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Does the Average Aussie Know How to Survive the Bush? (Spoiler, not really)

September 21, 2021 Glamping No Comments
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In celebration of the reopening of Australia and an uptick in spring bush camping, Hipcamp – the world’s largest provider of outdoor stays – took a pulse check of Aussies’ camping readiness. The company surveyed 1,000 Australians coast-to-coast on basic bush survival skills… with surprising results.

Australians have survived lockdown, but can the average Australian survive in the bush? Hipcamp wanted to know:

“I think we’re all getting a bit of cabin fever with COVID lockdowns, and the results of this survey show that we might also be losing some of our basic Australian bush knowledge,” said Brooke Wood, Hipcamp’s Australian General Manager. “Of course the bush is vast, and it can feel intimidating, but the truth is it’s also beautiful and one of the best places to be when you have a plan, a few basic bush skills, and an awareness of potential dangers. Some of the best experiences you have with family are those in the bush.”

Wood is based in NSW South Coast, Batemans Bay.

Key findings of the survey (presented as PASS or FAIL):

FAIL: Vague knowledge of venomous snakes – Asked how many types of venomous snakes there are in Australia, nearly half of Australians (41.6%) said ‘I don’t know.’

    • Only 16.5% correctly answered 90-100+.
    • In addition, 5.0% of Australians believe that there are only one to five venomous snakes.
  • PASS: Casso-what-y? – Asked about the threat level cassowaries provide, over half of Australians (57.6%) successfully stated that the big birds are ‘potentially lethal to humans.’ Unfortunately, a combined total of 42.4% said cassowaries are harmless to humans (22.3%) or asked ‘what is a cassowary?’ (20.1%).
  • FAIL: To drink, or not to drink? – Given the scenario of what to do if stranded in the bush while low on water, a whopping 86% of Australians incorrectly guessed ‘you should sip/conserve water.’
    • In fact, survival experts recommend drinking one cup of water at a time in order to keep organs functioning and note that because people sip instead of drink, some poor souls die of thirst with water still in their drink bottles.
    • Only 12% of Australians chose the life-saving “drink 1 cup at a time” option.
  • FAIL: (Don’t) eat the plants! – When asked what bush plants are toxic, 37.5% of Australians correctly said ‘angel’s trumpet,’ ‘gympie-gympie’ (22%), and ‘milky mangrove’ (17.6%).
    • Unfortunately, only 8.4% believed spurge, black bean (7.9%), and quaker buttons (6.6%) were also toxic (pro tip – they all are.) In fact, the benignly named ‘black bean’ can induce vomiting and diarrhea, milky mangrove can cause temporary blindness, and spurge can cause serious inflammation and even blindness.
    • Nationally, men were far more knowledgeable of spurge with 63.3% identifying it as toxic vs. only 36.7% of women.
  • PASS: Danger, Danger – Over half of Australians (52.5%) correctly identified dehydration as ‘the most dangerous threat in the Australian bush.’ More than half (53.5%) also said Australians underestimate danger in the bush.
  • FAIL: Breeding season – Over half of Australians (59.1%) said that they ‘don’t know’ when crocodile breeding season is. Only 7.3% correctly chose September-April.
    • Over a third of Australians (38.8%) simply said ‘I don’t know when asked when magpie ‘swooping season is (when they are the most aggressive.)
    • Only 22.2% correctly identified August-October as prime swooping season.
  • Bonus: Best bush camping tips – Asked what their best tips for surviving in the Australian bush are, 13.6% simply said ‘water’ or ‘take water’ (3.7%.)

Additional responses included:

  • Eat bush tucker.
  • Don’t camp under gum trees.
  • Carry a cigarette lighter.
  • Take a snake bite kit with you.
  • Don’t wander off.
  • Don’t camp too close to a river in case it floods.
  • Good bush skills and a mobile phone.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Tell someone where you’re going.
  • Preparation.
  • First aid kit
  • A good tent.
  • Avoid snakes.

Hipcamp and COVID-19
To comply with local travel restrictions, Hipcamp offers full credit for any cancellations
related to COVID-19 lockdowns. The company is also discouraging international travel at this time.

Hipcamp has also implemented COVID-19 safety guidelines to ensure hosts, campers, and local communities are protected and recreating responsibly. These guidelines include encouragement to practice social distancing, travel in small groups, and book zero contact stays. Hipcamp also requires hosts to abide by vigorous cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

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