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
Interesting read, however not limited to people travelling with a camper, but all people in general travelling in remote areas.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
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 backpackerCaveat, 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
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.