cape york

Submitted: Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 18:23
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is a sat phone a necessity for the cape in august, or are there enough travellers up there to go without if your travelling alone
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Reply By: Motherhen - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 18:34

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 18:34
I say take your own - not fair to rely on others should you get into strife. We got a sat phone for Tanami and Great Central Road travel - it worked a treat as we didn't need it. Now if we hadn't bought it???


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Reply By: George_M - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 18:45

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 18:45
Interesting question b2e. There'll be lots of people up the Cape at that time of the year, many of whom will be well equipped with HF/satphones. Is the question you are really asking "if I get into trouble that I can't handle myself, will I just bum the use of a satphone or HF radio from someone who happens to drive past"? This is a risky strategy. Firstly, in the case of illness or an accident you may need to call for help immediately - I wouldn't want to have to wait for someone to come along, and hope they were better equipped that I was! Secondly, if you run into mechanical difficulty which is not time critical I think it's a pretty low act (IMHO) to ask to borrow a strangers' gear because you chose not to equip your self properly. I'm not trying to cause offence with these comments. I rescued a stranded family on the Cape about five years ago. They were bogged in a creek; had no comms gear at all, and no recovery gear. I broke my snatch strap getting them out - not happy Jan. For the little it costs, hire a satphone:-)
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Reply By: Member - Footloose - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 19:09

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 19:09
If you might go off the beaten track at all, hire your own.

August is usually a peak time for sat phone hire. I'd be organizing one well before that.
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Reply By: aeiou - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 19:14

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 19:14
Hi b2e,

Take a sat phone. Take an Epirb if you can.

When you look at all the costs to travel, you will find a sat phone will be good value. If you like a beer or two, the sat phone will look cheap compare to what you will pay for drinks up there!

I hired a sat phone last year when we did the cape. We did not need to use it, but we were happy we had it and almost needed it when a car we were with broke down on the way to Bathurst Bay.

Think of it as life insurance. Compare the cost to car insurance and it may look quite cheap.

Have a great trip.


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Reply By: Patrol22 - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 19:34

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 19:34
Gotta say I disagree to some extent here.Cape York is NOT remote in the sense that the Canning Stock Route or the French Line or the like. OK a satphone or HF will never go astray but so long as you are well equipped in terms of safety, recovery and first aid don't need a satphone. I lived on Cape York for nearly 10 years and I've been back half doz times in recent years and never ceased to be amazed at the increasing number of people each time I go home. It isn't far between towns and/or landlines these days either. The last time I was up there in 2007 I even got mobile phone reception in several places along the way. Just my 2 bobs worth anyway.
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Follow Up By: Member - Footloose - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 20:18

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 20:18
Depends on where you go on CY. The French Track isn't usually over populated. Neither is Stone's crossing track.
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Follow Up By: Member - Footloose - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 20:19

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 20:19
And you are assuming that he stays in perfect health.
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Follow Up By: Crackles - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 20:22

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 20:22
Completely agree. Although a Sat phone does give additional security they are certainly not a necessity. On the main touring routes in August during the day, it's likely a vehicle would come past on average every 10 minutes, 1/2 hour at the most. When you look closely at what the locals drive & the equipment they carry, you rarely find they have all these "must have" accessories.
If exploring little used tracks or fishing in out of the way places then with increased risk comes increased precautions.
As Patrol has suggested Cape York is generally no longer a remote destination.
Cheers Craig............
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Follow Up By: Patrol22 - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 20:29

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 20:29
Yeah Footloose that is true but then again that same scenario holds true for a weekend in the High Country or just slipping out to a secluded spot at your nearest beach/river/NP etc...but I'm betting not too many carry satphones with them. I would, however, recommend a 406 EPIRB as this comes in handy for lots of expeditions and doesn't have the continuing overhead that a satphone does.
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Follow Up By: The Rambler( W.A.) - Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 21:25

Thursday, Mar 26, 2009 at 21:25
Iagree with Patrol 22 and Crackles---the question asked was if a sat phone was a necessity.I certainly would would say no to that question.If you are going well equipped the chances of needing a sat phone are very slim and in the unlikely event of a problem as said there are a LOT of travellers up there even in the the so called remote areas.Yes itis better to be self sufficient but I have helped out quite a few people with absolutely no ill feeling as I am sure there may be an occasion when you need the help of others no matter how well prepared or smart you think you are.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 00:32

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 00:32
I will disagree with you Patrol22. Maybe it is not remote by the number of travellers, but as others have said, if b2e does have a breakdown or medical emergency, it is hardly fair to expect to use a stranger's sat phone.

It is remote in the sense that there are, according to Telstra, very few spots where a NextG phone will have reception - and only in towns. So what does b2e do if he has an emergency?

As i said before, our sat phone worked - because we never used it. As an insurance it was worthwhile. Even when we had a potential breakdown, we were lucky to get back on the road ourselves. But knowing that we had the sat phone and could call for help (which would have been very expensive when in such a remote location*) prevented undue stress and panic.

* Remote as in distance from towns and services, not remote as far as there being a number of other travellers on the road.


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Follow Up By: Patrol22 - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 06:11

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 06:11
Feel free to disagree Motherhen..but hey all I was answering was the man's it necessary...and I stand by my call that it isn't. I still have family up there an none of them have satphones but because they do do a lot of off shore fishing that run an EPIRB. Like I said, a satphone is a nice to have but still a long way from a necessity....unless of course you are travelling with a known health problem. Like The Rambler says..most people are only too willing to help out in an emergency. I am not having a go at you or anyone else who chooses to carry such equipment just trying to answer the question.
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Reply By: Zebra400 - Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 07:41

Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 07:41
Some interesting comments here. Before the introduction of GSM mobile phones, many people travelled with out communications when travelling to outback areas close to home. Its interesting to hear that some travellers feel its more important to take a Sat phone when travelling in outback Oz. Yet they feel it is important when say traveling the Vic high country. Yet the same issues can arise.

It is interesting that we tend to base our emergency needs more on the location, i.e. if we have been there before, then we feel more comfortable to carry less comms.

Personally, we should all consider carrying emergency comms on all trips, be it HF, Sat Phone epirb or Spot. We all have our own views on which is better. However, having none is fine until an emergency happens. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, suddenly the cost is not an issue.

We should all be carrying some sort of emergency comms. We just don't know when we may need it.

Oh, by the way, I managed to amputate the end of one of my fingers in a winching accident in the Vic high country many years ago near Swifts Creek. Our HF helped us to find the closest medical assistance via VKS737. It certainly helped my stress levels knowing where to get emergency help quickly.

Finally, we think the best emergency comms is the one you feel comfortable to use. It is no good having an HF radio if you never use it. Its no good having a Sat phone if you never use it. A good example of this is when I had my winching accident. One of the guys in our convoy owned the latest HF Codan radio and talked highly about it on the trip. When it came time to use it after my accident, he didnt have the confidence to use it. After downing a few pain killers & bandaging up my finger, I ended up making the call to VKS737. I am not sure what we would have done if I couldn't walk to his 4WD to make the call.

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