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Can anyone hear me, we’re in Trouble - The Australian Magazine 24-25 Nov

Discussion in 'General 4x4 Discussion' started by SPOD_Here, Nov 24, 2018.

  1. SPOD_Here

    SPOD_Here Active Member

    There is an excellent article in this weekends australian magazine (newspaper supplement) that contains sage advice for anyone considering remote travel with a camper trailer. It’s worth a read

    Cheers, SPOD.
    cradokaone likes this.
  2. SPOD_Here

    SPOD_Here Active Member

    Here is a scanned copy. I dips my lid to Rick and Hazel and the HF Radio Club who gave assistance, absolute legends.

    Attached Files:

    cradokaone likes this.
  3. rogerazz

    rogerazz 4x4 Earth Contributer

    Very moving story.
    Personally, I have been on this earth for over seventy years and lived in the bush since I was a baby. Ihave been in some hairy situations mainly in the Victorian bush. Broken down out there in the hills one time, with two kids, however even without UHF, radio, recovery equipment, etc., could always find water, shelter and some food from the bush. Eventually tied the car together after a few days and got out. Even though I grew up in the bush seventy years ago, I would never and will never bother going into the harsh conditions of a desert, especially with my kids or grand kids.
    I reckon that many people today rely on modern vehicles??? technology??? etc., with no understanding of what could and does go wrong. And when it goes wrong they are reliant on others to save them. Very scary and is not on my bucket list .
    Glad they made it out.
  4. boobook

    boobook Well-Known Member

    Anyone can break down but IMHO that family was a bit naive. I guess 70% plus travellers would be like that. You can't expect Mt Dare to fund every rescue. Why weren't they with someone else? They blamed Mt Dare, and people who told then a UHF is enough. And 3 days before anyone crossed them on the French Line... when was the incident? Very late in the season by the description of the heat. Lastly, why didn't they turn back to Mt Dare, easier and closer?

    If you can't afford to rent a sat phone, take enough water and have access to enough money in the bank to get yourself out trouble, don't go. Especially if you have the propensity to blame others.
    mac_man_luke, Chatty and Albynsw like this.
  5. shanegtr

    shanegtr Active Member

    Interesting read, however not limited to people travelling with a camper, but all people in general travelling in remote areas.
    I travel with a sat phone in the car all the time (living in the pilbara I dont need to go far out of town to loose phone reception). I wonder what sort of percentage of people who travel remote would have a spare $10,000+ for a recovery if needed? I've got access to that sort of money, but its tied up in shares, loan redraws etc.. so not readily available when your out in the middle of now where.
    I regards to that article, I know Birdsville refered them to Mt Dare initially due to proximity, but surely Mt Dare could have been upfront from the start, said they had troubles with their trucks and spoken to Birdsville to see if they could carry out the recovery? A little common sense would tell you that a family of 6 would be limited in food and water compared to a single couple simply due to available storage space (at least that applies to my family of 6 anyway:rolleyes:) and that help sooner rather than later would be ideal.
    rogerazz likes this.
  6. SPOD_Here

    SPOD_Here Active Member

    And as for sending Emergenecy supplies, a pack of sausages and 4 litres of water to a family isolated for 6 days in the desert.., well I’m sorry but regardless to the families lack of preparation, there is a duty of care aspect here. No one expects remote communities to fund every rescue but I hang my head at the claims made in the moving article.
    cradokaone and rogerazz like this.
  7. Kippie

    Kippie Active Member

    There was no plan B; what do I do when my vehicle is completely stuffed? How do I communicate in a remote area; UHF is only good for line of sight. Do I have enough funds to pay for recovery, or does my insurance cover that?

    If that family covered these issues then they would not have been in that predicament. They were very lucky to find someone out there to help them and to stay with them. After all, the good Samaritans also have limited supplies and certainly didn't plan on helping a family of 6.

    At the end of the day, whoever does the recovery will run up significant costs. Whether the police, emergency services or private enterprise, someone had to pay their bill. It could be yourself, your insurance company or the tax payer. I have no sympathy for anyone putting themselves at risk the expense of others.
  8. Tink

    Tink Well-Known Member

    Wow, so many mistakes. They were obviously under-prepared.
  9. nitrobrent

    nitrobrent Active Member

    Glad they got out ok in the end.
    I truely hope that its the magazine pointing the finger , not the family.
  10. Neil Watts

    Neil Watts Active Member

    Seems to me that Mt Dare has some answering to do here, pretty harsh to turn away from a recovery cause you can't pay up front. The way I see it they took charge to coordinate a recovery that they couldn't complete.

    Having done this trip in June this year, busy as all F@*# due to the finke, I can't help but think that Mt Dare may have neglected their recovery vehicles as the normal season for crossing the Simpson had passed. Wasn't really a fan of what I saw at Mt Dare, saw them as money gougers really, I realise they are a business but just my opinion based on what I witnessed while there. I even heard a staff member tell someone who was hiring a sat phone not to call Mt Dare once you pass a certain point, wouldn't it just be nicer to take the money and say if you get into trouble just call either number and well help you out!

    When its all said and done, yes the family should have had a Sat Phone or at least, what I had, a Garmin inReach which allows you to text message over the satellite or signal an SOS if you are in desperate need of help and also allows you to text message the recovering authorities. The problem with an EPIRB is you could have run out of petrol with plenty of food and water for a week but once you activate that EPIRB Canberra coordinates a search based on the worst case scenario.

    I think this family simply had a run of very bad luck, under prepared......maybe but seriously let down by Mt Dare, just my opinion.
    cradokaone likes this.
  11. Rhett HS

    Rhett HS Active Member

    Compromised by optimistic promises.
    Never really in serious danger once the first vehicle joined them.
    cradokaone and Tink like this.
  12. discomatt

    discomatt Well-Known Member

    Very moving and well written article, have never done the Simmo crossing and it is on the bucket list so a very good heads up on what and how to do things.
    As far as fault and finger pointing, IMO they had enough water and supplies but bad luck fixed that, how much can you carry with a family that size?
    Any more gear and a broken car then everyone would be saying its your fault for over loading...
    The way I see it Mt Dare was the issue with not managing the recovery in a professional manner, I am not talking about the up front payment, that is fair and understandable BUT to not make that clear and not be willing to make exception for a family with kids is the lowest of acts, like so many $$ before humanity...
    The second major issue is not stating the trucks were out of action and handing the recovery over to someone else from the initial contact , once again thinking they would fix the truck and make the $$, they should have handed the recovery on straight away.
    Mistakes from all concerned
    abw, cradokaone and Neil Watts like this.
  13. Albynsw

    Albynsw Well-Known Member

    I have been broken down in the Simpson, just past halfway but closer to Birdsville. I used my satphone to call Birdsville and they had a replacement strut on the shelf but still had to wait two days for a replacement part to get delivered to me so I could drive myself out. It was late in the season and temps were over 50 in the middle of the day. You soon realise how quickly things can turn to shit if you are not prepared.
    On another occasion my mate blew up his diff and we had to strip it and then I towed him out with him running as front wheel drive only which was pretty hairy at times getting over the dunes.

    Remote travel can often seem quite easy and you will often hear people say “ I don’t know what all the fuss is about, that was easy” Which is can be when you have no mechanical or medical issues and the weather is good to you but when things turn.........look out!
    There is a common saying in boating that applies to the desert , “turn your back on the sea and it will take you.”
    boobook and Rhett HS like this.
  14. Tink

    Tink Well-Known Member

    Wasn’t the article written by the daughter of the couple who found and stayed with the stranded family?
    callmejoe likes this.
  15. callmejoe

    callmejoe Well-Known Member

    Pretty sure your right. I was listing to her on the abc on Friday night. If it was her she was talking about a vwry similar incident.
  16. Tink

    Tink Well-Known Member

    Caveat, I am by no means an expert, in fact I learn new things each day, some on this forum.
    I didn’t know a lot about remote travelling when I started out but I thought I knew a fair bit about off roading. I soon realised remote travelling is a LOT different to hitting the beach or the local tracks. I have since learnt from others experiences and my own. I like to think I am just a little bit wiser now.
    In this day and age, there is no excuse for ignorance. Going out into the Simpson with just a UHF is unforgiveable.
    Further, a family of six towing a camper across the Simpson as a solo vehicle is just plain madness. No other words for it.
    The vehicle would have been overloaded or close to it when you consider what they had to carry for a four week holiday, plus having almost four adults and two kids on board. From my experience towing a camper, with a family of four, I reckon their camper would have been at least 1.2 tonne, more than likely more.
    The stress on an older vehcile, no matter how well maintained, towing a camper across a thousand sand dunes is bound to put the vehicle at its limits. Being a mechanic in a remote environment is only an advantage if the issue is easily diagnosed, anything more difficult and you will need a hoist and lots of time plus specialist equipment and the correct spare parts, which even under ideal circumstances may take days or even weeks to obtain.
    The only things you can realistically do to reduce the chance of a mechanical breakdown when remote, other than having a well maintained and well prepared vehicle before departure, is to reduce the stress on the vehicle at all times, not place it at its limits. Keep weights to a minimum, drive to the conditions, nice and steady, don’t tow a dead weight and do the tough parts of your trip first, when you know your vehicle is at its best, not at the end of a four week outback adventure over corrugated, dirt roads putting your vehicle at its limits for thousands of kilometers prior to attempting a tough and testing desert crosssing. They planned their trip the wrong way around.
    Some say, how could they have carried more food and water? Well, simple answer is, if you can’t carry enough food and water for an extra week to allow for breakdowns and a subsequent rescue, DON’T GO. Simple, isn’t it. Not rocket science. These guys decided to put their children’s lives at risk, no other way to look at it.
    Now to the couple who came along to help. Apparently they were experienced remote travellers. Why then did they attempt a desert crossing with a broken VHF aerial? Another case of pure madness. Apathy due to having no previous problems maybe? We can all fall into that trap, “oh, I have done this a hundred times and never fallen off the ladder” has never been said once :D
    For all those trying to lay the blame and are criticising the Mt Dare Hotel. Sure they may have communicated better but they were having a hard time doing that. First contact was through a dodgy radio call, subsequent contact was through a number of other people over a dodgy radio. If the family had a sat phone, cheap and easy to hire at either Mt Dare or Birdsville, then I am sure things would have gone a lot better. This whole saga would have been handled a lot easier for all concerned if the family had a sat phone.
    As for payment up front, I am sure the Mt Dare Hotel has been burnt big time previously doing remote rescues and never getting payment. Again if you can’t afford to be rescued, DON’T GO. Again pretty simple.
    Some say that rescue should have just happened and worried about payment later. How much later? Weeks or months later? After the wages have to be paid, fuel paid, vehicle costs paid. Maybe even having to take court action to recover costs. Come on, once burnt, no small business is going to take that risk. The rescue ended up costing $10,000. How many small businesses can afford to carry that sort of outstanding credit? Two men, two vehicles, out in the desert for a week, that comes with a cost PLUS they are not earning any income for their employer when they are away doing the rescue but the employer is expected to pay them regardless of how humanitarian the rescue is. Let me repeat, no small business can sustain that type of expense and outstanding debt.
    And remember, there are two sides to every story, and somewhere in between is the actual truth. The author of that article was told the story by her parents so had an obvious bias towards one side.
    Coffee time :)
  17. Albynsw

    Albynsw Well-Known Member

    I think that is a fair call Tink, if the articles content is accurate sure it could of been handled a bit better in hindsight but keep in mind Mt Dare is a roadhouse, it is not a dedicated search and rescue centre. The phone was probably even answered by a backpacker
    When we have called them for assistance which we didn’t end up using the first thing they ask for is your credit card details which is fair enough I think as you have pointed out.
    The parts delivery cost for me from Birdsville was $1,200.00, sounds expensive but two men had to be in the vehicle for OH&S reasons and it took them two days.
    If you want to do these types of trips you need to have the coin to fund it.
  18. Rhett HS

    Rhett HS Active Member

    The data given on the average cost and number of recoveries each year seems to amount to a turnover of $250k/year? I am a bit surprised they dont seem to fully see it as a meaningful income stream?

    Also interesting is the list of damage to one of the recovery vehicles in this incident. Took a chunk of the money.
    cradokaone likes this.
  19. Rhett HS

    Rhett HS Active Member

    If they had more money it might have been an option to pay the first responders to tow their camper trailer with the family in it and any that can fit in the vehicle back along the easier routes to mt dare. Then leave them there to camp in the trailer. Then the main recovery only needs to carry the father back into the desert to recover a vehicle only. Considering how long the first responders sat there it may not have delayed their trip. Overall it may not have been much more expensive. This option may have been considered but discounted due to the early promises.
  20. Tink

    Tink Well-Known Member

    Were promises made? Lack of communication was the key to this whole saga. The stranded family were ill prepared by not having a sat phone and the “rescuers” had a broken VHF relying on relayed messages.
    Blue_haired_man likes this.

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