Updated January 2006

All this talk about legal liability, courts, insurance, and licence requirements gets a bit serious. So here we provide some light relief, with a collection of clangers, courtesy of the Adventure Activity Standards.

1. From the AAS Bushwalking

“Adjustments to the clothing and equipment should be made for walking in tropical conditions.”

So much for Victorian standards for Victorian conditions.

2. From the AAS Canoeing & Kayaking

“Check with RFS or council for fire bans before lighting any fire or stove.”

The Rural Fire Service of New South Wales? More Victorian standards for Victorian conditions? More likely, a quick cut and paste job without even a proof read.

3. From the AAS Recreational Caving

“For the safety of both the group and the cave system, the maximum group size for a caving trip involving a dependant group should be 12 (participants). The minimum safe group size in any cave is 4.”

And later in the same document:

“Keep your party size small - 4 is a good party size.”

Yep, this AAS has got the group size thing sorted.

4. From the AAS Mountain Biking

“Maintain constant surveillance/observation of participants.”

Is this a reasonable requirement that shows a sound understanding of the practicalities of supervising 25 riders on a bush track? Hardly!

5. From the AAS Four Wheel Driving

“Confirm that all participants in control of a vehicle are free of the effects of alcohol/drugs.”

Similarly in the AAS Surfing Sessions:

“Confirm participants are free of the effects of alcohol/drugs.”


6. From the AAS Bushwalking

Here is some marvellous gobbledegook; it’s good for a laugh if read out around a campfire:

2.1.1 Bushwalking Leader on Tracked or Easy Untracked (Easy)

Tracked or easy untracked areas” are reliably marked on maps and are obvious on the ground: tracks are inspected on a regular basis and road or other safe collecting features are easily reached within 2 hours by applying elementary navigation principles.

2.1.2 Bushwalking Leader on Difficult and Trackless (Intermediate)

“Difficult or trackless areas” are where there are limited modifications to the natural surface so that track alignment is indistinct in places: there is minimal clearance along the track: signage is minimal and only for management purposes: there are terrain and man-made hazards (such as cliff lines or dense forests): the possibility for changes in weather and visibility exists.

2.1.3 Bushwalking Leader on Unmodified landscapes (Advanced)

“Unmodified landscapes” are those which are totally natural: where there are no modifications to the natural surface so that track alignment is indistinct and no clearance along the track: there is no signage: the track is not managed for public risk and where the onset of extreme environmental conditions have a significant adverse impact upon the bushwalk.”

Isn’t it lucky that the AAS keep the bad weather off tracks.

7. But there’s also the “urban bushwalk”

“ …. generally walks undertaken in urban parks such as Botanic gardens, Albert Park… “

With this stipulation:

“Leaders of urban walks should be deemed to be responsible adults”

So no more walking in the park, kids.

8. From the AAS Four Wheel Driving

“Any group of greater than 10 vehicles may be split and each resulting group should independently adhere to AAS before negotiating single track sections and/or fragile environments.”

Yep, two groups of ten 4WDs will be much better for a fragile environment than one group of 20. Very responsible!

9. More of the same from the AAS Trail Bike Touring

“For the safety of both the group and the environment, the maximum group size for a trail ride is recommended at 20 motorcycles. … Any group of greater than 20 motorcycles may be split and each resulting group should independently adhere to AAS before negotiating difficult track sections and/or fragile environments.”

Yep, two groups of 20 trail bikes will be much better for that fragile creek bank than one group of 40.

10. From the AAS Mountain biking

“Any group size greater than 25 (participants leader and guide/s) must be split and each resultant group must independently adhere to AAS.”

Notice how the mountain bikes don’t get to just split up just for the fragile bits?

11. From the AAS Recreational Angling

“Group size: For the safety of both the group participants, the environmental impact and the quality of the participant’s experience, large groups should always be managed in a manner which will optimise group supervision (see 2.6) and minimise the environmental impact.”

And nicely ducking specifying a maximum group size.

12. Again from the AAS Recreational Angling

“Any group considered difficult to manage or which has potential to be significantly destructive to the environment should be split and each resultant group must independently adhere to AAS.”

Being a little bit destructive to the environment is OK!

13. From the AAS Four Wheel Driving, AAS River Rafting, and AAS Trail Bike Riding

“Faecal matter … should be carried out from any water supply catchment area”.

Just what are 4WDs, trail bikes and river rafts doing in a water supply catchment?

14. From the AAS Mountain Biking

Spelling, grammar and syntax errors feature in the AAS. This is our favourite.

“Brake leavers”

15. Department of Sport and Recreation spin

from a “Case study” by the AAS Project Officer, on the DSR web site:

“The process of consultation between the ORC, the Vic Walk Executive, the various specialist committees and their members initially created a defensive reaction to the AAS process.”

Actually, not one of the many versions of the bushwalking AAS were accepted or endorsed by VicWalk or any of its specialist committees.

16. More ORC spin

From the same ORC “Case Study”, referring to VicWalk and the AAS:

“The process of education and collaboration (including the provision of legal advice) has facilitated a far greater understanding of the issues which face them and how they can be appropriately managed.”

Actually, VicWalk then got its own senior legal advice. That advice differed substantially from that provided by the ORC. VicWalk declined to endorse the Bushwalking AAS.

17. A gem from the AAS Bushwalking final draft

“However leaders should be aware and prepared for the unexpected, at all times.”

A splendid contradiction; an AAS classic.

18. From the AAS Definitions

Each AAS concludes with some definitions. Our choice for the silliest is:

“Urban - Urban trips are defined in AAS as any trip which is at no point any more than 2 hours from emergency medical attention.”

Very intuitive. Two hours wait for medical assistance in an urban area!

19. From the AAS Bushwalking Edition 1

“ Bushwalking is the activity of walking in the natural environment that may include walks for pleasure, challenge, experience and/or educational outcomes. The term ‘bushwalking’ can be applied to long (multi day) as well as short (an hour or two) walks and can be enjoyed in environments as diverse as urban suburbs, coastal and alpine regions. ”

“Urban suburbs”? Is there another sort? The AAS has a bit of a thing about “urban”.

20. From the AAS Mountain Biking

Trivial detail is a feature of the AAS. Our favourite is:

“It is also the responsibility of the trip leader to ensure that the following equipment be carried in a support vehicle or accessible on multi day trips: …2 rags.”

21. From the AAS Recreational Caving

Even the trivial detail can be weird.

“Spare globes and batteries must be carried according to the trip leaders experience and knowledge of group and conditions.”

What’s the connection between the leader’s experience and a spare globe? When would you not carry a spare globe?

22. Again from the AAS Recreational Caving

“Maintain constant surveillance/observation of participants”

Very reasonable. Good luck in court, cavers.

23. From the AAS Surfing Sessions

More sound and useful advice from the AAS:

“… ensure that the following considerations are appropriately accounted for. ...

There is no unexpected submerged rock or reef. …

Where any of the above are not as expected, appropriate strategies must be implemented.”

No unexpected rocks that are not as expected? But whatever, act appropriately. Glad that’s clear.

24. Again from the AAS Surfing Sessions

“For the safety of the group and consideration of other beach users, the maximum group size for a surfing session is 24 (participants). Any group of more than 24 participants must be either split and each resultant group independently adhere to AAS or be conducted with sufficient additional consideration for managing a large group.”

So is the maximum group size 24 or not? So much for the AAS providing a benchmark for group size.

25. From the AAS Canoeing & Kayaking

“Do not surround the fire with stones ... Do not dig a pit.”

OK environmentally perhaps, but this contravenes Victorian campfire regulations, which require a campfire to be confined by one or the other.

26. From the Outdoor Recreation Centre

Quoted in The Age, April 27 2003.

“The control thing is very significant," says [a spokesperson for] the Outdoor Recreation Centre of Victoria, the peak standard-setting body."

"You do it on your own terms, you accept the difficulty level and level of risk, depending on the reward."

We couldn't have summed it up better ourselves. But the ORC the “peak standard-setting body”? That’s the biggest clanger of all.

* * * * * *

(Unless otherwise stated, all quotes from the Adventure Activity Standards were from the Outdoor Recreation Centre Victoria [online], http://www.orc.org.au/aas_index.htm [Accessed August 2004 and later])