Only yesterday I was writing about a man who died after his car broke down in the remote Northern Goldfields area of Western Australia. Less than two weeks later, another man has died in the outback, after leaving his bogged vehicle and trying to get help.
It is another sad story that could have been avoided with a simple remote communication plan.
In the latest case, a truck delivering supplies to a remote Station became bogged, and the driver attempted to walk out for help. Police were notified when the truck was overdue and through the bush telegraph, search parties were sent out from neighbouring Stations. A station worker found the man’s body and contacted police.
It is a sad reminder that if you do breakdown, or get bogged, you should remain with your vehicle. It is also a stark reminder of the dangers of outback travel. Any commercial operator should consider equipping their vehicles with simple affordable devices to ensure that in the event of a breakdown or bogging, assistance can be arranged.
Details of such devices can be found here: Save Our Selves – a guide to getting help in remote areas.
It reminded me of our trip last year through remote parts of South Australia in February. Recent rains had made parts of the Oodnadatta Track very boggy. Whilst the road was generally in good condition, many of the water courses were deeply washed out. Many still had water in them, but they generally had a firm base.
When trying to get a photo near Lake Eyre South, we nearly became bogged in deep sticky mud. We were following other tracks just off the road, looking for the perfect shot, when it became apparent that we were starting to sink through the salty crust into a boggy clay. There was nothing to do other than floor the accelerator and hope. As we crawled closer to the formed road and salvation, my eyes were scanning for a possible place to anchor our hand winch. There was nothing.
Somehow we made it to the road, and I breathed a sigh of relief. We had made it out of the mud. But what if we hadn’t?
The thought of what we would have done if we hadn’t made it out wasn’t pleasant. It was hot, and the exertion involved in extracting the car would have placed us at serious risk of heat-stroke. At least we had plenty of food and water, and if it came to it, we would have waited until the cool of the day or evening to attempt getting out. We also had appropriate equipment (Mud/Sand Tracks), long-handled shovel and a hand winch. We also had a registered Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) for if things got desperate.
On no account would we have left the car and tried to walk out.
It was a reminder of how easily it could have gone wrong. But for us it would have been an inconvenience, not a battle of life and death.
It should always be an inconvenience. What is your remote communication plan?
Source: The West Australian Dated 18 January 2015 (link to story)