June 3, 2020 / 4:58 AM / a month ago

After lockdown, Australians seek to learn survival skills in the bush

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Learning Australian bush survival skills is becoming popular as city folk turn to nature with the easing of the coronavirus lockdown, organisers of a course outside Sydney said.

The Bushcraft course teaches basic survival skills like foraging for food and water, and also offers insight into traditional indigenous cultures. The course filled up soon after the lockdown began to be eased late last month, and there is a lot of demand, the organisers said.

“A lot of people come to learn self discipline. How to organise themselves and organise themselves in a natural environment,” said instructor Gordon Dedman at Bushcraft Survival Australia, who is a former army commando.

“The more knowledge you have... it actually gives you a sense of confidence and then you can make better informed decisions.”

Course participants learn how to erect a shelter, build a fire, solar and celestial navigation, forage for edible plants, some within a timed environment designed to emulate the stress of a real survival situation.

“They’ve got a timed period to make a fire using the procedure that we’ve given them because it makes it efficient. They may have to light a fire to signal for help, to boil water to give to a person that’s suffering from hypothermia,” Dedman said.

“The other thing is that the timed deliverables gives an element of stress and in a survival situation you’re going to be very, very stressed.”

Slideshow (12 Images)

The interest in the course comes as Australia loosens its lockdown laws after months of restrictions that saw runs on supermarket staples, and many Sydney dwellers cooped up at home. Now beaches are reopening and pubs in Sydney are allowed to accept ten patrons for meals.

“I’ve been caught up with that supermarket mayhem. I didn’t realise how entrenched I was in that,” course participant George Hamza said. Hamza is one of 11 participants taking part in a three-day intermediate course near Ku-ring-gai National Park, Ingleside, north of Sydney.

“Coming out here and spending a few days here and removing myself from that, I’m feeling like I’m detoxing a little from that sphere of the world,” he said.

Reporting by Jill Gralow, Writing by Melanie Burton, Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan

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