Satellite Phone on the Gibb River Road?

Submitted: Friday, Feb 06, 2009 at 22:29
ThreadID: 65765 Views:4761 Replies:12 FollowUps:13
This Thread has been Archived
Hey guys, What form of comunications do you recommend taking for a three week drive from perth to Uluru, via The Gun Barrel, then up the Tanami and through the Kimberly?

It will be a two vehicle trip.

We wanted to avoid Satellite Phones due to hire costs.

Is a radio enough?

Thanks
Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Member - bungarra (WA) - Friday, Feb 06, 2009 at 22:53

Friday, Feb 06, 2009 at 22:53
You have two choices only

sat phone or HF radio for communication with the outside world....UHF for vehicle to vehicle

many people travel with both......many people travel without sat phone or HF

the country / roads you mention are not that isolated and there is always passing traffic some time during the day except perhaps the Gunbarrell ......that can be a bit empty at times........and damn corrugated as well........

if you cant afford communications just make sure someone knows of your entry and departure on / off the Gunbarrell at least.....the rest of it is well travelled.

cheers
Life is a journey, it is not how we fall down, it is how we get up.
VKS 1341

Member
My Profile  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 347915

Reply By: Willem - Friday, Feb 06, 2009 at 23:29

Friday, Feb 06, 2009 at 23:29
I did all of that country in a busted arse old Toyota and an ancient HF for communication.

Actually used the HF on the CSR to call Meeka as I thought I was going to run out of fuel. Managed to get to my drum of petrol with 9 litres left in the tank!

Make sure all the niuts are tight on your truck as they might rattle loose along ome of those roads :-)
AnswerID: 347926

Reply By: Motherhen - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 00:07

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 00:07
We went through the GRR without HF or satellite phone, but there was plenty of traffic. Of course we have UHF to talk to the traffic around us. We got a satellite phone before leaving Kununurra as we were going via the Tanami and Great Central Road (somewhat the reverse of your plans). We never needed to use it so it was good insurance - there was a possible medical need. In our case it would have been as costly to hire as to purchase for the time period.

I thought we'd need to use it after a potential breakdown on the Great Central, but we were able to get ourselves back on the road again.

Motherhen
Motherhen

Red desert dreaming

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

AnswerID: 347935

Reply By: offroad Bob - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 00:53

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 00:53
I agree with the others about there being a lot of traffic where you are going. I have done both of these trips and was surprised at the amount of traffic. I only carry a UHF radio these days and take an epirb for emergencies - one of the new 406mhz so they know who you are and where you are to the last 20metres.

If I was to traverse the tracks again I would also leave a plan timetable with someone and contact police or other authorities at the other end so you can log off when you arrive.

I have been out in Kakadu with a friend who had a satellite phone and was surprised at the inconsistent signal strength they where getting and how often the signal was lost. It made it very difficult to use like a normal phone.

Bob

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

AnswerID: 347939

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 13:16

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 13:16
. .. . . which Satellite Network ?
0
FollowupID: 616225

Follow Up By: offroad Bob - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 22:29

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 22:29
Not sure who he was connected with.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 616300

Reply By: Ozhumvee - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 07:03

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 07:03
Personally I think it depends on who is travelling in the vehicles.
We used to travel those roads back in the early 80's before the kids came along with no comms except a CB. But when the kids started arriving ;-)) we felt it was only fair to them to have reliable comms so bought an HF, which we actually had to use to speak to the flying doc at Meekatharra to diagnose a prob with an 18 month old.
Adults are fully aware of the risks and consequences (or should be) but if taking kids into remoter areas then reliable comms is essential.
These days we have both satphone and HF and both have their use in different circumstances. We all drive vehicles that are not cheap so the comms gear is relatively a smaller component of overall costs.
If no one in the group has comms then maybe hiring is an alternative with everyone contributing to the cost.
Peter
1996 Oka Motorhome

Member
My Profile  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 347945

Reply By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 07:51

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 07:51
I agree with others that this in no longer isolated country.
We were most recently in that area in 2006 when we did GRR, Mitchell Plateau etc. Apart from a couple of times when we 'headed bush' to camp, there would never have been a time when more than an hour passed without us seeing another vehicle (generally a lot less than that.

We had a sat phone with us on that trip(it was never even turned on), but if doing the same trip again, I would not bother.

We are about to hit the road full time and may end up in some remote places. My current planning does not include a sat phone or HF. But I will probably pick up one of the new EPIRBs (about $500) in case of that 'last resort' emergency.

Norm C
AnswerID: 347950

Reply By: Zebra400 - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 08:08

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 08:08
Have you looked at a SPOT. This is an alternative to HF & Sat phone.

It has 2 different benefits.

1.You can send as many positions as you like so it can keep your folks back home informed by following your travels in GoogleMaps.

2. It also acts as an emergency service. You can activate the Help button by sending a help msg by email or text message to designated person/s. It also as a 911 button which if activate will advise emergency services that you need help (similar to an epirb).

I have been using one for the past 6 months and love it. My family memebrs & friends enjoy following our travels around Oz on GoogleMaps.

It just sits on the dash and has amazing battery life from 2 AA lithium batteries. I still haven't replaced the existing batteries.

GPZOz sell them for $299 AUD plus the basic satellite subsrciption service- US$115/yr.

Laurie
AnswerID: 347953

Follow Up By: Member - William H (WA) - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 13:07

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 13:07
Good morning Zebra 400

Where did you get your SPOT from, and how much is it to activate every year, in Aus dollars,

Cheers for now...William H...Bunbury...WA.
0
FollowupID: 616223

Reply By: Member - Rod N (QLD) - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 08:24

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 08:24
Why are we so obsessed with communication these days?? Back in the 50s 60s etc our family would think nothing of heading off camping into remote areas with nary any form of communication. With supposedly more reliable equipment why are we more frightened of the unknown? Is it because we are less resourceful and more pampered? I say just get out there and do it.
Rodn
AnswerID: 347956

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 13:18

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 13:18
You might change your attitude after your first heart attack.
0
FollowupID: 616226

Reply By: x - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 09:10

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 09:10
KS

I am somewhat surprised at some of the posts above.

We generally condemn people who get caught out unprepared, especially if they happen to be foreign tourists.

If you do have an accident, breakdown or medical emergency and you can contact other people on the track by UHF, what do expect them to do? Hope that the message can eventually be relayed to the appropriate contact by dozens of helpful fellow travellers using UHF radios?

Or hope that they are better prepared than you and actually have HF or satellite? For that matter, why bother carrying spare tyres when you can sponge off a passer-by?

The fact that you did one trip and didn't need comms is no basis for deciding that you will never need comms. Such a myopic view would see an end to, for instance, smoke detectors in houses or motor vehicle insurance.

Maybe you could leave a message with friends or authorities along the lines of "If we don't turn up at our destination in a few weeks please don't bother organising an expensive search for us".

The bottom line is: if you can afford a 4WD, the time off work, the cost of fuel, then you can afford the little extra to make yourself self sufficient, and not a burden on fellow travellers and the rest of the community.

Bob

AnswerID: 347961

Follow Up By: Time - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 09:53

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 09:53
..couldn't agree more.

Site Linkmakes interesting reading, and Site Link.

You may well be surprised how quickly things can go pear shaped, as mentioned above it would be folly to rely on others to happen along to bail you out!
0
FollowupID: 616197

Follow Up By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 10:43

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 10:43
Bob, while it is hard to argue with your view in terms of being prepared for anything and self sufficient, it is somewhat over dramatic.

The question is about the GRR, not the Simpson Desert, CSR or a remote track to Lake Eyre.

The GRR even has a bus service these days.

Both of Time's site links are in areas entirely different to those being discussed here.

Using your logic, we should not even drive from Brisbane to Townsville without sat phone or HF as there are still a number of dead spots for Next G on that road.

It is essential that we all carry appropriate communications, safety, recovery, repair equipment, spare water, food etc, for the people involved and the area we will travel to.

In the end, it is a judgement issue, so of course there will be different views. I just think it is worth keeping some perspective in the discussion.

Norm C



0
FollowupID: 616206

Follow Up By: Member - Roscoe ET (QLD) - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 11:48

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 11:48
Norm C,

I agree with you about keeping things in perspective and my view is that perspective should be medical emergencies.

It's fine to say most outback roads are well traveled these days BUT the fact of the matter is that a majority of the time there are not vehicles passing every 5 minutes, it can be hours.

In a medical emergency every minute counts.

A UHF radio would be virtually useless due to it's range. Mobile phone, useless in the outback even with an aerial. Next G is a joke I live at Pomona and can't talk on my mobile, texting is even a hassle I have to walk around my property until I get a good enough signal...I've been in to Telstra about this for quite some time now.

Whilst an EPIRB will eventually be picked up a satelite pass then the signal transferred to the relevant emergency authority for activation, it takes time for the police or SES to locate you. This could even be up to a day or longer depending where you are.

The EPIRB is not going to tell the authorities whether the emergency is an urgent medical problem or serious life threatening injury.

What someone said about a Sat phone is right there is no guarantee you will get a signal. I've seen geologists walking around Mt Augustus Station trying to get a signal and the country around there provides an unobstructed view of the sky!!

But a HF radio is another matter, you send a transmission on one of these and someone is guaranteed to pick it up somewhere in Australia and the process of activating a response to that emergency is instant.

So I swear by my HF radio and make sure it is always in sound working order. To me travelling the outback is akin to taking my boat offshore...wouldn't be without a radio!!

0
FollowupID: 616212

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 13:27

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 13:27
"Whilst an EPIRB will eventually be picked up a satelite pass"

- a GPS-equipped EPIRB will send your position via a satellite in geostationary orbit as soon as it gets a gps fix.



"What someone said about a Sat phone is right there is no guarantee you will get a signal. I've seen geologists walking around Mt Augustus Station trying to get a signal and the country around there provides an unobstructed view of the sky!! "

- using Iridium rather than Globalstar avoids that problem.



"But a HF radio is another matter, you send a transmission on one of these and someone is guaranteed to pick it up somewhere in Australia"

- not if there's an hf blackout from a solar flare or severe electrical storms.


0
FollowupID: 616227

Follow Up By: Member - Roscoe ET (QLD) - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 16:13

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 16:13
Mike,

Understand what you're saying regarding the EPIRB but there is still a time delay and the point I was making is that there is a time factor involved in getting a response to the situation and, an EPIRB will not indicate the type of emergency and it is a life medical emergency I was using as the example.

I understand that there are issues with Iridium as well as Globalstar.

I have never had a problem with HF communications but you're right a solar flare can effect both VHF and HF propagation on earth.

However these effects are only temporary and the radio emissions from a flare can cause noise bursts, buzzing sounds, continuum noise and "occasionally" a temporary HF blackout of up to 30 minutes following the flare. After that noise levels and propagation return to normal.

Most of the time a flare causes noise interference and that can normally be overcome by using SSB function. Severe electical storm certainly cause problems but I've never experienced a blackout it's normally electrical static again overcome by using SSB.

My experiences have been that regardless of interference someone receives a readable signal and can relay.

0
FollowupID: 616254

Follow Up By: Luke2 - Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 14:44

Friday, Feb 13, 2009 at 14:44
I had Globalstar and Iridium sat-phones side by side near Alice last year before a trip (I was checking both phones before a group arrived). Both were sitting side by side on the roof of the car for 1/2 a day and the Iridium was getting sat coverage 99% of the time. The Globalstar had reception on average for less than 50% of the time (some hours it had reception in 15 mins for the hour!). This was 40ks south of Alice in very open country. IMHO Globalstar have lots of work to do getting more satellites up to match the excellent performance of Iridium (Telstra). I have no commercial links to Telstra :)
Luke2
0
FollowupID: 617112

Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 09:48

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 09:48
The availability of low cost secuity was not available 30 years ago.
Now it is.
Even Britz fit their hire Troopy campers with an EPIRB (PLB actually).
Every traveller into remote areas should have one as a minimum level of safety IMHO.
And they do have some advantages (and disadvantages) over radios too. If you roll your vehicle, the first thing that gets smashed is the antennae. You only have to be 200m off the road, injured and not visible, to be in trouble.
Your EPIRB will still work.
My choice is:
1. EPIRB (PLB) - essential.
2. Sat 'phone - if you can afford one.

Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 Motorhome
AnswerID: 347966

Reply By: Member -Pinko (NSW) - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 10:56

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 10:56
If, with the new epirbs and when activated, identifies the user and location of activation and emergency services respond to a call and find say 'out of fuel' or a mechanical breakdown are the costs of the response passed on to the user ?
I have always wondered.
Stan
Living is a journey,it depends on where you go !
VKS 737 mobile 0049 selcall 0049

Member
My Profile  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 347976

Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 13:52

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 13:52
The activation of an EPIRB/PLB is restricted to "DIRE EMERGENCY" situations only. ie life threatening situations.
Running out of fuel or a breakdown is not a dire emergency (unless you are EXTREMELY remote) and you would risk getting billed.
That said, I am not aware of it happening, so far.
Last year some friends tinny broke down in Napier Broome Bay. They drifted 20+k onto a remote island and waited several hours before activating their PLB at about 5pm.
A heavy chopper from Truscott arrived 90 minutes later, dropped water (could not land) and a note saying that a fishing boat would pick them up next morning.
No bill.

Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 Motorhome
0
FollowupID: 616231

Reply By: kassysimon - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 12:08

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 12:08
you are all great! thanks for the circumspect advice. it sounds like HF is the way to go.

Now......can they be hired from Perth and who do you recommend?
AnswerID: 347988

Follow Up By: Member - William H (WA) - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 13:52

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 13:52
Good morning, Kassysimon

Google this site.

www.radtelnetwork.com.au/wheretobuy.html

And have a look at the wa site.

Cheers for now.....William H...Bunbury....WA.
0
FollowupID: 616232

Follow Up By: Member - Roscoe ET (QLD) - Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 16:23

Saturday, Feb 07, 2009 at 16:23
kassysimon,

If you're going to do a few trips over the years it could pay you to purchase a secondhand HF. I looked in to hiring one for each trip and decided to purchase a second hand one instead as it was going to cost me more by hiring each time.

The one I got had been rebuilt with new parts cost me just under a $1,000 and hasn't let me down. Had it for nearly 3 years.

Have a look at ebay they often have them there.

Anyway just a thought if you intend to do some regular outback travels in the next few years. When I'm not traveling I often turn it on and listen to the skeds and then get jealous because I wasn't out there with them!!
0
FollowupID: 616255

Sponsored Links

Popular Products (13)