Are We Hiking or Bushwalking?

Hiking or Bushwalking?

Whilst out in the You Yangs over the weekend with our MeetUp group, a conversation came up with a lady in the group as to whether we were hiking or bushwalking.

In her opinion, she felt that bushwalking should be used to describe day hikes, whilst hiking should be used to describe overnight or multi-day hikes.

However, I believe there’s an argument for both terms to be used to describe either day, overnight or multi-day hikes.


Personally, I use the term hiking regardless if I’ve gone out on the trail for the day, overnight, or for multiple days.

There is also the argument that bushwalking should be the official term given that most trails can often be found somewhere in the bush.

Although, is a forest considered the bush? Is a national or state park considered the bush? Are we forest walking or park walking?

Furthermore, bushwalking is a term that is typically associated with Australia and very few other countries.

And then you throw in international terms such as tramping (New Zealand’s term for hiking).

Essentially, I reckon it all comes down to the individual.

As you might have noticed in this article, there are a few arguments for both terms and it probably depends on where you are from too.

So, what do you think? Are we hiking or bushwalking?

10 Responses
  1. Matthew Potter

    Imo, hiking is when it’s atime least a full days walk, bush walking refers to when you’re walking on rough terrain/trails, and for well defined paths it’s just going for a walk, regardless of the scenery

  2. Jacko

    I generally refer to as hiking but this is in large part due to having done the AT and having a lot of American online friends.
    I feel that a multiday trip is a hike while a day trip is a bushwalk.

    1. John Feeney

      Interesting take on it, Jacko. I’m starting to realise that hiking is very much an American term whilst we use bushwalking to describe what we do here in Australia. I really appreciate you taking the time to read my article and respond. Cheers 🙂

  3. Mia

    Agree with you John. Before I came to Australia, I hadn’t heard of the term ‘bushwalking’.
    So, for me, ‘bushwalking’ is an Australian term, while ‘hiking’ is an American term.
    English spoken in Japan is mostly American English. ‘Hiking’ has already been one of Japanese words, written in Katakana (words originally came from other countries).

  4. Arlene

    I have to agree that “Bushwalking” is probably more of an Australian take on the word “Hiking” with both meaning the same thing essentially. I’ve also seen the term “Backpacking” used in American vocabulary to mean the same thing but I think it refers to multi-day hikes whereas in Australia it seems more synonymous with traveling on a budget (and not just by walking but multiple modes of transport and not just in the wilderness). Just some observations!

    1. John Feeney

      Hi Arlene, thanks for reading and commenting on the post. I think your thoughts are fairly spot on. Seems like it all comes down to location.

  5. Margaret Ljubicic

    I do a lot of what I call bushwalking but I also do a lot of 4WD + camping that involves no walking to get there but can bushwalk from there … if I bushwalk to a destination and camp overnight I think for me it is hiking which is what my friend and I are building up to ….. glad I found your blog a great wealth of modern information for me to read (female turning 60)….cheers

    1. John Feeney

      Hi Margaret, thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I genuinely appreciate it. There seems to be a foot in each camp with most people in Australia.

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