Nude Bushwalking: Going Bare to Nature

Earlier this year we were contacted by Victoria Ong, a young journalist in the final semester of a Master of Media Practice at Sydney University. She was keen to interview us about our nude bushwalking adventures. Below is a short explanation of what inspired her, a short radio piece she produced, and a longer feature article.

One Tuesday morning, my eyebrows raised at the subject of an email blast from the Sydney University Bushwalkers (SUBW). The subject? “Easy nude bushwalk, with yoga session on the banks of a remote wild river”.

What I initially thought was an email gimmick turned out to be firm reality. Next thing I knew, the journalist in me felt compelled to hear from the Fat Canyoners themselves about the appeal of nude bushwalking… which led to this series of fascinating interviews.

By Victoria Ong

Mention “nudists” to the Australian public and you’re likely to get bemused grins or a horrified cringe. In Sydney, a group of nude bushwalkers known as the “Fat Canyoners” strip off common misconceptions about nudism and reveal the appeal of going bare to nature.

Summer is the perfect time to go bushwalking in Australia. Minty whiffs of eucalyptus perk you up as you trudge along the trail, while golden rays of sunshine peek through the canopy of trees to warm every inch of your skin.

From a figure of speech, “every inch of your skin” immediately turns literal upon meeting the Fat Canyoners – a group of Sydney-based bushwalkers who venture bare- skinned into the great outdoors with nothing but their sunscreen on.

The man behind the Fat Canyoners is Tim Vollmer, a self-professed fanatical bushwalker, canyoner, and nature lover. But the 32-year-old is quick to assert that he did not come up with the idea of going nude in nature. Vollmer’s mane of chestnut curls bobs in excitement as he enthuses over the long history of nudism and bushwalking. He describes reading books about bushwalkers “from nearly a hundred years ago, full of stories about them getting to a river and going for a skinny dip”.

Skinny-dipping is one of Sierra Classen’s favourite parts of bushwalking. As a regular Fat Canyoner, the 23-year-old describes how relaxing the experience of swimming naked is for her. “The water feels really different on my skin when I’m nude, rather than in swimmers…” Her sentence trails off as a dreamy twinkle lights up her oak- brown eyes. “It’s kind of a sensory thing. You feel and remember the bushwalking experience in a different way.”