Outback Travel, Bushwalking and Prospecting

Western Australia is one of the most extraordinary places to travel in the country. From the pure white beaches of Esperance, to the world famous wine region of our Southwest and the magnificent Ningaloo Reef world heritage area, to the raw beauty of the Kimberley - travelers are guaranteed experiences that attract visitors from all over the world.

On many occasions the attraction of the locations is enhanced by their isolation, but this remoteness can present certain challenges. If you follow the tips listed below, and the added information given in the links provided, then your stay in Western Australia should be memorable for all the right reasons.

Vehicle Travel

  • Always prepare a trip plan and make this plan known to a trusted person who is not travelling with you.
  • Do not deviate from this plan without advising that person of any changes.
  • Always advise that person when you have arrived at your planned destination. Many searches have been mounted for persons who had arrived at the planned destination but had forgotten to advise others.
  • Ensure your vehicle is in good working order and equipped with a roadworthy spare tyre, wheel jack and brace.
  • Consider purchasing or hiring a satellite phone as much of Western Australia is not serviced by standard mobile phone carriers.
  • Consider buying or hiring a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) or an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) that is registered and GPS enabled, for further information on both purchasing and registering a PLB or EPIRB click on the following link (register your beacon). These can be hired from most camping shops around the State.
  • Pack a well-equipped first aid kit to deal with any emergency situation.
  • Allow for three litres of water per person, per day and allow for extra water for car breakdowns. Do not store all the water in one place in the vehicle but distribute it in smaller amounts throughout the load.
  • Pack enough car spares and extra fuel for the vehicle. There are sometimes hundreds of kilometres between service and petrol stations.
  • If travelling off-road, make sure you have accurate maps or an up to date off-road GPS navigator. Learn how to navigate using this device before setting out.
  • Try to travel in pairs or groups and if you become lost, remain with your vehicle. Your vehicle provides shade and is much easier to find in an aerial search. It also gives off a much greater infra-red signature.

Bushwalking

  • Always make a trip plan and make this plan known to a trusted person who is not travelling with you.
  • Do not deviate from this plan without re-notifying that person.
  • Always advise that person when you have arrived at your planned destination. Many searches have been mounted for a person who had arrived at the planned destination, but had forgotten to tell anyone.
  • Pack food and water for an extra day’s travel to allow for becoming lost or delayed.
  • Pack adequate clothing as temperatures can drop rapidly overnight.
  • Pack a first aid kit, especially one that concentrates on sunstroke, snake bites, sprains and fractures.
  • Carry up to date maps, or an up to date GPS navigator. Learn how to use this to navigate between way points before embarking on your travel.
  • Travel in pairs or groups if possible and use marked trails. For example, The Bibbulmun Track that stretches from Perth to Albany provides day long walks that showcase much of Western Australia. There is camp accommodation at the end of each day’s journey.
  • Buy or hire a PLB or EPIRB (registered and GPS enabled - register your beacon) and take it with you. Finding lost bushwalkers becomes relatively easy when the person has access to a satellite locator.

Prospecting

Prospecting in the wide open spaces of Western Australia can be an enjoyable hobby, but also comes with an element of risk. The modern prospector, with their ears covered by the headset of a metal detector machine, can quickly become disoriented and lost.

  • Advise a trusted person of your location, your duration of searching, equipment taken - including food and water supplies, and of any medical problems you may be suffering.
  • Always carry a PLB or EPIRB (registered and GPS enabled - register your beacon).
  • Always carry a comprehensive first aid kit. You may encounter snakes, searing temperatures, little or no drinkable water, and abandoned mine shafts – some with up to 30 metre drops. These dangerous shafts are often unmarked, uncovered or simply protected by a sheet of rusting corrugated iron.
  • Try to travel in pairs or groups and if you become lost, remain with your vehicle. Your vehicle provides shade and is much easier to find in an aerial search. It also gives off a much greater infra-red signature.

Emergency Communication Device Considerations

  • 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 Joint Rescue Coordination 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.
  • Always consider where you are travelling, and the challenges you may face using the emergency devices or Apps you have access to.
  • Battery life is another important consideration – with PLBs having a built in battery that is only used when it is activated. Relying on devices such as satellite phones, CB radios or other devices that may have their battery run down due to non-emergency use pose additional risks in the event of an emergency. 
  • PLBs are the recommended device due to their minimal size and weight, being easy to carry on your person (waist, pocket, or arm band), their long battery life, and the fact they do not rely on paid subscriptions. They are also waterproof, have long manufacturer warranties, and generally have extended battery life.
  • Other technology is available, but are generally more expensive, difficult to use and have minimal battery life. Some require monthly/annual subscription to use built in satellite communication. Most are less user friendly.
  • Regardless of the device selected, it is important to be familiar with how the device works, so in an emergency it can be activated immediately.

Download the distress beacon brochure.

Download the distress beacon poster.