Do I need an EPIRB?

Submitted: Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 11:25
ThreadID: 23715 Views:3743 Replies:13 FollowUps:8
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Hi All,

Im going on a trip from Sydney to Darwin via South Australia next Saturday . I was intending on going through Broken Hill and then North From Yunta, through Im not sure where yet to Maree and William creek then on to Coober pedy. Following this Im travelling pretty much up the highway until Alice then out to Ayers rock etc. then up to Darwin, Kakadu, Litchfield etc. All the places youd expect.

I have a hilux with a UHF radio and 6db antenna, should I get an EPRIB or something else? Or is this just unneccesary. Will there be much traffic around these areas this time of year.

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Reply By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 11:34

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 11:34
G'day Bbails,

Sounds like non-EPIRB territory to me BUT for the price of a small EPIRB I don't see the point of NOT taking one. There are enough recent examples of short journeys turning to tragedy where an EPIRB could have made a difference.

Just my opinion.

Kind regards
AnswerID: 115039

Reply By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 11:39

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 11:39
no you arnt even going off road
AnswerID: 115041

Reply By: Pluto - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 11:44

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 11:44
The short answer is "Yes".

Regardless of where you're going and what activities you're participating in, They are cheap insurance.
AnswerID: 115042

Reply By: Member - Banjo (SA) - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 12:11

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 12:11
My philosophical view (shared by some travellers - not all) is that while everything is going fine, you can easily forget the potential for drama. A good epirb will bring the attention of someone (hopefully) but it is supposed to be for emergencies, because it can involve ground and airborne parties in a search. IF you are simply immobile, but with plenty of supplies and in no personal danger, that is not an emergency !
A satphone or an HF is the way to go. You call for assistance and then someone can sort out the best options. My choice is HF - some people like Satphones - you could hire either. It is true that you are not talking remote in outback terms - plenty of tourists travel your route daily in season - but I think its a mistake to rely on others who "may" be in the region. What if it rains ? Everyone stops. You could be stuck, alone, between regional centres for a week or more. Its nice to be able to talk with someone and keep them up to date with your situation. The authorities love self sufficient tourists - the type that say "we can't move, but we have everything we need, will stay in touch, and will wait until we can drive out".
AnswerID: 115046

Reply By: gramps - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 12:12

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 12:12

Take one anyway. As they say "You never, never know..............". Good addition to your kit for the future.

You lucky bugger!
AnswerID: 115047

Reply By: Footloose - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 12:16

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 12:16
If you stick to the main tracks the UHF should be fine. But it doesn't take much of an off track excursion to get you into trouble. "Gee I wonder where that track goes to ?". Carrying an epirb is no great burden and is great peace of mind.
AnswerID: 115049

Reply By: signman - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 12:19

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 12:19
Sounds as if most of the route you'll have Mobile Phone coverage anyway. And on the roads mentioned, at this time of year you'll be amazed at the traffic.
AnswerID: 115050

Reply By: Member - Matt Mu (Perth-WA) - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 14:11

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 14:11
An EPIRB or PLB is cheap insurance but only for awhile. The 121.5 MHz system will be phased out by 2009 and will leave the 406MHz only and the difference in size and price of the two is HUGE!

At about $300 and only the size of a GPS, the 121.5 is a good purchase for now even knowing it will be less effective by 2009 apart from the radio beacon side. (it will only be the satelite position that stops, radio will continue to operate, but without the initial satellite response there will be no search)
The 406 is around the $2k mark and more in the size department of a 1l water bottle. The signal is also more line-of-sight than the 121.5 signal (longer wavelength and can be effected more by terrain and foliage!) so you have to be more aware of your surroundings before you activate on land!

Goodluck with the trip!
AnswerID: 115067

Follow Up By: BenSpoon - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 14:31

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 14:31
Cheers Matt
I have been looking around and had pretty much decided to hold out until the 406's were common before getting one... looks like it may be a bit too far away for me though. I had tried a few suppliers around town and havent found anyone that even knows about them. Given the price difference, it looks like i'd be better off with getting a 121 for now.

FollowupID: 370832

Follow Up By: signman - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 15:08

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 15:08
Hi all
The 406 is $569.00 from BIAS Boating- have branches all over the place. The 310 (personal) is $238.90 and the 300 is $198.90.
I'm opting for the 300- it will be Ok for a few years yet, and I can Guarantee the 406 (or equivalenT will come down in price by then. Also, I think GME will be offering a buy back on the 121mHz models.
FollowupID: 370834

Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 16:24

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 16:24
G'day Matt,

Decided to get an EPIRB not withstanding the impending change. The time till 2009 still represents a lot of time + I really can't see them turning off that system like they did with the analogue phones because lives could be at risk.

Kind regards
FollowupID: 370836

Follow Up By: Member - Matt Mu (Perth-WA) - Friday, Jun 10, 2005 at 12:33

Friday, Jun 10, 2005 at 12:33
Couldnt agree more Beatit...I would still look at getting a 121 despite the impending switch off. Even after 2009 the 121 will still work for locating just not from satellites, ground to air will still work, ie signal a search plane flying close over!!

I still think the 406 will come down in price eventually and the the controls etc on them are much better. They all are registered and a search will not start if an unregistered signal is heard. That way the rescuers will contact relatives of the registered owner to varify details, location, supplies etc!

Safe travels!

FollowupID: 370957

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 16:52

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 16:52

I would concur with what Banjo has stated.
For piece of mind the hire of a Satphone would be the best option.

Also you might like to consider the visit to Ayers Rock before you hit the Alice, otherwise you will be backtracking a fair bit.

From memory, the turn off to Ayers Rock is something like 200k south of Alice. (At the Eridunda Roadhouse Junction)
Also, while your out that way I'd recommend a stop over at King's Canyon.
IMHO this is the better tourist attraction of the two, however most people wish to visit both.

You can take the Lasseter Highway (bitumen) to Ayers Rock, then backtrack to the Luritja Road junction, hang a leftie and follow this bitumen road to Kings Canyon.
You then have two choices;- backtrack along the Ernest Giles road to the Stuart Highway, or better still, take the Mereenie Loop Road through to Hermannsburg and come into Alice from the Western McDonnell Ranges. (lot's more beaut places to temp you in this area too. Glen Helen, Ormiston, Serpentine Gorges and Standley Chasm on the way in to Alice. Herrmannsburg also has a museum where Albert Namatjira was a member of the local Painting School.
The Mereenie Loop Trip requires the purchase of a "Tour Pass" but only costs a couple of bucks and available from the King's Canyon Resort.

Good luck and Good Trip.


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AnswerID: 115084

Reply By: Max - Sydney - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 17:40

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 17:40

One thing people do not realise is that an EPIRB has quite a long response time - in an emergency you could sit for a day or more till someone gets to you - and you don't know if they are coming or not.

For safety, why not rent a Satphone. If you have an emergency, you can talk to a copper or Flying Doctor direct and get some guidance. Just this time last year we were able to ring the copper in Tibooburra and tell him we were camped on the Wanaaring Road for the night, then let him know next day when we were having a go at getting through. Much more comforting and no risk of a $2000 bill from a non emergency setting off of the EPIRB.

If you were going real off road then two cars need something - one of which can be epirb, but for your journey the Satphone is better insurance.

Cheers and enmjoy a hassle free trip.

AnswerID: 115096

Follow Up By: BBails - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 18:19

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 18:19
I thinks it's pretty much decided then - Ill hire a sat phone.

Thanks for all the responses,

FollowupID: 370857

Reply By: Crackles - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 20:23

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 20:23
Forget the EPIRB, if you stick to a main route like you're planing during the peak travelling period someone would be along in the next 30 minutes at the most. EPIRB response probably 1 day at best. As for the sat phone certainly not neccesary. Think of the hundreds of thousands who travelled Oz before they were even invented. IMHO most people who recomend them are only trying to justify their expensive purchase. Between the UHF repeater system used by many pastoral company's & mobile phone service you will be pretty well covered.

Save the EPIRB for going boating offshore & the Sat phone for remote desert travel.
Cheers Craig................
AnswerID: 115114

Reply By: Member - Glenn D (NSW) - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 21:08

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 21:08
Would have to agree with Mr Crakles.

Have been though this area in a 2wd car no probs , You dont think you are in the middle of nowhere. Lot's of people to help if you are in trouble.

Kings cannyon is the hilight as mentioned earlier.

If you get stuck at ayers rock without camping gear you are in for a bad surprise at the cost of a room.

Another nice place exploited.

AnswerID: 115125

Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 21:49

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 21:49

Whilst not disagreeing with your comments, on a couple of occasions I have experienced Mother Nature at play and how she can change the status quo considerably.

Yes, hopefully there are other around that can help when there's a problem, but can you guarantee that?

Last time I was on the very same trip BBails is planning, we experienced no problems whatsoever, on the way up. The only water in the Todd was the permanent water hole behind the Telegraph Station at Alice.

On the way down again it was at dusk, raining a bit and we were nearing Aeroplane, about 50 kilometers north of Alice, when I hit a patch of water across the road. No warning. Doing 110 kilometers per hour towing a trailer with tinny on top and I must have aquaplaned for about 100 meters before enough speed had bled off. Sure cleaned the mud from underneath the Jack.
Continued on, driving through water maybe 20cm deep at the crown of the road and eventually came across a warning triangle reflector and sign indicating water accross the road. Yep, it was still rising.
We continued on, following the dotted line in the middle of the road (under water) almost the entire 50 kilometers into Alice.
We booked the last cabin but one in one of the caravan parks and the next morning just made it back over the Todd before it burst its banks.
We were then able to secure a room in a Motel along the edge of the Todd and two hours later the road was 4 feet under water.
Three days later we were able to leave Alice for Adelaide as Sturart Highway had only just opened that morning. The Finke and two other rivers whose names escapes me had cut the highway in three places.

All in all a great experience and no damage occured to persons or property. BUT, we were lucky. We weren't stranded for days in the middle of nowhere like some other travellers were.

Rather than wait for "somebody" to show up, it would surely be more comforting to be able to communicate one's situation to support personnel.

For the relatively cheap cost of hiring a Satphone "just in case" it is now one of my highest priorities when travelling in remote areas of our Country.


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FollowupID: 370888

Follow Up By: Member - Glenn D (NSW) - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 22:23

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 22:23
The 7 P's

Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Pi** Poor Performance.

Last year when I went around OZ I had as much stuff for emergencies as for every day use.

Prepare for the worst , hope for the best. !!

FollowupID: 370893

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Friday, Jun 10, 2005 at 11:36

Friday, Jun 10, 2005 at 11:36
you are correct about Ayres Rock except you probably dont know how correct. I had a breakdown about 200k along the gcr and limped back to yulara and invoked my accomadation via rac pluss the lady on the phone stated (and she deals with this sort of thing Australia wide) it is the dearest accomadation she has ever heard off. i ended up scoring an out of service cabin for 100 dollars cos rac wouldnt cover the fortune of a normal one
FollowupID: 370950

Reply By: Member - Duncs - Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 21:25

Thursday, Jun 09, 2005 at 21:25
It just seems like an awful long drive for next Saturday.

I'd spread it out over Sunday and maybe even Monday if I could get the time....

.....Sorry! Just couldn't help myself.

I reckon there would be heaps of traffic. If your UHF will scan I'd have that on just so you have some idea of any traffic around you.

AnswerID: 115131

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