activities, it does offer the simplest and surest means of maintaining a balance in our increasingly frenetic modern lifestyles.


    “After a day’s walk everything has twice its usual value.” – G.M. Trevelyan (1876-1962), British historian.

    “Above all, do not lose your desire to walk.  Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness.  I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.”  – Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), Danish philosopher & theologian.

    “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Mohandas [Mahatma] Gandhi (1869-1948), Indian political and spiritual leader.

    “Walking takes longer… than any other known form of locomotion except crawling.  Thus it stretches time and prolongs life.  Life is already too short to waste on speed.”  -Edward Abbey (1927-1989), American author & essayist; from The Journey Home; 1977.

    “I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes, my rage, forgetting everything.” – Pablo Neruda [Ricardo Basoalto] (1904-1973); Chilean poet & politician;  translated; from poem “Walking Around”.

  • Why walk? - Part 2: Reasons 6-10
    6. Physical health benefits

    – Regular moderate to brisk walking decreases risk of :

    Heart disease and stroke (by boosting ‘good’ blood cholesterol and lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol, and reducing blood pressure). Walking half an hour a day will reportedly reduce your risk of developing heart disease by around 30% compared to not exercising.

    Type 2 Diabetes (by improving the body’s ability to produce insulin).

    Osteoporosis (by increasing bone density).

    Osteoarthritis (due to beneficial effects of weight loss).

    Some cancers (e.g. colon & breast cancer).

    – Increases metabolic rate (therefore burns calories).

    Reduces risk of falls and injuries (including leg or hand fractures). Because joints have a better range of motion, the muscles gain more flexibility, and the bones are strengthened.

    Increases physical  fitness  –  Posture, muscle tone, strength, mobility, flexibility, and stamina.


    “Walking is a man’s best medicine.” – Hippocrates (c.460-370BC), ancient Greek physician & “the Father of Medicine”.

    “Of all exercises walking is the best.” – Thomas Jefferson  (1743-1826), third President of the U.S.A.

     “I have two doctors, my left leg and my right.” – G.M. Trevelyan (1876-1962), British historian; from Walking, essay in The Art of Walking, 1934.

    7. Healthy appearance

    Gets and keeps you looking good. 

    Reduces excess body fat & weight naturally, without unrealistic dieting (provided that food intake also isn’t increased!).

    8. Non-stressful, non-competitive fitness building

    – Build fitness comfortably and steadily as an alternative to more vigorous forms of activity.

    – No need for a punishing exercise regime (the old “no pain, no gain” adage).  A “brisk but comfortable pace” is sufficient to raise the heart rate to recommended levels. Low impact but dynamic activities such as walking are also more effective in burning fat in the healthiest manner.  The fat-burning effect apparently kicks-in about 30-40 minutes after the start of walking.

    – No pressure to perform.

    – Set your own goals.

    – At your own pace, in your own time.


    “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.” – Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist, in “Walden’ (Conclusion).

    “Slow down and enjoy life.  It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”– Eddie Cantor (1892-1964) U.S. comedian, singer, actor, songwriter.

    9. Relaxation & improved mental health

    Regular walking:

    – Reduces stress, anxiety, tension.

    – Enhances confidence and sense of well being. i.e. Helps you feel positive and lifts the spirits.

    – Combats depression.

    – Builds self-esteem.


    “We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home, in towns and cities.” – George W.Sears  (1821-1890), U.S. adventurer & early conservationist; in “Woodcraft”, 1884.

    “A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world.” – Paul Dudley White (1886-1973), U.S. pioneering cardiologist.

    “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God…I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” – Anne Frank (1929-1945), German diarist and Holocaust victim.

    “If you want to know if your brain is flabby, feel your legs.” – Bruce Barton (1886-1967), U.S. author, advertising exec., politician.

    “Now shall I walk or shall I ride?
    ‘Ride,’ Pleasure said:
    ‘Walk,’ Joy replied.”

    – W.H. Davies (1871-1940), Welsh poet and writer, who for most of his life was a tramp in the USA and UK.

     “The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy; walk and be healthy. The best way to lengthen out our days is to walk steadily and with a purpose.” – Charles Dickens (1812-1870), British novelist.

    10. Improved Sleep

    Regular moderate-intensity exercise such as brisk walking can result in improved quality of sleep.


    “.…[the] brisk exercise imparts elasticity to the muscles, fresh and healthy blood circulates through the brain, the mind works well, the eye is clear, the step is firm, and a day’s exertion always makes the evening’s repose thoroughly enjoyable.” – David Livingstone (1813-1873), Scottish explorer; from “The Last Journals of David Livingstone in Central Africa, from 1865 to his Death” (journal entry of 26 Mar. 1866); ed. H.Waller, 1874.

  • Why walk? - Part 3: Reasons 11-15

    11. Sense of achievement

    Steadily and naturally build up your fitness through increased walking distances and/or reduced times.

    12. Safe

    – Low risk of injuries. Not hard on joints. Low risk of muscle strains.

    – With basic fitness, simple skills and sensible preparation (including some essentials for bushwalking), the risks are minimal.

    13. No barriers (or excuses!)

    – Age, ability and background not relevant.

    – No special athletic skills or training required – just get started!


    “Early one morning, any morning, we can set out, with the least possible baggage, and discover the world.” – Thomas A. Cook (b.1944), Scottish poet, from the poem “In Praise of Walking” (1988).

    “My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-three today and we don’t know where the hell she is.” – Ellen DeGeneres (b. 1958), U.S. actress, stand-up comedian, talk-show host.

    14. Adaptable

    – Solitude or social interaction according to your personal choice.

    – Easy to fit into a schedule.

    – Walking opportunities are almost anywhere, anytime.


    “The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready, and it may be a long time before they get off.” – Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist.

    “I can enjoy society in a room; but out of doors, Nature is company enough for me. …… The soul of a journey is liberty, perfect liberty, to think, feel, do, just as one pleases.” – William Hazlitt (1778-1830), English writer & essayist, from “On Going a Journey” (1822).

    15. Low cost

    – No expensive equipment or amenities required and no (or minimal) fees.

    – Key essential is a pair of proper, comfortable walking shoes (or boots; plus additional requirements for Bushwalking  i.e. at least water, food, compass/GPS, map, first aid kit, sunscreen, hat, rain jacket).


    “Walking is the exercise that needs no gym. It is the prescription without medicine, the weight control without diet, the cosmetic that is sold in no drugstore. It is the tranquilizer without a pill, the therapy without a psychoanalyst, the fountain of youth that is no legend. A walk is the vacation that does not cost a cent.” – Aaron Sussman & Ruth Goode, from “The Magic of Walking”, 1967.

    “Your possessions should set you free like a boat or a pair of hiking boots. If you work for your possessions and they don’t set you free, what are you working for?” – Billy Harris

    “It is good to collect things; but it is much, much better to go on long walks and collect experiences.” – Anatole France (1844-1924), French author.

  • Acknowledgement

    Many of the boxed quotations on this page are from secondary sources including:


    American Trails

    Others are sourced from the original works.

Back to top