In our busy city lives, it can be hard to find time to connect with friends, with our attention split between flashing screens, demanding jobs, piles of dirty laundry and the Netflix vortex. Fortunately, there’s a solution: spend a day in the bush with friends, old or new, and you’ll remember how walks are where the best talks are born.
Here’s seven reasons to dig out your boots, put down your screen and get walking and talking.
Making new friends has never been easier
Have you ever been to one of those “office fun-days”, usually run alongside Christmas parties, where you get to do a treasure-hunt for adults in the name of “team building”?
Bushwalking is the out-of-office equivalent: you’re joined with your fellow walkers in a shared quest, and suddenly find yourself bonding over who brought the best hummus and praising the “legend” who brought the Aeroguard.
By the end of the day, triumphant and (hopefully not) mildly sunburnt, you’re old mates.
If you’re like me, wrangling friends for a dinner usually involves weeks of planning, six alternative dates and 976 messages in your group thread, frequently derailed by stickers and memes.
When the night finally arrives, your friends are only half-listening to your stories, distracted by a different set of 976 group messages and the need to post a perfect insta-story.
Enjoy a digital detox in the bush, where you can have a real conversation that can’t be derailed by GIFs, Insta stories or Snapchat videos that would only slow you down.
Raise your banter game with (real life) group chat
You know when banter really flows, with each person bouncing off each other to create dialogue so witty that your friends could be your own sit-com (just sayin’)?
A multi-hour hike gives you ample opportunity to warm up your banter skills and get perfectly in sync with your crew. Why not try the one-day Jerusalem Bay Track from Cowan Station to Brooklyn, a section of the legendary Great North Walk? Which will give you ample time to hash out those old ‘Would You Rathers’ once and for all (would YOU rather fight a horse-sized duck or an army of duck-sized horses?)
Carving out time to connect
A half-day walk gives you the time and space to truly connect with friends, new and old. Conversation ebbs and flows naturally as the hours pass.
Away from the distractions of busy city life, you can dive deeper into your conversations and properly listen. Keep the conversation flowing with a picnic at any of these great spots.
No shouting over terrible karaoke or a footy cheer squad
It’s hard to have an interesting conversation at the pub when you’re shouting over a terrible song from the eighties that someone programmed on the jukebox to troll everyone. Or worse, having your D&Ms soundtracked by the cheers and heckles of a pub full of footy fans.
In the bush, the only noise pollution you’ll be fighting with is birdsong.
Walking jogs creativity and boosts your brain power
There’s no shortage of research to show that walking makes your brain….better. And better brains mean better convos.
Did you know that Steve Jobs insisted on having walking meetings? He’s not alone: this habit was shared by Freud, Charles Dickens and even Aristotle.
Who knows, maybe your friends will come up with the next great invention, deep in a canyon in the mountains!
There’s no need to fill the silences
There’s often the temptation to avoid awkward pauses in the conversation at all costs, even if that means recycling office goss or talking about your new iron. No one cares.
In nature it feels natural to walk in silence for periods, taking in the beauty of your surroundings in shared awe.
For some jaw-dropping views, try Lockleys Pylon in the Blue Mountains National Park.