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What to do if you get lost in the Australian bush

Australia is a continent filled with very large open spaces. People from around the world enjoy our natural playground and every once in a while they get lost. In some cases the end results are a few days of discomfort, in others the end results are far more serious.

North Queensland is no different. There are a few simple rules that if followed will ensure that if you are unfortunate enough to get lost you will survive the experience.


1 Always tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. Make sure that when you do get back you let them know so that they don't call out the cavalry.
2 Be prepared. Even if you are only going for a day walk always take a torch (to signal rescuers), some matches (to light a signal fire), enough food and water for at least two days, some warm clothing and a small mirror for signaling rescuers.
3 As soon as you know that you are lost stop everything. If it is getting dark you are far better to set up a camp in the remaining light rather than stumbling through thick vegetation trying to find your way out. Try to build a fire to keep you warm.
4 Try to build a shelter of some description to protect you from the elements.
5 If you breakdown in a vehicle stay with it. There are many, many documented cases of people dying in isolated places because they have left their car. The search teams found the car but not the missing person.
6 As soon as the sun comes up try to find an open place where you could be seen from the air. Creek beds are excellent for this if you are in thick vegetation. Search helicopters generally traverse waterways first of all when looking for missing people.
7 Build a signal fire with lots of damp leaves to ensure that the fire produces a lot of smoke.
8 Ration your food and water. Try to make it last as long as you can.
9 If you are in a hot climate keep movement to a minimum especially during daylight hours.
10 Be patient. If someone knows that you are missing help is on the way.
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