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When hikers and bushwalkers go on holiday

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2014 – September 2015 (n=15,668). NB: Chart shows the index of the target profile group compared to population average, with 100 being the average.

With medical experts around the world waxing lyrical about the diverse health benefits of bush-walking – or any kind of ‘green exercise’, for that matter – it is encouraging to learn that the proportion of Australians who go hiking/bushwalking has sky-rocketed over the last five years. What’s more, it appears not to be a fad, but an actual lifestyle choice. In fact, the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research indicate that people who hike/bushwalk even tend to take holidays where they can enjoy the Great Outdoors in its myriad forms.

Between October 2010 and September 2015, the proportion of Australians 14+ who reported going hiking/bushwalking on a regular basis grew from 2.9% to 5.2%, while those who participated either regularly or occasionally increased from 15.6% to 27.3% (or more than 5.3 million Australians). 

When asked what activities they did on their last trip, regular/occasional hikers/bushwalkers were consistently more likely than the average Australian to nominate active, outdoor pursuits. For example, they are 84% more likely than the average Aussie to have visited wilderness of some kind on their last trip, 81% more likely to have gone to a National Park or forest and – of course – 135% more likely to have gone bushwalking.

What hikers/bushwalkers did on their last trip compared to the average Australian


Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), October 2014 – September 2015 (n=15,668). NB: Chart shows the index of the target profile group compared to population average, with 100 being the average.

Occasional and regular hikers/bushwalkers are also 54% more likely to have gone sailing on their last holiday and 39% more likely to have visited gardens or parks.

When asked to nominate a description that best summarised their last holiday, hikers came in well above average for ‘Nature holiday’ and ‘A real ecotourism experience’.

Angela Smith, Group Account Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“The current boom in hiking and bushwalking is not only a good thing for participants’ personal well-being – it also represents a wonderful opportunity for savvy tourism operators and destination marketers. Our data indicates that people who hike/ bushwalk either regularly or occasionally tend to behave in a certain way when they go on holidays, engaging in energetic physical activity and seeking out natural surroundings more than the average Australian.

“Not surprisingly, destinations offering scenic wilderness hold greater appeal for hikers and bushwalkers than for the average Australian considering a holiday. When asked where they’d like to visit, this group showed an above-average preference for unspoiled regions such as Freycinet National Park, the Flinders Ranges, Cradle Mountain and Lord Howe Island.

“Australia boasts a surplus of national parks and wilderness areas, and with the right kind of branding and promotion, many of them stand to benefit from this growing segment of the travel market – especially if they have a detailed understanding of who exactly these hikers and bushwalkers are. For example, when it comes to regular bushwalking and hiking, two very different age groups stand out for their elevated participation rate: young Aussies aged 20-24 and older folks aged between 60 and 64. They are also most likely to be from the wealthier end of the socio-economic spectrum, which probably comes in handy, given the recently upgraded Three Capes track in Tasmania costs more than $500 to hike….”

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%