Trapped in a cyclone-swollen creek: Germans' terrifying outback adventure

Submitted: Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 08:23
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Trapped in a cyclone-swollen creek: Germans' terrifying outback adventure
April 3, 2006

TWO German tourists have been rescued, 48 hours after their campervan became bogged in a remote West Australian creek, swollen by Cyclone Glenda.

Police said the men were lucky to have survived because no one knew they were on the road, and there are only two pastoral stations in the Kimberley area in which they became stranded.

The men, both in their late 40s, were travelling along the isolated Duncan Highway about 100 kilometres from Halls Creek on Friday, the day after the category four cyclone crossed the coast further south at Onslow. The rains brought by the cyclone added to a week of normal wet-season rain and caused extensive flooding.

The campervan struck a pothole crossing a creek and became partly submerged in the waterway. One man went to get help but turned back after a terrifying night spent wandering in the bush among wild pigs.

He had left the vehicle and his travelling companion, taking only an emergency locator beacon and a litre of water with him.

The man, who lives near Frankfurt and who asked not to be identified, said it was not long before he began to fear for his life.

"I am a greenhorn, what can I say? I know now that Australia is not like Germany. There is so much space and so few houses." "I left the car and my friend to find a farm and get help but I found nothing. I walked about 30 kilometres. At night all I could hear was wild pigs. My hair was standing on end. I couldn't sleep.

"The next day I turned back to the car. I found a puddle and got water but there was more than water in my plastic container and I knew I was in trouble," the tourist said. He waited until he was a few kilometres from the car before activating the emergency beacon.

The signal was picked up by emergency services in Canberra and within hours a search aircraft had located the vehicle and a helicopter had flown the pair to Kununurra.

Suffering sunburn and badly blistered feet, the man thanked the emergency services for rescuing him and his friend, saying they had both learned a lot from the experience.

Sergeant Tom Stafford of Kununurra police said overseas tourists should do their homework before travelling in the outback, and the two men should not have left the bitumen road during the wet season.

"You wouldn't want to travel on that road during the tourist season, let alone during the wet and so soon after a cyclone," Sergeant Stafford said.

He said the men were lucky to have survived because no one knew they were on the road and there was little chance they would have stumbled across one of only two pastoral stations in the area.

He said it was unlikely the Germans would have to pay for their rescue, but they could expect a substantial bill for getting their rented campervan hauled out of a remote creek.
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Reply By: Redback - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 08:28

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 08:28
Well at least they had the good sence to have a emergency beacon with them.
AnswerID: 164520

Follow Up By: disco driver - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 13:48

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 13:48
Yeah, but not enough to take notice of the "Road Closed" signs.
Road closed means just that :- "CLOSED" to all traffic.
Happens far too often
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FollowupID: 419419

Follow Up By: old mate - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 14:13

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 14:13
Where does it mention that the roads were closed let alone take no notice of a road closed sign?
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Follow Up By: disco driver - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 14:49

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 14:49
old mate,
FYI
The Sunday Times of April 2 page 7

the original thread appears to be similar to an AAP report in todays West Australian.

Disco
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Follow Up By: Gerhardp1 - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 18:23

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 18:23
Bloody amazing that a pair of tourists didn't read that.

I didn't see it either and I'm a local who knows the language well.

Don't mention the war
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Reply By: brian - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 08:29

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 08:29
good to see they are ok shows the value of an epirb a lesson for many of us i suspect
AnswerID: 164521

Reply By: Footloose - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 08:48

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 08:48
Yep, a farmhouse is just around the corner seems to be the mindset of many who venture here. Without that epirb .........
AnswerID: 164522

Reply By: Willem - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 09:29

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 09:29
At least they put a little adventure in their lives.

Some years back we met four Fritz's with Britz's at Well 49 on the CSR. They had very little food or water with them and we filled their containers and gave them another container we could spare. They were heading for Balgo Community and were unaware that the track was flooded from the overflow from Lake Gregory. I gave them a mud map around the water to Bililuna.

They had taken a shortcut(on advice) from Marble Bar to Well 33 and on to Halls Creek as they were in a hurry to get to Darwin as they had to catch a plane. Poor planning. They had taken two days from Well 33 to Well 49 having to rush each dune a number of times to get over. When I mentioned dropping their tyre pressures they were astounded but said that if they had done that then they had no way of pumping the tyres up again(no compressor). I just shook my head.

They mustve made it to Darwin as we never heard anything to the contrary but they would have missed their plane.

Brits Rentals have lifted their game somewhat since the mid 90's by providing EPIRB's with their vehicles and they also specify where you can't go with their vehicles. But many tourists ignore the warnings and think that they can get away with flouting the rules. Sometimes they come unstuck.

AnswerID: 164529

Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 12:00

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 12:00
"Fritz's with Britz's"

ROFLMAO Willem!
Bill


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Follow Up By: Bros 1 - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 13:58

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 13:58
Fritz's with Britzs. Yeah tickled my fancy as well.
Cheers,
Bros
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Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 14:19

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 14:19
Willem,

I really like your pun on the MUD map and the flooded track. You are a funny man no matter what they say.

Kind regards
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Follow Up By: Gramps (NSW) - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 14:53

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 14:53
Beatit,

That was wayyyyyy too deep for me (and Hans and Fritz for that matter ) :)))
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Follow Up By: V8troopie - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 14:57

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 14:57
There are actually websites (in German) of adventurers who talk in exciting words about the "adventures" that can be had in the Australian outback.
What the average German simply cannot comprehend are the enormous distances that one gets away from civilisation out there. And they always seem to be in a hurry, I guess time and plane schedules wait for nobody.
There's no 'outback' in Germany, BTW, where the largest open distance between dwellings may be 10km or so, frequently much less.
Klaus
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Follow Up By: Willem - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 15:01

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 15:01
Hey fellas

I cannot take credit for the Fritz's in Britz's Oz-speak. I saw it here on the forum and thought it was just soooo apt.

As for the mud map. Did not do it intentionally..it just happened that way ...lol

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 15:03

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 15:03
Oh common, Gramps that aint true, you guys are a s sharp as a tack. Flooded track = mud, so = mud map.

I had visions of Willem poking his finger into the flooded track and drawing a mud map.

Kind regards
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Follow Up By: Willem - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 20:44

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 20:44
Beatit

Your comment about the mud map reminds me of.......

In 2004 my mate and I took a shortcut to the east from here and ended up on a station on the SA/NSW border. I found the station owner and explained that according to my map there was a public road through his property. Yep he said, "You're right. But no one has used it in years other than myself and station hands" But he said we were welcome to use it.

Then I pulled my map out and he said" Bugger that map mate" and started drawing with his finger in the red dirt...........

"OK, you go down this track for a while and then you will se another track which I have made going left. But first you go through a grid and then to the right there is an open gate...turn left at that one and then right through the scrub" and he is drawing these finger lines in the dirt "and then left again. Once you have got to the broken windmill you go straight".......................

I had a GPS by then but no Lappy or Ozie or paper maps of repute. Needless to say we got horribly lost and just on dark were faced by a 3 metre diamond square mesh fence with spikes on the top. WTF was this?

We followed the fence for a while and then made camp. Puzzled by it all.

All was quiet until 10 pm when a 4by came out of nowhere with about 16 spotties on the roof and turned our darkened hideaway into daylight.

"You can't camp here mate" said a voice behind the lights.

"We're lost" said I.

" I don't care if you are lost. You can't camp here"

I thought I had better change the subject. " Here mate, I've just boiled the billy, want a cuppa?"

It turned out we were on Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary property but outside the enclosed perimeter fence. We had a yarn and he must've felt sorry for us oldies and let us be for the night. We parted on friendly terms.

The next day.....................whoo hooo, thats another story

LOL The fun one has out in the sticks.................

Cheers
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FollowupID: 419526

Follow Up By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Tuesday, Apr 04, 2006 at 08:08

Tuesday, Apr 04, 2006 at 08:08
G'day Willem,

Good one mate, just have to like these people - life is so simple.

I've seen that done as well. My sister is married into a farming family and they do that sort of thing when giving instructions - I guess it was a few yaers ago and it wasn't as common to carry anything to write on.

Kinda reminds me of funny farm (that Chevy Chase film), you know where the removalist truck pulls up at the hick cottage and asks for directions and they get a lengthy response including something like and if you get to the red truck you've gone to far. Well they came back to the same place several times before they finally got it right.

Have a great day.

Kind regards
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Reply By: Warrie - Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 20:18

Monday, Apr 03, 2006 at 20:18
Now that March is over the maps at the BOM are showing what an awesome Wet its been across the whole Top End and especially the Kimberley. This may mean a late start to the tourist season in terms of available open roads etc .Go to the BOM home page and click on Rainfall maps and follow the links. I shall attempt to open a new post and add some pix. Cheers
Warrie

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