Hard borders and limited flights mean Australian holiday-makers will be heading off on road trips this summer like never before.
Packing the boot and hitting the open road could be a new experience for many Aussie families – and there are plenty of things novice road trippers don’t know, and hidden dangers they may not expect.
In a survey of around 1000 travellers by communication technology company GME, 95 per cent said they didn’t realise how little of the country – just 14 per cent – was covered by mobile phone reception.
With COVID-19 forcing us to rethink holidays, about 62 per cent of respondents said they were planning to head to remote or regional areas this year, as opposed to well-known tourist spots and big cities.
Only about half said they had good survival knowledge and the majority said they didn’t know what safety or communications equipment they should bring to regional spots.
GME product and safety expert Tony Crooke told news.com.au that feedback was “alarming”.
“Australians’ appetite for travelling in the great outdoors has risen dramatically due to ongoing travel restrictions and while this is great for regional economies, it is alarming how many first time adventurers don’t realise that just a short distance out of the city and you may not be able to call or SMS for help if the worst happens,” he said.
Mr Crooke said there was an average of 2000 emergency rescues in Australia each year, which was why personal locator beacons and ultra-high frequency CB radios were considered essential parts of a road trip kit.
Some of the best destinations for Australians to get out and explore are fraught with risk and have been the scenes of recent dramatic rescues.
One of the top reasons for needing emergency help was car trouble, according to an interactive map released by GME as part of its new “Where The Bloody Hell Am I” safety campaign.
They include Arltunga Historical Reserve in the Red Centre, where a couple were recently rescued after getting a flat tyre, and the Great Victorian desert, where a traveller’s four-wheel drive broke down in the middle of nowhere.
But there are a range of other dangers that can befall travellers in regional and remote areas.
Queensland’s holiday hotspot Moreton Bay was the scene of an elderly solo traveller’s rescue after he became disoriented while sailing off its scenic coast in April, while near Moffat Beach in the Sunshine Coast, a 31-year-old man had to radio call for help after his kayak began to sink after a shark attack.
The Blue Mountains of NSW is a frequent site for dramatic rescues, including that of a bushwalker who fell from the popular Linderman walking track in March.
A man and his son were rescued when their fishing boat hit a coral reef in the Mundoo Channel in South Australia in January while in Victoria, another set of fisherman were winched to safety with the help of a rescue helicopter when their vessel hit a sandbar and began to sink 5km off the Mornington Peninsula in July.
And even freak accidents can land travellers in trouble – in May, a traveller had to be rescued after they became trapped under a falling tree in the Kosciuszko National Park.