When will people learn?

Submitted: Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 22:24
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Another tourist attempts suicide in summer in the desert!

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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 22:38

Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 22:38
Hi Geoff,
He was very lucky to be found alive, especially when three people have vanished out there. It is reasons like this that they have closed the Simpson during the extreme heat of our summer.


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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 10:25

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 10:25
Hi Stephen

From other posts you probably know I think the Simpson Ban signs
will cause more problems than they prevent, and I think this
is a partial example.

The problem being that you create a mentality of expecting signs
if its dangerous and hence assume its ok if there are no signs.

This approach has its counter arguements, but in the case of short
term overseas visitors the issues become more black and white.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 13:24

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 13:24
Hi Robin
I agree from where you are coming from. How do we as Australians that live in this great country of ours educate overseas tourists of the potentially hazards that will strike them down when not fully prepared when heading into the bush. How he lived for so long out there in the searing heat for the time that he did with no water in a miracle.


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Follow Up By: The Landy - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 13:46

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 13:46
Hi Robin & Stephen

Robin poses a fair point; and I also believe education is the only way.

Perhaps it falls to the tourism authorities to support the production of a brochure/booklet that outlines some of these issues that outback travellers face, in the languages of those that most frequently visit. Perhaps this is already done, but if so, it either doesn’t reach the right people or the message isn’t clear enough.

This could be handed out commercial 4WD hire companies, and on in-bound flights to centres such as Darwin, Alice Springs etc.

But also noting that you can’t help those who simply don’t know the risks and don’t ask….A classic example are the foreign tourists that drown along the Gold Coast strip each year, despite very specific warnings of the treacherous conditions that can develop at times and the need to swim between the flags, all in their own language….

As far as this particular incident goes; always hard to make a judgement comment without knowing all the facts, but if I was to hazard one….either he wasn’t a seasoned hiker as described, or if he was he has made a serious judgement call in only taking four litres of water; you don’t have to be too smart to assess that as inadequate for the proposed trip that he was undertaking.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 23:54

Thursday, Jan 22, 2009 at 23:54
He was so lucky to be found. The press reports say mobile phone not satellite phone -" when he got in to mobile phone range" - almost anywhere else but Yulara and he wouldn't have any mobile phone range.Yulara has about the best cover in the nation.

I agree that this is why places such as the Simpson are being closed in summer. So many otherwise experienced tourists want to come and have the ultimate summer adventure in the 'last wilderness', but do not realise just what they are up against.

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Reply By: Ozhumvee - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 06:46

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 06:46
The other problem is that they can fly in from virtually anywhere in the world and half an hour later be off on their "wilderness experience".
They don't bother even visiting the NP office to check on local conditions, inform anyone of their intended actions or anything.
Same as when the fly in pick up their 4WD bushcamper and off they go.
Years ago we were camped off the Plenty hwy in the scrub and while sitting round the fire before going to bed we see lights pull up on the road and then head in our direction. It is German couple on their honeymoon, they ask can we camp here? we explain that you can camp pretty well anywhere (no fences back then) and they told us they have been driving for hours looking for a campground.
They thought that all the "places" on the map were towns.
They have there high roof troopy with no recovery gear, no spares, no puncture gear, just a few bits of food and two sleeping bags.
asked how much further to Mt Isa. We were camped west of Jervois!
No maps except a tourist brochure and they were on their way to Townsville. No wonder people come to grief.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 10:43

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 10:43

Wonder why they needed 2 sleeping bags, if they were on their honeymoon?

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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Follow Up By: Ozhumvee - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 10:53

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 10:53
we laughed too but it was bloody freezing and they only had one very good one and one cheapy for warm weather, he wore all his clothes and the summer bag she got the warm one!
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Reply By: Member - Alastair D (NSW) - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 07:59

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 07:59
In the mid 1970s I was driving down the Tanami and came across a Landcruiser pulled up on the track. Young Japanese couple on holiday. No problem they had just stopped for a stretch and drink.

I looked inside their vehicle. They had no camping gear, just a couple of bottles of soft drink and some chocolate bars. As it was about 4pm I asked where they going to stay the night. At the next motel they replied!

I tried to explain the realities but they obviously thought I was having them on. I showed them the map but still no effect. They headed off and I never saw them again.

I stopped at Rabbit Flat the next day and asked about them. Apparently he had found them parked outside in the morning sleeping in the car. They were cold and hungry and eagerly bought food and fuel and headed off to Alice Springs to civilization.

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Reply By: Member - Footloose - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 08:30

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 08:30
Every year at around this time there are reports of deaths or near deaths in our outback.

I guess you just can't legislate common sense into humanity.
AnswerID: 345604

Reply By: Member - DAZA (QLD) - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 09:17

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 09:17
Hi All

Another Japanese Tourist story, not as serious as getting stranded
in the Out Back ect, We were driving of the beach at Teewah a
little while back, and we came across these Japanese Tourists in
a Rental Car (Magna Sedan) bogged to the door sills, right at the
entrance on to the beach, in all the soft stuff, I couldn't help them
as we had the Caravan on, I pulled over after we cleared the beach
and went back to try and assist them, I asked them what the heck
were they trying to do, and one of the girls replied in broken english
this is road to beach, our car is broken cant drive any more, just at
that moment another 4x4 came along and we managed to get them
out, but they still couldn't understand, she still thought their car was
broken, she was the only one in the group that could speak a
little bit of english, we told her to drive the car back to the vehicle
parking area and walk on to the beach, then she found that the
car wasn't Brokie.

AnswerID: 345610

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 09:28

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 09:28
This guy has to be a HOAX!

He has a GPS, a mobile phone within range, enough water to get by for a couple of days, and has a past history of adventure seeking.

He planned it all. He'll sell his story and pay for his holiday. Don't be sucked in - he is not a dumb overseas tourist.
AnswerID: 345611

Follow Up By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 09:37

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 09:37
Don't know about being a hoax, but it begs the question how he got lost when he had the GPS. Unless that is the GPS battery died and if that was the case it wasn't reported in the media.\

Also if your lost and suddenly get phone coverage I'd be ringing 000 & not mum on the other side of the world in Rumania.

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Make sure you give back more than you take

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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 09:44

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 09:44
Gday Dunc,
I reckon he'll be planning hs next adventure - probably conconcting a story about spending 25 days in an esky near thursday Island, and surviving on rainwater....:-))

His GPS skills were good enough to get help from a helicopter when he needed to. His mate back in Rumania is probably getting a cut of the proceeds from his story.

In my book, none of it adds up.
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Follow Up By: Best Off Road - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 11:21

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 11:21
Sounds like the bloke who "survived" 45 days in a cave in the snow on a diet of one Mars Bar and ice.

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Reply By: Dean - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 10:35

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 10:35
Yep, I go with hoax theory, just like those two fellas floating in the esky.
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Reply By: Member - John R (QLD) - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 11:03

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 11:03
Here's us in the Simpson in 2007 trying to explain to a tourist how far he still was from Poeppel Corner - had no idea, and was having a lot of trouble keeping on the bike in the sand! We assume he made it back to civilisation somewhere though.

Cheers, John

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Reply By: Ozhumvee - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 11:18

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 11:18
Years ago we came across an asian bloke on a trail bike way down the bottom of the rig road near Walkandi, he was camped under a bush, had been there for three days since falling off his bike.
He had busted his only water container, sprained an ankle and spilt half his fuel when he came off.
He had only a rudimentary mud map without distances and was heading for Dalhousie.
We gave him an old map, gave him water and he decided to keep going till he ran out of fuel, hopefully someone would be along with a petrol vehicle and could give him some.
When we arrived in Birdsville a few days later we checked up and found he had made it to the French line and then camped till someone came along to help him. Lucky for him it was in the peak season so didn't have to wait too long.
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Reply By: The Landy - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 13:10

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 13:10
Education and research are the two key things that will save this type of incident and the others described throughout the thread.

I'm not sure what briefing the commercial 4WD hire companies give, however in a couple of instances I've come across it seems fairly basic......and that is part of the problem.

But you can't help those who simply don't know the risks and don't ask.......


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Reply By: Member - Phil B (WA) - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 13:46

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 13:46
I agree with all that's been said above.

I add another observation. You don't know what you don't know - meaning they think they have it all covered, research, experience, maps etc yet they still get into strife.

They get asked are you experienced in trekking
Yah yah they say
do you now how top drive a 4wd - they answer Yah yah say
Have you got maps Yah yah again they say

They get out in the bush and find that tarmac driving in a 4Wd in Germany, the piddly glossy map out of a brochure and the planning they have done just doesn't cut it is Oz.

Here my help stranded tourists story.
A number of years on Boxing Day we were fishing east of Esperance WA near Poison Creek. It was a very hot day, over 40°C, so we decided to stay put until after lunch when the sea breeze would come in and we could have a more enjoyable drive back to Esperance.
It was now mid afternoon and as we were approaching the exit point off the beach we could see a vehicle on the beach ahead of us, as we got closer we could see it was hopelessly bogged.
We couldn’t stop near it because the sand was very soft so we continued onto firmer ground. A lady came racing across from the stranded vehicle, she was very agitated and in a bad way. She and her young son had been lying in a hole in the sand under the vehicle to keep cool and out of the blazing sun; when she saw us drive passed she thought we weren’t stopping. In a mixture of broken English and German, she said they had been stuck for about 5 hours and that they tried to use 4 wheel drive but it wouldn’t work. She added that her husband had earlier walked off for help, whilst she and her 11 year old son stayed with the vehicle.
She said he had been gone for hours and the only liquid they had to drink all day was two litres of lemonade. We didn’t say anything to her we however feared for his life, after all the nearest populated place, was about 100 kms away and we hadn’t seen anyone else in the area all day.
Our first thought was to calm her down and give her water slowly. We then decided to sort out the bogged vehicle before the tide swamped it. I noticed that the hubs weren’t locked and the tyres were rock hard. After locking the hubs and lower the tyre pressures, we used a hi-lift jack to raise the vehicle and used sand to fill the holes under the wheels. Once that was accomplished we then drove the vehicle out. It took us all of 10 minutes.
She was flabbergasted; she couldn’t believe it was so simple. “They didn’t tell us that when we hired the vehicle”
Our attention then turned to locating the husband. Leaving her with the vehicle on high ground and with drinking water and some food, we headed towards a tall dune hoping to raise help or emergency services via the CB. We had only travelled about 2 kms when we saw him stumbling along the track towards us. Upon approaching him he struggled to open his mouth, his lips were dry and stuck together, his feeble words were “May I please have a drink?
After giving him sips of water, he recovered somewhat. He then told us that he wasn’t told about locking the hubs when he hired the vehicle 4 weeks earlier in Darwin. They only came out from Esperance for a 3 hour drive and were flying home from Perth in a few days. He couldn’t believe how lucky they were that we happened along.
I have no doubt in my mind that we saved their lives that day, no one knew they were out there, we were the only other vehicle in the area, it happened during a heat wave, they had very little in the way of water and there was no one in town to miss them.


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Follow Up By: Geoff (Newcastle, NSW) - Saturday, Jan 24, 2009 at 15:07

Saturday, Jan 24, 2009 at 15:07
Hi Phil,

This is the guts of it,

"They get out in the bush and find that tarmac driving in a 4Wd in Germany, the piddly glossy map out of a brochure and the planning they have done just doesn't cut it is Oz. "

There are an element of these overseas tourists that think because a map of Holland and a map of Australia are printed on the same sized piece of paper both countries must be the same size!

As I said to one of them in an obscure corner of Australia after a lengthy and enlightening session over a map, "just remember fish aren't the only thing that have scales!"


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Reply By: Willem - Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 15:34

Friday, Jan 23, 2009 at 15:34
Remember the questions asked here on the Forum by Spanish Extreme Cyclist and some others last year?

And its not just silly overseas tourists. I have a host of stories on them. The true blue Aussie idiot is still around.

I saw this 4by and trailer in Alice one day in 1994. The 4by was loaded with gear etc as per usual and it was towing a 6x4 garden trailer with 2 x 44 gallon drums strapped down. I saw that the slipper springs of the trailer were nearly bent straight so I asked the driver, who was just about to get into his truck, how far he and his passenger were going. "Oh we are off to do the Canning Stock Route!". No radio, no nothing!

Not being shy in advising people that they are farting against thunder I said what I needed to say. The fella got a tad hot under the collar and told me to pay a visit to a taxidermist. And more! His last words were "I know what I'm doing!"

Two weeks later these idots had to be rescued from the CSR. Entering from Bililuna the locals also advised them they were crazy.

They were lucky that there were still some travellers on the CSR. They were found at Well 42 with burnt out clutch and a stuffed trailer.

The subsequent rescue cost them plenty.

AnswerID: 345653

Reply By: Geoff (Newcastle, NSW) - Saturday, Jan 24, 2009 at 14:59

Saturday, Jan 24, 2009 at 14:59
What Willem says is so true!

I was in Coen one afternoon in the early 80's, just fuelled up on the way home from a great Cape York adventure when this bloke in a near new Queensland registered 60 Series pulls up with a woman and small child on board.

He came over to me, (I must have looked like a local in the Landcruiser Table Top) and asks me were such and such a place is. (I can't remember the name but it was a bay halfway between Weipa and the bottom of the Gulf of Carpentaria on the west coast of the cape)

We were standing next to his 60 Series by this when I comment he could get out his map and I'll show him the road. "Oh, I don't have one of those"

He was lucky as earlier that day I'd pulled up to have a yarn to the grader driver as he was having smoko. The driver had just graded out of the road in question onto the main road.

So I tell this bloke to look for the freshly graded merge on the left as he's heading north.

I had one last look in the back of the 60 series, one inflated air bed, one sleeping bag and one small esky for three people. No maps, no idea and not even a small toolbox.

I often wonder what happened to the child. Bugger the other pair they were big enough to stuff their own lives.


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Reply By: Holden4th - Saturday, Jan 24, 2009 at 22:00

Saturday, Jan 24, 2009 at 22:00
A simpler story about 4WD hire vehicles. A few years ago over Easter a group of us went to Kyuna (above Woodgate) to camp above the beach under beautiful acaias. There was a 2 metre drop to the beach. The second afternoon we watched a landcruiser try to climb the 2m from the beach to the road and fail every time. We wandered down and talked to the German tourist (travelling with wife and three kids) about his problem. In typical European fashion he dismissed us and continued his attempts - and failed. As we sat about laughing he became more and more bleep off and came across to us and (I quote) "let's see how you experts do this!"

I hopped in the wagon, engaged centre lock, and quietly drove up the very short piece of sand.

When he asked how I did this I spent some time explaining the system. It was obvious that all the hire company did was rent out the vehicle with no training.
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Reply By: Member - Richard H (NSW) - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 12:44

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 12:44
Prior to retirement it was necessary for me to go to Tibooburra from Broken Hill each quarter. Sometimes we would duck across to Innaminka for a day's fishing.

I had two interesting things occur. Middle of February, we were returning from Tibooburra, late afternoon, stinking hot, millions of flies and howling northerly, no-one else on the road, and we came upon a Britz Troopy with a young bloke and two birds.
Underneath their vehicle was a very dark oily stain. Inquiries revealed that they had been there for about 3 hours, had drunk all of their water, and as the engine was stuffed couldn't get the aircon to work. Anyway, we got them on board, incidently the two young ladies were real good sorts, and the young bloke who was driving me had to be relieved at the wheel. His eyes were like those on a snail. The ladies were wearing very skimpy attire. They were Germans, believe this, on their way to Darwin via Birdsville & The Simpson. All they had was the usual junk that the vehicle hire people charge exorbitant rates for, eg. one water jerry and some crap camping equipment.

We left the vehicle there, it wasn't going anywhere, and dropped them off at a doss house in the Hill.

Asked why they were where they were one of the girls said, "Haff you ever been in Europe in the vinter".

The second is, we were in the pub at Innaminka middle of summer again, hot as buggery, and an oriental gentleman wearing full black leathers came into the bar. All he could say was "beer, beer". He was fixed up, and it transpired that his mate had come a 'gutser' back towards Moomba. We went back & he had come off well & proper. The bike had just about disintergrated & there was crap all over the road. The rider wasn't too badly hurt, skin & bark mainly. He was wearing full leathers too and still had them on when we got to him. He must have drunk about a jerry of water. Anyway, we carted him into Moomba & left him at the clinic there.

These blokes were going to Darwin too, but via Birdsville & Mt. Isa.

People have perished in this part of the world, I recall a mother & two kids perishing on the Dog Fence up near the corner in the late 50's. Yet we still see 'em.

The closure of the Simpson is to me a smart move, I think a few other inland roads need to be considered also.

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