Participation: The AusPlay survey results for 2022

Sport Australia recently released its latest AusPlay survey results, for the year January to December 2022. HikeWest’s review of the results indicates:

High bushwalking ranking – Nationally, bushwalking (/hiking) in 2022 remained in the top six of the 133 activities with regard to participation, only one place behind cycling, and is also in the top six in the WA ranking.

Strong participation rate – 9.9% (2.14 million) of Australia’s adult population participated in bushwalking compared to 13.4% (2.9 million) in cycling and 2.1% (0.45 million) in mountain biking. WA contributed 7.2% (155,000 adults) to the national bushwalking total, similar to SA’s contribution (7.5%), and significantly greater than Tasmania’s (3.2%).

Note: The survey margins of error are around 5% (~100,000) for the national participation estimates and 15-20% (22,000-31,000) for the state estimates.

Bushwalking participation by age (nationally)

Age Percentage
15-34 32%
35-64 57%
65+ 11%

Gender participation  In WA, the ratio of female : male participation of  66%:34% in bushwalking appears to confirm a pronounced shift away from the near gender-balanced participation seen historically. The trend appears less pronounced nationally, with the overall female:male ratio being 56%:44%. The AusPlay survey doesn’t capture data that might explain the significant, disproportionately increasing female participation. Commercial guided hike opportunities in WA in particular may be successfully targeting female participation, but that may simply reflect the broader shift. Gender participation in the more male-centric activity of mountain biking remained relatively stable nationally at 21% female:79% male.

Large longer-term increase in participationThe national data indicates the number of adults who go bushwalking has grown 84% across the past four years, an increase of almost one million, from 1.17 million in 2018 to 2.14 million in 2022. This increase as a percentage of the total adult population is 4.2% over the past four years, the largest increase of any of the top 10 non-sport activities. That compares to an increase of just 1.8% (around 0.5 million) in cycling. 

Non-sports versus Sports activities – Nationally in 2022, 26.3% of adults participated in non-sports related activities compared to 15.2% in sport-related activities. The long-term trends indicate that while participation in sport-related activities hasn’t increased, non-sport activities have increased significantly (by more than 20 percentage points from 2001 to 2022).

See the AusPlay National and State results released 28 April 2023.


(Posted 10 May 2023.)

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