What do the grades mean?

Activities are graded to help you decide if you are are able to safely complete and enjoy the activity.

1 EasyNo bushwalking experience needed, suitable for most ages and fitness. Shorter distances, with easier terrain.
2 Easy/MediumSome bushwalking experience, moderate fitness. Increasing distance, terrain may be rougher with steeper hills.
3 MediumBushwalking experience recommended, moderate fitness. Longer distances or rough terrain, with some steep hills, possible off track. Suitable for fit beginners.
4 Medium/HardBushwalking experience required, moderate fitness. Longer distances, rough or difficult terrain, some steep hills, possible off track. Not suitable for most beginners.
5 HardBushwalking experience required, good fitness, endurance, strength, agility. Long distances, difficult or demanding terrain, steep hills, off track.
6 ExtremeExperienced off-track bushwalkers, good fitness, endurance, strength, agility, self-reliance, navigation skills. Longer distances and more demanding terrain, steep, significant off track.
X ExploratoryMany unknowns, usually grade 5 or 6. Be known to the leader, experienced and skilled. Bring your sense of humour.

While we do our best to grade walks, conditions on the day may change, so please expect the unexpected.

What is terrain?

The terrain describes the track quality, obstacles, and vegetation for most of the walk.  There may be short sections that are a bit more challenging. Terrain impacts how fit and agile you will need to be, how tired you might get, and the difficulty of route-finding.

Formed TracksBeach, formed path or graded track, steps, some obstacles such as fallen debris, rocks, roots. Hard to get lost.
Rough TracksBush tracks, rutted 4WD tracks, steep sections, obstacles like tree falls, may need to use hands. May be overgrown. Navigation decisions at intersections.
off-trackOff-track sections, steep climbs, scrambling, rock-hopping and creek walking, scrub-bashing. Need to use hands. Navigation follows features, visible landmarks, GPX.
Demanding off-trackMostly off track, constant obstacles, cliffs. Thick vegetation to push through, may need climbing skills. Make your own route, limited visibility for navigating.

How is a grade determined?

Distance,  ascent and terrain give an indication of the grade from 1 (Easy) to 6 (Extreme). Use our handy grading calculator to work out the grade.

Our method (based on Naismiths Rule) combines distance (in km) with total ascent (in 100 metres). For example, Syndicate Track is a 12 km walk and 700m ascent which is evaluated as 12 + 7 = 19 km with rough track is Grade 4 Medium/Hard.

The table is a guide for leaders. As they know the walk best, they may occassionally use their judgement to adjust the grade indicated by the above table up or down one level.

Terrain<= 10 km>10 to 15 km>15 to 20 km> 20 km
Rough Tracks2345
Demanding off-track5566

Grades help to manage risks

Leaders provide grading information and walk descriptions as a guide to help you choose appropriate walks for your ability. If you have any questions about the activity, please contact the leader before booking.

Our volunteer leaders have a duty of care to the whole group, and may decline to take you if they have concerns about your preparedness and ability. 

Why not use Australian Walking Grades?

Our grades are not the same as Australian Walking Grades. 

The Australian Walking Grades, applied objectively, are based on seven factors: gradient, quality of path, quality of route markings, steps, experience required, distance and time.  This would be too hard for our leaders to implement.  The alternative, a subjective guesstimate, results in inconsistent grades which are not helpful. 

The Australian Walking Grades also don’t allow for off track walks. The on-track 3km walk to Wrights Lookout in New England National Park is Grade 4. Two local walks less than 10 km, the walks to Cathedral Rock or to Red Cedar Falls are both Grade 5.  As Grade 5 is the top grade, that doesn’t leave any room to describe the harder walks we do.