Bushcraft And Wilderness Activities (Survival Skills)

Learn Survival skills by distance education, for travel, camping, trekking etc. in wilderness areas. A great home study course for campers, trekkers, eco-tourism professionals, tour guides, recreation leaders, etc. Self paced, study externally, at home

Course CodeBTR201
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Learn to survive in the wild!

Whether on day or overnight trips, whenever a group goes on a trip into natural areas they need to be prepared, and led by someone who has an adequate level of survival skills.  Every week in Australia there are reports of individuals and groups missing in the bush, often quite close to help, occasionally these events are fatal, but they don't have to be

Work in an outdoor supply or camping shop; or in the tourism or leisure industries.
This course builds an understanding of the things you are likely to confront when you leave civilisation; and provides a foundation for preparing yourself and those who accompany you for any excursion into a natural area.

This course is valuable to people who may have a recreational interest in wilderness exploration, tour guides, scout leaders, or eco-tour business owners.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Understanding Wilderness Areas
    • Introduction
    • Living Things
    • Ecological Relationships
    • Climatic Zones
    • Climate/Soil/Vegetation Interrelationships
    • Plant Associations
    • Continental Drift
    • Understanding Impacts of Weather on Wilderness Activities - Highs and Lows, Thunderstorms, Atmospheric pressure changes in storms, guide to weather symbols.
    • Terminology
    • Participant Fitness Levels - testing current physical fitness and further tests
  2. Equipment
    • Introduction
    • Equipping to survive - minimum essential items for the survival kit, additional items, individual medical kit
    • Essential Items for Wilderness Travel
    • Clothing
    • Nutrition
    • Food packaging
    • Liability and Insurance
    • Risk Assessment
  3. Protection from the Elements
    • Introduction
    • First Aid Procedures
    • Hypothermia (exposure)
    • Hyperthermia (heat exhaustion)
    • Building a wilderness shelter
    • Lighting a fire
    • Mental strength
  4. Natural Resources
    • Introduction
    • Finding water - plan ahead to find water, how much water do you need? Landscape vegetation and animal signs, things to avoid, making an above ground still, soakage water, water from tree roots
    • Case Study - Survival story
    • Bush tucker or Survival Food - Australian bush tucker foods.
    • Preparation of plant food.
    • Animals for food
    • Use of Bush Tucker Food
  5. Navigation
    • Introduction
    • Navigation and direction finding - how to use a compass, map reading, longitude and latitude, scale, contour lines, estimating distances, pacing.
    • Navigation by the sun, moon and stars
  6. Dealing with Emergencies
    • Introduction
    • Venomous creatures - snakes - symptoms of a poisonous bite, first aid, arachnids - first aid, marine creatures - jelly fish, cone shell, first aid, scorpionfish, lionfish and stonefish - first aid, other dangerous marine creatures.
    • Carnivorous mammals - bears, big cats
    • Poisonous plants
    • Bushfires
  7. Camping
    • Introduction
    • Setting up camp
    • Camping - different styles of camping
    • Successful camp programming
    • Waste disposal
  8. Passive Land Based Activities
    • Introduction
    • Observing nature
    • Orienteering
    • Environmental activities for children
    • Plant collection
  9. Water Based Adventure Activities
    • Introduction
    • Some water-based activities - snorkelling, scuba, sailing, speed boating and jet skiing, canoeing, white-water rafting, water skiing.
  10. Active Land Based Adventure Activities
    • Introduction
    • Activities - abseiling, hang gliding, rock climbing, snow skiing, snowboarding
    • Motorised Vehicles - landscape impact, safety, considerations
    • Mountain Bikes
    • Horse Riding

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • To appreciate the scope and implications of ecotourism opportunities in wilderness areas.
  • To be able to prepare for an excursion into a wilderness area
  • To determine appropriate methods of protecting against the elements.
  • To determine different uses for natural resources in the wilderness.
  • To be able to navigate in a wilderness area using a variety of different techniques.
  • To deal with a range of emergencies in a wilderness situation, including developing contingency plans and determining appropriate first aid.
  • Explain campsite establishment and management.
  • Determine appropriate procedures for managing different passive wilderness activities.
  • Determine appropriate procedures for managing different water based wilderness activities.
  • Determine appropriate procedures for managing different active wilderness activities

Be Prepared!  

Wherever you go in the wilderness, you need to understand the risks and be prepared for the worst thing that might happen. Being prepared can mean different things for different people; and all according to the circumstances.
If you are away from other people, in a place where you may not encounter anyone else for day, you will need to prepare differently to how you might prepare when walking a trail that others come along every day.

Being away from "civilization" and potentially help; means that you are vulnerable if you exhaust your supplies or yourself; or worse still suffer an injury. Problems like sunburn, dehydration or hypothermia can "sneak" up on you; so it is important to understand such things, how to avoid them, and how to deal with them if they do happen.

Consider Hypothermia (exposure)

During hypothermia the core temperature of the body loses heat. The normal body heat of a person is 37 degrees. Survival is threatened once this core temperature falls below 35 degrees. Hypothermia occurs when the body's temperature falls below 35C. The core temperature of the body is not the same as the skin temperature which can heat up or cool down quickly and may be degrees cooler then the core temperature. Skin temperature outdoors is not important.

Many situations can cause the body to lose more heat than it can generate. These can include prolonged exposure to wintry conditions, immersion in cold water for a length of time, or being out in windy weather in wet clothes. The risk of hypothermia isn't confined to subzero temperatures – it often happens in temperatures ranging from 0–10 ۫ C. Mild hypothermia is relatively easy to treat in the field, but severe hypothermia is life threatening without prompt medical attention.

If the body is cooled, capillaries and blood vessels in the limbs will constrict limiting blood flows to the extremities where warmth is easily lost (hands, face and head). Hypothermia can be either rapid or gradual. Rapid hypothermia is usually associated with drowning particularly when water is extremely cold (as water causes a rapid loss in body temperature).

Gradual hypothermia is slow loss of heat from the body and is usually associated with wet, cold and often windy conditions, particularly when the clothing becomes wet. In a steady wind heat loss can begin to occur at 10 – 12 degrees Celsius. Gradual hypothermia is extremely dangerous as it is often unnoticed by the person affected. 

The symptoms of hypothermia can progress quite slowly.

The various stages include:

  • Feeling cold
  • Cold skin
  • Shivering
  • Loss of concentration
  • Loss of control over the small muscles – for example, the muscles of the fingers
  • Facial skin turns grey or blue in colour
  • Drowsiness
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Loss of physical coordination
  • Lack of shivering
  • Slowed breathing
  • Speaking difficulties, such as slurring
  • A strong yearning for sleep
  • Coma
  • Death.



This course will not only develop knowledge and understanding, but will also build your general self confidence. You will be better prepared to survive no matter what life throws at you, physically or mentally.

Some graduates may use this course to prepare themselves for a challenge; and others will use it to be better prepared to help others deal with their challenges.

This course can be used for self improvement; or to help advance career or business opportunities.

This course may help your work in many situations, including as:

  • An ecotour business operator
  • An adventure tour guide
  • An outdoor equipment or camping supply retailer
  • A camp ground manager
  • A wilderness park ranger
  • A youth leader
  • A life coach

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Dr Robert Browne

Zoologist, Environmental Scientist and Sustainability, science based consultancy with biotechnology corporations. Work focused on conservation and sustainability. Robert has published work in the fields of nutrition, pathology, larval growth and develop
Alison Pearce

University Lecturer, Quality Assurance Manager, Writer and Research Technician. Alison originally graduated with an honors degree in science from university and beyond that has completed post graduate qualifications in education and eco-tourism. She has m
Bob James

Horticulturalist, Agriculturalist, Environmental consultant, Businessman and Professional Writer. Over 40 years in industry, Bob has held a wide variety of senior positions in both government and private enterprise. Bob has a Dip. Animal Husb, B.App.Sc.,
Barbara Seguel

Teacher and Researcher, Marine Scientist, Tourism and Outdoor recreation guide, Health and Safety Coordinator & Production Manager for Fisheries, National Park Staff/Farmer, Laboratory technical aide, Zoo, Wildlife and Marine Park assistant. Barbara has w