Remote area travel safety

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WA Police Force is reminding outback travellers to consider their safety when planning which emergency items to take on their trips into remote areas, and urge them to consider the inclusion of a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) or other satellite/GPS-based emergency communication tool.

A range of helpful advice covering outback vehicle travel, bushwalking and prospecting is available on the WA Police Force website. That safety advice is available here -

The safety advice is particularly relevant to people travelling in remote areas, including areas covered by harsh terrain and that is outside of mobile phone reception range. This kind of environment is found in several parts of the state, particularly the remote areas of the Goldfields-Esperance District.

In 2022/2023 there were six land search operations conducted in the Goldfields-Esperance District. All six were resolved successfully, with the people at risk being recovered alive.

Acting Superintendent Ken Foster from the Goldfields-Esperance District Office said the safety advice applies to everyone travelling in remote areas, including experienced prospectors and adventurers.

“While travel safety is important on all outback roads and tracks, there are particular travel routes in the Goldfields-Esperance District that are known to be challenging even for experienced travellers, such as the Canning Stock Route, Gunbarrel Highway, Great Central Road, Anne Beadell Highway, Connie Sue Highway and the Tanami Road to name a few.

“When travelling on roads or tracks that are known to be challenging for some vehicles, it is crucial that drivers plan ahead and research appropriate vehicle types, the expected weather and related changes to road conditions, and ensure they have the experience and skill to hander their vehicle and any trailer or caravan they are towing.”

Acting Superintendent Foster also urged travellers to carefully consider the emergency communications tools they take with them.

“Personal Locator Beacons are the preferred devices recommended for people engaged in remote travel, however it is recognised that some other GPS-based devices will do similar functions.

“It is important when choosing a device to consider whether it relies on mobile phone communication, is supported by a reliable service provider, and whether there is any possible delay in authorities being notified of your situation.

“Personal Locator Beacons, like EPIRBs, are detected by AMSA’s Response Centre in Canberra, which is staffed 24/7, who can immediately inform police of an emergency situation.

“Apps such as Emergency+ can provide crucial information such as GPS coordinates and what3words data, however that information still needs to reach authorities so if a traveller is outside of mobile phone reception range, other communication means such as satellite phone or CB radio would be needed.”

Devices such as Personal Locator Beacons, satellite phones and other GPS-based emergency communication tools can be purchased or hired, and travellers are encourage to carry more than one communication tool to ensure they can alert authorities if they find themselves stranded or in distress.